Summary: A tree's fruit reveals outwardly the inner nature of that tree. The same is true in the Christian life. When there is fruit in your life what you are expressing outwardly is the inner character and nature of Jesus Christ.
We are studying Romans, 9, 10, and 11 about God’s past, present and future dealing with the nation of Israel. Sometimes what people think is impossible becomes a reality. For instance, I want to read to you an actual editorial from a Boston newspaper from 120 years ago:
“A man about 46 years of age giving the name of Joshua Coppersmith has been arrested in New York for attempting to extort funds from ignorant and superstitious people by exhibiting a device which he says will convey the human voice any distance over metallic wires so that it will be heard by the listener at the other end.
He calls the instrument a telephone which is obviously intended to imitate the word telegraph and win the confidence of those who know the success and the long term benefits of the telegraph. Well-informed people know that it is impossible to transmit the human voice over the wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.”
If you have ever talked on a telephone, which I am sure some of you have done a lot of, that editorial was just totally off base. A hundred years ago–just one hundred years ago–or even seventy five years ago, Romans 9, 10, and 11 talking about the nation of Israel would have made no sense to people. Some of these great Bible expositors of the last century just basically skipped over Romans 9, 10, and 11, or they would have to explain it away because there was no nation of Israel.
Since 1948 there is a nation of Israel. These scriptures are being fulfilled. They will be fulfilled. Since 1967 the nation of Israel has had control of most of the city of Jerusalem, the Holy City. We are seeing God taking his people back to Israel to restore and rebuild. Did you know that during the Middle Ages the population of Jewish people got down to below one million people? You talk about a comeback. God is doing something and we need to pay attention to it.
As we look here in Romans, chapter 11, let’s begin here with verse 16. Paul is going to introduce two word pictures and we are going to just skip one and then talk about the one that he develops. “If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy.” He is saying it was a Jewish custom to offer firstfruits offerings, and when you took the first part of a crop or the first part of the dough of bread and committed it to the Lord and it was declared to be holy, that meant that the whole lump was holy. Of course, he is talking about the nation of Israel. But, in the last part of verse 16, here’s this other picture and this is the one we will develop: “If the root is holy, so are the branches.” Now the apostle Paul is going to employ an allegory based on an olive tree. Let’s learn about it.
Verse 17. “If some of the branches have been broken off, and you,” [meaning Gentiles] “though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.” Verse 22 is a very important verse. “Consider therefore,” [anytime Paul says “therefore”, you need to look what it’s there for because it’s a red flag. Here’s an important statement.] “Consider, therefore, the kindness and sternness of God.” Everybody believes in the kindness, the love of God but also there is a part of his character that is called the sternness: “sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” Verse 23. “And if they” [meaning the Jews] “do not persist in unbelief they will be grafted in for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!”
Verse 25 is another important verse. “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery [mousteron, not even translated, it’s transliterated, which means something that is hidden in the Old Testament, but revealed in the New] “don’t be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited:” Here’s the mystery, “Israel has experienced a hardening, a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”