So I want to begin with a word of prayer, we’re going to dive right into this, alright?
Father, as we begin this study today, we ask now that You would be our teacher, that You would illumine our understanding and likeness into Your Word. We are totally dependent upon Your Holy Spirit to guide us into all the truth. I think of what Jesus said to Peter, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” So Father in heaven, please make known to us with greater insight and clarity the truth of Your Word and also help us to live it that we can put it into practice. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
All right, we are in Romans chapter 9, Romans chapter 9. And this morning there are three verses that I want us to look at, and I realize I may have slowed down a little bit, but Romans 9 is just so profound that I don’t want to miss anything that’s in this chapter. So, I want us to look at verses 27 to 29 today. The title of this is “The Chosen Remnant,” The Chosen Remnant. So, beginning in verse 27, “Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, ‘Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved. For the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.’ And just as Isaiah foretold, ‘Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, we would have become like Sodom and would have resembled Gomorrah.'”
So the key word is found in verse 27, everything is revolving around the word “remnant.” You see that in verse 27, “it is the remnant that will be saved.” So what is a remnant? A remnant is a leftover. It’s a small leftover piece of something, maybe a piece of carpet, maybe a piece of cloth, it may be a part of a stone, but it’s a discarded piece of material, it’s a fragment that’s left over, it’s a very small part of the whole. And it’s really after the whole has been used, there will be some little portion, some tiny portion that was not used to make a coat, was not used to finish carpeting a room, was not used to finish making a countertop such as with stone, and it really would appear to be of no interest to anyone, almost unusable. And that’s what the word “remnant” means.
Today you can go into a fabric store or a carpet store, and they have their best stuff in the front of the store. And in the very back there will be like a little remnant corner, and it’s just what was left over from a previous job that couldn’t be used, and so they’ll mark it down to half price, less than half price, and you can go back there and just buy a little strip. And it may be you’re trying to patch up something in the back corner of a closet or something that is almost out of view and out of sight.
That’s what a remnant is, and that’s the word that is used here. And a remnant is that portion of a group of people that is left over after a catastrophic devastation. It’s what remains after divine judgment. It is after the invasion of a foreign army. It is the survivors. And that’s the meaning in verse 27.
And in the historical background, these are two Isaiah quotations, Isaiah 10 and verses 27 and 28, Isaiah 1 and verse 29, and these two Isaiah passages they go back to the eighth century B.C., in a time of national apostasy. And Isaiah prophesies of the coming destruction of the nation. There will be the Assyrians who will come down and literally just level the nation. And the survivors will be those who will be taken off as slaves and captives to the Assyrian Empire. And it will be there that they will be so humbled, they will put their trust in the Lord. And they alone will be brought back because everyone else has already been slaughtered. And it’s the remnant that escapes the devastation of the catastrophe.
The same will be true with the Babylonians when they will come and they will attack Jerusalem, Isaiah’s living in Jerusalem and he is a counselor to the king. He prophesied during the reigns of four of Israel’s kings, and he is foretelling because of the unbelief of the nation, because of their stubborn, uncircumcised hearts, because of their refusal to humble themselves beneath the mighty hand of God, that there is a catastrophe that is coming to the nation. And it will be the hand of God that will bring the foreign oppressors. And there will be a tiny remnant that will escape for their life and will be carted off through the wilderness all the way back to Babylon. And there they will be for seventy years, and only after seventy years in captivity will these survivors, this remnant, be allowed to come back. And as you remember, they came back in three stages under Zerubbabel, under Ezra, then under Nehemiah. So that is the meaning of this word “remnant.” And it is this chosen remnant that will be saved.
