In Romans 11:1 Paul asks the question, “Did God reject his people?” And with total confidence and boldness he answers: “By no means.” “And again I ask,” he says in verse 11, “Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?” And again he answers boldly, “Not at all.”
Paul believed without an ounce of doubt that his country folk had a future, despite what God had said about Israel at the end of the previous chapter, that “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people” (Romans 10:21). Israel had been a constant pain in the neck to God, but Paul states with total confidence in Romans 11:26, that “all Israel will be saved.”
To some people, perhaps, the idea of all Israel being saved doesn’t make sense at all, not after what they – as God’s handpicked nation too – had done to him (vividly described in Daniel 9). But God hadn’t been knocked off his stride by what Israel had done. He had a plan, and no matter how crazy it might seem to us, he boldly stuck to it, and in no uncertain terms told us he was sticking to it through the words of Paul here in Romans 11.
In other words, we’ve got a bold God. And that had rubbed off on Paul. But look how God had dealt with Paul himself. Paul had done his very best to wreck the fledgling Christian church, but that hadn’t stopped God making him the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul described himself as “the worst of sinners” in 1 Timothy 1:16, but God had simply used that to show how patient he could be with hopelessly incorrigible people. Paul himself, therefore, was a bold statement from God, that no human evil, or evil human, could deter him from his plan.
And our own lives are bold statements by God too. Why on earth would God put up with the likes of us, knowing the mistakes we’ve made, how distracted we are by other things, and how way off track our reactions and thoughts can be? Can we just as boldly say, “I know God hasn’t rejected me, and nor have I stumbled beyond recovery”? Yes, we can, because look what God did with Paul, and still intends to do with Israel.
So, hopefully, God’s boldness in his dealings with Israel, with Paul, and in our own experience, rub off on us to make us bold too. But bold enough to not doubt that all Israel will be saved? And bold enough to believe that God will save everybody in the end as well?
Is God that bold to us yet, that nothing will deter him from “working out everything in conformity with the the purpose of his will,” Ephesians 1:11? Or that he’ll “bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ,” verse 10? Or that he will, without an ounce of doubt on our part, fulfill “his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,” verse 9?
So when someone says to us, “Well, I don’t believe God’s going to save everyone,” based on the argument that our freedom of choice can override God’s will, could we say, like Paul said of Israel in Romans 11:26, that “All will be saved”? Or that God lets us express our freedom of choice and even become the most hideous rebels, but we agree with Paul that God lets us be that way “so that he may have mercy on them (or us) all,” verse 32?
It’s true from the start in Genesis that we are free to make choices and God doesn’t interfere with that. But we also know that God’s entire plan since the Garden of Eden revolves around dealing with the bad choices we make. And from Israel’s history and the life and death of Jesus, we know God is relentlessly fulfilling his plan to rescue us from the consequences of our choices. And nothing will interfere with his plan either. Nothing we do or choose to do, can or will prevent what God has determined he will do. And what he is determined to do is turn all our “godlessness” round, verse 26, including the disobedience of Israel, the psychopathic treatment of the church by Paul, and our own dismal and depressing weakness, into a clear picture of “the depth of the riches of his wisdom and knowledge,” verse 33.
Yes, some people might have to go through some sort of “hell” to wake them up to their own embarrassing and horrific behaviour, just like the Jews had to suffer horribly in 70 AD at the hands of the mercilessly ruthless Romans, but God had us Gentiles waiting n the wings to help the Jews understand where they’d jumped the tracks (verse 11). So, as Paul asked in verse 34, quoting Isaiah 40:13, ”Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?” Do we know better than God? Or do we have a better plan?
Job was faced with those questions, and so are we. But it’s for the purpose of experiencing the supernatural boldly. We see the boldness of our God in his amazing and relentless plan on our behalf, and that boldness rubs off on us, so that we have no doubts whatsoever in him, that he will save everybody in the end, just like he’ll save all Israel.