The Big Picture

I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not!…I say then, have they stum­bled that they should fall? Certainly not?” (Romans 11:1, 11).

It is quite hard to see “the big picture” when you are inside the frame!

If a first century Jew reading Romans 9-10 had been carefully attending to Paul’s argu­ment that the gospel and spiritual Israel (i.e., Christ’s church) would replace the Law and physi­cal Israel as God’s people, he has found the apostle’s repeated citation of the Old Testament to be authoritative and thus unanswerable. As is the inspired intention, a Jew’s rejection of the gospel cannot be defended on Scriptural grounds. God foreshadowed and promised the gospel through His prophets in the sacred text.

Few, if any, of his Jewish kinsmen (including Paul himself) saw this coming. Their beliefs and expectations were not God’s. When a Jew envisioned God’s “big picture”, he saw a political ruler—more powerful than David and Solomon combined—who would conquer the world using irresistible military might. Circumcision of the body, not obedience from the heart to the gospel, was going to be the criterion essential to enjoying God’s abundant favor.

In light of this, a Jew’s final objections to the gospel were now more personal in nature: God has cast His people away (v. 1), and it is now impossible for a Jew to ever enjoy a favor­able standing before God (v. 11).

Paul’s inspired answer to both objections is an emphatic “Certainly NOT!”

In the “big picture” of human redemption, the Jews played an essential role. The Law given to them at Mount Sinai was an essential forerunner and spiritual tutor to Christ and His universal offer of salvation to whoever calls upon His name. But, in the “big picture”, Christ with His gospel is the focal point, not the Jews or the Law.

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Author: jchowning

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