So I ask, "Has God rejected his people Israel?" That's unthinkable! Consider this. I'm an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not rejected his people whom he knew long ago. Don't you know what Elijah says in the Scripture passage when he complains to God about Israel? He says,
"Lord, they've killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I'm the only one left, and they're trying to take my life."
But what was God's reply? God said, "I've kept 7,000 people for myself who have not knelt to worship Baal."
So, as there were then, there are now a few left that God has chosen by his kindness.
If they were chosen by God's kindness, they weren't chosen because of anything they did. Otherwise, God's kindness wouldn't be kindness.
So what does all this mean? It means that Israel has never achieved what it has been striving for. However, those whom God has chosen have achieved it. The minds of the rest of Israel were closed,
as Scripture says, "To this day God has given them a spirit of deep sleep. Their eyes don't see, and their ears don't hear!"
And David says, "Let the table set for them become a trap and a net, a snare and a punishment for them.
Let their vision become clouded so that they cannot see. Let them carry back-breaking burdens forever."
So I ask, "Has Israel stumbled so badly that it can't get up again?" That's unthinkable! By Israel's failure, salvation has come to people who are not Jewish to make the Jewish people jealous.
The fall of the Jewish people made the world spiritually rich. Their failure made people who are not Jewish spiritually rich. So the inclusion of Jewish people will make the world even richer.
Now, I speak to you who are not Jewish. As long as I am an apostle sent to people who are not Jewish, I bring honor to my ministry.
Perhaps I can make my people jealous and save some of them.
If Israel's rejection means that the world has been brought back to God, what does Israel's acceptance mean? It means that Israel has come back to life.
If the first handful of dough is holy, the whole batch of dough is holy. If the root is holy, the branches are holy.
But some of the olive branches have been broken off, and you, a wild olive branch, have been grafted in their place. You get your nourishment from the roots of the olive tree.
So don't brag about being better than the other branches. If you brag, remember that you don't support the root, the root supports you.
"Well," you say, "Branches were cut off so that I could be grafted onto the tree."
That's right! They were broken off because they didn't believe, but you remain on the tree because you do believe. Don't feel arrogant, but be afraid.
If God didn't spare the natural branches, he won't spare you, either.
Look at how kind and how severe God can be. He is severe to those who fell, but kind to you if you continue to hold on to his kindness. Otherwise, you, too, will be cut off [from the tree].
If Jewish people do not continue in their unbelief, they will be grafted onto the tree again, because God is able to do that.
In spite of the fact that you have been cut from a wild olive tree, you have been grafted onto a cultivated one. So wouldn't it be easier for these natural branches to be grafted onto the olive tree they belong to?
Brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery so that you won't become arrogant. The minds of some Israelites have become closed until all of God's non-Jewish people are included.
In this way Israel as a whole will be saved, as Scripture says, "The Savior will come from Zion. He will remove godlessness from Jacob.
My promise to them will be fulfilled when I take away their sins."
The Good News made the Jewish people enemies because of you. But by God's choice they are loved because of their ancestors.
God never changes his mind when he gives gifts or when he calls someone.
In the past, you disobeyed God. But now God has been merciful to you because of the disobedience of the Jewish people.
In the same way, the Jewish people have also disobeyed so that God may be merciful to them as he was to you.
God has placed all people into the prison of their own disobedience so that he could be merciful to all people.
God's riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep that it is impossible to explain his decisions or to understand his ways.
"Who knows how the Lord thinks? Who can become his adviser?"
Who gave the Lord something which the Lord must pay back?
Everything is from him and by him and for him. Glory belongs to him forever! Amen!