This is such a dominant theme in the book of Isaiah, that Isaiah has been called “a miniature Bible,” in that there are sixty-six chapters, just like there’s sixty-six books in the Bible. The first thirty-nine chapters are chapters of woe and judgment, that the nation is headed for a catastrophic devastation. And then chapters 40 through 66, those twenty-seven chapters, much like even the New Testament, is the return of the remnant back to the Promised Land. And Isaiah had two sons and he was told by God to name one of those two sons, “the remnant will return.” And so, it is a testimony of God’s wrath and it’s also a testimony of God’s grace, because God had prepared the way back for the remnant even before they were carted off. Just like God’s grace and God’s mercy is already in play long before we even ever sinned and came under the wrath of God. So that’s what’s going on.
Now let me give you one more bit of information by way of introduction why these verses are here. Here is really what Isaiah is addressing. In chapter 8 we saw that God is sovereign in salvation, “Those whom He foreknew He predestined, whom He predestined He called, whom He called He justified, whom He justified He glorified.” So, God is sovereign in salvation. It is an irresistible, sovereign, electing grace. The question then would be, “Then why are not God’s chosen people saved?” or “Why is Israel not saved?” If God is sovereign in salvation, why is Israel in apostasy? Why is Israel in unbelief? If God is so sovereign in salvation, can’t He even save His own people? So, these verses are addressed to explain why Israel is what Israel is in its spiritual state.
Last week, we looked at verses 25 and 26, God’s saving of the Gentiles, “Those who were not My people became My people, and those who were not beloved became beloved,” remember? So now, we’re going to look at God’s dealing with Israel. And just for us to be reminded how God deals with Israel is much how He deals with us. So it would be a false step for us to say, “Well that’s Israel, that didn’t have anything to do with me.” Well, there’s only one way of salvation, and how God saves Israel is how God saves you. And so that there is much carryover here, okay? So we’re going to look at these three verses, I’ve got three headings, not eight, three.
So in verse 27, I want you to see “The Surviving Remnant,” The Surviving Remnant, and that’s very obvious in the text, “it is the remnant that will be saved.” So, let’s look at this. He begins by saying, “Isaiah cries out.” Now just a footnote here, Isaiah was the major prophet of the Old Testament. He called “the evangelical prophet.” He is quoted in New Testament more than any other prophet. He is quoted sixty-five times, that’s a lot, in the New Testament, far more than any other prophet. So, Isaiah is a looming figure from the Old Testament. So, as Paul now quotes Isaiah, this is a major voice to be heard. This is not an obscure prophet that we know very little about. This is the major prophet among the seventeen books of prophecy of the Old Testament.
Next thing I want you to note, “cries out,” please note the verb tense, present tense. He still cries out this very moment, through the pages of Scripture. The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and he continues to cry out this very hour. What he wrote eight hundred years before the coming of Christ is just as relevant, just as pointed as when it was first written. It’s more up to date than tomorrow’s newspaper.
Now note, “he cries out,” that’s a Greek word that means “to scream with a loud voice.” Isaiah is not whispering this, he’s not mumbling this, he is lifting up his voice and that “he cries out” means “this is of great importance.” He is crying out with great emotion, and he’s speaking with intensity and with urgency. So “Isaiah cries out concerning Israel.” The main focus of this entire ninth chapter, really nine through eleven, is “What is God going to do with Israel?”
So, it concerns His chosen people, and again the question on the table is, “Has the Word of God failed, because God said He would save His people?” Has God’s sovereignty been resisted by even His own people? Why are His chosen people not saved? And the implication that could be in someone’s mind that Paul is addressing is, “What’s wrong with God?” Have God’s purposes failed toward His nation? So Paul, who is being directed and led by the Holy Spirit, as he is writing his magnum opus, the book of Romans, is a flash in his mind, he is led now to Isaiah 10 verse 22. This certainly speaks of the command that the Apostle Paul had of the Old Testament.
