HATH GOD CAST AWAY HIS PEOPLE?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-16-69 10:50 a.m.
We are most happy to welcome you who share this service on radio and on television. I am the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And these are the dearest finest people in the earth, my flock. And we invite you, sometime when you are able, you are not sick—because you would be here or in some church were you not sick. The reason you are listening on television or radio is you are ill; you have broken your leg, and you have had a severe operation, and that is the reason you are not in church. So when you are able to be out of bed, we want you to come and visit us in this First Baptist Church in Dallas.
And if you will open your ears and open your heart and listen to the message today, you will learn a great deal about history, and about the Bible, and about what the headlines of our modern newspapers mean. The title of the sermon is Hath God Cast Away His People? It is a question asked in the Book of Romans chapter 11, verse 1. And I shall read that verse and one half of the following verse.
I say then—and this is the apostle Paul writing by inspiration—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.
God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew.
That is the text, and the title of the message, Hath God Cast Away His People? Who are those people? Paul who writes this passage plainly says those people are the Israelites, the seed of Abraham. God hath not cast away His people [Romans 11:1-2].
Now we are almost in a small minority who will say that when the Bible refers to Israel, and when the promises of God are read that the Lord made to Israel, we’re in a small minority who say that is Israel. This is one of the screwiest worlds that God ever made. It has no sense in it. It has no rhyme or reason in it. It sounds to me as though it were mad. And this is a good illustration of modern thinking and modern interpretation.
I repeat: we’re in a small minority who believe that Israel is Israel, for almost all of your so-called biblical scholars will say all of those references and prophecies and promises that are made to Israel are to be applied to the church, and you’re to substitute for Israel the church.
Now what a thing it makes a jumbled mass, mess of the Bible. You can’t tell heads nor tails nor beginning nor ending nor the middle of it. For example, supposed I say when I read history, suppose I say, “Now where it says American, why, we are going to substitute Hottentots. And where it says Frenchman we’re going to substitute Australian aborigine.” For when the history book writes and says American it doesn’t mean American, not really. Nor does it mean Frenchman, not really. So we just substitute these names and classifications and peoples for these things that we read in history.
Can’t you see without my arguing the point that history becomes a jumbled mass, mess? You can’t tell anything about it? It’s the same way about the Bible. It’s absolutely inexplicable. No wonder people say, “I can’t understand the Bible.” Those who are teaching the Bible would make it more difficult than any human mind could understand.
But if you will let the Bible say just what it says, when it refers to an Egyptian, that is an Egyptian. Yes, really, he’s an Egyptian. And when the Bible says an Israelite, it’s an Israelite. And when the Bible refers to a Jew, it’s a Jew. And when the Bible refers to a Gentile, it’s talking about us. If you will do that, the whole Book will be an open Book as it was intended. These things are very plain and very simple, very explicable and most understandable.
So Paul, here in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of the Book of Romans, is talking about the problem of Israel’s unbelief. The Lord came, the Messiah came, Jesus came, and He was crucified by His own people [Matthew 27:22-50]. He was rejected by His own nation [John 1:11], and most of them live in rejection today.
So the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of the Book of Romans is struggling with the problem of Israel’s unbelief. And that’s what he means when he asks the question, “Hath God cast away His people?” [Romans 11:2]. Is the Lord done with the Jew? Is the Lord finished with Israel? Is there no plan or purpose of God for the chosen elect race? Is there? Now that’s what he’s talking about. And if we had five hours or two years—I preached on this for two years through the Revelation—we will find in just a little of it I will mention this morning, we will find that God does not change in His purposes. His sovereign grace that He promised to His people back yonder in the days of Abraham [Exodus 6:2-8], every syllable of that promise, Paul says, God will faithfully keep [Romans 11:2].
