Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 25
ROMANS 11:1 – PART 2
Now back to where we were. We left off in Romans Chapter 11, and that would be in verse 13. Paul is writing to the believers at Rome, and you and I today.
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.”
In other words, Paul is never going to take a back seat to anybody concerning his apostleship. Now whenever I teach the other letters of Paul I always comment on the fact that whether it’s Galatians, or Ephesians or whatever, Paul is always having to defend his apostleship. And of course that is understandable, because people can readily understand the Twelve, and their unique position with Christ in His earthly ministry, and people don’t have any problem with that. But here comes this gentlemen who was like a raging bull, fighting against everything that spoke of Jesus of Nazareth, and then to proclaim him as an apostle, and especially the apostle of the Gentiles? Even people today have a hard time reconciling that. I’ve had lots of people that have told me that they have had people in leadership positions in Sunday School tell them that Paul’s letters didn’t even deserve to be in the Bible. Well, I know that’s evident, but you see he’s always defending his apostleship because of his unique calling, and his unique background.
Have you ever stopped to think that no one but Saul of Tarsus could have fulfilled the role of this apostle of the Gentiles? Everything just fits so beautifully. Here he is, a Jew’s Jew, an Israelite, a Hebrew of the Hebrews of the tribe of Benjamin, and yet he was a Roman by citizenship. Fluent in the Greek, fluent in the culture of the then-known world, and yet in that culminated all the things that were necessary to go, yes to the Jew as a Jew, but also to the Gentiles as a Roman. So it’s just unique, and that is why he is the apostle that he is.
“If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, (his fellow Jews, if he could make them envious of what the Gentiles are enjoying) and might save some of them.”
Now look what he said back in Chapter 9, let’s look at verse 3 for a moment. This was the man’s heart for his kinsman in the flesh, the Jew.
“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites…;”
Paul never lost that love for his fellow people, the Jews. And even though he recognized himself as the apostle of the Gentiles, yet his heart’s desire was to see Jews come into this knowledge of Salvation. But we know they were his enemies everywhere he went. They were his constant opposition, especially as he came down the shores of Greece, from Philippi, to Thessalonica, down to Berea, and Athens. They pursued him from city to city. Why? Instead of creating an envoy that would bring emulation, they created a hatred.
“For if the casting away of them (and blinding them) be the reconciling of the world,…”
That doesn’t mean the whole world is going to be saved. A Scripture just comes to mind in II Corinthians, Chapter 5, and verse 18, so let’s turn there for a moment. Here the Apostle is writing to the Gentile believers at Corinth.
II Corinthians 5:18
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;”
Now you all know what reconciliation means. It’s taking two parties that have been alienated, that are at odds with one another, and bringing them back to a fellowship. The world tonight is set aside from God, they’re at odds with Him, they’re enemies of God, and God has done everything possible to reconcile them to Himself. Now verse 19.
II Corinthians 5:19,20a
“To wit, (to say) that God was in Christ, (there’s His Deity) reconciling the world (now we’ll see this defined a little better when we get back to Romans Chapter 11, but I want you to see the language, that God was in Christ while He hung on that Cross reconciling the whole world) unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ…”
We are to carry out God’s bidding while we are in foreign territory. But what I wanted you to see is that the work of the Cross was the reconciling of the whole world. The Book of Hebrews tells us that Christ tasted death for how many? For every man. He didn’t die for just the few believers. He died for the whole human race. The subject was brought up in one of our classes last night about the dramatizing of the Cross. There are so many plays about that, and using ketchup for the blood and so forth. But when you stop to think about it, how in the world can any human hope to dramatize the work of the Cross. It’s like blasphemy, because it took the very God of creation to do the work of the Cross. That is so far beyond the human endeavor that we can’t even reconcile it. That blood was not ordinary blood, and nothing can take its place. That blood was Divine, it was Holy, it had the power within it to cleanse the whole world’s sin problem, and then we think we can reduce it to human endeavor. No way! Now back to Romans 11, so Paul tells us that if all this reconciliation was accomplished because Israel rejected it, and now it’s been given over to the Gentile world:
“…what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?”
Now when you think of Israel coming back from the dead, I want you to immediately think of one chapter in the Old Testament: Ezekiel Chapter 37. The chapter about the “Dry Bones.” Ezekiel saw that valley filled with dry bones, they were very dry, they had been there so long they were as white as snow, and all of a sudden God told Ezekiel, “Prophecy on those bones” and we know in verse 7 they began to shake, rattle, and roll. And all of that was merely a picture of the Nation of Israel who had been out of the land of promise, who had been away from their temple worship, they’d been away from God, they’d been blinded, but now God’s going to bring them back to life. It was a picture of the nation of Israel coming back to their homeland as we have been seeing now for the last 48 years.
