Summary: We should humbly appreciate that we were snatched out of the fire and put in the spiritual limelight by God’s grace. Let us appreciate and glory in being part of God’s church!
God’s Seeming Detour
1. Suppose you loved covered bridges & planned a vacation around them.
2. God had your interest at heart; the main road was blocked by a detour sign. After grumbling, you find yourself on an enchanting county road — and there it is — the most amazing covered bridge you ever saw.
3. In this story, the beautiful covered bridge represents the church age, the other covered bridges, Israel. God wanted you to see that beautiful bridge, so he intentionally detoured you to it. After enjoying this new sight, you eventually merged back onto the main highway and continued your tour.
Main Idea: We should humbly appreciate that we were snatched out of the fire and put in the spiritual limelight by God’s grace.
Let us appreciate and glory in being part of God’s church!
I. A Change in Focus: The MYSTERY of the Church (1-2)
A. A mystery is a SEEDED truth crying out to be developed by NT midrash
• Many verses in the New Testament are expositions of Is. 61-66
• When you write a fiction book, you begin with the end in mind… seeds
B. God promises to turn His eyes toward GENTILES to whom He reveals Himself
1. Typical Jewish Interpretation: A Jewish remnant will find the Lord
2. Typical Christian interpretation: God has turned to the gentiles
3. Best approach: BOTH, with a repeat in Jesus’ day
C. This is a major CONCEPT in the New Testament
• Romans 10:19-21 (Paul speaking of most of Israel’s rejection of Messiah),
But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
• Matthew 21:43, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.”
• Romans 11:25-31 informs us that Israel’s rejection is temporary
D. God still REACHES OUT to all with open arms
Like the Father in parable of the Prodigal Son…
Christ calls, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Application: Let us appreciate and glory in being part of God’s church! Some supposed Christians seem to resent it. How can that be?
II. Israel IRKED God, Opening the Gate for Us (3-7)
True, this was all in God’s sovereign plan (see 63:17)
A. God is holy: sin provokes His WRATH, especially certain sins (3-5)
1. Manmade RELIGION rather than Scriptural obedience (3)
2. Consulting the DEAD (4a)
3. Refusing to be a DISTINCT people (4b)
4. Embracing arrogance: “HOLIER than thou” (5) … snobs (me too)
(KJV) “Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.”
B. The cup of God’s wrath eventually FILLS (6-7)
C. This was REPEATED when most Jews rejected MESSIAH for man’s religion
Acts 28:28 (spoken to an unbelieving Jewish audience), “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
• God walks the extra mile, turns the other cheek; but miles/cheeks are limited
D. Contemplating this should make us HUMBLE and appreciative
Food Network show, Chopped… competition narrows down to two contestants. Sometimes become friends; for one to win, other lose; some are heartless
Someone’s gain represents another’s loss. For the compassionate, the joy of winning is muted by concern for the non-winner. Paul is bitter-sweet in his midrash on this
Romans 11:19-23 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you… if they do not continue in their unbelief, [they] will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.
Application: Do we appreciate our escape from God’s severity to his kindness? Let us appreciate and glory in being part of God’s church! The Nashville Banner reported that 81-year-old Ella Craig had perfect attendance in Sunday school for 20 years. That’s 1,040 Sundays! [odb.org]