Monday, 2 September 2013
Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. Romans 9:27
Paul has established that there was, in fact, a plan and a place for the gentiles in God’s redemptive workings, but to demonstrate that what had occurred to Israel should have been expected, he turns again to their own Scriptures. He cites Isaiah 10:22, 23 as supporting verses, but he could have pulled out countless others.
Paul says that “Isaiah also cries out…” In other words, what he wrote wasn’t a quiet “Oh, by the way…” comment written by one of the minor prophets. Rather, it is a declarative statement by Israel’s prince of the prophets which should have been heard and heeded. Paul’s statement that Isaiah “cries out” is intended to show that there was simply no excuse for not understanding his words. They were boldly proclaimed and should have been painfully evident to the people.
And they weren’t written about the surrounding nations as so many prophetic utterances were. Instead they were “concerning Israel.” God was telling them in advance that despite being His chosen people, there would be consequences for rebellion. Such consequences included a state which would bring them almost to the point of extermination – “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea” is an obvious description. There were millions of Israelites living in the land and feeling secure in their status. This was a state that they could look all the way back to Abraham for –
“By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.” Genesis 22:16, 17
The father whom they looked back to was given incredible promises which recognized them as God’s people. From him came Isaac and then Jacob. Through this line came the exodus and the giving of the law. Among this people could be found God’s temple and the great line of kings; the Davidic dynasty. Surely they were safe and secure. But Isaiah told them something different; something they didn’t want to heed, “the remnant will be saved.”
A remnant is but a small portion of the whole and is the part which is least favored, such as when one cuts off the extra portion of a carpet. Normally, the choice part is kept, but the remnant is discarded. But in the case of Israel, the opposite would be true. Only the remnant would be saved. Paul, citing Isaiah in this way, surely meant to show the nation that what he wrote wasn’t just pertaining to the time of the Babylonian exile, but that it was an established principle that could (and was going to be) repeated. Solomon wrote of this principle in Ecclesiastes –
That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
God had exiled the northern kingdom to Assyria. He did it again to the southern kingdom when they were taken to Babylon. Paul was demonstrating that this would again occur because of their rejection of Christ.
Understanding that this was known to Paul from the very Scriptures which established Israel as a people, we can properly evaluate what he will say in the coming chapters and verses concerning Israel of Paul’s future (and our present). Failing to heed this established pattern has led to the doctrine of “replacement theology” which says that the church has replaced them. Paul is showing, in advance, that this isn’t the case. As happened before, so it will be again – a remnant will be saved.”
Life application: God’s intent and purpose for Israel didn’t end with the coming of Jesus. Nor did the church replace Israel as a people. Rather, during Israel’s time of exile for their rejection of Him, God has worked to procure a unique people for Himself from among the Gentiles. When this dispensation ends, God’s attention will be redirected fully toward Israel, preparing them for the return of Jesus. He will dwell among them during the next dispensation, the millennial reign of Christ. Because this is what the Bible teaches, remember to pray for Israel – that eyes will be opened and hearts will be converted.
Heavenly Father, You have returned Israel to their land for Your reasons, including as a preparation for the return of Your Son. This truth is seen in both testaments of Your word and is evident to any who are willing to search out the truth of the matter. Open eyes and hearts to this wonderful news – that Jesus is returning to His people when they call on Him as Lord. May it be soon. Amen.