A Wild Olive Tree

 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
Scripture here reveals a mystery to us. It is the relationship between Israel and the Gentile church. This mystery is that which reveals the wisdom of God and exalts the ministry of Christ. “The mystery here has three elements: (1) at this time in salvation history the majority of Israel has been hardened; (2) during this same time the full number of Gentiles is being saved; (3) God will do a new work in the future in which He will save “all” Israel. (1) Paul tells us that, “For as you once were disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:30-32) Let us explain a little further. The Gentiles were separated from God, without covenant, law, and mercy. Israel was the chosen holy people of God. When Christ came, the Jews rejected Jesus because of their unbelief. However, mercy has come to the Gentiles because of the rejection of the Jews. The Gentiles are now “grafted into the true vine” because the natural branches have been chopped off due to unbelief. Paul is telling us this mystery for the sole purpose of preventing us from becoming “wise in our own opinion.” But, God is a God who cannot lie. Therefore, He has made a number of statements toward the Jews and national Israel that He is obligated to fulfill. Here is the essence of what we are saying: “Paul showed here that hardening is not a permanent sentence against Israel, even though it resulted from their rejection of the message about Christ. First, he reaffirmed that only a part of Israel was hardened. That is, many Jews of Paul’s day did acknowledge Jesus as Lord and were saved. Nevertheless, at the end of the age, the Jews will turn en masse to Christ.” (2)

This is the argument that Paul is trying to make. He quotes from several Old Testament scriptures including Isaiah, the Psalms, Deuteronomy, and Jeremiah to demonstrate that Israel’s rejection is not final. (see Romans 10 and 11) There will come a time when God will turn His attention to the Jews and national Israel. Many would argue that this time period has already begun as there have been more conversions of Jews since the 1940’s to Christ than since the first century. Many would say the that fullness of the Gentiles has come to an end and that the prophesied revivals for Israel will be soon to come.

Nevertheless, the point is this, that we, who have been grafted into the true vine as “wild olive branches” (Romans 11:17) should not become arrogant and prideful. Rather, we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the Israeli-Jewish people. As intercessors in the Kingdom, we should speak the prophecies over Israel that they will be saved. This is the example that Paul gives us in chapters 10 and 11 of Romans. As the church, we should demonstrate humility and recognize that we have a Jewish root in our faith.

The New Testament testifies that the Jews have a zeal for God. Their zeal is just in the wrong place. Their zeal is in their works and obedience to the law. They seek to establish a righteousness that is by their works and not by faith. What they are missing is the element of faith. Even obedience to the law requires some faith. It requires that one belief that on the day of atonement God will hear their prayers and forgive their sins. It requires that, by faith, God sees the works that they do and is pleased with them. These things require faith and not works. Without the faith, the work is useless. This is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “That Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.” (Romans 10:4) Please note, He is not the end of the law, He is just the end of the law as a means of obtaining right standing with God. However, the law remains as God’s holy standard of living. We now, obey the law because we are in the kingdom, by the blood of Jesus, not because we are trying to enter into the kingdom. We obey because of the love that God has for us and the love that we have for Him who has saved us from sin and death. We obey Him because we love Him. ( I John 5:1) The great error of Christians has become the loss of obedience, out of love, to the commandments of God. The great error of the Jews is that they work and keep the law in order to obtain right standing with God.

The Jewish Tanach testifies that all have sinned. Solomon declares it at the dedication of the Temple. He states, “for there is no one who does not sin.” (I Melecham 8:46) (Anyone who says that he has no sin testifies that the scriptures are lying. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” I John 1:8) Therefore, there is a need for an intercessor between God and the people. The law illustrates this when it describes the giving of the Torah on the day of Shavout. The people heard the voice of God and they trembled and were afraid. They went to Moshe and said, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Shemos 20:19) and Moshe, on his part, recognized the need for the intercessor as well. When he retells the story in Devarim, “A prophet from your midst, from your brethren, like me, shall Hashem, your God, establish for you–to him shall you hearken. According to all that you asked of Hashem in Horeb on the day of the congregation saying, “I can no longer hear the voice of Hashem, my God, and this great fire I can no longer see, so that I shall not die.’” (Devarim 18:15-19 Stone Edition Tanach) God and the people both recognized the need for an intercessor between God and man. There have been many such prophets who have risen up to go between the people and God. However, isn’t this the ultimate mission of Hamaschiach? Jesus or Yeshua was this Messiah and this intercessor. He fulfilled what was written in the prophets concerning Messiah. As it is written, “He was despised and isolated from men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness. As one from whom we hid our faces; he was despised, and we had no regard for him. But in truth, it was our ills that he bore, and our pains that he carried–but we had regarded him diseased, stricken by God, and afflicted! He was pained because of our rebellious sins and oppressed through our iniquities; the chastisement upon him was for our benefit, and through his wounds, we were healed. We have all strayed like sheep, each of us turning his own way, and Hashem inflicted upon him the iniquities of us all.” (Isaiah 53:2-6Stone Edition Tanach) Does this not describe what the Jews have done to Yeshua in this present age? It does, but God is rich in mercy! Therefore, He bore the punishment for all of our sins, Jews and Gentiles. Israel has not believed this, so faith has come to the Gentiles. But, a time is coming, and may very well be at hand, when the Jews will recognize their Prophet as spoken of in the law and the prophets, and will seek right standing with God through faith and not by works. Even though, their works now require a certain amount of faith. They will see their error and turn to Messiah. As it is written in the prophets, “I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitant of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplications. They will look toward Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn over him as one mourns over an only child, and be embittered over him like the embitterment over a deceased firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10 Stone Edition Tanach) This great revival as well as, the great revivals of the past, are one of the mysteries of the Kingdom

There are revivals that have been prophesied for Israel that have not had fulfillment. Let’s close with one of them and let us make it our prayer for the Jews and the nation of Israel to receive what God has promised.

“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice Even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it. The excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the Excellency of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with recompense of God; he will come and save you.” Then, the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.” (Isaiah 35:1-7)

“Israel rejection is temporary, until all those who are going to be saved from among the Gentiles come to trust in Christ. Then salvation will come to a large number of Jews in the same way it has come to people for centuries–a faith response to the preached gospel of Christ.” (3)

 

Endnotes

1. Lane, Dennis, English Standard Version Study Bible, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, IL, 2008, page 2177.

2. Cabal, Ted, The Apologetics Study Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2007, page 1699.

3. Hayford, Jack, The Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991, page 1706.

 

 

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