In our study of Romans chapter eleven we look at the future of Israel. We shall see that this future is ordained by God and does not depend on the efforts of men.
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"In that case, I say, isn't it that God has repudiated his people?" Heaven forbid! For I myself am a son of Isra'el, from the seed of Avraham, of the tribe of Binyamin.
In chapter ten, we saw the fact that most of Israel rejected Yeshua Messiah. Paul picks up there in his usual style of asking a question and immediately giving its answer. The question he is asking is basically: Does Israel have a future? At the end of the last chapter it seemed pretty unlikely but, here, Paul assures them that they have a bright future because there was a remnant of Jews who believed. This principle of God's remnant goes all the way back to the time of Noah (see Genesis 6), continues through the entire Old Testament, and is demonstrated again in the entire book of Revelation. Paul immediately answers the question by identifying himself as a part of the remnant of Israel as he reminds them of his roots in the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not repudiated his people, whom he chose in advance. Or don't you know what the Tanakh says about Eliyahu? He pleads with God against Isra'el,
Paul reminds the Jews about their history and another time where God had preserved a remnant of his people.
"ADONAI, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars, and I'm the only one left, and now they want to kill me too!" But what is God's answer to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not knelt down to Ba'al."
The history that Paul reminds them of is found in 1 Kings 19. Elijah had cried out to God out of fear that the remnant of his people (meaning himself) was going to be eliminated by the enemy. God's answer to the prophet was with the simple fact that Elijah was not alone but he was unaware of the fact that there were indeed seven thousand more that were called and protected by God. This would have been an encouraging reminder to the Jews of Paul's day as many times they felt alone and persecuted. It can also be an encouragement to the Israel of today in that God has always taken care of the remnant and he always will.
It's the same way in the present age: there is a remnant, chosen by grace. (Now if it is by grace, it is accordingly not based on legalistic works; if it were otherwise, grace would no longer be grace.)
Just as always in the past, God has a remnant (part) of mankind that is his. The difference between now and in the past is that this remnant is "chosen by grace". These people know and hold to the fact that all that is required for salvation is accepting the gift that has been given through Yeshua Messiah. Grace, which is a gift, is the opposite of works where a man deserves his wages.
What follows is that Isra'el has not attained the goal for which she is striving. The ones chosen have obtained it, but the rest have been made stonelike, just as the Tanakh says, "God has given them a spirit of dullness eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear, right down to the present day."
God's people (Israel) were trying so hard to please God with their own efforts that they could not see and understand grace. Some (the remnant) did but most did not. The same thing is true today as we can tell everyone about this grace but God must soften the heart, open the eyes, and allow the people to hear.
And David says, "Let their dining table become for them a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a punishment. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they can't see, with their backs bent continually."
Paul quotes the words of King David from Psalm 69. This song tells of the life of Yeshua and the fact that he not only died on the cross but suffered scorn and shame on our behalf. We are reminded that the Jews who rejected Yeshua as the Messiah did not just reject him but tried to stop anyone else from following him.
"In that case, I say, isn't it that they have stumbled with the result that they have permanently fallen away?" Heaven forbid! Quite the contrary, it is by means of their stumbling that the deliverance has come to the Gentiles, in order to provoke them to jealousy.
In his usual style, Paul asks a question and then gives the answer. In this, we see that God has not abandoned the people of his promise (Israel) in fact he is using the Gentiles to bring them back to himself. We also see comfort in this for all of us who have loved ones that have rejected Yeshua but are still alive. They, too, have not fallen beyond recovery and hopefully they can see God at work in our lives and come to want what we have in Yeshua Messiah.
Moreover, if their stumbling is bringing riches to the world - that is, if Isra'el's being placed temporarily in a condition less favored than that of the Gentiles is bringing riches to the latter - how much greater riches will Isra'el in its fullness bring them!
We, as Gentiles, were blessed by the fact that the Jews rejected Yeshua and opened the door for us to have salvation. We will be even more blessed when all of the Jews are brought back into the family of God.
