Romans 9-11 is that part of Romans that most people skip over. It goes unread and even avoided because it is seen as so controversial. Does it even have anything for us in our journey of understanding our union with Christ? Good question.
Romans 9-11 is all about God’s plan for salvation. Especially his salvation of the Jews. Why should we care? Because if God has rejected the Jews, then what is to keep him for rejecting us? How can we be sure that all the glorious promises of Romans 8 are true? Because we can see how God has faithfully kept the Jews. Therefore, he will faithfully keep us Gentile Christians too.
Sadly, there are many Christians that think God has rejected Israel. Or replaced them with the Church. Don’t tragedies like the Holocaust prove this?
Of course our answer, and Paul’s answer, would be a resounding NO. God loves Israel. The New Covenant is a covenant with Israel. Jesus is Israel’s Jewish Messiah. The Jews are still God’s chosen people. Just as God planned to use Israel to reach the nations, now God is saving the Gentiles so that he can save Israel. These are the arguments of Romans 9-11.
“I thought Romans 9-11 was all about election and predestination and determinism and stuff like that,” you say. Paul’s point is so much bigger than all of that. It’s the end game that’s important. And the end game is the salvation of all who will believe.
And so we read this harshness in Romans 9:
Romans 9:14-18. What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
But we end up with this hope for all in Romans 10:
Romans 10:12-13. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
And hope for Israel here:
Romans 10:21. But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
And here in Romans 11:
Romans 11:12;15. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?
Romans 11:25-26. Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved.
I know, I know, what does this have to do with us? Everything. This is big picture. We are flying at 30,000 feet. Romans 9-11 is all about how God wants to save the world. Unfortunately, many have made it about how God wants to withhold salvation from some. But that is not at all what Paul’s argument is, nor is it God’s heart. God wants the reconciliation of the world.
Yes, God will do what he needs to do to bring about the salvation of the most people. He will harden a Gentile Pharaoh’s heart (9:18). He will reject Israel for a time (11:15). He will harden Israel for a time (11:25). But why? So that more can be saved.
You are part of a much bigger plan. Get your head out of the sand. Do you see it? You are part of God’s redemption of the world. Are you a Gentile? Then God wants to use you to save the world and Israel.
Romans 11:13-14. Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.
That’s right. The church (made up of mostly Gentiles) is meant to bring salvation to the Jews. How? By simply being a family of Christians that experiences the love and grace of God. The God of Israel. And when they see that, they will be jealous and some will return to God.
“To live is Christ” means that you have the indwelling Christ. You have union with the Jewish Messiah. “In Christ” is about inclusion not exclusion. God wants to use you, the Christ in you, to save his people, both Jew and Gentile as his fully formed and beautiful bride. This is the purpose and plan of God, and we are all part of it.