This sermon is number 11 in our current series
The Gospel Explained - Part 11
"What Future For Israel?"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2010 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Well, good morning to you, it's good to be back with you again in Scrabo. We're turning in our New Testament to Romans chapter 10 please, and we are looking mainly at Romans 11, but we left a few verses of chapter 10 still to read. Romans 10, please, verse 16:
"But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our report?'. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: 'Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world'. But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: 'I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation'. But Isaiah is very bold and says: 'I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me'. But to Israel he says: 'All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people'. I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 'LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life'? But what does the divine response say to him? 'I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal'. Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written: 'God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day'. And David says: 'Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, and bow down their back always'. I say then, have they stumbled", that is, Isarel, "that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 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, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, 'Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in'. Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 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 grafted into their own 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. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins'. Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once 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. Oh, 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 has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?'. 'Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?'. For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen".
Now I would guess a great deal of you didn't understand a word of that reading, and it is one of the most difficult portions of Scripture. Even the apostle Peter said about certain things that Paul taught, that they were very difficult to understand. So we're going to try our best, as this is the portion that has been given to us today to consider, to understand what Paul is teaching. We have come a long way these last two weeks, looking at chapters 9 and 10. If you want a title that would sum up, really, what Paul is getting at in all these verses, it is this: 'What Future For Israel?'. What future is there for the nation of Israel?
Now Romans 9, 10 and 11, generally speaking, teach about God's sovereign dealings with Israel which are central to the plan of worldwide redemption. As we have journeyed through chapters 9 and 10, we have learned how - in chapter 9 in particular - God sovereignly chose the nation of Israel as a missionary nation to the world. His desire was that they should witness His goodness and glory to all of the globe, but also that they should be a vehicle for delivering Messiah, Saviour - and that's how the nation of Israel would chiefly be a blessing to the world. They would be the ones from whom Messiah would come and be Saviour.
Now, Paul has spent much of his time arguing that God acted justly and righteously when He chose to set aside Israel temporarily because they did not believe in the Messiah who came from them. The reason why they were set aside, as far as their responsibility is concerned, we saw last week in chapter 10, is because of their unbelief, their lack of faith. They missed the way of faith, and thought that God's righteousness could be achieved through their own righteous works. Because of their unbelief God has turned away temporarily from His chosen people, Israel, and is now turning to the Gentiles with a universal message of faith. Now, if you were here two weeks ago, let me cast your mind back to remember some of the context of the book of Romans, certainly as far as chapters 9, 10 and 11 are concerned. There was a Jew-Gentile issue in Rome. We'll not going into all the details of that, but just to say that many of the Jewish believers who were in the church in Rome were finding this difficult - what difficult? This transition from God working exclusively with the elect nation of Israel, to now broadening His dealings out to the whole world. They find it difficult to grasp, and there were many questions that were arising in their hearts - and it didn't help that Paul was now calling himself 'the apostle to the Gentiles'.
So the question that is inferred throughout all these chapters, coming from the heart and mind of Jewish believers in the church of Rome, was: has God abandoned His covenant, elect, Old Testament people, Israel? Now they have learned already, as we've seen in chapters 9 and 10, that God has set Israel aside temporarily. So now there is a fresh question arising from their heart: 'Well then, is God finished with Israel for good?'. Chapter 11 verse 1 gives us the answer: 'I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not!'. You can't get much plainer than that! 'Certainly not!'. There is a two-pronged argument now coming from Paul as to why He has not cast away His ancient people, Israel. The first is: Israel's rejection is not total, verses 1 to 10 of chapter 11. Then his second prong is: Israel's rejection is not final. It is not total and it is not final!