And so in Isaiah 10 and verse 22, he now quotes, and we read, “Though the number of the sons of Israel,” and this is in contrast to the Gentiles in verse 24, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea.” So, though there be a vast number of Jews down through the centuries, and there’s really two figures of speech being used here, I’ll just draw this to your attention, the first is what we call “a simile,” which is making a comparison between two things using “like” or “as.” Like Psalm 42 verse 1, “As the deer pants after the water brook, so does my heart pant after you, O God,” so a comparison is being made here.
But the second figure of speech is “hyperbole,” I mean, the number of grains of sand on all of the beaches of the world is a number far beyond the number of Jews that would be born. But he is using this hyperbole to make a dramatic impact on our thinking. That there will be a vast, large number of Jews. And this was first said in Genesis 22:17 after Abraham offers up Isaac and God intervenes and God makes this promise that though…”your descendants will be like the sands of the sea, so God will carry out His promises.”
So, “though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea,” here’s the point, “it is the remnant that will be saved.” God never promised to save the entire nation, that was never in the eternal counsel of God. That was never in the eternal purpose of God. All God said is that there will be a very significant remnant out of the larger number. This remnant is like a small nucleus, it’s like a tiny island in the midst of an ocean of apostasy. That there will be a fragment that God will save. So, God’s purposes have not failed. In fact, God’s purposes are precisely on track, because it is the remnant that will be saved.
This remnant is the chosen remnant. These are the elect of God. We could say these are the elect of the elect, meaning they are those chosen for salvation within the larger circle of the chosen nation. It’s one thing to be a Jew; it’s something else to be a converted Jew. And so, this remnant are those who have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be saved. They had been called by God within the time, at the appointed time, into a saving relationship with Himself. They have believed upon the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. They have been saved, and they are now being preserved by God and will be ushered into God’s presence one day in heaven. But the point is, “out of the larger number,” how large? Well, as large as the number of the sands, grains of sand on the beaches of the world, there will only be, in essence, a tablespoon. There will only be a small number that the saving purposes of God will be directed towards.
Now, I want you to turn back to Isaiah with me, and we need to really walk around in Isaiah just a little bit. So I’ll do this as quickly as I can, Isaiah chapter 1. And as you’re turning to Isaiah 1, I just remind you this is how the book begins, this is put on the front doorstep, this is not an obscure thought, this is not a secondary truth that is hidden in some chapter at the back of the book. You open the book of Isaiah, boom…there it is, staring you square in the face. Verse 9, Isaiah 1 verse 9, “Unless the Lord of hosts had left us a few survivors,” that’s the remnant, “we would be like Sodom, we would be like Gomorrah.” The survivors are those that God has sovereignly, graciously intervened in their lives to save them. And if it hadn’t been for these survivors and God’s acting to save these survivors, the entire nation would have gone to hell and no one would have believed in the entire nation if God had not intervened with the remnant and the survivors.
And verse 10, “Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom. Give ear to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah,” and he is likening Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah. I think we can relate to that in our country. Verse 11, “‘What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?’ says the Lord.” “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams.” One of my Bibles, I was looking at it, in the little heading. In fact, here it is right now, in my New American Standard, the heading on top of this paragraph is, “God Has Had Enough,” and it hit the point God had enough of the nation Israel.
Verse 13, “Bring your worthless offerings no longer,” in other words, just stop even coming to church and playing religion. I’ve had enough of your hypocrisy. “Incense is an abomination to Me.” Tell the choir to stop singing, I don’t want to hear it. “New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure iniquity in the solemn assembly.” In other words, your gathering together to worship Me is nothing but rank iniquity. Verse 14, “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them.” So when you spread out your hands in prayer, and you can just see one of the leaders in the temple lifting up their hands upward to God in such a pious stance, God says, “I will hide my eyes from you. Yes, even though you multiply prayers I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.”
Verse 16, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean. Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil,” and verse 18, and how gracious of God, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.'” Verse 20, “But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword,” in other words, that’s on you.
