In Romans 11:30-32, Paul describes the two great periods of human history, before and after the death of Christ. He discusses the two groups of people who are called Godís people: the Jews (Israelís people) and the Christians. He explains their two different reactions to God - the choice not to obey God, or to accept his help.
At a former time, the people who are now Christians did not obey God. That is true about the earlier part of each Christian's life, before they accepted Christ into their lives (5:6-8). It was true about entire nations before the death of Christ. However, God had a plan to show his mercy, even to people who came from those nations. Godís mercy means the help that he gives because of his great kindness.
If Godís people, the Jews, were obeying God, then God would have used them to show his kindness to people in other nations (Genesis 12:3). In fact, many of the Jews did obey God (11:1), and God did use them for this purpose. All the first Christians were Jews, and from them Godís message, called the gospel, spread across the world.
However, many Jews did not believe the gospel (9:31-33). God used the fact that they did not believe as an opportunity to show his mercy to people from the other nations (11:13). That shows Godís wisdom (11:33). He knew that people in every nation were not obeying him (3:9-23). However, he wanted to show his mercy to people from every nation. So, even when God's own people were not obeying him, he was actively helping other people to know him. His work in the lives of those other people would help his own people to return to him (11:11-12).
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© 2017, Keith Simons.