Now hath God cast away His people, the Jew? [Romans 11:1]. And we shall speak of him in this brief moment this morning. For almost four thousand years there has been a people, a family of people, a race of people in this earth who are a peculiar people. They are different in habits and laws and customs. Like the great Gulf Stream that meanders through the great Atlantic, easily identified and identifiable, so the stream of Jewish life and habit, and custom, and culture, and law can be seen in human history for almost four thousand years. In every country and nation under the sun you will find them. They are like the bush that burned unconsumed [Exodus 3:2]. Though oppressed and persecuted and hated and in captivity, they have nevertheless existed and continued to exist. That is according to the Word of God. The Lord Himself said that when He comes back to this earth the Jew will still be here [Matthew 24:34].
Now in that course of history, the golden age of the Jew was centuries before the halcyon days of Greece and Rome, before Herodotus wrote his first history. They had a literature before most nations had letters. The men that they have produced stand like giant mountain peaks among little dirt molehills; Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter, John, and Paul. There are no men in human history, not Aristotle, not Plato, not Charlemagne, not Confucius, not Mahavira, Gautama the Buddha, there are no men that begin to measure up to the stature of a Moses or a Paul. They are the gift of the Jewish nation to the human race.
And the institutions that they have bequeathed to us are beyond compare. Monotheism: no nation has ever become monotheistic aside from the influence of the Jew. Our forefathers, we who are Anglo-Saxons, our forefathers were worshiping multitudinous gods, Vulcan and Thor, and Hildebrand, and Lohengrin, and a thousand other so-called deities and heroes. We were worshiping those until we came under the influence of those who preached the gospel of this blessed Book. Nor need I expatiate upon the multitudinous gods of Greece and Rome, the gods of Egypt, the gods of India, the gods of China and Japan, the gods of the Polynesians, the gods of Africa, the gods, the gods of the world! Only one people ever taught humanity monotheism, the worship of the one true God! And that family is the Jew! No nation ever became monotheistic aside from the influence of the Jew.
Second: from his inspired soul came that Book, this Book. Every writer of that Book, with the possible exception of Dr. Luke; the Old Testament, all of them Jews; the New Testament, all of them Jews, with the possible exception of Dr. Luke. It is a Book given to us by the Jew.
Third: our week of seven days and the day of rest, the Lord’s Day, or for them the Sabbath Day, the pattern of our life was given to us by the Jew, the seven-day week and the rest day of worship and praise.
Fourth: the institution of the church; the synagogue is a gift of the Jew. The church is nothing other in its format, in its service, in its ritual, in its type, in its form, is nothing but a continuation of the ancient synagogue.
And fifth: and to us incomparably the most precious and the most sublime; from the Jew came our Lord. Born to a virgin Jewish mother [Matthew 1:20-25], reared in a Jewish home, sent to preach the gospel to the lost house of the sheep of Israel [Matthew 15:24], and still a son of the seed of Abraham [Matthew 1:1], For He took not upon Him, the Scriptures say, the form or the seed or the likeness of an angel. But He took upon Him the form of the children of Abraham [Hebrews 2:16-17]. Our Lord was a Jew.
And the debt we owe to those people we could never repay. No one knows who wrote this poem so full of pathos, but how true.
Scattered by God’s avenging hand,
Afflicted and forlorn,
Sad wanderers from their pleasant Land,
Do Judah’s children mourn;
And ev’n in Christian countries, few
Breathe thoughts of pity towards the Jew.
Yet listen, Gentile—do you love
The Bible’s precious page?
Then let your heart with kindness move
To Israel’s heritage;
Who traced those lines of love for you?
Each sacred writer was a Jew.
And then as years and ages passed,
And nations rose and fell,
Tho’ clouds and darkness oft were cast
O’er captive Israel,
The oracles of God for you
Were kept in safety by the Jew.
And when the great Redeemer came
For guilty man to bleed,
He did not take an angel’s name—
No; born of Abram’s seed,
Jesus, who gave His life for you,
The gentle Saviour was a Jew!
And tho’ His own received Him not,
And turned in pride away,
Whence is the Gentile’s happier lot?
Are you more just than they?
No—God in pity turned to you—
Have you no pity for the Jew?