Now let's deal with these one at a time. So not only did God foreknow Israel - that means He knew them beforehand - and He not only foreknew that they would fail Him, and be supplanted by other Gentile peoples, but He had Moses (the law) and Isaiah (the prophets) explicitly predict this. We read this at the end of verse 10, two prophecies from the law of Moses and the prophet Isaiah. God foreknew these things - and let me just pause here for a moment to say that nothing takes God unawares. There are no unforeseen circumstances as far as God is concerned, and especially none that disrupt His sovereign purpose and plan. So by quoting the prophets here, Paul is telling us that this is something that God foresaw - His programme is not disrupted. We read, and I hope you studied, in chapter 8 that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. God had foreseen all this, and prophesied through the law and the prophets.
Israel's rejection is not total, this has not taken God unawares. Paul cites two pieces of evidence why Israel have not been cast away. The first is himself, Paul personally, in verse 1 we read this: 'For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin'. He's saying: 'Israel's rejection is not total, because there are Israelites being saved - and I am one of them, of the tribe of Benjamin!'. So Paul's argument is personal, he has been saved - but there is not only his personal argument, there is a principle of remnant that he uses as evidence that Israel is not rejected totally. What is this principle of remnant? Well, it's simply this: though the majority of Jews are in unbelief, they have not accepted Messiah, they are in blindness, God - right throughout Jewish history for that matter - has often worked through a faithful remnant. The example of this that Paul gives in verses 2 to 5 is how God works through a remnant in Elijah's day, Elijah the prophet. Verse 2: 'God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 'LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life'? But what does the divine response say to him? 'I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal'. Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace'.
Now it may have been that Paul felt a bit of an affinity with Elijah. Elijah was praying against God's people, and Paul, at times, felt himself praying against what his own people, the Israelites, wanted - at times his own death. I'm sure Paul felt alone, like Elijah did. Yet, as God said to Elijah, Paul is saying to believing Jews: there is a remnant, there is a remnant, those who have not bowed the knee to Baal, those who have believed in Messiah, Jews who have been saved. Now, it's not that the number is of importance in this remnant, how many they are; but the fact that God has been faithful to His covenant promises in keeping a remnant of His own elect people, the Jews. Now Paul uses this illustration from Elijah's day, and here is the application in verse 5: 'Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace'. Again, as I have said in previous weeks, election here is corporate. It's speaking of a group of people, and what Paul is saying in verse 5 is: 'God, likewise as in Elijah's day, has graciously chosen that a group of Jews, a remnant, should remain'.
Of course, this remnant is of grace, not of works - and that's revisiting where we were. Let me just repeat that for the benefit of anybody that's here and is not a Christian: this salvation that Paul espouses through the whole book of Romans is a salvation that is a free gift, offered by God, upon the sacrifice of His own Son, and it's got nothing to do with what you can do for God, or have done for God, or will do for God. It's all of grace, you must take it by faith, it is a free gift.
Now in verse 7 Paul tells us how each person in this elect remnant of the Jews have obtained this status: 'What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded'. How did this remnant obtain righteousness with God? Well, we have already learnt this in previous verses: it is by faith, and the rest have been hardened or blinded in their unbelief - chapter 9 has taught it, chapter 10, and now chapter 11. In verse 8 now, and through to verse 10, Paul now quotes Isaiah 29 and David from Psalm 69 to show that God has the right to judicially blind those who refuse to believe. You see, if you follow the gospel writings, you will find that the Jews among whom the Lord Jesus was ministering, performing His miracles, speaking His marvellous words, they would not believe - but there came a moment in the gospel record when it changed from them not believing by will, to not being able to believe, and we read: 'They could not believe', not 'They would not', but 'They could not believe'. God reserves the right to judicially blind those who refuse to believe. In verse 8 there's a wonderful illustration of this: 'God has given them a spirit of stupor', and the spirit of stupor is simply an attitude of deadness toward spiritual things.