So the nation of Israel has been shaking and coming back to life, coming back to Israel from every nation under heaven. Oh, the muscle has come back on the bone, the skin is coming back on them as promised in Ezekiel 37:6, but there is still no Spiritual life in them. They are still, even as we speak, spiritually dead. This is the same analogy that Paul is using in Romans Chapter 11, the same thing that Ezekiel saw in Chapter 37. That this is the whole nation of Israel coming back to their homeland, coming back to life, waiting for the Second Coming (His first coming the Jews think). You know I’ve told you about the evangelical pastor and the Jewish Rabbi who were discussing the things concerning the Messiah, and this evangelical pastor was trying to convince this Jewish Rabbi that Christ was here the first time, and would be coming again. And the Rabbi said, “No, He’s never been here before, He’s coming the first time when He comes.” And after a bit of argument, finally the Rabbi said, “Ok, let’s put it on hold, and when He gets here we’ll ask Him if He’s been here before.”
Well, you see this is the whole mentality of so many people, they cannot reckon the fact that He has been here. He was rejected, He went back to glory, He’s coming again, and we’re getting close. Now here in verse 15 Paul is referring to this. If this program of reconciliation that has been poured out on the Gentile world, great as it has been however, it’s nothing compared to what is going to happen to Israel when God comes back and fulfills His promises with them. And what shall it be?
“…but life from the dead?
Yes, when the nation of Israel is out in the world they’re dead, they are not a viable entity, but oh, they’re coming back to the land, and that’s why we’re seeing the little nation of Israel in the news every single day. And I’m always reminding people, “Look, what other nation on earth that is comprised of only 3-4 million people, and is about the size of Rhode Island, is in the news constantly? That’s miraculous. And why? Because they’re God’s people, and He’s getting them ready for His soon return.
“For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. (so now we come into an interesting illustration, we’re going to go into horticulture.) And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, (speaking to Gentiles now.) being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, (the Jews) and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;”
Now we need to stop a moment. Do you realize when you study this verse that it’s the direct opposite of how we normally graft things? It’s totally opposite, because under normal grafting you take the old root that is native to a particular area. It has survived the climate and soil, and all that, it is native, but it’s fruit probably isn’t all that good. So what do the horticulturists do? Well they breed up a good hybrid, and of course the only one that I’m acquainted with is the pecan tree. So we’ve got the old natural pecan, and then you take a hybrid, which is your big nice soft shell, and you cut off that old original trunk of that native pecan, and graft in this beautiful paper shell. Now that’s the normal way of grafting, but this is opposite. This is taking the beautiful tree, and casting it aside, and grafting in an old wild olive tree. Now if I under stand the wild olive tree correctly, it didn’t produce any fruit, it was worthless.
And that’s like the Gentiles are. We, as a no-good olive tree, have been grafted into the beautiful original which was Israel. And when I teach this I want to make it very plain that we’re not talking about the believers here being grafted in, although we’re certainly part of it, but we’re talking about the whole Gentile system that has been grafted into that which was original Israel. Now, stop and think, How and through what man did the nation of Israel come about? Abraham. All right let’s go back to Genesis Chapter 12 for a moment, and we’ll go directly to verse 3. And remember this has never be abrogated, God has never taken this promise away. Paul has never refuted it, and no one else has, so it’s still valid. It’s still set in concrete.
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee (Abraham) shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Not just Israel, but all the families of the earth. Now then we know that ever since this promise was given to Abraham until we get into Paul going to the Gentiles, Israel enjoyed the fatness of the root of Abraham. Israel was in the promises given to Abraham, but never lose sight of the fact that God also told Abraham he’d be a blessing to all the rest of the world also. Now he can’t do it two times at once, so what did he have to do? God had to set Israel aside, broke them off from the fatness of root of Abraham, and He put in Gentiledom. I’m going to use the word Gentiledom as a group of people, the whole Gentile system has now been by the Grace of God, put into the place that Israel enjoyed in that Old Testament. Now wait a minute. Did that mean that all those Israelites were believers? No. But they had the opportunity to be. They had the Word of God, they had everything going for them, but again most of them weren’t true believers.