So, these are strong verses, are they not? And it speaks to the fact that the vast majority of the nation brought the hypocrisy of their carnality into the public gathering and into the solemn assembly. And God just says, “I’ve had enough of you people,” and God will put a hook into the jaw of the Babylonians and bring them into Jerusalem and just level the city and just devastate and then take captive the survivors and take them off. So, what I want you to see is in verse 9, “the survivors,” that’s the remnant.
Now come to chapter 10, Isaiah chapter 10, and this is the passage that Paul is quoting. And I want to begin in verse 20, “Now in that day the remnant of Israel,” you see that, “and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped,” escaped the onslaught of the foreign invaders, “will never again rely on the one who struck them,” they are putting their faith and their trust into foreign nations to provide them national security, when it’s these very foreign nations in whom they are trusting, will be the very ones who will come and destroy them. You’ve put your trust in the wrong place. You’ve put your trust in horses and chariots and not in the living God. So we go on to read, “will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will rely on the Lord.” It’s the remnant that will rely on the Lord. The rest will die and go to hell.
So verse 21, “A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant within them will return. A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord God of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.” What God will execute will be the destruction of the nation. And what God will execute is “only a remnant will be saved.”
Now, as Paul will use this in Romans 9, and don’t go back to Romans 9 yet, but as he will use this in Romans 9, he’s not thinking of just physical enemies; he is speaking actually of the greatest threat to unbelievers that there is, God Himself and the wrath of God upon those who refuse to repent of their sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now turn one more chapter, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 11 verse…let’s just start in verse 11, “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” What he is saying is that there will be a great ingathering of people from the corners of the earth at a future time. It’s a prophetic, I think, looking ultimately to the end of the age.
But what you need to see, look at verse 16, I just need to quickly get to the verses we need to see, “And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant,” you see the word “remnant,” “for the remnant of His people who will be left, just as there was for Israel, in the day when they came up out of the land of Egypt.” There’s going to be a second exodus. Just like the first one, when they came out of Egypt, there’s going to be a second one when they come out of Assyria. And when they come out of Babylon to be brought back into the land, it will be as though God will pave a highway in the wilderness in order to bring them back. And it is the, really the providential hand of God that will bring them back. So who’s coming back? Well, it’s not the whole nation; it’s the remnant, it’s the survivors.
Now, come to…go back to Isaiah 6 just for a moment. Isaiah 6, I just want you to see this. You’re very familiar with Isaiah 6, it’s the call of Isaiah into the prophetic office, it’s the vision of the holiness of God and in verse 8, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?” “Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'” In verse 9, Isaiah is now commissioned into the office of the prophet. “Tell this people,” and He is saying to Isaiah, as you go and preach, they’re not going to perceive, they’re not going to understand, in fact your preaching is going to harden their hearts. Your preaching, in verse 10, is going to render their hearts insensitive to the things of God. Your preaching is going to make their ears dull. Your voice will be so loud with the truth, it’s going to cause a hearing loss for Israel and the people of God.
“And their eyes,” verse 10, “will grow dim.” It’s going to be like they’re staring into the bright light of the sun, and it will be the light of the truth of the message that you will bring will blind them. It’s the judgment of God upon His people. But look down at verse 13, “yet there will be a tenth portion in it, and it will again be subject to burning.” And Jerusalem was burned to the ground, it says, “it will be like a tree or a stump,” that is burned in the forest with a forest fire. That stump, there will be little twigs that will emerge from the charred stump. And that’s the remnant that will come back from the devastation that will be brought upon the nation Israel.
Now the larger point that Paul is making is, do not think that it was the purpose of God to save the entire nation. From the very beginning, it’s only a remnant that will be saved. And every one of those whom God foreknew, He predestined, He called, He justified and they will be glorified. We’re not going to turn to it, but I’ll give you one more passage, which would be Isaiah 37 verses 4, 31, and 32. It’s just more of the same.
