I never watched the show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but from it sprung the question, “Is that your final answer?” Thankfully for the Jews, they have not arrived at “the final answer” yet, but when they do, what a glorious day it will be! As we head into Romans 11, seek to find evidence of God’s faithfulness that will bring them to the final answer.
Recall Paul’s passion for his kinsmen in Romans 9:1-4? That passion never waned, and we see it ooze out again in Romans 11. Following the five key statements that brought Romans 10 to a close, he begins strong in Romans 11:1-2a, making clear that God has not cast away His people!
According to Romans 11:7-10, what has happened to the Jewish people (just as the prophet Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 29:10, 13)? (Special tidbit: there is a faithful promise in Isaiah 29:14, though. What is it?)
There are already hints that their blindness is not permanent! Have you spotted them?
Israel’s rejection is not total, and it is not final. Pick it up in verses 11-15.
- Have the Jewish people stumbled so badly as to fall?
- What happened instead…and what part do Gentiles play?
- Meditate on verse 12, for it is magnificent! Who benefits by the Jews’ stumbling? But what does it mean for the Jews’ future?
- What is Paul’s stated ambition in verse 14?
- Verse 15 is a companion to verse 12. It was glorious when God brought the Jewish people from the brink of death to physical life following the Holocaust. But that will pale in comparison when God brings the Jewish people to spiritual life from the dead! Wow!
Then, Paul launches into the illustration of the olive tree, which is so vitally important in understanding the Jewish roots of our Christian faith, and what that means for us as Gentiles. Carefully read verses 16-24.
To understand the passage, we must remember the olive tree is a symbol of Israel’s spiritual heritage in Christ. When Paul references broken off branches in verse 17, to whom is he referring? Yes! Jewish people were “broken off” their own tree of heritage…they did not believe in the Messiah.
To whom, then, is Paul referring when he references the wild olive branches grafted in and partaking of the root and fatness of the olive tree? Yes…Gentile believers who put their faith in the Messiah! Israel’s loss is our gain, but we are given stern warning in verse 18. What is that warning? Who supports who? What do you have to say about that? Do you sense God’s unmerited grace and faithfulness to us as wild olive branches?
But Paul was not done with the illustration. Based on verses 19-24:
- Why are some branches broken off? (verse 20)
- Which branches, natural or wild, can be broken off? (verses 21-22)
- Which branches, natural or wild, can be grafted in? (verse 23-24)
- What do those verses tell you about God’s faithfulness to both Jews and Gentiles?
In Romans 11:25, Paul unveils a mystery: the blindness of Israel will last until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Built on the foundation of Daniel 9:24-27, which reveals a 490-year prophetic timeline during which God will accomplish His covenant blessings for Israel. 483 of those prophetic years have passed, and the 7-year tribulation remains. At that time, God’s focus will return to blind, unbelieving Israel and He will complete His plan for the Jewish people.
Yes, it is through the tribulation that Jews will finally, collectively, turn their gaze toward the Messiah, the veil will be removed, and they shall say, Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai (Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord), inviting Him back as King. At that point verses 26-27 will be fulfilled. What is that glorious promise?
Think back to last week’s study when we focused on bringing the King home. Do you now see the part we play in provoking the Jewish people to jealousy? How important is it that we do so now, before they must endure the terrible tribulation? True, the Bible indicates most Jewish eyes will not be opened until the tribulation. But God’s Word would not give us that admonition if none would come to faith prior to that!
Following Israel’s national salvation, consider verses 28-32:
- If you were a Jew, how powerful is the promise in verse 29? Likewise, how powerful is it to us Gentiles?
- How did Gentiles obtain mercy?
- Even so, how do Jews obtain mercy?
- According to verse 32, how have we…Jews and Gentiles…come to receive mercy?
Only God could do that, and Paul seems to lead us in Scriptural worship. To end our day together, read verses 33-36 out loud as an offering of praise to our Almighty, Faithful God!