Study friends, we’re headed down the homestretch for this week’s lesson…but it may take us two days to get there! Romans 11 is rich in content and that’s where we’ll hang out to finish our thoughts about the Jewish roots of Christianity. I hope this key point is resonating with you right now: we need the Jewish people and they need us!
So, open your Bible to Romans 11, while I remind you how Paul ended chapter 10:
But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
So, though God gave the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant to the Jewish people through Abraham and his descendants, are the Jews in or out? That seems to be the question, and if we stop reading at chapter 10, we are left with the impression God is fed up and put off by them. But suddenly, opening chapter 11, Paul makes a definitive statement to the contrary!
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!
He then spends the first 6 verses, using himself and Elijah as examples, to say, “Hey…listen up, you Gentiles! God has saved a remnant of Abraham’s physical descendants who have not bowed the knee to Baal (false gods). Also, let me remind you that it is grace, not works, that brought us here.”
Yet, by and large, the Jewish people (outside that remnant) did not attain what they desired. Take a moment to read verses 7-16. (No, really…stop and read it before going on! I want you to hear it straight from God’s Word!)
Did you notice? He now speaks about Israel, not the Jewish people. Attention is turned to national (ethnic) Israel, and he says:
- What they are seeking, they do not find.
- But those who were chosen (those who received by faith) obtained it! That’s the remnant (and believing Gentiles).
- The others were hardened (given a spirit of stupor, eyes that see not and ears that hear not).
Then, verses 11-16 get really juicy! Paul states that, though they may have stumbled over the Stumbling Stone (Jesus), they have not fallen (left without hope)! In other words: God is not done with them yet!
Meanwhile, notice what resulted from their stumble:
- By their transgression salvation came to the Gentiles!
- The door was open for us so that we might move them to jealousy.
- Their transgression means riches for the world and for the Gentiles. (God’s promise to Abraham was that through him ALL the families of the earth would be blessed!)
- If the Gentiles gain such riches, HOW MUCH MORE will be their fulfillment when they recognize and receive the Messiah!
Then, Paul nails it in verse 15:
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
Stop and meditate on that verse for a moment.
God promised salvation to both Jews and Gentiles in an everlasting covenant! He also promised that it would be through Abraham and his descendants that the entire world would be blessed with salvation.
Once the Jewish people rejected it, they set themselves aside as “national” Israel and God proceeded with His plan for Gentiles. It is not that God gave up on them. It is that God has now called us to demonstrate the blessing that came through Abraham!
Thus, their rejection meant life…eternal life…for us. Yet, they have remained in the state Paul described in Ephesians 2:1-3: dead in their trespasses and sin. So, if their rejection means life for us, what will their acceptance be but LIFE FROM THE DEAD!
We’ll talk more about that tomorrow, so you’ll have to come back for “the rest of the story!” Also, bear in mind that Paul’s message to the Gentiles is to avoid being arrogant. Yes indeed, Israel’s loss was our gain, and our call is to move them to jealousy. But he will put us in our place tomorrow!
It all comes together in a glorious crescendo in our next lesson, so don’t miss it! See you then!