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“The Tragedy of Rejection” (Romans 10:18 – 11:10)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

We’re continuing our series in the book of Romans Today, we will make it through chapter 10 and into chapter 11.

We’re going to handle the passage a bit differently this week. I’m going to read the entire passage and then we’ll gather five observations from the passage.

Before we go any further, let’s go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to speak to us.


There are some topics that are difficult to talk about but are nonetheless important to talk about. In this passage, Paul speaks about the rejection that some of the people of Israel showed towards Jesus. It’s difficult to hear of anyone rejecting God’s ways but especially God’s own people; it’s a tragedy.

Today’s sermon is entitled “The Tragedy of Rejection.”

Ok, before we look at the passage, let me point out that there are several Old Testament references in this passage. I want to give you a chance to see all of these now. Here’s a list of the references that Paul makes back to the Old Testament.

Verse 10:18 – Psalm 19:4Verse 10:19 – Deuteronomy 32:21Verses 10:20-21 – Isaiah 65:1-2Verses 11:2-4 – 1 Kings 19:14-18Verse 11:8 – Deuteronomy 29:4 and Isaiah 29:10Verses 11:9-10 – Psalm 69:22-23.
So, let’s read the passage now, all at once, and then we will discover five observations regarding rejection.

Look at the passage, starting in Romans 10:18:

10:18 But I ask, “Did they not hear?” Yes, they did:“Their voice has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”19 But I ask, “Did Israel not understand?” First, Moses said, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that lacks understanding.”20 And Isaiah says boldly, “I was found by those who were not looking for me; I revealed myself to those who were not asking for me.”21 But to Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and defiant people.”11:1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Or don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and they are trying to take my life!” 4 But what was God’s answer to him? “I have left seven thousand for myself who have not bowed down to Baal.” 5 In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. 6 Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.7 What then? Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear, to this day.”9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a retribution to them.10 Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and their backs be bent continually.”

So, let’s look now at these five observations. First, . . .

I. Rejection is not from lack of hearing.

Paul starts off the passage by asking the question, “Did they not hear?”

That’s a natural question to ask.

If someone doesn’t believe the gospel message, perhaps it’s because they didn’t hear it.

That’s precisely what last week’s passage was about.

So, maybe the reason that many Jews did not believe the Gospel message is because they didn’t hear it.

Not so in this case, Paul says. Did the Jews hear? In verse 18, Paul says, “Yes, they did.”

Paul then quotes from Psalm 19:4. To make the point that all creation points to the existence of God, the judgment of God, and the love of God.

Of all people, the Jewish people should have been in tune with the love of God found in Jesus the Messiah.

However, the problem was not that they didn’t hear the message. Their rejection was not because they didn’t hear.

Second, we learn that their . . .

II. Rejection is not from lack of understanding.

I want to share with you this reality that will be shocking to some of you: I’m not perfect. One of the main areas where I mess up so much is as a parent. Here’s one area where I mess up: sometimes I will discipline by kids because they didn’t do something correctly but then I will find out that they didn’t understand what I was asking them to do. That’s heartbreaking to me. It’s heartbreaking when my kids, or someone else, suffers consequences as a result of not understanding something.

I think that Paul is acknowledging that reality here. Perhaps the Jewish people heard the gospel but they didn’t understand it.

Paul responds to this excuse by saying that even we Gentiles, who don’t have understanding, have accepted the gospel.

Paul quotes Moses in verse 19 when he makes his point. Paul points to when Moses said, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that lacks understanding.”

Moses is referring to us. When Moses says, “those who are not a nation,” he is referring to those who are not Israel; he’s referring to the Gentiles.

Now, if I’m honest, I don’t know if I should be moved by what Paul is teaching us or offended by it. Apparently, Paul doesn’t think that we Gentiles are very smart.

However, you know what, Church? That’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

We did not receive the gospel because we are wise. We received the gospel because God is wise!

We did not receive the gospel because we had a great plan. We received the gospel because God had a great plan!

We did not receive the gospel because there is something special about us. We received the gospel because there is something special about God!

Notice what Paul points us to in verse 20, from the prophet Isaiah: “I was found by those who were not looking for me; I revealed myself to those who were not asking for me.”

So, you don’t have to be someone with deep understanding to come to God. You don’t even have to be looking for Him.

However, when He comes looking for you, you must respond. This is the reality that Paul has been teaching us in Romans 9 and 10.

Paul then quotes Isaiah again when he says that God was holding his hands out to Israel but they were disobedient and defiant.

