Thursday, September 23, 2010

Israel’s Fall Brought Salvation to the Gentiles

Romans 11:7 “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.”

Written where? I think Paul is probably still referencing Isaiah although Jeremiah declares the same truth.

Isaiah 6:8–10 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”

What does the truth stated in verse 7 lead us to conclude? Though God had sent the promised Messiah, His Son Jesus, the nation of Israel as a whole continued seeking God’s approval through a legalistic system of works. Only those who accepted salvation through Jesus in faith had attained a position of approval before God. Those who rejected Him were spiritually blind and deaf; it’s like they were sleepwalking through a life filled with ritual and actions that were performed without a heart connection to God. God’s response--He gave them over to pride in their works.

Romans 11:9 “And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.”

“table” = a table or stool (as being four-legged), usually for food (figuratively, a meal); also a counter for money (figuratively, a broker’s office for loans at interest)

These words are from Psalm 69. David is praying for God to intercede for him against his enemies. This particular section of the Psalm appears to have prophetic application as well to the Messiah.

Psalm 69:19-23 “Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee. Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake."

Verse 22 of the Psalm defines the table as “welfare,” which Webster defines as “well-doing or well-being in any respect; the enjoyment of health and the common blessings of life; exemption from any evil or calamity; prosperity; happiness.” The Psalmist seems to be asking for the appearance of blessing and approval to serve as a deception to his enemies’ and the Messiah’s enemies’ understanding of their true condition. The Psalmist was asking for this to be a permanent condition of the enemies of God. It seems to me that would be a classification known only to God. Paul tells us in Timothy that he obtained mercy because he acted ignorantly in unbelief. I think I would have classified Paul as an enemy of God if I had been a part of the early church.

1Timothy 1:12-13 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

He was not an enemy of God; he accepted the truth when Christ confronted him. Others rejected Christ knowingly and willingly, such as other Pharisees of Jesus’ day who refused to acknowledge the truth He presented to them. They were enemies of God who were more concerned about their pride and reputation before men than before God.

Romans 11:11 “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”

To stumble implies a misstep, an error, a mistake; fall implies failure, “beyond recovery” (as the NIV puts it). Paul’s question then, “Have the Israelites put themselves in a place of total rejection by God?” His answer—an emphatic NO!

The second “fall” in the verse is a different Greek word that references “a side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression.” Because of the choice of the Jews to deviate from the course God had set for them and willfully reject the Son of God, the Gentiles are coming to saving faith in Jesus. The Jews were meant to draw the Gentiles to God through their testimony of the blessings associated with submitting in obedience and faith to God. Because they rejected God by rejecting Jesus, God is revealing Himself through the Gentile body of believers to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy—to make them want the salvation that was first presented to them.

I thought the Greek for “provoke them” was interesting; it stated “through the idea of a baffling wind (backward).” In other words, just opposite of God’s original intention. Again, this was not a surprise to YHWH; He knew it before the foundation of the world and provided for that knowledge in His plan of salvation. Webster defines jealousy as “earnest concern or solicitude; painful apprehension of rivalship in cases nearly affecting one’s happiness; painful suspicion of the faithfulness of husband, wife, or lover.” That poses an interesting perspective. The Jews prided themselves on being God’s chosen people; now they would have cause to question whether God had decided to bestow His favor on another group of people. Hopefully, that concern would translate into a response of repentance and faith. The Gentiles were responding with hearts of gratitude for their salvation; they had no reason to be jealous. Israel, on the other hand, would hopefully see that the Gentiles had appeared to replace them in the eyes of God and would desire to have their position restored.

1 comment:

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