I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.’ But what is the divine reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,
‘God gave them a sluggish spirit,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.’
And David says,
‘Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and keep their backs for ever bent.’
Paul is writing to the nascent church in Rome because he is planning a stopover there on his way to Spain to continue his ministry, primarily to Gentiles. The question of whether the message of Jesus was intended only for Jews or was more universal was a major issue in the early years of Christianity. In Chapters 9-11, Paul addresses this issue, describing the role of the Jewish nation in God's plan.
Why are Jews so resistant to the message of Jesus Christ? Paul implicitly compares himself to the prophet Elijah, who was similarly rejected in his time by most of the nation of Israel. Just as the Lord preserved 7,000 believers who did not turn aside to worship Baal, so is there a "remnant" in Paul's time receptive to the new church. As always with Paul, he takes the opportunity to note the priority of faith instead of works. That remnant was not selected because they had "earned" salvation, but because they were willing to receive it as a freely-given gift from God.
Metaphysically, all characters in the Bible represent thoughts in consciousness. This passage, I think, reassures us that the new consciousness that is the "kingdom of heaven" does not require 100 percent agreement of thoughts in mind. There will always be a significant energy of fear-based doubt and resistance; there will also always be a solid majority of thoughts reflecting the loving and empowering teachings of Jesus Christ. We don't "earn" those loving thoughts—they are a freely-offered gift from the Divine. Either the fear-based thoughts or the loving thoughts will become our life experience, according to what we choose to affirm with our faith.