Most of the Israelites in the Old Testament were renegades in unbelief, but yet they were on the root of Abraham. Are you with me? Gentiledom is in the same situation today, they’re resting on the root of Abraham. Now that doesn’t make us Jews anymore than a grafted paper shell pecan can become a native pecan. We are merely feasting off that which God had promised the man Abraham. Now as the Gentile system has been feasting on all the blessings of the father of Israel, Abraham, that means that The Gospel (Reference I Corinthians 15:1-4) has been going to the Gentiles, he’s had just as much opportunity at Salvation, and a relationship with God as Israel did back there. But what has Gentiledom done with this glorious opportunity of being in the place of blessing that Israel lost? They did the same thing that Israel did, they’ve walked it underfoot, they have cast it aside, they’ve said thanks, but no thanks. Even though they’re in that place of tremendous opportunity, they won’t take advantage of it. So the Gentiles have experienced that position now for almost two thousand years. What’s going to happen next?
“And if some of the branches (Israel) be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, (Gentiles) wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness (promises to Abraham.) of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches, But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. (that would be the Gentile boast) Well; because of unbelief they (Israel) were broken off, and thou standest by faith.”
Israel was enjoying the fatness of Abraham, but, what did they do with it? They rejected it in unbelief, and they lost that exalted position that we read about in Romans Chapter 2 or 3. They had the Word of God, and had everything else going for them. So continuing on in verse 20 Paul tell us:
“Be not high-minded, (as a Gentile) but fear. (and here’s why.) For if God spared not the natural branches, (Israel, the good tree) take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, (Israel) severity; (oh, absolutely God dealt with Israel severely because they rejected so much.) but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”
But you see, we Gentiles are fast approaching that same place, where God is going to finally get fed up with the Gentile world system who are rejecting His offer of Grace, and who are rejecting His blessings, who are rejecting believing Who He is and what He is. So what’s He going to do? He’s going to do the same thing to the Gentiles that He did to Israel. He’s going to break off the Gentile, and when He’s through with the Gentile, who is He going to put back? The Jew. Do you see how beautiful that is? See what I meant four programs ago when I said anybody who maintains that God is through with the Jew, that there’s no more fulfilling of Old Testament prophecy, they’ve got to take this chapter and tear it out. They have to throw it away because it just sits here and it trumpets, just screams at us, that God is not through with Israel. God is yet going to fulfill all the promises made to Abraham. We’ve just been fortunate enough that in the interim, while they’ve been blinded, we’ve been brought into the place of blessing, as Gentiles! I’m not talking about believers necessarily, I’m talking about the whole Gentile world. We’ve been brought into the place of having the simple requirement of believing The Gospel. Verse 22 again:
“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, (Gentiledom) goodness: if thou continue in his goodness, (in other words, respond to this offer of Grace and recognize all of His blessings that have been showered upon us) otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in:…”
In other words, one day their unbelief is going to be removed. Will a nation be born in a day? Absolutely! When they see Him coming in the clouds of glory! That remnant of Israel (I think down there in the mountains southeast of Jerusalem that went out in Matthew 24). God has protected them down there for three and one half years from the horrors of Tribulation. He keeps them just like He did Israel in the wilderness under Moses. And that remnant of Israel, when they see Him coming in the clouds of glory, in power, crushing the Gentile world that has taken over the Middle East, then they will recognize Who He is. They will see Him and the nation, the remnant will be saved in a moment and they’ll be grafted in. Continuing on:
“… for God is able to graft them in again.”
God’s not through with Israel. Sure they’ve been set aside for over 1900 years, but that’s nothing in God’s program. That’s just a flick of the eyelid. And He’s going to graft them in again.
“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature,…”
It’s unproductive. I think the name of it was the old Oleander Tree, if I’m not mistaken. It was an olive tree but it didn’t produce any olives. And so that’s the analogy of Gentiles. They were no good, they were pagan. God had no reason to go to them except by what? By grace! And so He took the no-good Gentiles and He brought them in and made them a part of the fatness of the Abrahamic Promises. But He says be careful. If you reject this like Israel did, you’re going to be cut off just as well as they were and it’s going to happen. The day is coming when God will stop the Age of Grace and He’s going to set the Gentiles into the horrors of the Tribulation and He’s going to turn again to His Covenant people. Looking at verse 24 again:
“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature (just opposite of what we normally do when we graft) into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, (the Nation of Israel) which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”
Now listen, just stop and think. If God took that which was natural, broke it off, set it aside and grafted in an old wild olive tree, the Gentiles, and He’s been letting them enjoy all the possibilities of Salvation and blessing that Israel at one time had, but when they have rejected it, and rejected it, and rejected it, then God will do the same thing with the Gentiles that He did with Israel. He will cast them aside and He will set Israel back on that root of Abraham and Israel is going to go into the kingdom enjoying the blessings.