World politics do not dictate the way of God’s children. The Great Commission does.
Romans 11:25-27 “Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’; ‘and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’”
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in world politics and sociological prejudices without giving heed first to what God has purposed. This isn’t a new problem, as it was apparently also an issue in Rome between the Gentile Christians and the Jews. Paul is addressing the Roman Christians, and he is making it his mission to explain to them what God has announced through the prophets as His purpose. The nation of Israel is God’s ancient people. Yes, they have rejected the Messiah, but more importantly, God has purposed it for the salvation of the Gentiles and the eventual restoration of Israel. We have nothing in which to harbor animosity or pride against the Jewish people, regardless of what politics, society, or history might suggest. God will bring His people unto Himself, both Jew and Gentile, and He will do it in the manner that gives Him the glory. In the twentieth century, more Jews became Christians than in all of the nineteen centuries before. While the eschatological significance of that is uncertain, the fact still remains that God is doing His work, and our part in it is to proclaim His glory to all nations in abject humility.
Study/Meditation: What is your role on today’s world stage in regards to the Jewish people? How are you to go about serving in this role?
*Father, You will bring Your people unto You. Give me the wisdom to know what I am to do in service to Your kingdom as a vessel of Your good works. Amen.
God has one plan and only one plan for salvation—Jesus.
Romans 11:24 “For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.”
There is a belief among many biblical scholars, theologians, and lay Christians that we operate under a “two covenant theology,” namely that there is one track of salvation for the Gentiles that leads to salvation and a separate one for Israel. This is fully contrary to all that Paul teaches in his letters and is exemplified again in verse 24. He uses the analogy of a single olive tree to illustrate the point that there is but one covenant by which we enter into union with God and that is through our Lord, Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. He is also again arguing against racism or nationalism which might exists between these two peoples, especially from the Gentile Christians. He reminds us that bringing us into a family from whom we were not born should make us more easily accept that He can and will bring the original members of that family back in, too. There is no room in the kingdom of God for anti-Semitism or for anti-Gentile behavior. God is the one who saves His children. He brings us into His family. He has one plan for bringing about that unity and it is in Christ Jesus for all who believe.
Study/Meditation: Read John 14:6. How does Jesus settle the issue of a two track salvation belief in this statement?
*Father, I pray for all of Your children who have yet to come into Your kingdom. May Your will be done in this in Your time and in Your way through Jesus Christ. Amen.
There are none so rebellious that God can’t bring them unto Him.
Romans 11:23 “And even if they (Israel), if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”
On occasion, we may find it difficult to imagine how God might save some people. They are so very belligerent toward the gospel, even hostile, and it seems quite impossible that anyone or anything will ever get through to them. We witness to them and witness to them, but all seemingly to no avail. This is exactly how many of the Roman Christians felt about the Jews around them. These Jews had already rejected the gospel of Christ but were also persecuting the Christians around them. Paul reminds them and all of us that God has the power and sovereign will to bring His children unto Him, despite the apparent impossibilities.
But notice the beautiful tension between His sovereignty and our belief. It is His power that will bring them and then they must respond in faith or belief. Paul always brings these two necessary instruments to bear upon one’s salvation, for both must occur for an unbeliever to be grafted into the kingdom of God. There are no impossibilities where we see them. God’s power is manifested in this, that even the most rebellious of sinners when they repent and believe on Jesus Christ as Lord is saved. And even more than that, there is no sinner so rebellious that God can’t change their heart. Hallelujah!
Study/Meditation: Think of a situation where you have come into contact with someone who seems as if they will never accept Jesus as their Savior. What should your course of action be?
*Father, thank You that Your will and power are so much greater than I can ever imagine. Amen.
God isn’t Santa Claus. He is God, to be loved and feared in His mercy and power.
Romans 11:22 “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”
Paul is making two very distinct and powerful points in this verse. The first is a call to see God as God. God is not a politically correct god, at least not as far as the world would determine. He doesn’t sit in heaven on a throne of gumdrops loving everyone and bestowing blessings on whoever asks as if He is nothing more than a glorified Santa Claus. A god like that has no power and cannot be revered. That is certainly not God. He is both merciful and mighty, both kind and terrifying, both loving and wrathful. He is a God worthy of honor and praise and majesty, and Paul is calling us to look at Him for who He truly is—omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Seeing God in truth gives His children more of a capacity to love Him in His grace as He has saved us from His wrath. But secondly, Paul is also reminding us that we must continue to examine ourselves to be sure our boasting is always in Him and His grace rather than our positions in His kingdom. Boasting of this type could mean that we haven’t actually been grafted in as we presume. All boasting is to be in Him, for Him, and about Him. Only then can we be assured that we “continue in His kindness.”
Study/Meditation: Read Matthew 10:28-31. What does Jesus teach us about the kindness and severity of God?
*Father, You are glorious and good, mighty and powerful. In holy trembling I approach Your throne, but with uplifted hands of thanksgiving I also bow before Your love. Amen.
Jesus is my Redeemer, and because of Him, I live.
Romans 11:19-21 “Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.”
It is an unfortunate fact of life that much of the church is filled with people who really don’t know Christ. They go to church. They have mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and friends who pray for them. They wear the right clothes when they sit in the pews with their Bibles neatly laid open on their laps. They “Amen” at the right minute, “Hallelujah” when prompted, shake hands during the greeting time, and smile when deemed appropriate. In short, they have taken their membership into God’s kingdom as a fact based on circumstance rather than faith. Paul is warning the Roman Christians not to fall into complacency simply because they aren’t Jewish and therefore haven’t been cut off. Paul reminds them that the Jews have indeed been cut off for their unbelief, but only the Christian’s faith has grafted them in. Without faith in Jesus, true saving faith, they too will find themselves cut off. Sitting in church doesn’t save you. Saying the right words at the right time will not save you. Being in the right family or a member of the right nation or religion will not save you. Only faith in Jesus Christ saves and this is without distinction.
Study/Meditation: Read Matthew 3:7-10 and Romans 3:19-20. What do both Jesus and Paul say about saving faith?
*Father, I know that Jesus is my Redeemer and because of Him, I live. Amen.
There is no “us against them” in God’s family. We’re all here by grace.
Romans 11:17-18 “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”
Exclusivism is an unfortunate reality in human nature. Mankind tends to gravitate toward those of like kind or like nationality or like culture, often to the exclusion of others. From this tendency racism and prejudice are born. Paul knew he was going to deal with that in terms of the Gentile Christians who may be harboring animosity toward the Jews who had rejected Jesus as Messiah. His message in Romans 11:17-18 is a reminder to humility, and it still applies to us today. Paul is telling his audience that they must never forget that while it is wonderful that they have been grafted into the family of God, they now share in the promises that had their beginnings in Israel. Indeed, we are co-heirs in these promises and that the olive tree originates only in Jesus Christ, but may we never group ourselves into an “us” and “them” scenario—Christians and Jews. May we never forget where the promises had their beginnings, and may we never forget the grace that allows us to share in them. Instead of drawing imaginary lines in the sand, let us remember that the fact that we stand on the sand at all must give us pause for humility and thanksgiving.
Study/Meditation: Why do you think that history has so often played out the “Christians against Jews” scenario or vice versa? What should be our attitudes?
*Father, You are a God of grace and love who has elected His children before the foundation of time. Thank You for choosing me. Amen.