I ask, then: Did God reject his own people? Certainly not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 1
God has not rejected his people, whom he chose from the beginning. You know what the scripture says in the passage where Elijah pleads with God against Israel:
"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me." 2
What answer did God give him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not worshiped the false god Baal." 3
It is the same way now: there is a small number left of those whom God has chosen because of his grace.
His choice is based on his grace, not on what they have done. For if God's choice were based on what people do, then his grace would not be real grace.
What then? The people of Israel did not find what they were looking for. It was only the small group that God chose who found it; the rest grew deaf to God's call.
As the scripture says, "God made their minds and hearts dull; to this very day they cannot see or hear." 4
And David says, 5 "May they be caught and trapped at their feasts; may they fall, may they be punished!
May their eyes be blinded so that they cannot see; and make them bend under their troubles at all times."
I ask, then: When the Jews stumbled, did they fall to their ruin? By no means! Because they sinned, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make the Jews jealous of them.