Have you ever made a promise that you did not keep? For that matter, have you ever made a promise that you did not intend to keep? Sad to say but both of these are situations that are common in the human experience because of our common fallen condition. These are serious offenses for people created in the image of God for the express purpose of accurately reflecting the nature and character of God. Every time we make a promise and don’t keep it, we are reflecting something that is absolutely not true about God. No matter what vow we have made, if we break it we are liars and prove ourselves to be untrustworthy – even if we had our fingers crossed when we made the promise.
Has God ever made a promise that He did not keep? Has God ever made a promise that He does not intend to keep? God is truth and there is no lie in Him at all. It is impossible for God to lie, therefore it is impossible for God to fail to keep His promises. The apostle Paul knew that there would be people who would interpret his preaching of Israel’s failure to believe the Gospel and the hardening of the majority of the nation as a sign that God had rejected Israel (Romans 11:1) and failed to keep His promises (Romans 9:6). So in Romans 11:1-10, Paul gave three proofs that Israel’s rejection was only partial in order to help the Christians at Rome (both Jew and Greek) understand that God keeps His promises and men need God’s grace.
The first proof that Paul gave to show that God has not rejected Israel was his own salvation as an Israelite (Romans 11:1). The second proof that Paul gave to show that God has not rejected Israel was Elijah and the remnant of 7,000 (Romans 11:2-4). The third proof that Paul gave to show that God has not rejected Israel was the present remnant that received grace while the rest were hardened (Romans 11:5-10). All of this was to show that God keeps His promises and therefore we can trust and serve Him because of His great faithfulness. This portion of Scripture shows us three reasons we can trust and serve God.
First, we can trust and serve God because He graciously preserves a remnant of Israel so that He can keep His promises to them (Romans 11:5). From the fall of man into sin in the Garden of Eden, the devil and his demons have done everything in their power to thwart the promises and purposes of God. Their first attempt was to defile the entire human race through cohabitation so that they could destroy the godly, believing line of men and women through whom Christ would come into the world. God sent a flood and destroyed the whole world except for Noah and his family. God preserved a godly line to keep His promises to Adam and Eve.
After the earth was repopulated, God entered into a covenant with Abraham and promised to bring the deliverer through his descendants. Once again there was an attempt to thwart God’s promises and purposes with an attempt to destroy the Hebrew race by destroying all the male Hebrew children. But God rescued Moses and raised him up as a deliverer from Egyptian bondage.
When Christ was born an attempt was made to take His life through the killing of all the male children two years old and under in the region where He was born – but God warned Joseph in a dream and sent them to Egypt ahead of the slaughter.
All through Israel’s history the nation was tempted and led into apostasy and idolatry but God kept for himself in every generation a remnant of Jewish believers. Nothing can stop God from keeping His promises.
Second, we can trust and serve God because salvation is by grace and not works (Romans 11:6-7). If our blessings depend upon our efforts; if our salvation is determined by our works; if our pleasing God is decided by our abilities then we are all doomed. If these things were true then we could never trust and serve God because in the end it would all be for naught. If salvation is conditioned upon our works rather than God’s grace in Jesus Christ then the promise of salvation is one that God doesn’t intend to keep because no man can be saved by the works of his own hands.
Those who seek to be saved by works rather than by grace will not be saved because the promise of God for salvation is in Jesus Christ in whom all the promises of God are “yes” (2 Corinthians 1:20). The problem with the majority of Israel was that they sought salvation as though it were by works and therefore didn’t enter into the promises of God (Romans 11:7) and proved themselves to be children of the flesh rather than children of the promise (Romans 9:8). Thank God salvation is by grace!
Third, we can trust and serve God because His judgments are righteous (Romans 11:8-10). The context of these two quotes from the Old Testament gives us the setting for God’s just judgment on the majority of the nation. First, Paul quoted from the writings of Moses to show that Israel rejected God’s miraculous signs (Romans 11:8; Deuteronomy 29:1-4). The Psalmist in Psalm 106:7, giving commentary on Israel’s rebelliousness, added the truth that Israel rejected God’s multitude of mercies – “Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders [miracles]; they did not remember Your abundant kindness [multitude of mercies], but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.” Next, Paul quoted from the writings of David to show that Israel rejected God’s Messiah [King] (Romans 11:9-10; Psalm 69:22-23; Psalm 35:1-7).
In light of the truth that Israel rejected God’s miracles, His mercies, and His Messiah, we see that the judgments of God are righteous, that He will judge the world in righteousness, and that He always does what is right.
We can trust and serve God because He preserves a remnant so that He can fulfill His promises; salvation is by His grace, not our works; and His judgments are righteous. God keeps His promises and men need His grace.