Day 344 Romans 11-13

Day 344
Romans 11-13

As it happened, no nation had been more privileged spiritually, yet more deeply entrenched in unbelief than Israel. As Paul made clear, Israel’s unbelief was not caused by unfairness or unfaithfulness on God’s part (9:1ff) but it was based on His eternal purposes according to election (9:11) Israel’s own stumbling over Christ (9:32) and her stubborn rejection of God’s perpetual kindness (10:21). In Romans 11, Paul continued his exploration of Israel’s unbelief by framing it around two questions. The first question he asked and immediately answered was, “Has God rejected His people”? (11:1). Paul responded by asserting that Israel is not the rejected nation that some people think it is because a believing remnant still exists. In order to prove his point, Paul provided three pieces of evidence. The first piece of evidence was personal. The Apostle himself was proof that God had not rejected His people (1b). Secondly, there was the relational argument. God has not rejected the people He foreknew and chose to love (2a). Thirdly, just as in Elijah’s day there was a remnant of faithful Jews, so there was a remnant in Paul’s day (2b-6). As it happened, James would soon inform Paul that there were thousands of believing Jews in Jerusalem alone (cf. Acts 21:20). However, though God has not rejected Israel, He has given them a spirit of stupor or an inability to see and believe (8). Israel, like Pharoah of old, has hardened its heart.

The second question Paul asked was whether Israel had stumbled beyond the point of no return? (11a). He answered by contending that Israel’s failure was neither total nor final. There is still a believing remnant in the present, and there will be a harvest of Jewish belief in the future that will lead to the blessing of the entire world (12-32). Israel had fallen but in God’s mercy it will prove to be a forward fall. At this point, the Apostle’s musings over Israel’s future is an exquisite example of theological exposition. His basic point was to how that what started with Israel was then transferred over to the Gentiles, but it will swing back to Israel again one day. As it happened, Israel’s substantial collapse led to the salvation of the Gentiles. Gentile inclusion was designed to make Israel envious and lead to its salvation. Israel’s salvation will bring even greater blessings to the whole world (11-16).

In the analogy of the olive tree, like the vine a long-standing symbol of Israel, Paul sought to show that Israel was the original olive tree but some of its branches were broken off. As a result, some wild branches, representing Gentiles, were engrafted even though they did not naturally belong (17-24). Once the fullness of the Gentiles has been grafted in, then Israel’s spirit of stupor will be lifted and all Israel will be saved (i.e. a great mass of Jewish people rather than a suggestion that every Israelite will be saved, 25-32). By the time Paul reached the ascent of the glorious gospel of God, he stopped and looked back over eleven chapters of this grace-endowed landscape and cannot help but offer to God a doxology of praise. He falls down before this God of infinite wisdom and extraordinary grace and worships (33-36).

As it happened, in view of the vast mercies of God, Christians are called to wholehearted, spiritual worship that begins with their mind being renewed by the Holy Spirit so that they can discern the will of God (12:1-2). As the mind of the believer is renewed and the will is transformed, both the believing community and the outside world becomes the arena where a commitment to Jesus Christ is practically lived out. In one of the most practical descriptions of love to be found anywhere (and sounding very much like 1 Corinthians 13) Paul descibes how we are to show love to fellow believers (9-16) and to unbelievers, particularly those who are enemies of the church (1-21). Love is the sine qua non of the Christian life. Within the church community, the love of Christians for one another is to be genuine, discerning, devoted, filled with appreciation, fervent, positive, prayerful, patient, sympathetic, and impartial. Toward the outsider the believer must be honorable, peaceable, vulnerable, and merciful.

Believers are also to be the best citizens wherever God has placed them (13:1-7). Since He established human government, the Christian is to respect the various seats of authority because they have been appointed by God. To fear punishment by state is not the highest motivation for doing what is right, but it is superior to anarchy. The most noble form of motivation fordoing what is right is love. Love always seeks the best for the other person. To love selflessly is to fulfill the Law wholly. In addition, time is running out and the best way to live is to wake up, get dressed, stay pure, and look just like Jesus until He comes.

Holy Father, Your wisdom and knowledge are unfathomable, Your judgments are unsearchable, and Your ways inscrutable. Thank you for the riches of the gospel. It not only shows us what true love is, but having experienced it how we are to show it to others. Help us to love like Jesus. In His Name, we pray, Amen.