I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said, “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!”
It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.
So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened. As the Scriptures say,
“God has put them into a deep sleep.
To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see,
and closed their ears so they do not hear.”
Likewise, David said,
“Let their bountiful table become a snare,
a trap that makes them think all is well.
Let their blessings cause them to stumble,
and let them get what they deserve.
Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see,
and let their backs be bent forever.”