“ls … ls not! Is … Is not!” That’s an excerpt from a 2,000-year-old debate raging among my Jewish people over the true identity of Jesus and the question of whether He is the Messiah.

That same kind of debate is raging across the aisles of the church of Jesus Christ around the world today, except the question is different. The question is not whether Jesus is the Messiah and Lord. As His church, we agree emphatically—yes, He is!  The question is this: Is God finished in His dealings with Israel? It is a very important question to address because the answer to that question will greatly affect how we view the world and current events, how we understand the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, and how we communicate the message of salvation to Jewish people in our spheres of influence. 

I want to set the record straight by allowing the Word of God to speak. In his epistle to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul had much to say about God’s relationship with Jews and Gentiles and His dealings with both His church, the body of Christ, and the nation of Israel. Romans 11 provides powerful answers to the question, “Is God finished with Israel?”

It is important to understand a little background to this chapter. The book of Romans was written around AD 58 by Paul while he was in Corinth. Romans is very much a letter laying out the systematic theology of salvation. The main theme of Romans is that righteousness comes from God: specifically, that God justifies guilty, condemned sinners by grace alone through faith alone in Messiah Jesus alone!

Romans 9–11 is all about Israel receiving God’s righteousness in Christ. In Romans 9, Paul discusses God’s past election of Israel. In Romans 10, Israel’s present rejection of the Gospel as a nation is communicated. And in Romans 11, we read the glorious truth about Israel’s future—that Israel’s rejection of the Gospel is neither total nor final. God has a future plan for Israel.

Notice three Ps in this chapter—the Perception, the Purpose, and the Plan. First, in Romans 11:1–10, notice the perception that God has cast away His people. Secondly, in Romans 11:11–24, notice the purpose of Israel’s blindness. And thirdly, ponder the plan for Israel’s future salvation in Romans 11:25–36. This article will focus on the first of those three Ps. Subsequent articles will unpack the second and third Ps.

The Perception That God Has Cast Away Israel
(Romans 11:1–10)

Immediately in verse 1, Paul deals with this perception that even today exists among many in the church and answers the question we’ve raised. He writes, “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid.” The reason Paul has to raise the question in the first place is that in Romans 9–10 he’d been writing about Israel’s rejection of the Gospel of Jesus, and now he has to emphatically qualify that Israel’s rejection of the Gospel is neither total nor final! Notice verse 2, “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” 

Paul then illustrates his point in the following verses by citing Elijah’s misperception from 1 Kings 19. Elijah thought he was the last prophet left standing in Israel after he defeated the 450 false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Wicked King Ahab and his pill of a wife Jezebel were hot on his trail, and he’s discouraged and on the run. God has to set Elijah straight and tell him the truth about the situation. 

The truth is that God Himself had preserved a remnant of true believers—7,000 to be exact, according to His grace. Elijah’s erroneous perception of Israel’s present condition in his day had to be corrected by God. Elijah was sincere, authentic, and even godly, yet he didn’t get the whole picture. Only the Lord sees the beginning from the end, and just as He provided Elijah clarity amid his confusion, God provides us clarity regarding His relationship with Israel. Is God finished with Israel? No!

Yet throughout church history, there have been many who want to identify the church as the replacement of Israel. They claim that since the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, God was finished with Israel and the church has replaced her. Paul deals with that misperception.

When I searched the word “misperceptions” online, 1.2 million sites showed up. Misperceptions certainly abound in life today, as they did in Elijah’s day. There’s nothing new under the sun. He had a misperception God had to clarify. He thought he was alone.  

When I got saved during the 1980s in St. Petersburg, Florida, I had never met another Jewish believer in Jesus. I thought I was alone in the world. I didn’t know there were other Jews who believed in Jesus. However, that misperception was soon dispelled when my mom introduced me to a friend of hers who was a Jewish believer. This woman would later pass along the Jews for Jesus newsletter to me in 1989, and many years later I served as a missionary with Jews for Jesus. 

We all have misperceptions, sometimes about trivial things and sometimes about big things, and these misperceptions can affect how we view the world. Here Paul uses this example from Elijah’s life to help clear up any misperceptions regarding God’s dealings with Israel.

In Romans 11:7–10, Paul quotes King David and the prophet Isaiah from the Old Testament to make the point that God has given Israel what the Bible calls a state of stupor or spiritual hardening. Israel had sought to be righteous through good works, not through faith. Yet God has preserved a remnant according to the election of grace, that remnant including those who were made righteous through faith in the righteous one, the Messiah Jesus. In Paul’s day, although the Jewish people as a nation rejected Jesus, there were still thousands of individual Jewish people who believed in Jesus as Messiah, like Peter, James, and John along with the rest of the disciples. 

Though God blinded the rest for a reason, Israel’s rejection is not total. And as in the first century, we see that same spiritual dynamic in the world today. There are thousands and thousands of Jewish believers in Jesus like myself today, yet Israel as a nation rejects Jesus as Messiah. I’ve had believers ask me, “Larry, why don’t the Jewish people get it? Why do they reject Jesus when He is their Messiah?” 

I reply that this is God’s plan, but it’s not the whole story, nor is it the end of the story. Practically speaking, maybe today you’re going through a trial where you feel alone and confused in an area of your life. Look for clarity in the Word of God and trust Him to provide you guidance in your time of need, as He did for Elijah. Sometimes we feel alone, yet we’re not. The Lord knows every detail of our lives and He’s always working behind the scenes. The God of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:4). In Jeremiah 29:11, God spoke these words through the prophet: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end [hope and a future].” God didn’t abandon Elijah, He hasn’t totally rejected Israel, and He’s never going to let you down either.  

In Proverbs 3:5–6, the writer penned these words I want to encourage you with today, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Just as Elijah pleaded with God about his situation, and just as I plead with God for the salvation of my Jewish people, I encourage you to plead with God about your situation today and allow Him to meet you at your point of need.

Watch for part 2, “The Purpose of Israel’s Blindness,” based on Romans 11:11–24.

Larry Stamm

Larry Stamm


Larry Stamm is the founder and director of Larry Stamm Ministries, author of Jewish Roots of Christianity and a regular contributor to the Watchman on the Wall broadcast. He is a Jewish Christian in love with Jesus the Messiah and the Word of God. Larry Stamm Ministries exists to make the gospel of Jesus a confident topic of conversation for every Christian. www.larrystamm.org