Go then, and bend you knee to pray
For Israel’s ancient race;
Ask the dear Saviour every day
To call them by His grace;
Go—for a debt of love is due
From Christian Gentiles to the Jew!
[“The Jew,” author unknown]
The Jew; I shall capsulate the great record of that noble elect family of God. Approximately two thousand years BC, God called the son of Terah in Ur of Chaldees, Abram, and changed his name to Abraham [Genesis 17:5]. And he was called a Hebrew, one who crossed over, from Ur of Chaldees, he crossed over the Euphrates River and into the Promised Land [Genesis 11:31; 12:1-4].
In about 1500 BC, Moses, the great lawgiver, was raised up [Exodus 3:7-10]. In about 1000 BC, David and Solomon lived [1 Chronicles 3:1-9]. In 722 BC, Assyria carried away the northern ten tribes and scattered them [2 Kings 17:6]. In 606 BC, to 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar came in three scourging campaigns and finally broke up the nation and carried the people into captivity [Jeremiah 39:1-9; Daniel 1:1-4]. Seventy years later in 536 BC, about forty thousand of them returned to the Promised Land under Zerubbabal and Ezra and Nehemiah [Ezra 2:64].
In about 166 BC, Judas Maccabeus arose to win for the people for a brief time their freedom. In 63 BC, Pompey, the imperious Roman general, interfered in the family quarrels of the hierarchy and made Judah a part of the Roman Empire.
In 30 AD, Jesus was crucified at the hands of the Roman government upon the appeal of the Jewish leaders [John 19:15-18].
And in 66 AD, the whole land became a flame of rebellion against the Roman Empire, and Nero, the emperor, sent Vespasian and his son, Titus, to quail the rebellion. They first destroyed the Jewish army of Galilee under Flavius Josephus, who wrote the history of the entire war. Then when Nero was compelled to commit suicide and Vespasian was called back to Rome to be crowned as emperor of the civilized world, he left his son Titus to complete the destruction of the nation. And in April 70 AD with one hundred thousand Roman legionnaires, the Romans crushed Judah and destroyed Jerusalem and burned the temple, and for those centuries that followed, the Jewish people were without a national homeland.
In May of 1948 the nation of Israel was born. And in June  in the Six Day War, Jerusalem and the west bank of the Jordan River was added to the Israelitish nation. And they stand today, of course, in daily jeopardy with enemies like vicious and howling wolves on every side. And were it not for God in heaven, the Jew long ago would have been destroyed.
Hath God cast away His people? [Romans 11:1]. Are they under the surveillance of the eye of the Almighty? Does God look at the Jew? And does God have a plan and a purpose for the Jew? Hath God cast away His people? How they have existed, how they still remain alive, I do not understand. There is no blotch, there is no dark crimson lines in the history of the so-called Christian church as that which recounts the deep, dark, murderous persecutions of the so-called Christians against the Jews.
For example, in a 1096 AD, the first great Crusade was announced. And how did the Christians begin that holy war? They began it by an attempt to murder all the Jews in Europe. And one year later in 1097 [AD], England destroyed every Jew in the British Isles. The last little group was a little synagogue group of five hundred who with their rabbi was shut up in York castle. And when deliverance was hopeless, they slew one another, and last of all the rabbi took his own life.
And for four hundred years there were no Jews in England. And when the colonies were launched on the Atlantic seaboard, there were no Jews in the Atlantic colonies. And the first Jew that appeared in the new world was under the aegis of our Baptist brethren who founded and chartered Rhode Island, and who invited an oppressed synagogue and their rabbi to come and to enjoy the liberty of religion that our Baptist people wrote into the Constitution of the sovereign nation and state of Rhode Island.
Baptists have been friends to the Jew through all of the centuries. We also know what it is to have our preachers drowned, and hung, and decimated, and destroyed. We also know what it is to live as a minority under a state religion. State religion is a curse in the earth wherever it lifts its ugly head. The great contribution of America to civilization has been religious liberty, a free church in a free state, and the separation of state and religion.
