The phrase takes various forms, but the idea is of not being able to see the forest for the trees. Em terms of God’s great and inclusive plan, for Paul, seeing one tree, one sees the forest.
So I ask, God has not rejected his people, has he? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.
Romans 11:1 NET
The letter to the Romans is nothing if not a great missionary declaration from the hand of a messenger whose vision includes the whole world, always with an eye to the next field to be worked.
Within this vision, the people of Israel must be considered. The church is becoming more and more populated by Gentiles. Might this be the sign of the rejection of Israel? Absolutely not! Paul himself is evidence of it. In this case, one tree signals the existence of the forest.
Not all Israel identified as a physical entity will be saved. But all Israel identified by faith will be saved. So the church constitutes the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), the “new people of God,” as the NLT translates it.
Because of this, the gospel must be preached to all. We must pray for the conversion of all. We must open new fields to preach. We must proclaim Christ tirelessly.
Many will reject the gospel. But around the next corner, who knows if we will see a single tree.