However, to those of you who are Gentiles I say this: since I myself am an emissary sent to the Gentiles, I make known the importance of my work in the hope that somehow I may provoke some of my own people to jealousy and save some of them!
Why would God send a former Jewish leader to the Gentile people? We see the answer as Paul says the purpose of his ministry was to make the Jews jealous of the salvation of the Gentiles in hopes of winning them to Yeshua Messiah. This is also what is going to happen at the midpoint of the tribulation as described in Revelation 11. The purpose of the two witnesses is to demonstrate God's power and to arouse the Jews to envy (just like Paul said).
For if their casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting him mean? It will be life from the dead! Now if the hallah offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole loaf. And if the root is holy, so are the branches.
This envy is going to cause the Jews to turn to Yeshua and be saved. Just as Yeshua is holy (set apart), so are the Jews and this will be the greatest evangelical event ever.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you - a wild olive - were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, then don't boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you.
We must remember the fact that our roots in the faith come from the Jews and God's promise to Abraham. There are some that teach that we have replaced Israel as God's people but that is simply not the case. As we see here, we are brought in among the Jewish believers and the root that supports us all is Yeshua who was a Jew.
So you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." True, but so what? They were broken off because of their lack of trust. However, you keep your place only because of your trust. So don't be arrogant; on the contrary, be terrified! For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly won't spare you!
We do not boast over the fall of others but instead look to God for strength to keep us from falling. Instead of being proud of what we have accomplished in the faith, we must remain focused on what Yeshua has done on our behalf for it is by that faith that we are saved.
So take a good look at God's kindness and his severity: on the one hand, severity toward those who fell off; but, on the other hand, God's kindness toward you - provided you maintain yourself in that kindness! Otherwise, you too will be cut off! Moreover, the others, if they do not persist in their lack of trust, will be grafted in; because God is able to graft them back in. For if you were cut out of what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree!
This passage holds out so much hope for all of the Jewish people who have not accepted Yesha Messiah. We see that it is the Father's will that all of them simply believe in Yeshua Messiah and be spiritually rich which is what an olive tree symbolizes.
For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won't imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra'el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Isra'el will be saved. As the Tanakh says, "Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer; he will turn away ungodliness from Ya'akov and this will be my covenant with them, when I take away their sins."
The mystery speaks of how God has made a way for both Jew and Gentile to be a part of his family. There are those who have said that "the Church has replaced Israel" but that is simply not the case as we see Paul tells us that this comes from pride and arrogance. This rejection of Yeshua Messiah by many Jews is only temporary as this quote from Isaiah shows us.
With respect to the Good News they are hated for your sake. But with respect to being chosen they are loved for the Patriarchs' sake, for God's free gifts and his calling are irrevocable.
Though many Jews have rejected the gospel of Yeshua Messiah, they will come to accept it and be saved. God made a promise to Abraham and to his descendants and God keeps his promises. Israel has always been his people and they always will be because of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This passage should also bring comfort to us Gentiles who are in Yeshua as we see that our salvation is irrevocable.
Just as you yourselves were disobedient to God before but have received mercy now because of Isra'el's disobedience; so also Isra'el has been disobedient now, so that by your showing them the same mercy that God has shown you, they too may now receive God's mercy. For God has shut up all mankind together in disobedience, in order that he might show mercy to all.
There is nobody that deserves to have a right relationship with God other than his son Yeshua Messiah. We (Gentiles) are saved by God's mercy as an example to the Jews that they will be saved in the same manner.
O the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments! How unsearchable are his ways! For, 'Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has been his counselor?' Or, 'Who has given him anything and made him pay it back?' For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
When Paul reflects on this mystery of God (the union of Jew and Gentile through Yeshua Messiah), it causes him to burst out in worship and praise. He quotes from the prophet Isaiah and reminds us that God is sovereign and only he knows all things. We are also reminded that he owns everything since he created everything.