Paul writes in Romans 11:11-12 (NIV),
“Again I ask: Did they (Israel) stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!”
In this passage, Paul is asking if Israel, or more specifically, the Jewish people, have fallen so far that they do not have an opportunity to return to the Lord. Paul adamantly states, “Not at all!” This is amazing news for Israel (even today) and is monumental evidence for advocates of free will everywhere , but it’s the verse after this that I would like to draw our attention to at the moment. In the second part of verse 11, Paul reveals that it is because of the transgression of the Jews that salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous.
Although subtle, this verse reveals much needed clarity regarding the sovereignty of God.
In the church today, there exists an idea that everything that happens is a direct result of God’s divine choosing. The extreme adherents to this idea preach a message that nullifies man’s freewill and argues that God is the puppet master behind all of the outcomes of our life. If this were so, one would expect Paul to say that God was divinely orchestrating the outcome of both Jews and Gentiles, but he doesn’t. Paul instead reveals that it was “because of their transgression” that an opportunity for salvation was presented to the Gentiles. Their transgression…not God’s divine choosing, not God’s sovereign will, but their choice, their sin, and their will. This is important.
First, it shows us that we play a major part in the outcome of our lives. In a world where it seems that most try to shrug off their responsibility, the Bible is reminding us that our actions, decisions, and will matter – immensely! Second, it shows us that God loves Israel so much that he constantly leaves the door open for their return. But it doesn’t stop there – he loves us that much too! Like the prodigal son, we may wander away, but the Father never stops watching for us, waiting for us, and hoping that we might come to the end of ourselves and return.
What are you choosing today? Are you choosing life? Are you moving in a direction that is going to lead you into greater blessing, understanding, fullness, and joy 0r are you chasing after your own desires, temporal gratifications, and short lived pleasures?