Tonight we are gathering to discuss Romans 11. In Romans 9-10, Paul tries to work through the reality that most of his fellow Jews have rejected his Gospel message. In our readings tonight Paul reaches his conclusion on this matter. Paul begins this final part of his argument with a reference to Elijah. vv2-4. If you have time today, read the stories of Elijah in 1 Kings 17-2 Kings 2. Most of these stories should be familiar to you. In Elijah, we see the same struggles that Paul has faced. Elijah’s nemesis was the Baal-worshipping Israelite King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Early in his ministry, Elijah does battle with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. 1 Kings 18:20-40. On Mount Carmel, all the people of Israel gathered to watch a divine battle between the 450 prophets of Baal and their god, and Elijah and his god. The battle was won by Elijah and the LORD. Paul accomplished similar success over the pagan gods in his ministry to the Gentiles.
Elijah’s victory, however, was short-lived. Jezebel was incensed and ordered Elijah killed. Elijah escapes to Mount Horeb. 1 Kings 19:1-8. There he falls into a deep depression and complains to God that he worked tirelessly on behalf of God, and yet only he in all of Israel remains faithful. It is here that God speaks to Elijah in the sheer silence of that still small voice and tells Elijah to quit his whining and to go and do his work as a prophet, for there remain 7,000 who do not worship Baal. 1 Kings 19:9-18. When Paul looks at his ministry to his fellow Jews, Paul feels the same type of failure as Elijah did. And so in Romans 11, Paul quotes God’s advice to Elijah to transition from his lament over why the Jews don’t understand Jesus as the Messiah to his recognition that their rejection isn’t final. Paul also knows the end of the Elijah story which is that Elijah’s successor, Elisha, wins the final victory of Ahab, Jezebel, and their household. 2 Kings 9-10.
Dinner at 6. The menu is peppers and squash stuffed with lamb and/or veal. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;Psalm 25:1-5
my God, I put my trust in you; *
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
Let none who look to you be put to shame; *
let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
Show me your ways, O Lord, *
and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, *
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.