The persecution of the Jews under the aegis of the Christian faith is a dark and tragic story. In Spain, under the Inquisition, they died mercilessly, and the story of the Christian so-called oppression of the Jew in Germany will not be known until God could reveal it. For example, in Strasburg, in Strasburg, in those medieval ages, the Jews were accused of stealing Christian children and slaying them for paschal lambs, for the lambs of the Passover, and eating them. And in Strasburg they took the whole community of Jewish people, two thousand of them, built a great scaffold, placed them on that scaffold, and burned them all alive. And my mind has to distort itself, and to make itself grotesque and unshapen, for me to try to recreate what was done in the name of civilization and in the name of culture and in the name of a great sovereign state, in Hitlerized Germany, who killed, who murdered, who slaughtered millions and millions of Jews.
I’ve never had any more indelible impression made upon my mind in my life than standing soon after the war in Dachau, on the edge of Munich, Bavaria, south Germany: and there in the center of Dachau, first the place where they gassed them; second, the place where they knocked out their teeth for any gold that might be inlayed; and third, a giant, giant, giant furnace. As I looked at the furnace and walked around that long boiler-like piece of iron and steel and machinery, as I looked at it, it was covered with flowers and wreaths. And the walls were covered with flowers and wreaths. And I read the inscriptions from a mother, my father, to my friend; they had been incinerated in that horrible instrument.
Don’t you hesitate to understand why it is that when the Christian comes to the Jew and says, “Oh, thus and so, thus and so” he remembers the dagger, and the fagot, and the gallows, and the guillotine, and the rack, and the dungeon, and the pit. This has been the story of the so-called Christian church.
And right here and I promise myself I would not do as I did at the first service. I got started off on the first service and I never got back. Right here let me say just one thing. When I go abroad, I am asked, sometimes I hear it referred to that America is a Christian nation. No!! America is not a Christian nation. America is a pagan nation. It is a heathen nation. It is a secular nation! It is a nation full of riot, and crime, and rape, and murder, and dope, and liquor, and drunkenness, and violence, and disobedience, and blasphemy! That is America. And in it are Christian people. That’s all. Don’t ever persuade yourself America is a Christian nation. It is a pagan nation in which there are many children of God. And America is becoming increasingly more anarchistic, and more violent, and more saturated in crime and unlawfulness!
Would you ever have guessed that the day would come in civilized America when a woman would be afraid to walk down the street? And would you ever have thought, as I have been accosted by the policemen in New York City, that a man, a grown man, would be warned by the police, “You ought not to walk down this street. Now you follow me, and I will take you to a boulevard under certain lights and under certain conditions and you can walk down that street but don’t you walk down this street. You wouldn’t last five minutes.”
This is America. It is a pagan nation, and increasingly so, and in it some Christians live, like the whole world and in it Christians live. Ah, the story is dark and deep and crimson. Every time a Christian stands up in the presence of a Jew, he ought to remind himself that, in the name of Christ, his forefathers have been decimated, cruelly persecuted and murdered, and the very ground incrimsoned with their blood.
Well, hath God cast away His people? [Romans 11:1]. Is the Lord done with the Jew? Had it not been for the providences of the Lord God in heaven, he would have perished thousands of years ago.
But what does God intend for His people? Hath the Lord cast them away? Now, in just a few moments, just come along with me and listen to the Word of God. And I have no opportunity but just to point it out. If you have time read the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans, where Paul likens all humanity to a great tree, a great tree, and it is an olive tree, and God took out of that olive tree the branches that bore Him not fruit, Israel. And into that olive tree God grafted us Gentiles. But Paul says that the day is coming when the Lord God will put back, will graft back into that olive tree, its rightful branches [Romans 11:15-24], “For I would not have you without knowledge, my brethren, concerning this great mustērion, this secret hidden in the heart of God, that blindness, callousness, in part has happened to Israel until the plērōma, the last one numbered of the Gentiles is going to be saved, until the last one comes down that aisle” [Romans 11:25]. And when the last one comes down that aisle, the plērōma, the full number by which God hath chosen us to be saved, us Gentiles; when the last one has come down that aisle, then, then the consummation of the age, the denouement of history, the great apocalyptic revelation.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
For this is My covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins. This is the covenant that I made with them; as concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes—
we were grafted in, we were saved—
. . . but as touching the election . . .
as though a man could dissuade and turn the great sovereign purposes of God.