Now, if you're here today and you have an attitude of deadness toward spiritual things, beware! Especially if you're a religious person, verse 9 speaks of that: 'David says: 'Let their table become a snare and a trap''. The idea is that their table was their self-acclaimed security, all they owned as Jewish religious people - but that table became a snare, it was their downfall, because they rested in an assurance of what they were as Jews and how they practised their law, but they did not have faith in Messiah and they missed the righteousness of God. Now you beware if that's the case with you today. Are you in a stupor as far as religious, spiritual matters are concerned? Beware! Certainly beware if your security is found in your own self-righteousness, that was the Jews' mistake. But the main point of these verses is: Israel's rejection is not total. Paul in himself is an example of an Israelite who has been saved, but there is also a remnant according to the election of grace, by faith. There is a remnant of Jews even today coming to faith in Messiah.
That's the first part of his argument, Israel's rejection is not total. But the second is: Israel's rejection is not final - we find that in verse 11 through to the end of the chapter. Look first of all at verses 11 through to 14, for therein Paul argues that the purpose of Israel's stumbling, their unbelief in Messiah, was not that God could rubbish them and dispose of them, but rather for two reasons: God allowed them to fall into unbelief first that salvation would go out to the rest of the world, the Gentiles; but secondly he argues that Gentile salvation, these Gentile nations coming to Christ, would actually provoke the Jews into eventual faith in their Messiah that they missed. Verse 11 speaks of that, if you look at it please: 'I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall?', that means utterly fall, be rejected forever, 'Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy', to provoke Jews to jealousy, 'salvation has come to the Gentiles'.
Now let's deal with these one at a time. The first reason that God has allowed Israel to fall into unbelief is that salvation should go out to the Gentile world. In many instances, we read that the gospel only went out to Gentiles after Jews rejected it. I could give you many examples for that: Acts 13, 18 and 28. First the Gospel comes to the Jew, they reject it, and the apostles go and preach to the Gentiles. So the Jews' unbelief has enabled the Gospel to go out to Gentile nations, but secondly: this happened in order to provoke the Jews to a kind of jealousy, so that they might eventually believe in Messiah. Now this is a matter of profound regret, that through church history - rather than making Jews envious of the truth of the New Testament - the Christian church has often provoked Jews to opposition of Christ by persecution of Jews and hatred for Jews, and even anti-Semitism. Now think about it: we coming to faith, in Gentile nations, was meant to provoke Jews to faith in Jesus - is that what the church has done throughout her history? Or have we provoked the Jews to opposition? Equally tragic is the fact that Israel's fall, that Paul says in verse 12 has brought riches to the Gentiles, has only resulted in further rejection of Messiah among the Gentiles! Isn't that tragic? Now that the Gospel has gone out to the whole world because of the fall and unbelief of Israel, what an awful tragedy that, just as Israel rejected Messiah, now the Gentile nations are rejecting Him as well!
Now let me bring it very personally to you: are you rejecting Him? If you are, I want you to consider the lengths that God has gone to in order that you should embrace His Son as your personal Saviour. He has allowed His own elect people to be blind in unbelief so that the Gospel could come to you in Ulster. I know many people in Ulster think the Gospel originated here, but it didn't! The reason that you have got it today, you're hearing it today, is because of this fall - as Paul puts it - into unbelief of the Jews.
Now Paul in verse 15 turns the tables somewhat, and he says, stay with me: if the Jews' rejection of Jesus has brought blessings to the Gentile nations, just think what worldwide blessings there will be when the Jews accept Jesus. Look at verse 15: 'If their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?'. Now we'll revisit that in a moment or two, but first Paul illustrates how Gentiles have been blessed through the nation of Israel. In verse 17 he uses an analogy: 'If some of the branches were broken off, and you', Gentiles, '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, do not boast against the branches'. Now it's very simple, although it sounds complicated. The Gentile nations are described here as 'a wild olive tree', Christian Gentiles who have believed in Messiah, but the olive tree, the natural olive tree in the analogy refers to Israel - those who have inherited all the promises of God and the covenant of promise. Now some of the branches of this natural olive tree have been broken off, that is: unbelieving Jews have been taken away out of the promises by unbelief, but they have been taken away - Paul says - so that some of the branches of a wild olive tree, Gentile branches who believe in Messiah, should be grafted in.
