ISRAEL and the CHURCH
In Romans 11 Paul talks about a mystery. There are several other places in the Bible that also speak of mysteries and I think that if the Bible calls something a mystery, we need to make a point to understand what the mystery is. So I want to talk about the mystery in Romans 11. Lets go there & take a look.
Romans 11:25 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. (NKJ)
Lets go back to the beginning of the chapter ……………
Romans 11:1 I say then, Has God cast away his people? God forbid.
The answer to the question is GOD FORBID – some translations say CERTAINLY NOT. To my understanding either rendition is a very strong Biblical statement that the wide spread doctrine of REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY ( that the Church has replaced Israel ) is not scriptual. – to say the very least ! Lets read on …………
Romans 11:11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? CERTAINLY NOT ! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
I understand this to mean that the Jewish people as a race have fallen temporarily from God’s grace and the Gospel of Salvation has come to the Gentiles in order for them to provoke the Jews to jealousy. Right here we see that God’s plan was always for the Gentiles to bring the Jewish people to a knowledge of their Messiah.
Romans 11:17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,
Lets take a closer look at this. In scripture Israel is often referred to as the OLIVE TREE. So lets picture an olive tree – it has roots, a trunk and branches. The roots are the Patriachs, and the 12 tribes and the natural branches are the people who by birth are the seed of Abraham.
Romans 11:24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be graft- ed into their own olive tree?
So we see that the majority of the natural branches, the Jewish people, have fallen from the tree. What happens when a branch falls from a tree – it dies. And now Gentiles, being the wild branches have been grafted into the tree. But the end of the verse tells us that the Jewish branches WILL be grafted back in.
There are two main points I want to bring out here:
1/ The Gentile Church has NOT replaced Israel, but has become part of Israel
Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh – who are called the uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands–
Eph 2:12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel & strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:19 Now, therefore, you are NO LONGER STRANGERS and FOREIGNERS, but FELLOW CITIZENS with the saints and members of the household of God,
Brothers and sisters – did you really realise that God counts you as FELLOW CITIZENS of the COMMONWEALTH of ISRAEL. This needs to be rooted deep into your heart.
But DONT FORGET Paul’s warning ………
Romans 11:18 …. do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
Lets make another picture – we have the trunk of the Olive Tree – ISRAEL. We have most of the natural branches broken off & laying spiritually dead on the ground. We have the Church which has been predominantly made up of the grafted in branches for nearly 1900 years now and who have been either looking upwards waiting to see the Lord coming back or looking sideways at each other, but almost never looking back down the tree upon which they sit. If they would look down they would see the arch-enemy of Israel & the Church standing at the base of the trunk, with an axe, trying to chop the tree down. If the tree falls the natural branches and the grafted in branches die. We have the luxury of knowing the end of the story, that the OLIVE TREE survives, but it is up to us to pray towards that end. Only the natural Jewish branches who believe in Yeshua, and the grafted in Gentile branches are in a covenantel position with God to be able to do that.!!!.
2/ The natural branches will be grafted back in – so what will that mean for the Church
Romans 11:12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
Romans 11:15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but ………….. LIFE FORM THE DEAD ?
I used to think that this meant life from the dead for the Jewish people, but I now believe that this means LIFE FROM THE DEAD for the Jews & the Church. Have you truly seen the power & miracles that we read about in the book of Acts happening around you ? I believe that only when the missing branches are grafted back in, will the full power of the book of Acts seen again.
Is it any wonder that Satan tried to keep this from the Church and is it any wonder that the LORD told us in Romans 11:25 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.
I am sure we all know the story of the Prodigal Son. It is a perfect picture of what we are talking about today. The younger brother, the Church has been living in the house of the Father while the elder brother, the Jewish people have been out there squandering their wonderful inheritance. But the Father wants his son ISRAEL to come home to Him – He is waiting to see Israel run ning up the path towards His house. Don’t you think it would please the Father to see His other son searching the highways & biways of this world looking for his brother, to gently pick him up & bring him home. What a day that will be – it will be LIFE FROM THE DEAD.
When The Lord first placed the vision for Out of Zion in my heart, I thought it was primarily to personally evangelise the Jewish people, but as I shared the vision with about 30 non-Jewish students at a bible school in Russia, the Lord showed me that here were 30 more potential evangelists to the Jewish people of the CIS. My ministry would be far more effective if I could impart the vision for Jewish evangelism to the Church. As we read before in Romans 11, Salvation has come to the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to jealousy (Romans 11:11). The Lord has destined the Gentiles to bring the Jews to Salvation in Yeshua. This can be seen in the following scripture …………. Isaiah 49: 22 “Thus says the Lord God – Behold I will lift my hand in an oath to the nations; and set up my standard for the peoples, They shall bring your sons in their arms and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders ” This is now being fulfilled in the natural by ministries like Exobus and Ebinezer, who are physically bringing home the sons and daughters of Israel, but they also need to be brought home spiritually.
WHAT PART CAN YOU PLAY ?
Let us take a look at what you can practically do to fulfill God’s call to the Church to provoke the Jews to jealousy.
I am in no way suggesting that you go down to the local synagogue with a Bible and soapbox. The Jewish people have been verbally and physically abused enough for 2000 years in the name of Jesus. But pray for divine appointments & make the most of them. Learn how to be effective in witnessing to Jewish people. Please feel free to request a copy of Helpful Tips for Jewish Evangelism.
2) If you live by, or work with Jewish people, pray for them, be a friend to them, take every opportunity to share your experiences about the God of Israel with them. Gently and lovingly bring them home to the Father’s house. Tell them He loves them and is waiting for them to come home to Him. But they also need to hear that the only way to do this is through repent- ance & inviting Yeshua to be their Lord & Savior. Share Old Testament scriptures that talk about God’s love for the Jewish people and the verses that clearly point to Yeshua as Messiah.
3) Pray and intercede for Israel – remember you are fellow citizens .
4) If you are limited in what you can do personally, perhaps the Lord would have you support prayerfully and materially a Jewish orientated ministry like Out of Zion. (Romans 15:27) It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.
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