I remember, dear me, I remember when Sinclair Lewis stood up in a pulpit in Kansas City and said, “If there is a God I defy Him to strike me dead!” And the whole world applauded at that time. Oh, they thought that was smart! I remember that. And I also remember the next day, Arthur Brisbane, and you would have to be one hundred years old to remember Arthur Brisbane, but in most of the dailies he had a column on the left hand side called “Today.” And the next day Arthur Brisbane wrote in his column and said after he described what Sinclair Lewis had said, “If there is any God I defy Him to strike me dead,” he said,
That is just like an ant crawling on top of the Santa Fe railroad track in the desert of Arizona and saying, ‘I hear that there is a Mr. Story who is the president of the Santa Fe railroad. If there is such a person, I defy him to come out here in these deserts of Arizona and strike me dead, roll over me with one of his wheels.
And Arthur Brisbane said, “What in the world would it be the waste of time for President Story to leave his office in Chicago and go out there in the middle of that desert and strike that little ant dead.”
Oh, dear me, the great Sovereign of the universe has His purposes of election.
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake—through their rejection of Christ, we were put into the household of faith—but as touching the election—the sovereign purpose of God—they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
God doesn’t make a promise one day and then the next day God breaks it. You can count on the Lord. If He says, “If you trust Me I will save you forever” [John 10:27-28], you don’t have anything to worry about, come death or anything else. And if I were a cussing man, I would fill out some of those phrases, but I can’t use them in the pulpit. You don’t have to be afraid, come anything. God will keep His promise. He will see you through. And the promises He made to the Jewish people, and they are on every page, someday God will keep them all.
Well, I said we were going to summarize this and not talk about it. First: there is elective purpose for Israel. Now, according to the passage that you just read, and according to a passage I don’t have time to read in Jeremiah, as a nation they are going back home. God said so [Jeremiah 32:37-44]. And we’re living in a day when that is coming to pass. They’re going back home. There’s going to be a nation again, says God, there’s going to be a nation of Jews. There’s going to be a nation of Israel. And for one thousand nine hundred and forty-eight years there was no nation. But God said so, and we’ve seen it come to pass in our day and in our time. Now God says that the day is coming when they are going to live as a nation in that land [Jeremiah 32:37-44].
Now the Lord also says in the thirty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel that they are going back in unbelief [Ezekiel 36:24-28]. For in this passage here, in the thirty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel, it refers to the gathering together of the Jewish people in Israel in unbelief. Now if you will go over there to Israel and walk among those people—I have three different times—and talk to them you will find to your amazement that most of Israel is atheistic or agnostic, one or the other.
For example, on the great seal of the Hebrew University there is their motto, “The earth shall be filled with knowledge.” And they lop it off! That’s not the verse. The verse is, “And the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord” [Habakkuk 2:14]. But they lop it off. They have returned in unbelief [Ezekiel 36:24-28]. And you will find in the thirty-sixth chapter that while they are there in that homeland in unbelief that they are converted, they are cleansed, and God says they are going to be saved. Those Jews over there in that nation who have returned in unbelief, they’re going to be saved [Ezekiel 36:24-28].
And this is the way they are going to be saved. Would you like to listen to it, even though I go beyond 12:00 o’clock? And you who listen on television, I’m so sorry, there’s never a time—you listen on television—that I get up here, that I don’t think I’m going to finish five or ten minutes before you go off the air. There is never a time but that I go over five or ten minutes just the same, so I don’t promise anything anymore. Isn’t that awful?
