“I ask then, has God rejected his people?” As Rom 11:13ff suggests, at least some of the Gentile Christians in Rome had already answered that question in the affirmative: they’re out; we’re in! So for the shared life of Jewish and Gentile believers, not a little is on the line.
“I ask then, has God rejected his people?” It’s not a new question. Lamentations ends with this:
For rejecting you have rejected us;
you have become exceedingly angry with us. (5:22 LXX)
But earlier in Lamentations:
For the Lord will not reject forever; (3:31)
And Paul doubles down on that, reviewing the analogies he’s used to interpret the present situation: the remnant (vv.2b-6; cf. 9:27), hardening (vv.7-10; cf. 9:18), stumbling (vv.11-12; cf. 9:30-33). And the stumbling is recast in two ways: as the means for salvation to come to the Gentiles (so the Gentiles don’t think of Jesus as simply a Jewish affair?), and as the setup for a glorious denouement: “Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!”
So, just as Paul reached back to the beginnings of human history with God (1:18ff; 5:12ff), so Paul now invites his hearers to engage their imagination: what will an ending worthy of this history look like? Stay tuned.