Romans 9-11 is certainly on my list of the top five most difficult passages. Maybe top three. So I don’t feel like I have much to offer today. But I guess that is another benefit to a comprehensive reading plan: you can’t avoid hard passages!
Here are the two main points I gather from the chapter:
1. God can do what He wants:
Paul describes God as having at that time a “remnant” of faithful Jews that He has chosen by grace (11:5-6). At the same time God hardens the hearts of other Jews so as to open a door for Gentiles (11:7-9, 25). Then God uses this influx of Gentiles to drawn back Jews through jealousy (11:12). But the Gentile Christians in Rome should bear in mind that the same God who cut off Jews because of unbelief can do the same to Gentiles who get a big head and stumble (11:20). This is a very active, sovereign view of God.
2. But God is more than fair:
This second point ameliorates any anxiety about such a high degree of divine control that the first point may bring. The central question of the chapter is stated in the first sentence: “Has God abandoned his people [the Jews]?” The resounding answer throughout the chapter is “no” (11:2). Even those Jews who had “tripped up” presumably by unbelief will not have “fall[en] completely” (11:11). God wants to use Jewish jealousy to save Gentiles (11:14), and if those Jews return to belief they can be grafted back into God’s olive tree (11:23). In what might be the biggest statement of God’s extravagant kindness, 11:28-29 seems to suggest that God will even honor his promises to the Jewish patriarchs to Jews who were still choosing not to believe. God will keep his promises, even if they don’t. We can rest assured that God will assert his power in a manner that is exborinantly fair.