Has God Rejected His People? May it Never Be!

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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.”
~Romans 10:21

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!
~Romans 11:1

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!

Faith Brings Salvation!

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What glorious truths are found in Romans 9-11!  It’s like a treasure hunt, and the golden nuggets are invaluable!  I hope you are enjoying this week’s study as we examine the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.  We’re headed into Romans 10 today, but if you missed the previous two posts, I recommend you back up and catch them so that you get the fullness of today’s lesson.

Paul opens Chapter 10 driving home the idea that righteousness and salvation are attained by faith alone, not by works.  Then, he cuts straight to the chase in verses 9-10:

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

That’s as plain and simple as it gets!  In fact, if you are following this study (or you simply stumbled upon this post) and you have tried to gain God’s acceptance through anything but simple faith, it is not a coincident that you are here!  He is speaking to you this very moment!  Our Lord longs for relationship with you and you can do nothing to earn it.  Salvation truly is simple: confess and believe!  (Click here for more guidance about how to be saved.)

Salvation is the same for everyone…Jews or Gentiles.  Paul goes on to explain that in verses 12-13 of Romans:

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

However, verses 14-21 allude to the difficulty of the Jewish people in understanding and trusting in faith alone.  To call upon God, they must believe.  To believe, they must they must hear.  To hear, there must be a preacher. Preachers must be sent.

Well, throughout history, God sent “preachers.”  They were called prophets in the Old Testament!  Men such as Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah and others foretold of Christ the Messiah who would come to the Jews.  The preachers came…and the Jewish people heard.  Yet, they did not simply believe by faith.  Instead, they tried to keep the law of Moses.

Verse 15 talks about the beautiful feet of those who bring good news (the Gospel).  The Gospel is all about faith and nothing more.  I want beautiful feet, how about you?  I want to share the good news with others (including Jews).  May we all yearn for beautiful feet!

Allow me to divert for a moment.  Sadly, there are very large Christian organizations (such as Christians United for Israel [John Hagee, who denies Jesus as Messiah] and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews [Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein]) who wholeheartedly love Israel and care for the Jewish people, but WILL NOT “preach the Gospel” to them.  (I’m not suggesting obnoxious “in your face” evangelism that is unnecessarily offensive, but about intentionally taking the opportunities God gives to share the love of Christ both in word and deed.)  How sad that the very key thing Paul teaches about regarding Jewish-Christian relations is not innocently overlooked, but intentionally set aside.  (You can find out about Jewish-related ministries and their sometimes veiled objectives here.)

Romans 10:19 compels us to be a nation (people group) willing to show the love of Messiah, in order to make the Jewish people jealous.  Let’s practice what God’s Word commands!

We’re headed for Romans 11 tomorrow, and it gets REALLY good at that point!  So, here’s your homework: go read that chapter, then join us here again tomorrow as we launch into that chapter!

UPDATE: Friends, I just watched a video that corresponds so closely with our study this week about Christian-Jewish relations.  Tune into an interview with Eitan Shishkoff, an American-born “hippie Jew,” who now lives and ministers in Israel.  He has incredible insight into Jewish-Christian relations.  Catch the interview at the 1:19:50 mark here:

Christ Revealed – Episode 9

(Christ Revealed is a 9-part documentary, with a single episode released each day.  This was Day 9, and I believe the video is available only until 6:00pm Pacific time today.)

God’s 3-Fold Call upon Abraham

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Welcome back to the virtual study table, fellow friends!  Are you enjoying the journey as much as I am?  We’re into really great stuff and I hope you are blessed by it!

Yesterday we discussed God’s calling Abraham from Ur, and how He made Abraham the father of both Jews and Gentiles!  (If you are saying, “Huh….?” Go back and read yesterday’s post!)  Today, we’ll talk about God’s 3-fold call upon Abraham.

The Birthing Call

First of all, God’s call upon Abraham was a birthing call, as God’s purpose and plan was birthed through the Abrahamic Covenant.  We have already talked about Genesis 12:3, but here it is in picture form:

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God’s intent was to bless Israel (Abraham and his descendants), in order that they would bless all the people on earth.  God destined them to be the vehicle of world redemption.

Salvation is a Jewish story…not a Christian one!  We have already talked about how God preached the gospel first to Abraham.  The gospel is not a New Testament thing!  In fact, as Christians, we need to take a step back and consider what still belongs to the Jews.  Paul lays it out in Romans 9.  After spending 3 verses describing his intense sorrow and unceasing grief for his unsaved countrymen (Jews), he lists the things that still belong to them:

  • Adoption as sons
  • Glory (shekinah glory that accompanied them in the wilderness)
  • Covenants (all of them, including the New Covenant, given to the Jews in Jeremiah 31!)
  • Law (meant to lead us to salvation)
  • Temple services (the means of communion and fellowship with God)
  • Promises
  • The Christ!

Wow!  Those things, along with the Word of God (written by Jews), the prophets (Jews), the apostles (Jews) and the Messiah, all belong to the Jews!  Yes, we enjoy the benefits (as Christians), but those things do not belong to us!  In fact, John 4:22 says specifically that salvation is from the Jews!

Those things were all birthed in the Abrahamic Covenant!  So, as Christians, we must stand back and understand the right place in which to stand.  The Jewish people (and Israel) are not to become idols to us, but we also must acknowledge what is theirs without trying to turn everything into a “Christian” thing!  Enjoy the benefits, but don’t think they are yours!

That’s the birthing call.  Tomorrow we’ll consider the second of the 3-fold call of God upon Abraham.  It is the suffering call…and there are “golden nuggets” to be found, so be sure to check back tomorrow!

Shalom!

Iranians Take to Twitter in Support of Israel!

Iranians show support for Israel on Twitter under the hashtag #WeSupportIsrael. Photo: Algemeiner

You likely will not see or hear this on mainstream news, but a growing campaign of Iranians supporting Israel is taking hold!  Thousands of Iranians, using the hashtag #WeSupportIsrael, are expressing their love and support for the Jewish state, despite Twitter being banned in Iran.

Sharona Avginsaz, an official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, indicates that an “Israel in Persian” Twitter page now has over 60,000 followers.

“Most of the Iranian people oppose the regime and its policies towards Israel, and Iranians are always writing to us that they love Israel—that they do not want their regime to use their money to bolster Hamas and Hezbollah.”
~Sharona Avginsaz, Foreign Ministry Persian-language digital-media manager

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a video message to the people of Iran, promising to launch a website to educate Iranian farmers how to recycle wastewater and use water more efficiently.  In the video, Netanyahu said:

“The Iranian people are victims of a cruel and tyrannical regime that denies them vital water. Israel stands with the people of Iran. …Now, Israel also has water challenges. We’ve developed cutting-edge technologies to address them. …We are with you. The hatred of Iran’s regime will not stop the respect and friendship between our two peoples.”

These are major developments in the battle against the evil tyranny of the Iranian regime.  The Spirit of God is moving!  As the Bride of Christ, let’s join with the Spirit in praying that Iranians will come to the Water of Life!

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