Now verse 18, look at it: 'If you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you'. Gentile believers should not despise the Jews, because Israel and her promises are the root that supports the Gentile branches. Jesus on one occasion was talking to a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4, and He uttered this statement, and it sums up everything I've just said: 'Salvation is of the Jews'. What that simply means is: Israel were God's elect people to bless the whole world, a nation that came into existence to be a missionary nation to the world, and also the vehicle to deliver Messiah to be the Saviour of the world - and that's what Jesus meant when He said, 'Salvation is of the Jews'. If we are to be saved as Gentiles, we are engrafted into the natural olive tree in place of the branches of unbelieving Jews who have been broken off.
I hope you're with me. Now Paul points out a warning in verses 19 to 22, read it carefully: 'You will say then, 'Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in'. Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off'. Now Paul is saying unbelief is the reason why Israel was broken off, those branches were broken off and cast away. Now he's turning the tables to the Gentiles, and he's saying: 'You've been engrafted in in place of the Israelites who have not believed, but beware, because for the same reason of unbelief you can be cut off as Gentiles'.
Now, let us pause for a moment, because some teachers use this to espouse a doctrine of 'saved and lost', that one moment you can be saved if you believe, but you have to continue to believe, and at the moment you cease to believe you will be one of these broken branches that will be cast away. That is not what is being spoken of here, it is not 'saved and lost' - but rather it's got to do with God's programme, remember we're speaking corporately now of Jews and Gentiles - God's talking about nations, He's not talking about individual salvation. Here's one reason why we know this: when you go back to Romans chapter 1, as I directed you back there, I think, two weeks ago, you will see that Paul addresses nations, and he says that if nations continually harden themselves against God and suppress the knowledge that they have of God, what will God do to them? He will cut them off, He will give them up, He will give them up, He will give them over. So this is a principle that Paul has already espoused at the very beginning of the book, and he's saying: 'Gentiles beware! You have received the gospel because of the fall of Israel, but beware - if you do not believe in the gospel as Gentile nations, you too will be cut off!'.
Have you got it? Beware of hardening your heart. Is there someone here - and I know this is complicated, but if you can grasp this much, do so: beware of hardening your heart against God. Beware. Verses 23 and 24 speak of how unbelief cut the Jews off, but now Paul says if they could believe, if they should believe, they will be grafted in again - they will be grafted in again! Now this is obviously speaking nationally here, it's not speaking of individuals. The reason why we know that is: there are Jews today who are believing, Paul was an example in his day of Jews believing, so was the remnant, there are Jews believing today, there are Jews who are benefiting from all the blessings of salvation - but this is speaking of how, nationally, if the Jews embrace their Messiah, they will be engrafted in again. But note: this is not conjecture that Paul speaks about, you know, 'If a Jew believes, well then he'll get the blessings'. Look at the verses please, let's read them, verses 23 and 24: 'And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief', if they believe, 'will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again'. You say, 'Well, that's not definite'. '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 grafted into their own olive tree?' - but it's not certain, is it? Verse 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. And so all Israel will be saved'.
This is not simply conjecture about what could happen in all possibility if Jews believed in their Messiah, but rather this is prophetic. What Paul gives us here in verses 25 and 26 is the promise of restoration to Israel, and therefore Paul exhorts the Gentiles: 'Don't gloat over the fact that Israel have fallen in unbelief, and you are believing in the Gentile nations. Nor, for that matter, should you proudly assert that they are cut off from God forever'. 'No!', Paul says, 'Here I'm going to reveal to you a mystery', a mystery is simply, in the Bible, a truth that has been previously obscured or hidden. The church is a truth like that, it's a mystery. It was never known in the Old Testament, but it's revealed through the apostles and through the Lord Jesus in the New Testament. 'Here's another one', Paul says, 'Israel's blindness in part, their unbelief now, is only until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in'. That simply means that when the number of believing Gentiles is complete, then Israel's eyes will be opened - and verse 26 says: 'And all Israel will be saved'.
