Just now, while writing the post below about the Biblical remnant, the sweetest thing happened. A precious friend from Honolulu, with whom I talked last week about spiritual things, texted me with some questions about baptism. After a few more minutes of study with her dear brother in Honolulu, she texted back and asked if we could face time tonight so I could be with her at her baptism. So tonight, just moments ago, I had the sweet privilege of being digitally present at Ala Moana Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, as my (now) sister, Ave, was baptized into Christ.
I have spoken with her enough to know that she is done with sin. I believe with all of my heart that she will serve King Jesus until the trumpet blows. It will be difficult for her. Not all of her family members are Christians. She has some friends who will ridicule her decision and her devotion. I want to ask you all to be in prayer this week for Ave. She is pure and clean and white and headed for heaven. I hope I can introduce many of you to her, if not in this life, when we all get to the best part of the Christian life! Ave, my sister, I am not sure I can sleep tonight; I am so excited about this– your life’s biggest decision. But you should sleep better than you ever have. I love you.
And now, about the remnant…
When I was a little girl, my mother often took me to the nearby TG&Y store where there was a nice fabric department. Sometimes we chose the material for my new dress from a big bolt. But we never did that first. First, we looked in the remnant bin. Remnants were little pieces of fabric, too small to stay on the bolt any longer, but often just right for a little girl’s dress or purse. They were rolled tightly and around each one was stapled a piece of paper describing the make-up of the particular piece (like 100% cotton or 50% cotton/50% polyester), the yardage in the remnant and the total price of the piece (always discounted from the regular selling price). I loved looking in that bin, because while I could not pick up a bolt, I could easily “handle” the remnants and choose for myself.
I love the fact that God has often called his chosen people, the “remnant”. In Ezra 9: 8, Ezra uses this descriptive term for the precious people who went back to Jerusalem from Persian captivity to rebuild the Temple. It’s a sweet, sweet passage. Here it is from both the ESV and the KJV, respectively:
But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery.
And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.
Notice “grace has been shown,”…”a remnant has escaped”…we have “a secure hold in his holy place”… He has “lightened our eyes” and “given us a reviving”. Every single one of those descriptions are ours for the taking today as His remnant. We can be the little piece of the whole race for whom He died—the remnant that has escaped the wickedness of sin and gets a nail in His holy place. I want that secure hold. I want to be a part of the salvaged piece that God is using for His purposes.
Now notice Romans 9:27:
Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
This statement about Israel of old is in the middle of a discussion about how the Jews rejected Jesus and the system of grace, trying to be saved by the works of the old law. Obviously the passage is describing as the remnant the comparatively few Jews who accepted Christ as the Messiah. They were the remnant of the old nation of Israel.
God’s beloved remnant is mentioned some eight times in Isaiah and some 13 times in Jeremiah.* Throughout scripture the remnant, when used in a positive way, is descriptive of the few who are rescued through faith and obedience from physical or spiritual bondage.
But thank God for Romans 11:5:
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
That’s you and me. Paul, here speaks about the Gentiles and how that, through the fall of the Jews, salvation has come to this new remnant; the remnant that is no longer defined by the keeping of the works of the old law, but the remnant that encompasses all who obey through His grace. Paul even says in verse 14, that he would wish to provoke the Jews (his own flesh) to be “jealous” of the Gentiles who have obtained salvation, so that he “might save some of them.” Paul so wanted the Jews to accept Christ and be saved in the new remnant.
Praise God that I, though not a Jew, not a part of the chosen people of old, can claim my place in the remnant. I can have a secure hold in the holy place. Even though I should have been cast away, He salvaged me. Because I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (9:33;10:9-11), I do not have to be ashamed.
Even in the figurative writings of Revelation (12:17, for instance), those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” are described as the remnant. Praise Him that I’ve got that testimony. I am in that remnant.
I am glad that my mother let me choose from the remnants and then she made beautiful things from them. I am glad that, because of these little trips to TG&Y, I understand what a remnant is. I am more thankful that God still chooses the faithful remnant—a little part of those for whom He gave His Son; those who accept his gracious invitation—and that He makes something eternally beautiful from that remnant.
*The Remnant in Isaiah: 1:9; 10:20; 10:22; 11:11; 11:16; 37:4; 37:32; 46:3.
*The Remnant in Jeremiah: 6:9; 15:11; 23:3; 31:7; 39:9; 40:11; 40:15; 42:2; 42:19; 43:5; 44:12; 44:14; 44:28