+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Opening (Collect for Purity)
Almighty God: to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of my heart through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that I may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name, through Christ my Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading – Romans 11:1-24 (NLT)
God’s Mercy on Israel
I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said, “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!”
It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.
So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened. As the Scriptures say,
“God has put them into a deep sleep. To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear.”
Likewise, David said,
“Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble, and let them get what they deserve. Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs be bent forever.”
Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.
I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead! And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy—just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.
But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.
“Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either.
Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.
“I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous
of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them.
For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world,
their acceptance will be even more wonderful.
It will be life for those who were dead!” – Romans 11:14-15
How do you view the modern State of Israel?
Israel is mostly a secular state, but there is a recognized religious Jewish remnant and a growing Messianic Jewish community. And Jerusalem is the center of the religious universe for both Christians and Jews. For Muslims, it’s an after thought regardless of their protests.
So what can we learn from today’s reading?
1. The fall of Israel opened up a way for the salvation of the Gentiles. A suffering nation led to the blessing of other nations; when the suffering shall cease, still more abundant blessing shall be the result.
2. Gentiles can hope for still more abundant blessing when the Jews are gathered into Christ. A great revival of spiritual life is to be expected, consequently the Gentiles, as a matter of spiritual profit, should seek the salvation of Israel.
3. The holiness of the Jewish root, remains present in the stump and its engrafted branches. The conversion of Christ’s race to God will be its preeminent service to all the other nations of the earth.
4. Gentile engraftment into the Christian branch of the Jewish stump carries serious responsibilities. God’s severity to the broken-off Jewish branches should make the Gentiles very humble and very earnest, lest it come round upon themselves.
5. Israel’s partial blindness is permitted until the fullness of Gentiles come to Christ. The ingathering of Gentiles into Christ’s kingdom is God’s great present purpose and is to be pursued until all have heard the Good News of Christ.
6. Israel will be saved as the crowning act of God’s mercy. Israel in its national capacity shall yet be gathered home to God, through the mercy extended to the Jews by the saved Gentiles.
The Messianic Jewish communities in Israel are the firstfruits of that enterprise.
Questions for consideration:
- How do you view the modern State of Israel? What part do you think it plays in God’s overall plan for the world? Please explain.
- How does your Christian community view the modern State of Israel? As a pariah among nations, worthy of boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions? Or as a unfolding fulfillment of Messianic prophecy worthy of prayer and support? Please explain.
- How do Israel’s failures and rejection affect your understanding of your own status with God? How do humility and grace fit it? Please explain.
- Do you believe that God accepts you unconditionally? How does today’s reading inform your understanding? What role does Christ play in your acceptance by God? Please explain. If you are not sure, click here.
Faithful God: Thank you for your eternal covenant with Israel, and with me through faith in your Son, Jesus Christ. Purge me of all pride and arrogance, that I might live humbly and faithfully – in awe of your mercy and grace. Bring to my attention my failures, that I might repent and receive your forgiveness according to your loving-kindness. And help me to be faithful in prayer, for the peace of Jerusalem and the well-being of your chosen nation Israel. Pour out your blessing on every Jewish person who believes in Yeshua Hamashiach. And may they bear much good fruit in the advance of your Kingdom, and the glory due your name. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“ET SHEM YESHUA..Holy Name of Yeshua” – Hebrew Christian Song
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen