In parts 1,2, and 3, we examined the idea of the remnant in the Bible. We discovered that God created a people to be a remnant on the earth (Gen. 45:7). It is in God’s purpose to create a people, Israel, and preserve that people through all the ages.
God always preserves a remnant. God’s people never disappear. No Holocaust or war or even apostasy can erase the remnant of Israel and the remnant of believers from the nations.
The first mention of Israel as a remnant was in Genesis 45:7, in the days of Joseph, but the remnant idea continued developing long after. The remnant pe entered the Promised Land, was unfaithful to the covenant, and came under judgment. There are many verses that tell the story of Israel’s judgment and exile.
But the stories always include the promise of an unfailing remnant:
2 Chr 30:6 O people of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
Is. 46:3 “Hearken to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; 4 even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.
Jer. 23:3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
Zeph. 2:7 The seacoast shall become the possession of the remnant of the house of Judah, on which they shall pasture, and in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the LORD their God will be mindful of them and restore their fortunes.
Isa 10:22 For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness.
God punishes Israel but will never let a remnant cease. That is why Paul quotes Isaiah 10:22, saying:
Rom. 9:27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved.”
It seems to many Christians that Israel is lost. It seems as if there is no remnant anymore. There are survivors, sure. But is there a remnant of Israel alive to God, his teaching, his plan, and his Messiah?
You’d better believe it. That’s why Paul, a few chapters later, says something else about the remnant:
Rom. 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
Paul says this in the middle of a story about Elijah. Elijah was afraid. The Queen wanted to take his life. He fled to Mt. Horeb, which is Mt. Sinai. He sought an audience with God to complain and wanted to hand in his resignation as prophet. He wanted God to know he felt all alone. He was the only believer left and the nation was lost.
And God said to Elijah, “Not true. I have kept for myself a remnant, 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
So, Christians and Messianic Jews have to remember this as we wait. We see how Israel PAST has been a remnant for God. We see how Israel FUTURE will be again a remnant for God. But we should consider the reality of the remnant in Israel PRESENT.
When I look at the Jewish community in the PRESENT, I admit sometimes to despair and sadness. In the local Jewish newspaper, I read opinions by Jewish writers that directly oppose the great teachings of our God. At Jewish venues, I see crowds of people and I wonder, “When, Lord, when will these believe in your Messiah?”
But the story of the remnant teaches us about that too. The story began with Israel being formed and preserved and enlarged and blessed in the land. The story continued with exile and punishment and war and near destruction.
But the story continues. In exile, God has loved Israel. In exile, God has always kept a remnant of survivors no matter how bad things have gotten. In exile, God has always kept a remnant of believers, no matter how faith has seemed to disappear.
And there are many verses which say God is waiting for the remnant and will make something beautiful out of Israel:
Is. 11:11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant which is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
Mic. 4:7 and the lame I will make the remnant; and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and for evermore.
Mic. 5:7 Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers upon the grass, which tarry not for men nor wait for the sons of men. 8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver.
Mic. 7:18 Who is a God like thee, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger for ever because he delights in steadfast love.
Is. 28:5 In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people;
The story of the remnant is clear: the remnant will never end, God will be glorified by his people, and the people who brought grace and blessing to the world will receive grace and blessing.
And here is a big point I don’t want you to miss: If Israel PAST was God’s remnant on the earth…And if Israel FUTURE will be God’s remnant on the earth…And if God always has a remnant…Then, we have to look at Israel PRESENT with hope and with the understanding that God is at work in Israel.
Many Christians (and, sadly, some Messianic Jews) need to learn that God is at work in Judaism. The rabbis have preserved Israel with laws and traditions. It is because of Judaism that Israel has not come to an end.
But you say, “It wasn’t Judaism that did that. It was God.”
Yes, but Judaism is what God has used on this earth to preserve his people. The rabbis have us lighting candles on Friday and fasting on Yom Kippur and maintaining tradition and peoplehood. God is in this from beginning to end.
And Yeshua himself is present in Israel and in Judaism. He is the “eternal life implanted in our midst” that our Jewish people call upon in blessing the Torah.
When we look at Israel PRESENT, we should see a remnant as well as a remnant in waiting. We should see God preserving.
And that leads me to MESSIANIC JUDAISM. What role do we play?
We are a waiting station, a home waiting for occupants, a place prepared for those who are to come. We are a Judaism, joining with Israel in preserving the Jewish people through Torah and tradition. We are prophetic, bringing in people from among the Gentiles who wish to be part of God’s plan for the remnant of Israel. We are the PRESENT remnant of believing Jews, already calling on Messiah. We are the FUTURE hope, a home for the remnant of Israel FUTURE who must soon come to Yeshua.
For that day is coming and we must be ready. What Isaiah said will come to pass, “the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people.” Let’s be the remnant as we wait for the rest to come in.