How are they going to be saved? How are those Israelites going to be saved? How are they? All right, let me read it to you, then I am going to illustrate that it is not unusual, it is not peculiar. All right, this is the way they are going to be saved. I am going to read from Zechariah, the prophet, chapter 12, chapter 13, chapter 14. All right, listen to it:
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, in bitterness, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn, as though his firstborn son had died.
And in that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadad Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo.
When Josiah the good king was killed and they carried him away mortally wounded, the people gathered back in that place where good King Josiah was killed by the Pharaoh Necho of Egypt. And they mourned for him [2 Chronicles 35:23-25]. That’s the way they are going to mourn when they look upon Him whom they have pierced [Zechariah 12:10].
And in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
And one shall say when they see Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands? Where did they come from? And He shall answer, These are the wounds which I received in the house of My friends.
And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem [Zechariah 14:4]. And the LORD shall come, and all the saints with Him [Zechariah 14:5]. And it shall come to pass at evening time it shall be light [Zechariah 14:7]. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth [Zechariah 14:9].
And as Isaiah says, “And a nation shall be born in a day” [Isaiah 66:8]. Well, isn’t that peculiar and unusual? No, no! That’s the way God does! Listen, the Bible says, the Scriptures say, the Gospels say, that the brethren of the Lord did not believe on Him” [John 7:5]; James, Jude, the brethren of the Lord did not believe on Him, but before He went back to heaven He personally appeared to James, His half brother [1 Corinthians 15:7], and to the other three half brothers. And in the first chapter of the Book of Acts when they were meeting in the upper room before Pentecost, there you will find the mother of Jesus and the brethren of the Lord [Acts 1:14]. They’ve been saved by a personal appearance to them of the blessed Jesus.
All right, just once again. The apostle Paul says in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, and the eighth verse, “And last of all He appeared unto me,” and you have it translated, “as of one born out of due time” [1 Corinthians 15:8]. The Greek word is ektrōma, the trōma, the traumatic experience. We’ve taken the word bodily into the English, ektrōma actually as in an abortion, before the time.
What does Paul mean that “Jesus appeared unto me and I was born, ektrōma, like an abortion, as one before the time?” Why, bless you, according to the word and promise of God, someday the Lord Jesus is going to appear personally before His people, the elect family of God, and they’re going to look on His hands, and they are going to ask Him about His wounds, and they are going to be in a great, great, great bitterness of spirit [Zechariah 12:10, 13:6]. For their sins there is going to be a fountain for cleansing opened [Zechariah 13:1], and they’re going to be saved through a personal appearance of the Lord Jesus to them [Zechariah 12:10], just as He appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus [Acts 9:1-18]. The only difference is Paul says, “He appeared to me as an abortion, before the time, before the time” [1 Corinthians 15:8].
Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you glad that before Jesus went back to heaven He appeared to His brethren, those boys that had been reared in the same home with Him? Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you glad He appeared to the apostle Paul? Aren’t you glad, “And won him to the faith?” Aren’t you glad? Lord, hasten. Aren’t you glad that some triumphant day the Lord will appear to Israel, and they are going to be saved? [Romans 11:26]. They are going to turn, and believe, and repent, and be in bitterness for their sins, and God is going to save them, just as He saves us [Acts 16:31]. Turning to Jesus, looking to Jesus [John 3:14-16], bringing our lost souls and our sins to Jesus [Matthew 11:28]; asking Jesus to wash us clean [Psalm 51:7; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5]. Make us pure; save us by Thy grace [Ephesians 2:8], and someday, Lord, let us stand in Thy presence without fault or blemish [Ephesians 5:27], washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Well, bless His name. How we ought to rejoice and sing praises and love the Lord every day of our life. Let’s start it right now. We’re going to stand in a moment and sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, somebody you, a couple you, to give your heart to the Lord [Romans 10:9-10], come and stand by me. To put your life in the fellowship of this incomparably glorious congregation, come, come. We’ll love Jesus together; we’ll praise His name together; we’ll work for Him together, and we’ll do it until God says, “It is enough, come up higher.” Come this morning. On the first note of the first stanza, step into that aisle and down here to the front. Make the decision now, and when we sing you come, and God bless you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.