NKJV - 4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
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In 1 Kings 19:14-18, Elijah had fled for his life to a mountain cave after King Ahab and Jezebel threaten to destroy him. Elijah had given up hope and complained to God he was the only one left who stood for God and not bowed to Baal. God showed His might and power to execute judgement in an earthquake, in a strong wind and a fire. Then in a small still voice which spoke of mercy, God showed His presence. God stated He had reserved for Himself 7000 that have not through the trails worshipped or as the ritual of the false gods kissed the hand. In some translations, the Latin denotes a future meaning also to this proclamation and so Paul in Romans 11: 1-7 is saying God has not rejected Israel even as they had rejected Jesus but had as in Elijah's day reserved to Himself a remnant. Seven is a special number in Scripture, so seven, seventy, seven hundred, or seven thousand carries a special idea of perfection or completeness. Whether God separated exactly seven thousand or used this number to express His grace and Sovereignty. The main point is God will always have a remnant that He reserves.
In my opinion, the mention of the 7,000 individuals in this verse was not speaking of a specific current (at the time Paul wrote) or future number, but was referring to the time of the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament. As noted in 1 Kings 19, King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and his wife Jezebel were trying to kill Elijah because of Elijah's denunciation of them for their worship of idols, and for leading the kingdom of Israel into idolatry. Elijah thought that he was the only one in all of Israel who was still worshipping God rather than idols. He was so discouraged that he asked God to take his life. God encouraged Elijah by telling him that, as bad as the situation appeared to him, there were still 7,000 people in Israel who continued to worship God, and who had not turned to idol worship. The point that Paul was making was that, even in times of great apostasy, when many people are turning away from God, God Himself preserves a remnant of faithful individuals who continue to follow Him and worship Him. Even though the Jewish nation had, for the most part, rejected Jesus, God (as He had in the time of Elijah) had chosen a small remnant (that is, Christians) to be saved by His grace through faith in Christ.
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