When I read this, I can’t help but think of trying to feed stubborn animals. My family grew up with lots of animals and sometimes the animals are so stubborn and stupid that they won’t even eat the food that they need to eat to survive. It’s like, “Come on you stupid, chicken! Eat your food!”

So also, Paul and Isaiah say that God has held out His hands to Israel but they were a disobedient and defiant people.

Israel did not and others do not reject God because they lack understanding; they reject God because they are disobedient and defiant as God Himself declared through Isaiah.

The third observation we find is that . . .

III. Rejection is not forever.

Well, is all hope lost for all Israelites forever? Certainly not!

Paul says in verse 1 that God has not rejected His people.

Paul follows up that statement with an obvious example of how God has not rejected the Jewish people.
Paul, himself, is Jewish!

Of course, God has not rejected the Jews altogether because there stands Paul, a Jewish Christian.

The Jewish people are still the people whom God called and blessed through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their descendants.

All is not lost for the Jewish people.

In order to prove his point from the Old Testament, Paul recalls the story of Elijah.

Elijah was in a moment of despair where he acted as if he was the only faithful Jew left.

However, God pointed out to Elijah that there were seven thousand people who would not give their allegiance to a false god and they were still faithful to the one true God.

Then, Paul makes the connection powerfully in verse 5. He says in Romans 11:5, “In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.”

So, at some point, and it’s happening some even today and since the time of Paul, a number of Jews are returning to the Lord through the power of Jesus the Messiah.

Their rejection of Jesus will not be forever. Some Jewish people will realize God is still seeking them and they will turn to Him.

Observation number four, and closely related to what we just learned is that . . .

IV. Rejection is not total.

Again, this is closely tied to the last point. Whereas to say that “Rejection is not forever,” refers to the timeline, to say that “Rejection is not total,” refers to the effect.

In other words, God is a God of grace. He will not totally reject Israel.

Even though Israel rejected God’s ways over and over; even though they rejected God’s Son, their Messiah, God had not totally rejected them.

God will still show grace to Israel. Hence, Paul says in verses 5 and 6, “5 In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. 6 Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.”

Israel’s rejection of God is not total. Some will turn back to God and God, who is faithful and just, will forgive them of all their unrighteousness.

So, also, when we reject God, it is not the end of the story. If we turn to Him, He is faithful and He will receive us with open arms.

Finally, . . .

V. Rejection is not without consequences.

Well, since God is a God of grace, does He totally overlook our rejection? No, He does not.
If we continue to reject Him, as some in Israel did, there are consequences.

Paul explains in verse 7 that not all in Israel found what they were looking for. There were some who truly followed God, who truly believed, whom Paul once again refers to as “the elect,” who did find God.

What happened to the rest? Paul says in verse 7 that they were “hardened.”

Paul quotes from Moses, David, and Isaiah in verses 8 and 9 to demonstrate that after people continually reject God for a period of time, God will allow that person to be given over to spiritual hardness, spiritual stupor, spiritual blindness, spiritual deafness, spiritual traps, and spiritual burdens.

The consequences of continual rejection of God is that in the end, He will reject you.

This is what Jesus Himself is referring to in Matthew 12:31. Jesus says, “Therefore, I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”
When we speak of blasphemy, we speak of a strong offense against God. Jesus said, that will be forgiven but a continual rejection of the work of the Holy Spirit calling someone to repentance and faith in Jesus will not be forgiven.

A continual rejection of God leads to God’s eventual rejection of you.

Rejection is not without consequences.

However, God did not totally reject the Jewish people, which leads us to this bottom line:

Bottom Line: Though God’s people have rejected Him, He has not rejected them.

As soon they turn to Him, He will receive them with open arms.

So, also, God will receive us anytime we turn to Him and call upon His name.

Remember the words of Paul in Romans 10:13“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

God is full of grace and He wants to save people by His grace. He will one day save a remnant of Jewish people by His grace and He can save us by His grace as well.

Challenge yourself to live out the Word of God this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge #1 – Thank God that the gospel was extended to you.

God did not have to extend the gospel to the Jewish people and He did not have to extend the gospel beyond the Jewish people.

He didn’t have to extend the gospel to you or to me.

However, God is full of grace and love. We should thank Him that He chose to extend the gospel to us.

Weekly Challenge #2 – Extend the gospel to someone else.

God revealed Himself to us when we were not looking for Him.

So, also, God wants to use you to reveal Himself to those who are not looking for Him. They don’t know that they need Him but they desperately do.

Will you extend the gospel to them?

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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