So, I need to get us back into Romans 9 now, but we needed that historical background for what’s going on. And back now in home base, in Romans 9, the point that Paul is stressing and that he feels compelled, it’s almost as if Paul is reasoning, “I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that the purposes of God have failed towards Israel, and so I guess the Gentiles are plan B.” He is wanting us to know there is no plan B with God, there is only plan A. There is no alternate strategy, God’s not making this up as He goes, God is not calling…He’s not changing the play at the line of scrimmage. This was God’s eternal plan and purpose from before the foundation of the world, and it is being fulfilled before your very eyes.
Now back in Romans 9, I just really want to draw to your attention some verses. Verse 6, Romans 9 verse 6, which we looked at a few months ago, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” Not all Israel is Israel. There’s a physical Israel, and there is a saved Israel within the physical Israel. So, Paul is saying in verse 6, “Don’t jump to the wrong conclusion that the Word of God has failed, because Isaiah said all along it’s only going to be a remnant that’s going to be saved.” In verse 13, even within Israel, “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated,” even within one womb not everyone was saved.
In verses 21 and 22, “From one lump of clay, does not the potter have a right to make some to be vessels of wrath, and others to be vessels of mercy?” I mean, even within the same lump not everyone is a vessel of mercy. There are those that are a vessel of wrath, and that was according to God’s plan.
Now, come to Romans 11 and verse 5, and really Romans 9 through 11 is just one larger section in the book of Romans. But in Romans 11 verse 5, “In the same way then, there has come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.” So, God has always chosen only a remnant out of the nation, out of many families, out of the nation Israel, and it is a remnant according to God’s gracious choice or God’s choice by His grace.
Now look at verse…as long as we’re in Romans 11, look at verses 8 and 10. This is as a result of Israel crucifying their Messiah which, by the way, was according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, Acts 2:23. But Romans 11:8, “God gave them a spirit of stupor.” That means God rendered their minds so that they were stupid and could not understand the gospel. It’s not the devil; it’s God. It’s a judicial hardening of their hearts. And then verse 8, “Eyes to see not and ears to hear not.” God has just blinded their eyes and deafened their ears so that they cannot see their need for Christ and so that they cannot hear the gospel call.
Look at verse 10, “Let their eyes be darkened to see not, and bend their backs forever.” So, not only has God only chosen a remnant, but God has blinded and deafened the rest. This is the sovereignty of God in His grace and in His righteous judgment.
Now, I want you to look at verse 26, Romans 11:26, because I do want you to know at the end of the age, there will be a great ingathering of Jews to faith in Christ. In fact, I’m going to start in verse 25, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery – so that you will not be wise in your own estimation – that a partial hardening has happened to Israel.” In other words, it’s not final and it’s not complete – it was only partial, “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so, all Israel will be saved.” There is coming a day, and I would take the “all” to be in a hyperbolic way that a vast number of Israel will be saved, and the time of this will be at the end of the age. Before the end of the age it’s only a partial hardening, but at the end all Israel will be saved.
So, come back to Romans 9, so that what we have just looked at is the surviving remnant. So in verse 28, I want you to see the severe judgment. In verse 28, he now quotes Isaiah 10 verse 23, if you have a Bible with margin references, you’ll see that on the edge of the page, “For the Lord will execute His word on the earth thoroughly and quickly.” Now let me tell you, when I first read this, I started reading this because I have been very busy from last week to this week, I started reading this like last Thursday and Friday, just scribbling out my observations.
Actually, as I read verse 28, I actually took it as “God will execute His salvation.” I then consulted the commentators and was ashamed that I missed it, I’m confessing my sin right now, I missed it as far as you can possibly miss it. And it became obvious, when I went back to Isaiah 10:23 and read the context, what it says is God will execute, quote, unquote, “complete destruction.” This isn’t saying He’s going to execute salvation thoroughly and quickly, the way I was originally taking it. No, He will execute wrath and damnation thoroughly and quickly. Remember, it’s the remnant that is saved. Everyone else suffers the catastrophic destruction and devastation.
