I say then, Has God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.…
Here the apostle, reflecting on the disobedience of the great majority of the Jewish people, and their consequent rejection, returns to the thought already expressed (Romans 9:27), that "a remnant shall be saved." He himself is a living proof, he says, that God hath not utterly cast away his people. "For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin" (ver. 1). But those who have been rejected have suffered the just and natural punishment of their own unbelief. Two practical lessons are here taught.
I. A WARNING TO THE UNCHARITABLE. Even in the most corrupt Churches there may be true believers. This lesson is practically illustrated by Elijah's mistaken or exaggerated view of the state of Israel in his time. "Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal" (vers. 3, 4). How little Elijah knew of the true state of affairs! There is always a great danger, even amongst those who are most zealous for the truth, of depreciating or under-estimating the good that is in others. Want of charity to others may sometimes be found even in good men. Their very zeal leads them to depreciate others. If others do not come up to our standard of Christian doctrine, or Christian character, or Christian work, we are apt to imagine that they are not Christians at all. No doubt these other seven thousand servants of God were to blame for not having declared themselves more openly on the Lord's side. Had they taken their proper place, and done their duty, they would have encouraged Elijah's heart and sustained his hands; they would have made him feel that he was not alone in his efforts for the true and right; and they might even have prevented his flight. But there was no excuse for Elijah's wholesale condemnation of every one in Israel except himself. "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart." Especially in these latter days, when there are so many divisions amongst Christians, we need to cultivate that charity "which thinketh no evil," which "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
II. A WARNING TO THE CARELESS. One of the great dangers of our time is indifference. Many who regularly attend our churches do so as a mere matter of custom or respectability. They hear the Word of God, but it has no power on their hearts, no influence upon their lives. The fate of rejected Israel is a solemn warning to the careless and indifferent (vers. 7-10). If we do not use our privileges, they will one day be taken from us. The neglect of talents or opportunities is as much a sin as the abuse of them. Men very soon become gospel-hardened. Hence the "more convenient season" to which they look forward never comes. They cease to think seriously about their souls; they cease to have any desire for salvation. The spirit of slumber comes upon them - that fatal sleep of spiritual indifference. Their eyes are darkened, and they do not see how fast they are hurrying to their own destruction. Oh, how it becomes us to urge upon men the present acceptance of the present offer of salvation, the present performance of the duties that lie at their door! - C.H.I.
Parallel VersesKJV: I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.