Now, we'll look at that in more detail tonight, because it's based on the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31. But the reason why Paul shares this mystery is because he says that the chances are, if Gentiles misunderstand this mystery, they will be haughty, they will boast over their gain and the Jews loss. It's interesting that some people interpret this passage of Scripture, and indeed all New Testament portions generally to do with Israel, as 'spiritual Israel'. It was John Calvin who believed that Israel, in this portion in particular, signified all the redeemed the Jews and Gentiles together. This idea first came into vogue in the teachings of Augustine, the early church father, in his book 'The City of God'. He basically said this, that 'the spiritual church of the New Testament replaces the carnal nation of Israel'. Of course, in Reformed Theology this has led to the error of 'Replacement Teaching', and it simply is this: that the church is the continuation of the old nation of Israel, but in a spiritual sense. Therefore, what happens is, all the promises to ancient Israel are spiritualised and applied to the church. Now that's very common in Christianity, but the problem is: Israel has not once - that term 'Israel' - has not once been used of Gentiles in Romans 9, 10 and 11 - and indeed I go further, and you might want to question me on this afterwards, Paul never uses the term 'Israel' of Gentiles in any of his writings. When he speaks of 'Israel', he's either speaking of the whole nation of Israel, or the believing remnant among Israel today. The only 'spiritual Israel' is the believing remnant existing now.
F.F. Bruce put it: 'It is impossible to entertain an exegesis which understands Israel here in a different sense from Israel in verse 25'. Look at it, verse 25, Israel is spoken of as a nation in blindness, and in verse 26 it speaks of them as 'all being saved'. But Paul is saying ignorance of this mystery has led to pride and a haughty spirit toward Israel - all Israel will be saved! Verse 26, it's remarkable: 'All Israel will be saved'. Is Israel rejected for good? No! Just as now the nation as a whole, generally as a whole, has rejected Messiah apart from this one faithful group of believers among the Jews, a remnant according to the election of grace, so then in a future day the nation as a whole will accept their Messiah. Of course, that shouldn't be a surprise - because, if you know your Bible, you will know that Scripture elsewhere teaches that the Lord Jesus will not return again to this earth until Israel responds to God through His Messiah, Christ. If you want to read about that, read Zechariah 12, and even the Lord Jesus in Matthew 23 says: 'I say unto you', Israel, 'you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!''.
So Paul quotes now in verses 26 and 27 from Isaiah, and shows that God still has a plan for Israel. He still has a plan, He has not cast them off, He foreknew everything about them, He had His prophets predict it - and one certain thing: God will never dishonour His word! His word is at stake, verses 28 and 29: 'Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers', the patriarchs to whom the covenants were made, 'For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable'. When God promises something unconditionally, He is duty bound and obliged to fulfil it. He foreknew Israel, and He gave His promises. If Israel has been condemned to extinction and no future, God has dishonoured His word.
Now we will look more at that tonight, but let me just leave you with this consideration this morning: if Israel is condemned to extinction and has no future, how do you account for the supernatural survival of the Jewish people since the establishment of the church at Pentecost? I mean, if the church replaces the old nation of Israel, why are the Jews still among us - against all the odds, it has to be said? Furthermore, how do you account for Israel's resurgence among the nations of the world as an independent state? How do you account for it? Less than ten years after Hitler boasted that he would build his Nazi empire on the graveyard of Israel, on May 14, 1948 Israel became a nation state. They have been victorious in several wars, not least their War of Independence in 1948 in which they were outnumbered 80 to 1. As soon as Israel declared her independence as a state, roughly half a million Jews in Israel were surrounded by 40 million Arabs that were determined to push them into the sea! Think of the significance of this: from A.D. 70 to 1967, and some of you can remember that year, from A.D. 70 to 1967 Palestine was ruled by forty different Gentile nations - but today it is under Israeli control! How do you account for that?