So, let’s look at verse 28, “For the Lord will execute,” please note the divine certainty of this, “will execute,” it’s in the future tense, active voice, indicative mood meaning this is a statement of fact, this is what God will do. God will be active, the nation will be passive. God will act upon the nation with certainty, and He will execute. The word “execute” there, the idea is to bring it to pass, to accomplish it. “For the Lord will execute His word on the earth thoroughly.” The word “thoroughly” means completely, none overlooked, and none will escape this execution. “Quickly,” meaning it will happen swiftly and speedily, and there will be no time to repent, there will be no time to turn away from your sin, there will be no time to say, “O God, give me another chance.” There will be no time to offer some final confession. It will happen so quickly that it is irreversible. And God will do it without hesitation. God will not be slow to bring this about because it will be an expression of His perfect holiness.
Now in the day of Isaiah, this verse that we just read in verse 28, this execution of severe wrath, refers to the coming invasion that will come by the Assyrians and come by the Babylonians. But in the day of Paul, this severe wrath was first mentioned in chapter 1 verse 18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” it probably is looking ahead to 70 A.D. in the total destruction of Jerusalem, not one stone left upon another in the temple as the Romans will come, I think it was Vespasian who led the onslaught, and just literally devastate the entire city and scatter the Jews to the nations of the world and just remove them from their Promised Land. It also looks ahead to the final judgment as well. So, this is the severe judgment, and these are the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction that were mentioned just earlier in chapter 9 and verse 22 and 21.
Now, let’s look at the last heading, verse 29, yeah, and this is sober, this is serious, this is somber, but let us remember it is deserved, but it is also gracious because God doesn’t have to even save a remnant. God would be just as holy and just as righteous and just as perfect if He just wiped the whole nation off the map. That there is a remnant speaks of unspeakable mercy and grace. So in verse 29, I want you to see “The Sinful Nation,” and just as Isaiah foretold, and he now quotes Isaiah 1 verse 9, which I read earlier, “Unless the Lord of Sabaoth” and that means literally “the Lord of hosts,” meaning the Lord who is leading legions and legions and legions of armies at His disposal, and this title for God is a title that identifies God as the one who is the all-encompassing sovereign, who holds every human life in His hands, who holds every human destiny in His hands, who has the whole world in His hands and can dispose of it how He pleases.
“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a posterity,” and this posterity is the remnant in verse 27. It’s the “vessels of mercy” in verse 23. It’s those “who are called” in verse 27. “Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a posterity,” and “a posterity” literally is the Greek word sperma from which we derive the word “seed,” the idea is an offspring, but it’s the remnant. “We would,” “we” referring to the entire nation of Israel, “would have become like Sodom, and we would have resembled Gomorrah.”
I don’t need to tell you about Sodom and Gomorrah as it was overrun with its unnatural desires, men for men and even bypassing women to get to other men. Sodom and Gomorrah was so literally wiped out by God, it no longer exists. It’s probably at the bottom of the Dead Sea. God just brought fire down from heaven. He was so repulsed by the filth of the depravity that He just burned up those two cities to the point they no longer exist. I mean, you can’t buy a bus ticket to Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s not on the map anymore. And what Isaiah was saying and what Paul is saying is that if God had not intervened with the nation Israel, it had spiraled down into such apostasy that it would have reached the dregs of Sodom and Gomorrah, except God intervene to save a remnant. And it’s always been the remnant that God has set His heart upon.
Think about this in the book of Genesis, in Genesis 6 before the flood, the entire world was so loathsome in the sight of God in its sin that God was grieved that He even made man. And He told Noah to build an ark and He said, “Get your wife, get your three sons, get their three wives onto that ark, and I’m going to wipe out the entire globe.” It was just a remnant that was saved.
