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Romans 11:1-10 - Homilies By T.f. Lockyer

Grace and unbelief.

The apostle has shown ( Romans 9:1-29 ) that God has the right, in his governance of human affairs, to take an instrument or lay it aside as he will; and ( Romans 9:30 - Romans 10:21 ) that, in using this right, he acts, not arbitrarily, but according to reasons which approve themselves to his infinite wisdom. He will now show that even the unbelief of the elect people, and their consequent rejection by God, shall be made to contribute to the consummation of his purposes in the salvation of the Gentiles and the final salvation of the Jews themselves. But are the Jews even now wholly rejected? No, in truth, but only partially. As a people they are, though this only for the present, but not indiscriminately and totally. For the apostle himself is an Israelite; there is also a remnant of Christian Jews, as in the ancient days a remnant were true to God; and as for the majority, they are blinded in their unbelief, and hence self-excluded from the election of grace.


1. There had been times of national reprobation in the past, but in the darkest day there had been gleams of light. For example, the times of Ahab: Elijah's despair, and the seven thousand. So at intervals, more or less, throughout their history, from Moses onwards. And yet in the worst times some were true to God.

2. So it was even now. Truly the Jewish people had forfeited the privilege of its election, viz. its mission to the Gentiles as heralding the gospel of Christ. But while the people was "cast off," as it might seem, in its collective capacity, it was not reprobated in its totality as consisting of individuals. Still there was the remnant. And in these latter days of Christian history have not individual Israelites played a distinguished part? e.g. Neander.

3. Yea, even the apostle of the Gentiles himself was an Israelite, of the purest blood; and the very fact that he, an Israelite, was "a chosen vessel" was sufficient to show that God had not "cast off" his people. And in him the Jewish people might almost be said to be fulfilling its office of heralding to the Gentiles the gospel of Christ. He did their work, and right well.

II. THE REPROBATION OF UNBELIEF . While the election, then, was very true, and never withheld from Israelites as such—how could God deal so with them?—yet there was a very terrible reprobation of Israelites alongside the election.

1. Had it not been so in the past? The wilderness-history; the monarchy; the captivities. Yes, truly, reprobation was no new thing.

2. And now: priests, people. Yes, alas! "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." But this gives us the secret of the reprobation; it was their unbelief. It had been so from the beginning: "An evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God" ( Hebrews 3:12 ). And this unbelief had blinded them, and hardened them; it had been as a stupor. And the very things in which they boasted themselves, their spiritual privileges, these had been to them a snare. "Now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."

Let us remember that we may frustrate by our unbelief God's best purposes concerning us. And also that we do not merely lose the blessing which our privileges are designed to give, but they themselves are perverted to our blindness and spiritual ruin. Our "table" is "made a snare, and a trap."—T.F.L.

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