During the hearing of the British Royal Commission on Palestine in 1937, David Ben-Gurion, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, accounted for Jewish nationhood now, last century, in these words: 'The Bible is our mandate'. Chapter 9 of Romans teaches us Israel's past election, chapter 10 teaches us their present rejection through unbelief, and Chapter 11 teaches us their future restoration. Israel is the only nation in the world with a complete history - past, present and future! Why? Verse 29, because 'the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable'. The covenants that were made with the patriarchs, God has not changed His mind concerning them. Can I say to you this morning that Israel is a sign to all the nations of the world, and if you want to know that God is for Israel - and I'm not saying everything they do is right politically or militarily, far from it - but if you want to know God is for them, all you need to see is their existence today and their nationhood which is most likely a fulfilment of prophecy to the day when they will, as a nation, embrace Christ and Jesus will come.
Now, do you know what that means, unbelieving friend here today? The coming of the Lord surely draws near. It's time you believed in this Saviour - but to those of you who do believe: remember that this 9, 10 and 11 of Romans follows on from Romans 8, where believers of all of hue, Jew and Gentile, were asking 'Well, if God has not honoured His promises to Israel, how can we know that He's honoured His promises to us? You say we're secure in Christ, but how can we know?'. What Paul is saying here is: 'He is true to all who believe, Jew or Gentile, for God must keep His word!'. Verse 30: 'For as you were once disobedient', do you remember what you were as Gentiles, where you came from? Marvel at God's grace that, through mercy shown to you, they also may obtain mercy. They may be provoked to jealousy, 'For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all'.
Who only God? I ask you, I know it's complicated, but God is not a simpleton - who else but God could have engineered such a plan as this? That His own elect people should fall into unbelief, that the gospel should go out to the nations, in order to make them jealous again that they might believe and embrace Messiah, and He comes to the world and reigns through all the nations. That God who foreknew Israel should use their fall for world redemption and, in the light of that, the obvious response of Paul and us should be wonder, love and praise. Verse 33: 'Oh, 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 has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?''. God is the source, the means and the end of all things. He is the Creator, the Sustainer, and the goal of everything - and He should be praised forever!
Verse 36 simply reads: 'For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen'. Someone has said: 'All these words are monosyllables, a child just learning to read could easily spell them out - but who shall exhaust their meaning: 'For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen''. Praise is to be our response, but it's not our only response. If I may digress, chapter 12 verse 1: 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God', what mercies of God? These mercies! These mercies that have already been mentioned - the cost of our salvation. Not just Christ's death and resurrection, but what it has cost the elect people of the Jews. The blessing that has gone out to us - what does that require of us? 'That we present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service', our rational service - our duty!
Do you praise Him? Have you given yourself to Him? Let us pray. Now, I know this subject matter is very difficult, but it may be that you're here - a believer or an unbeliever - and you have at least grasped something, and the Spirit of God has touched something, well, respond. You have a responsibility to respond. What is the response? Well, for both unbeliever and believer alike, it is to embrace Christ by faith, and give your all to Him for He is worthy - and God has planned it so.
Father, truly our minds cannot take in these deep truths in all their great capacity. Yet Lord, we are left, in a sense, dumbfounded - and all we can do, even though it is imperfect, is to worship. The fact that we who are not a people, should be called the people of God, and should know Yahweh, the covenant God, as our God - but what it cost to Israel. O Lord, we pray that we ourselves as the church, collectively, would be a provocation to Jewish people, that they would see Christ in us, and that we would not provoke them to hatred but to faith in Christ, Messiah. Lord, most of all, help us, every one, to believe God, to believe You in Your promises. You have set Your word above Your name, and You will not fail. Though we are faithless and unbelieving, You remain faithful for You cannot deny Yourself. May all here believe and have faith in God. Amen.
Don't miss part 12 of 'The Gospel Explained'...
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This sermon was delivered at Scrabo Hall, Newtownards, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the eleventh recording in his 'The Gospel Explained' series, entitled "What Future For Israel?" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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