Monday, September 4, 2017

Why It Is Important To Know That God Is Not Done With Israel

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Romans 11:1a "I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!"

Introduction: Lumber Full Of Knots

My father had been a carpenter by trade all his life. When I was growing up, he had decided to put on a new roof for the house. He ordered a truckload of lumber from the local lumber yard. When the lumber had been dropped off and my dad signed the release papers, the load of lumber was his. Little did he know that many of the boards in that load were full of knots, twisted and warped. The lumber had sat out in the rain for many months at the lumber yard. What was my dad to do? The lumber was his - knots and all.

My dad had decided to got forward with the roof. He grabbed his circular saw, a new rip blade and his chalk-line. He then went to that big stack and picked out the boards he needed for the project. I remember my father taking his blue chalk line, with me holding the other end, and him taking it and "snapping it", resulting in a blue line marking out a straight mark on the board. My dad made all those boards straight. He cut through knots and all to make that load of lumber fit for his use. 

God's plan in bringing about His redemptive purposes through Israel

Do you realize when God chose to manifest His plan of salvation in history - the plan had been decided before time began (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2). The Father and the Son and decided upon the plan, with the Son making the effort to come into history by way of the virgin birth and incarnating Himself as the man Jesus of Nazareth. God had also decided that in the millennia leading up to His Son's arrival, He would hand select one man (Abraham) to be the patriarch of ultimately one nation (Israel). 

The nation of Israel was God's people redeemed and paid for for the sake of bringing about what would be a people of God and ultimately the humanity of His Son. The problem with Israel was she was full of knots and twists. As a smaller picture of the much larger portrait of all humanity - Israel stood no chance, on its own, of being used by God. All of us can be so described as full of knots, twists and warpings in and through out humanity. Apart of Jesus Christ and apart from the touch of the gracious hand of Almighty God - every human being on this planet is unfit to be in God's presence. God's object lesson of grace - Israel - really is a lesson to all who would be redeemed by grace through faith.

So, God made a covenant with Israel (Exodus 12-15). He revealed His law and tabernacle to her (Exodus 20-40); raised up prophets and kings like David to lead and guide her and pleaded with her to not forsake Him (see Hosea 2). Israel's bent to walk away from God led to two historic exiles in Assyria (Isaiah 39) and Babylon (see the Book of Daniel). 

Israel, particularly the Southern Kingdom called "Judah", was set apart by God to continue on His program with His people. Judah went into exile into Babylon for some 70 years. Upon her return back to the land, men like Ezra and Nehemiah and the latter prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi all urged the people to stay faithful to God. Israel was cured of her idolatry. Four centuries would pass between the closing out of the Old Testament and the arrival of Jesus Christ in Matthew's Gospel.

When one follows the saga of Jesus' life, death and resurrection - the Jewish people were instrumental in the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus presented Himself to the nation as her King, her Messiah. In passages like Matthew 23 we find Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Alas she had missed her opportunity. The Kingdom and its King would had been within her grasp if only she had yielded allegiance to Him. Acts 2:22-24 summarizes what we have discussed up to this point:

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."

The Big Question Needing To Be Answered About Israel In The New Testament

So did Israel jeopardize her place and role in God's redemptive purposes? As more and more Gentiles were being brought into the fold, the question ever loomed on the horizon. As the early church changed from being predominately Jewish to more Gentile - the question came to be, as so represented by the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:1 - "I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He?" The late W.A Criswell, long-time pastor at First Baptist Dallas, notes on this verse:

"But the Jew has a question to ask.  In the Book of Romans, there are questions asked all through the book. The Jew has a question to ask.  The question the Jew asks is this: “If God deals with the Gentiles according to a covenant of grace, then what about us, the children of Abraham? [Romans 9:1-5].  What about the promises to the fathers, and what about the covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and what about the covenant that God made with David? [Romans 9:4].  And what about the promises of the prophecies?  Has God cast away the Jewish people? [Romans 11:1].  Does He not deal with us anymore as a nation, as a race, and as a people? [Romans 11:1]  What about the promises to the nation?  And what about the covenants?” [Romans 9:4]. Has God cast away the Jewish nation? Does the Jewish nation and does the Jewish people have no longer any future?"

Criswell then continues on, bringing in the relevance of this question to the Christian...

"Because God is dealing with us in this dispensation, this age under grace, through the faith in Christ Jesus, is, therefore, He through with the Jew and with the Jewish nation? [Romans 11:1]. And that is the exact question that Paul raises as he begins the first verse of the eleventh chapter of Romans, “I say then, hath God cast away His people?” [Romans 11:1].  Is God done with the Jew?  Is God through with the children of Abraham?  Hath God cast away His people?"

God is not done with Israel, and this is why...

Paul's answer to his own question on whether God is done with Israel is in the short, terse, negative: "may it never be!" God's continuing program with Israel, and its relevance to the Great commission among the nations and the church is the purpose of Romans 11. God is not done with Israel. Below we close out today's post, discover why God is not done with Israel:

a. Israel is still God's chosen people, who have been temporarily set aside (Romans 10:18-11:10).

b. God has ordained unbelieving Israel's setting aside in order to save believing Gentiles and Jews. If God had abandoned Israel, then all other peoples in every tribe, nation and tongue would had remained outside the fold of God's redemptive purposes (Romans  11:11-24).

c. God has ordained that once the full number of Gentiles (and believing Jews) are gathered in this age (this age includes the church age, rapture of church age saints, tribulation and inclusion of tribulation martyrs at Christ's return at the end of the Tribulation), Israel will then be saved at Christ's return (Zech 12:10-11; Revelation 1:7; 7; 14; Romans 11:25-32). This point is so important, since the same God that keeps His promises to Israel is the same God that keeps His promises to those who have by grace trusted in Jesus.

d. In short then, once Christ returns with His raptured saints at the end of the tribulation, Israel will be given the grace to believe on Him, and thus she will shine forth the glory of her Messiah in His Kingdom, enjoying His glory with the glorified church who is seated with Him on thrones in the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20:1-6). God's promises are sure and steadfast! 

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