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.