Summary: Romans 11 lists a "warning" for those who would take their relationship with God for granted. But there’s a tendency to focus more on the "warning" than on the powerfully positive message found in these verses. Do you know what that positive message could
Over the years, “The Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch” has sponsored an annual contest of the most absurd warning labels. Among their top place winners have been:
"Do not use this snow blower on the roof."
"Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher."
A Clothes Iron had this advice: "Warning! Never iron clothes while they are being worn."
On a Superman costume: “Warning: Cape does not enable user to fly.”
On a bottle of hair coloring: “Do not use as an ice cream topping.”
On a cardboard sunshield for a car: “Do not drive with sun-shield in place.”
On a toner cartridge: “Do not eat the toner.”
On a portable stroller: “Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage.”
And my personal favorite - In a microwave oven manual: “Do not use for drying pets.”
APPLY: Now, why would they make these labels? Doesn’t it seem obvious enough that you shouldn’t use these products in this way? Well yeah… but you just know somebody must have actually tried do the things these labels warned against!
Warning labels often warn about the obvious.
But as one person once said
“The desire to make something foolproof vastly underestimates the creativity of fools.”
ILLUS: Have you ever seen a sign on a wall that says “wet paint”? When someone sees that sign… what can you COUNT on them doing? (they’ll touch the wall, just to see…)
So, the Bible often states the obvious because people are often foolish.
But even when Scripture states the obvious - some people have trouble accepting it.
Now, today’s sermon deals with a “warning label”.
But the warning label is NOT the main focus of the story.
The main focus of this story is on hope and reassurance.
Here’s the story:
The church at Rome had some difficulties.
Part of the congregation was Jewish and the other part was Gentile, and there was some friction between the two groups.
* Some of the Jews looked down on the Gentiles because their ancestors had not been part of covenant God had with His people in the Old Testament. They jeered them for being a mere afterthought in God’s plans.
* In response, some of the Gentiles had gotten in the habit of looking down on the Jews, because – after all - turn about was fair play.
So a major part of the Letter to Rome focused on this conflict.
The first few chapters Paul addresses to the Jews telling them to back it off. They weren’t God’s gift to God. They sinned just like the Gentiles had. And they needed God’s grace and mercy just as much as the Gentiles did. The only advantage Jews had was that – as Jews – they were part of Old Testament covenant but that wasn’t going to get them into heaven.
And just in case there were Jews who were inclined to believe that they were the only ones God had originally planned on saving, Romans 15 listed FOUR prophecies God had made about the love God had for those who weren’t Jews and pointing out that “Yes” the Gentiles had been part of God’s original plan. (Romans 15:9-12)
Then - beginning around Romans chapter 9 - Paul turns to the Gentiles and says “Guys - the Jews are special to God, so don’t you be putting them down”
He writes: “…I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” Romans 9:3-5
Paul says to the Gentiles: Israel has long been God’s people.
So, before you Gentiles begin to look down on them and think you’re better then they are you need to remember:
· Theirs was the divine glory
· Theirs was the covenant
· They were given Law
· They built the Temple
· and they were given great and powerful promises.
· It was from them that God brought forth the Messiah
· AND Jesus Himself was a Jew
So, when it comes to people you ought to be in awe of… Physical Israel was it.
Now - here in Romans 11 - Paul addresses a ticklish question that some might have asked:
“Did God reject his people?” (The Jews) Romans 11:1
After all – He’s formed this New Covenant to replace the Old one and this New one isn’t limited to just physical Israelites. In fact, Jews who weren’t Christians weren’t in this New Contract with God.
“Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?” Romans 11:11