A father has two children. His boy is 8, we’ll call him Judah; his little girl is 2, we’ll call her Rahab. The father decides to give Judah the coolest toy imaginable: a remote control car. However, in the moment he is about to hand him the wrapped present, Judah throws a terrible tantrum, hits his sister, and angrily throws himself on the floor.
The father wants his son Judah to enjoy the present, and so, in an unexpected twist, he hands it to little Rahab, hoping to provoke Judah to obedience. She opens it up joyfully, chews on the wrapping paper a bit, gets the car out of the package and begins to roll it around. Of course, little Judah is fuming by this point… mainly because he is wicked, but also because he knows what the car is capable of: “Rahab isn’t doing it justice”, he’s thinking, “If she’d just put the batteries in, if she’d just…” but then he remembers how mad he is at his dad, and storms off with a frown.
Meanwhile, Rahab is enjoying her new toy, but here’s the thing: She shouldn’t get arrogant, because sooner or later, if the father’s wisdom is to be vindicated, Judah will ask his daddy for forgiveness.
Now, we’re going to look at Romans 11:25-32, however, before I start with the implications of my little story, please note that my interpretation will not be dispensational, nor premillenial, just ask R. C. Sproul . My goal is simply to make some encouraging exegetical statements about the faithfulness of our God in relation to Israel from Romans 11, not to say when nor how I think those promises will be fulfilled in relation to other escatological events.
So let me begin with a song that lays some common ground: “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons and I am one of them. I am one of them, and so are you (If you repent and believe in Jesus) so let’s just praise the Lord!” We are children of Abraham, his rightful heirs by faith (Gal. 3:29). We are the people of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9), and we are ministers of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6).
None of this is in question… We are Rahab and we are playing with the New Covenant. The question is: Where does this leave Judah, especially in light of the fact that God gave the promise of the New Covenant to him (Jer. 31:31, 36; cf. 33:17-18), a promise that included the forgiveness of his sins (Jer. 31:34), the regeneration of his heart (Jer. 31:33-34) and his dwelling in the land of Palestine (Eze. 36:28)? If the New Covenant is fulfilled in us, does that mean Israel is cast off forever?
Paul says no. Israel still has a future in God’s plan. But, who is Israel you ask?
They are currently hardened (Rom. 11:25); they are enemies of the gospel (Rom. 11:28), and they received an irrevocable (Rom. 11:29) promise that someday they will be saved (Rom. 11:26). Honestly, it seems tough to say Israel means one thing in verse 25, but another in verse 26, especially since the “enemies” of verse 28 grammatically refers back to the Judah/Israel that will have their sins taken away, i.e., will be saved. In other words, Israel, whether we debate its meaning in other texts (i.e. Gal. 6:16), in Romans 11:26, must refer to the physical descendants of Abraham who are currently disobedient.
Interestingly enough, however, this section is not directed so much to Israel, but rather to us, the Gentiles. And one of Paul’s major points in this section is that we Gentiles should not be arrogant, proud or wise in our own eyes (Rom. 11:18, 20, 25), lest we be cut off. Though we are now the people of God (The unexpected twist unforeseen in the OT, cf. Eph. 3:5-6), this does not mean that God has forsaken His people Israel forever. In fact, the reality that we were grafted in to the olive tree only further proves this, because the explicit reason why God grafted us in was precisely to provoke Judah to jealously in order to win him back (Rom. 11:11-12). Paul, the man who was willing to go to hell to save his kinsmen (Rom. 9:3), states that the reason he worked so hard at evangelizing the Gentiles was in order to make Jews jealous and bring them to salvation (Rom. 11:13-15).
Therefore, it is true that we are receiving the promises of the New Covenant, praise God! However, this does not mean that this is all there is to the New Covenant. Paul states that the New Covenant’s ultimate fulfillment is yet future (Rom. 11:27). This is even more obvious if we look back at the initial promise, because the New Covenant is far more glorious than what we are currently living. Let me ask you: do you still have to tell your neighbor, “Know the Lord!” (Jer. 31:34)? If so, you must admit that there are elements of the New Covenant that are still future.
Someday, the Jewish people will look upon their crucified Messiah and be saved. (Now I’m not saying that every Jew who ever lived will be saved, but rather, in my opinion, all of them still alive when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Cf. Luk. 21:24) will believe in Jesus and be saved). At that moment, they will receive their promised inheritance.
However, you don’t need to mope around thinking that someday, like little Rahab, you are going to have to give back your inheritance so Judah can have his, because, thankfully, God is infinite, and so are His riches… and infinity divides out evenly to all inheritors (Eph. 3:6) quite easily and without any tears ;).
Oh what a glorious day that will be when God shows mercy on all (Rom. 11:32-36), and oh how that ought to fuel our hope, knowing that God never shrinks back from fulfilling His promises to the uttermost. Everything He has promised will come to pass exactly as He said it would.
So we don’t have to read Romans 8 and think, “wow, those are great promises, but, I wonder if they’ll come true. I mean, God promised a bunch of great stuff to Israel too, and where are they now?” Romans 9-11, which explains God’s election and faithful dealing with disobedient Israel, proves without a doubt that He is worthy of our trust. Frankly, like we saw yesterday, if He didn’t, by His own definition He wouldn’t be God.
 R. C. Sproul believes that the nation of Israel will be restored to God, though he is obviously not a dispensationalist, “R. C. Sproul, The Gospel Of God: An Exposition Of Romans (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 186-192″.