And then at the end of Genesis 11, a man named Abram who had become Abraham, he was a moon worshiper, he was an idolater who was living in the Ur of Chaldees. God calls Abram and Lot and Sarai to come out and to lead them to a place they had no idea where they were even going, until in Genesis 15 they came to a place where Abraham believed God, and God reckoned it to Him as righteousness. But out of that entire Ur of Chaldees, there’s only three people called out of there to become the fountainhead for the nation of Israel. Israel started with a remnant. Israel started with a moon worshiping idolater that God called out to begin His work.
And then in Genesis 19, as they come to Sodom and Gomorrah, God sends two angels of war to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. And God says to Abram, “Come out and bring your family out, and bring Lot and his wife out, and don’t look back because what I’m about to do will be so devastating.” As you recall, the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah were banging on his doors, wanting to have sex with two angels. That’s how gross and filthy the city had become. And Abram says, “Oh no, don’t do that! Here, have one of my virgin daughters,” to try to hold off the homosexual rage and passion to have these relationships with angels. And so, God calls them out and, as you recall, Lot’s wife, she turned around and looked back with some longing and affection, and God just turned her into a pillar of salt. It was only that little remnant that escaped the fire from heaven that turned Sodom and Gomorrah into just ashes.
So, as we think about God’s eternal purposes and plan, as we think about God’s dealings with Israel, know that the Word of God has not failed. Everything is right on track…right on schedule. There is a remnant and only a remnant that God will save, and you and I could preach until we’re blue in the face, and there’s not going to be one more extra saved because God has given a spirit a stupor, and God has blinded their eyes and deafened their ears. They were already that to begin with by total depravity, now it is a double total depravity and a moral inability. It’s only the remnant. Though it is a partial hardening and at the time of the fullness of the Gentiles at the end of the age, then the floodgates of God’s mercy will be released and all Israel will be saved.
So, as I wrap this up and I intended to wrap this up earlier so we could talk about this, but here’s just a couple things you need to know. Number one, “the few.” History has always hinged with the few. If you’re looking for large numbers to go join be a part of a religious movement, you’re probably in the wrong movement. God has always worked through a remnant. And let me just remind you of Matthew 7 verse 14, “The gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few that be who will find it.” Let me remind you of Matthew 22:14, “Many are called, few are chosen.” And let me remind you of Matthew 13, “the sower and the seed,” three were bad soil, only one of the four was good soil. And that was to prepare the disciples as they would be commissioned and sent out. “Don’t think that everyone is just going to come running to hear the good news. There’s only going to be a portion that God will prepare the soil of their heart.”
And let me remind you of Luke 13:23 and 24, the disciples so understood this that they said, “Well, Master, are only a few being saved?” They understood incorrectly, “Are only a few being saved?” And Jesus said, “Strive to enter in to the kingdom of heaven,” meaning no one is just going to trip their way in, no one is just going to shuffle their feet to enter. No, you’re going to have to strive, agonizomai, the agony of repentance and confession of sin and committing your life to Christ.
So just remember “the few,” and then remember “the focus.” That what God will do, He will do through the few. Large doors swing on small hinges, and large movements of history swing with the few. So, we just need to be faithful as even the Gentile remnant, to do God’s work where God has placed us, leave the results to God. But even among us are there just a few being saved. So that should cause every one of us to examine ourselves, “Lord, am I saved or am I just a part of a church, part of a religious movement, just part of a Bible study? If there’s just a few being saved, have I been born again, have I truly been birthed into the kingdom of heaven?” And that is a sovereign work of God’s grace in the heart that implants spiritual life in the one who is spiritually dead.
If you are saved, and I would assume that most of us here today are, what a rare person you are. I mean, what a trophy of grace you are. We’re not meeting here at AT&T Stadium, okay? We don’t need to add on. It’s a few who are being saved. Obviously, there are more saved than are here present, and it doesn’t presuppose everyone here is saved. But what a rare person you are in the economy of God that you would be numbered among the Gentile remnant as well.