God’s Tenacious Faithfulness and the Olive Tree
1. I had lots of fun while I was a student at Moody Bible Institute.
2. I wasn’t much trouble; I tried to obey the rules.
3. But we all have our temptations.
4. For my last two years, I lived on the 3rd floor of the dormitory. One of my friends moved up to the 18th floor.
5. Now the school had a rule against flying paper air planes out the windows. Mostly a litter issue. But the temptation was too much. We began to refer to my friends room as the international airport.
6. We would sail paper airplanes or, more fun yet, maintain paper helicopters floating outside the windows. The planes would head toward the girant skyscraper buildings.
7. I’m sure a number of our planes made it all the way downtown and beyond. Who knows, those upper wind currents may have carried some to Kokomo.
8. But on September 11th of 2001, we heard of different planes running into skyscrapers.
9. And since then, we have heard words of hate spoken against Christians and Jews, usually coupled together.
10. It is appropriate to recognize the link between Judaism and Christianity.
MAIN IDEA: Christianity and Biblical Judaism will forever be intertwined because of both a common past and a joint future. Christians need to understand this connection if they are to understand their place in God’s Kingdom. And that connection revolves around the very nature of God: “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.”
TS--------à Paul shares some concepts that open our eyes to these realities.
I. Understand that the Church Draws Its Strength and Legitimacy from ISRAEL (17-24)
1. Most of us are unfamiliar with the cultivation of olive trees in first century Israel. A cultivated branch is typically grafted into a wild olive tree; the only time when wild branches are grafted into a cultivated tree is when that tree stops producing FRUIT…
2. By using this illustration, Paul is saying that God is blessing gentiles because the Jews have CEASED to bear fruit….
3. The issue here is not individuals who were saved and then lost their salvation (the natural branches were never saved), but rather the people groups which become God’s FOCUS
4. The key verses: 17- 18: Biblical Christianity is a form of JUDAISM
5. We DRAW our source of life from the root stock of Israel…
· The root supports us; our spiritual life comes from Israel
· Who said this? “….for salvation is from the Jews…” (John 4:22); Jesus did to the woman at the well
· In first century Judaism, gentiles who believed in the God of Israel but did not want to be full converts to Judaism were thought of as saved but not in as great a place of blessing as those who became Jews…
· In the church age, Jews and gentile believers alike have equal status, but both are blessed because they are plugged into the life-giving root of Israel and, more specifically, Israel’s Messiah…
6. One day, the natural branches will be GRAFTED back in (24)
“…the restoration of Israel is an easier process then the call of the Gentiles…”
7. The church does not replace Israel as far as God’s promises for Israel; it does dwell in the place of God’s blessing until Israel is re-grafted in.
8. Both the church and end time Israel share in the same New Coveneant and both are part of the Kingdom of God. But Israel refers to a nation, and the church is not a “new Israel,” but people called out from every tribe, kindred and nation. Each will glorify God, but each in her own way.
How do we know this is true? “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.”
II. Understand that God Will One Day REGENERATE Israel (25-27)
1. This partial hardening will one day END (25)
2. There is a “quota” of gentiles that will be met…
3. This re-direction will OCCUR during the Tribulation when God saves 12,000 Jews from each of Israel’s tribes and then the surviving nation of Israel is converted during Armageddon (26-27)
This does not mean all Jews are automatically saved or that they can be saved apart from Christ….this is talking about a point in time when all Israel present on earth will be saved…
Zech. 12:9-10, “On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” And Isaiah 45:17, “But Israel will be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting.”4
Zechariah 13:8-9, “In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. 9This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name
and I will answer them; I will say, ’They are my people,’ and they will say, ’The LORD is our God.’ "
4. Such a concept ONLY makes sense if you believe in a Sovereign God who makes an unconditional call and reaches people through His irresistible grace, “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.”
III.Understand that There is No ROOM for Anti-semitism Among Christians (28-32)
1.From one angle, it would have become EASY to despise the Jews (28a)
· As much as Paul was burdened for his people, he was also aggravated by them.
· Once Christianity separated from its Biblical Jewish roots, and once people no longer realized that the crucifixion of Christ was planned by God, anti-semitism set into the church (by the 4th century).
· Despite Paul’s assertion that Christians respect Israel out of love for their roots, replacement theology became dominant and said God was done with Israel forever; there could be no anti-semitism if it were not for that replacement theology….
2.But they are STILL God’s chosen nation, they are beloved (28b)
Jeremiah 31:35-36, “ This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar- the LORD Almighty is his name: "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD , "will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me."
3. Verse 29 is the core: God’s calling is IRREVOCABLE
4. If God made a promise to His nation Israel and then later redefined His terminology to define Israel as people collected from all nations, God might make a great politician, but He would not be the Holy, Impeccable, immutable, faithful God of the Bible…
5. But God’s delay in blessing Israel has a purpose: that all (kinds) of men might be saved…
6. When you realize how masterfully God has planned all these things, it makes you want to burst forth in praise for His genius and omnipotent sovereignty….which is what Paul does…
7. So this means that we should seek to share Jesus with unbelieving Jews, and that we should have a special respect for the Jewish people because their roots are our strength…
8. Zechariah 8:23 , “This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ’Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’ "
1. Muslims understand what many Christians do not: there is a close and necessary bond between them and Jews.
2. But the lesson and key verse in this section is verse 29, “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.”
3. You are secure in Christ “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.”
4. He will never leave you, “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.”
5. His plan will turn out just like he said, “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.”
6. His Word is true and dependable “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.”