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24. Romans 11: “The Fall of Old Covenant Israel Should Humble the Church”
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 11/12/2012
(edited December 2019)
Verse 1: “ I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.”
Ancient Israel had systematically and repeatedly failed to obey God, lost and re-lost their deed to the promised land, and seen the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, as a threat and not a blessing. Yet through all that, even unto our day, God has reserved a clear path to salvation for Jewish people. Not through the Law of Moses, but through faith in Christ, the same path God now offers to the whole world.
Long before Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Rome, the Prophet Elijah of the Old Testament gave a stinging critique of Ancient Israel:
Verses 2-3: “ God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.”
But the Lord corrected Elijah. There WERE and still are INDIVIDUAL Jews who are faithful to the Lord. Elijah shouldn’t have and we must not attempt to spiritually “write off” entire groups of people like that. Don’t forget, Jesus was very much Jewish and so was Paul (Praise God!) Listen as Paul relates what the Lord told Elijah and tells us, as there are many Jewish believers in Jesus to this very day:
Verses 4-5: “ But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
Now, the Lord did seek a divorce from Ancient Israel and you can read about it in Jeremiah chapter 3, if you’re not familiar with that. It wasn’t to destroy them, ultimately, but to usher in through Jesus, a Son of King David, a way of individual salvation by Grace, through Faith and not the arduous works of the law! Thus, from the ashes of the Old Covenant came the New.
Verse 6: “ And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
So, today’s Jews have not been written off by God. But the Old Covenant has been set aside and abandoned.
At least, it SHOULD be abandoned and we should not let ourselves be tempted to return to it or to legalism and works for rewards from God.
Verses 7-11: “ What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”
Did Ancient Israel fail? Yes. Was it their rulers who murdered Jesus? Yes, you could make that case. But, even if you aren’t Jewish, your nation of origin has failed God also. And if you’ve ever sinned (and I have met no one who hasn’t, including me) YOU, yourself, put Christ on the Cross as much as Caiaphas or Judas ever did. Really think about it! Certainly, physical Israel has fallen but so has the rest of the entire world.
Verses 12-16: “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.”
The fall of the Old Covenant has brought salvation to the Gentile world! But we need to pray for every individual’s salvation today. How fitting that the nation which so directly participated in forming the roots of the New Covenant can now, through personal faith in Christ, come to fully benefit from the fruits of the New Covenant.
Verses 17-18: “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.”
It is inappropriate for the Church to show distain for ancient or modern Jews. Like Ancient Israel, we are branches in the tree of the Kingdom of God. We are not the Root. We serve the Root. We are not to judge the performance of the other branches.
Verses 19-22: “Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Ancient Israel was guilty of spiritual pride and spiritual negligence. Their errors are recorded, not to show us as superior to them, but to help us remember NOT to repeat their mistakes.
Verses 23-25: “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
Ancient Israel has not lost and the Church won. Jesus has won! And He has won in a way so that ALL may come to Him today and through faith, not works and rituals, receive eternal life.
If you understand that, then you won’t be as tempted to wallow in spiritual pride.
Verses 26-32: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.”
The ground at the foot of the Cross is level ground. No one today, in or out of the Church, stands any taller before God than others stand.
What elevates the believer is the Mercy of the Lord. God has a plan for EVERY life. And all those plans begin at the Cross of Christ. Hope for the Jew, and the Gentile, for EVERYBODY:
Verses 26-32: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”