With the call of Abram in Genesis 12, YHWH separated Abram to himself and promised to make him “a great nation,” a blessing to the world. This covenant from the Father effectively established the descendants of Abraham as the people of YHWH forever.
To my knowledge, I am not a direct descendent of Abraham. I cannot trace my lineage to one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph, Benjamin and Judah probably didn’t look a lot like me. But from the foundation of Israel as the people of God, the Father, in his infinite grace, made it possible for those not of Israel to choose Him. In Exodus 12, we see the first mention of a stranger choosing to follow YHWH: “If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” We see this refrain repeated over and over throughout scripture; it is outlined in Leviticus, repeated in Numbers and Deuteronomy, and seen in practice throughout the prophets. Those outside Israel could always choose Him, His people, and His ways. YHWH’s grace blossomed here with a simple directive, “Come.”
That river overflowed its banks with the coming of Messiah; that grace that had always been lovingly open, the grace that had always said “come,” suddenly became radically active when Yeshua said, “Go.” Rather than returning to Judah, like Ruth and Naomi, to the land and people of blessing, suddenly Judah and its blessings had been brought to the world. Suddenly wild olive branches with little fruit and little hope of survival were taken up and lovingly grafted into the nourishing root of Jesse; however, the grafting process still requires a choice on the part of the new believer. We must still choose Him. The door has been brought to us, but we must choose to step through, to follow Messiah in word and deed, to live and love as he did. As I read through Romans 11, the warnings of Paul seem loud and unfailingly clear. We have been joined to the family of YHWH by grace, and that grace comes with responsibility:
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off” Romans 11:17-22 (emphasis mine).
What an incredible privilege to be grafted in! What an opportunity to receive nourishment from the root, to be allowed to bear fruit for the glory of the Father! But for those who choose Him daily, for those who cling to Him and to His Word, the father’s love and grace are further extended. Not only are we a wild branch that has been grafted in, but through the Spirit of God, we are received no longer as strangers but as sons and daughters. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:15-17).
I am humbled by His mercy! I am floored by His grace! Outside the realm of salvation, without hope, the Father made a way for me. Called out. Separated. The Father took a mess like me who had no people, no place, and made me a part of the family of God. I understand clearly what Peter said, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). For the rest of my life, I pray that His mercy shows in my gratitude, that His grace shows in my obedience, and His love shines in the way that I treat others.
If Messiah was willing to die for me, the least I can do is to commit myself to live for Him.Print This Post