You’re back…and I’m so excited for today’s lesson that I’m jumping right out of my skin! If you’re new here and have no clue what I’m talking about, we’re in the midst of a Bible study called Why Israel Matters. This week we are focusing on the Jewish roots of our Christian faith and yesterday we hit the meat of Romans 11. We’ll conclude yesterday’s stream of thought, so go back and catch it if you missed it!
We left off in verses 11-16, establishing the idea that Israel’s loss was gain to the Gentiles. Because of their transgression, salvation came to the Gentiles and reconciliation to the world. But, God is not done with them! For if their rejection meant salvation and reconciliation to the world, how much more will their fulfillment be? It will be LIFE FROM THE DEAD!
So, let’s pick it up there. Recall that God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) was that ALL families of the earth would be blessed. We have established that the blessing is salvation. It is intended for all…Jews and Gentiles! By their transgression, the descendants of Abraham set themselves aside and, in Romans 11, Paul addresses them as “Israel,” not as Jews. Keep that in mind, as we will come back to it!
The next passage in Romans (verses 17-24) is a stern warning to Gentiles. So, let’s identify the elements Paul speaks of:
- Broken off branches = unbelieving Israel
- Wild olive branches = Gentiles
- Olive tree = Israel
- Root = Abraham and his descendants
Because wild olive branches (Gentiles) may be grafted into the olive tree, Paul is illustrating the manner in which we Gentiles attain salvation. After all, John 4:22 tells us salvation is from the Jews, thus God must establish a way in which we can attain it.
Wild olive trees do not bear fruit! Thus, only when we are grafted into the cultured olive tree do we attain salvation and produce fruit. However, broken branches (unbelieving Israel) may also be grafted back into the olive tree. (Salvation is available to both Jews and Gentiles.) It is as if Paul said, “So, Gentiles, don’t be arrogant! You do not support the root…the root supports you.” Because we have salvation, we must not lord it over those through whom salvation has come.
Then, Paul talks about another mystery! Romans 11:25-27 identifies the mystery as the hardening that happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. At that point, all Israel will be saved! National salvation will come and a worldwide revival as never seen before will take place. The transgression and sin that once set the descendants of Abraham aside will be removed and Jews and Gentiles will be one as Paul described in Galatians 3:28.
Now, back to verse 15 where we are told Israel’s acceptance will be LIFE FROM THE DEAD. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the spiritual state of all people without salvation: dead in trespasses and sin, forever doomed and dominated by the devil. Beginning in verse 11 of Romans, Paul addressed Israel, rather than the Jewish people. As “national” Israel set herself aside by transgression, God did not give up on “national” Israel! In fact, He had “life from the dead” on His mind for all mankind, but illustrated it through His chosen people.
Ezekiel 37 clearly describes Israel as a valley of dry bones, which come back to life. We know that, after suffering through many attempts at annihilation (including the Holocaust), the land of Israel was re-born on May 14, 1948. The fulfillment of Ezekiel 37 began, and Israel demonstrated “life from the dead” on that day!
However, that was only a physical rebirth. God’s promise to Abraham was one of salvation! While a remnant of Jewish people have gained spiritual rebirth, the nation of Israel still lives in spiritual death. But Romans 11:26 speaks of a day when ALL Israel will be saved! God is not done yet…and we have a part to play. It is our responsibility to move them to jealousy so that God will fulfill His plan.
It is no wonder Paul ends chapter 11 in the manner he does, and we’ll end this week’s study likewise. But before we do, just know that the study launches into more exciting things as we look at what the Bible tells us lies ahead! Stick with us!
Now, for Paul’s closing words:
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.