Summary: A practical message about becoming a part of God’s family.
Grafted into God’s Family
* In the medical world the word graft is a common word. Physicians use grafts to repair damaged skin, they graft to repair a damaged heart, and literally they use graft to repair damage. In Botany, grafting is used for a number of reasons ranging from cosmetic to practical. That means everything from wanting the plants to look better to “better fruitfulness.”
* In the Spiritual realm, when we are saved God literally grafts us into His family. And the reasons are varied. While it is true that our text teaches about Israel once again, as I have prayed & studied, I have sought to discover the message from our text which God has for each of us. Let us consider three thoughts which may help us clearly understand this process.
1. Remember the Principles – In his inspiration, Paul uses 3 pieces of imagery to help us understand how this process happens. He leans on a little history and common knowledge to make it clear. He uses a loaf, a root, and a tree. Watch how these fit together.
a. A Loaf – Most of us already have a mental picture of a loaf. Look at verse 16 and read about the ‘First fruits’ and the lump. As a general rule, the first fruits which were offered consisted of the first part of the harvest from the land. No one was to partake of the harvest until God was given His part. After the first fruits we given to Him, then He would bless the rest. Here, first fruits are followed by the word “lump” it gives the indication that it is talking about a loaf. The lump is what you get when you mix a solid with a liquid. This application of this one sentence could become our entire message. Just as when the harvest was gathered the first fruits had to be given, it is required that when a loaf was made, they were to pinch off the first part and give it to God. In both cases when God accepts His part, He then sanctifies the whole.
* For just a moment apply this to your life. First fruits are His and not ours. If they are HIS, then all we do is “RETURN THEM.” It is only after we return to HIM what HE IS due, that He sanctifies what we have left. And it is only after we return His part that we have a right to control our part. This speaks directly to our life and our resources. If you are not giving Him the first fruits of your life, He is under no obligation to bless the rest of your life. In the matter of resources (that would be money), you and I have no spiritual right to take His money and designate it for our pet project (no matter how good it is). The Bible teaches us that the tithe is Holy to the Lord and should simply be brought into the store house and laid at His feet. It is not until we’ve done this that we actually give anything to Him. It begins with returning what is His.
b. A Root – The root is the most important part of any plant. It is the foundation, the strength, and the stability. Before anything can grow up, it better grow down. Remember this, the deeper the root—the sweeter the fruit. For the Jewish people, they considered Abraham their root. He was the one whom they saw made them righteous. Remember He believed God and was saved by his own faith. And it was the faith of Abraham which gave his descendants, the Jews, such assurance about their status before God. While Abraham is a root for the Jews, Jesus is THE root for all. Consider the implication of God himself being our root.
c. A Tree – All through the Bible the Olive tree is symbolic of Israel. But notice the two types of Olive trees which are mentioned here, a wild tree and a cultivated. These terms should be understandable as the wild tree is not under a human’s care and just grows and produces as nature would have it while a cultivated tree had been tended to, trimmed back, and taken from. Know what the interesting thing is about limbs being grafted in? Generally, a wild olive branch is not grafted into a cultivated olive tree UNLESS the tree becomes fruitless or barren. The very reason for this is for the wild olive branch to impact the rest of the tree into becoming fruitful and useful once again.
* Let me be clear, from the Call of Abram, in Genesis 12, God always planned for His gospel to reach to both Jews and Gentiles. In the Covenant with Abraham God did not say, “only your descendants will be blessed”, but rather “all people” will be blessed. However, it was when the Jewish people rejected the gospel that ‘us’ gentiles were, through faith, grafted into God’s family. But let us never forget why the wild bunch (that would be us) was grafted into the cultivated bunch (that would be the Jews). God’s plan has always been for His gospel to be preached so that we can reach, teach, baptize, and make disciples. That is the responsibility of being grafted into God’s family.