Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Romans 11-13
Family, today is a big day and I want you to know that my notes could never do this justice but I am going to try.
Romans 11 is pivotal in understanding just who Israel is in the eyes of YHWH – and in correcting the grievous doctrine of replacement theology that stands in direct contradiction to the word of YHWH.
We’re going to break down some key verses but then I’m going to spend some time driving it all home because, for many of us, this chapter (11) is the final piece to the puzzle. This is why I will focus almost exclusively on this one chapter in today’s notes.
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Romans 11:1-2
Many different walks teach that the Jews were rejected by YHWH and replaced by Christians. They usually cite the rejection of Messiah as the reason for them being rejected. But as we’ve read, even in the Gospels there were far more Jewish followers of Messiah than there were Gentiles. Here we see, not only a direct confirmation that Israel has not been rejected, but a reminder that Paul, himself, is a Jew. We also see that YHWH has planned on Israel being His chosen people from the very beginning. Remember, I am God, I do not change. Malachi 3:6
We are then told (by those who adhere to replacement theology) of some of the deeds of Israel, as if making a case for their expulsion from the status of beloved due to their actions. How different, though, are their actions from those of Christians? Based on our history, we are nigh on spiritual twins, with both siblings equally rebellious.
What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.” Romans 11:7-8
This tells us that our Jewish brethren were made so as not to see or hear, given a spirit of stupor that prevents them from seeing what they were seeking. What is it they were seeking? What they still seek – the Messiah. So why, then are they unable to see it? Keep reading.
So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Romans 11:11-12
Through Israel’s blindness to who Messiah is, a way was made for the Gentiles to come into the faith, so that they could make Israel jealous for the freedom and fullness of the faith they have in knowing the Messiah. That last sentence tells us of what is to come, all part of the Master’s plan! We are seeing key language here which all ties into the big revelation.
Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
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 11:13-22
There is a lot to unpack here. Read and carefully digest these verses because every word is important but my notes will not go anywhere near deep enough, nor will they encompass all.
What does it mean to make our beloved Jewish brethren jealous? Keep reading.
They didn’t realize that Yeshua was the Messiah, and in some ways they have burdened themselves with YHWH’s law, the gift of this wisdom can feel overwhelmingly heavy trying to shoulder it without the help of Messiah’s example and the muscle of the Holy Spirit. However, Christianity did exactly what Paul warns against here – became arrogant towards the branches and counted themselves as the supporters of the root. Rather than to be humble, realizing that our Jewish brethren paved the way for us and kept the commandments throughout most of history where Christianity was denying YHWH’s law even applied to us.
The Prodigal son makes more and more sense the further we get into our reading, doesn’t it? Remember, our Jewish brethren represent the son that remained with his father and we represent the one who went out and squandered his wealth, only to wake up among pigs and long to find his way home, realizing that to be under his Father’s roof and rules was a better life than anything the world had to offer.
In case we still aren’t getting the point, Paul speaks even more plainly in Romans 11:25-26
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25-26
A partial hardening of Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. They are blinded on our behalf, so that we may see. As a result, we have a responsibility to them, though. One in which we have failed miserably in the past. But as prophesy is being fulfilled at a rapid pace in our time, more and more Believers are being awakened to this truth and trained up to be able to take on this responsibility, both with the world and with our Jewish brethren.
And now we get into the meat or intended workings of the relationship between the Jews to Christians or Messianics to Non-Messianics.
What is Messianic? Today’s meaning is that it is someone who believes Yeshua is the Messiah. Note that being of Jewish ancestry does not automatically make someone a non-messianic. Just as Christians around the world are experiencing an awakening to the relevance of the foundational Scriptures, so our Jewish Brethren are experiencing a parallel awakening to Yeshua being the Messiah. Each of us had a piece to the puzzle and when we come together, the picture is complete. That this is happening now, in our time, is nothing short of prophecy being fulfilled as the hand of YHWH begins to gather His people.
Please pay attention to how adamant Paul is throughout this chapter that YHWH has not forsaken the Jewish people. Replacement theology teaches that the Christians have replaced the Jews as YHWH’s chosen people, which is a highly charged anti semitic teaching that has been passed down for centuries and has no place in the life of a Believer who trusts in YHWH’s word.
Instead, it is us who are grafted into the tree of Israel and we, as the newly grafted in branch, are not to consider ourselves better than the tree or to think that the root needs us. Rather, it is us who needs the roots in order to survive.
None of us, whether we be Jewish or Christian, are deserving of salvation. We are all sinners. In fact, it is difficult to read the history of Israel as a nation and not see their same tragic history playing out in Christianity today.
In our reading today, pay attention to the language stressing the importance of the tree and roots and potential for removal of grafted in branches. Take notice of YHWH’s plan to bring our Jewish brethren back into the fold and how He will use us in order to facilitate that.
It is important to understand that they have been blinded to some things to allow for the Gentiles to come into fullness of the faith. It is for our sake that they have been blinded to the Messiah.
The Father conceals from some and reveals to others, according to His will and wisdom and for His good purpose. I try to keep this in mind when it comes to many issues in our world today. Sometimes we may see Believers we love and respect championing causes that seem as far removed from Messiah as we can imagine. I remind myself that the Father may have revealed or concealed something from them, according to His will and to bring about His good purpose – and that this could also be the case with myself. Perhaps there is something I’m not allowed to see, some aspect of an issue or problem that the Father has not granted me understanding of just yet. And so, we humble ourselves, knowing that He is God and we are not. His ways are not our ways – and His ways are always above our own.
Part of YHWH’s plan is for us to provoke our Jewish brethren to jealousy with our Faith and Paul explains this in our reading today. There is also a wonderful essay about this in the Jewish New Testament Commentary, written by David H. Stern. Mr. Stern is a Messianic Jew, he believes in Messiah as we do.
I want to share some of his essay with you because it explains perfectly the failure of Christians to provoke our Jewish brethren to jealousy up until this point and I think it can help us to reframe our mindset a bit so that we are in a better position to do what we were intended to do when it comes to our future interactions.
This essay is found in the Jewish New Testament commentary and I highly recommend this book. It is organized as a reference book to be read along with your Bible and it explains a lot of the Jewish idioms, definitions, and references that would normally go unnoticed by most of us. Here is a link.
Note: If you decide to check out this book make sure you click that link. This is written by a man who dearly loves our Messiah and has a strong desire to help others understand the context needed to grasp the Word of our Father. There are books with a similar title written about the New Testament from a (Non- Messianic) Jewish perspective that are not written by Believers in Messiah and the perspective is definitely not the same, though, so if you decide to check out that book, make sure you click my link to go to the right one.
I’m going to post the essay from Mr Stern below. It is a wonderfully insightful and thought provoking read and I think it would do us a great service to consider it. A little warning to help us hold off on offense when we begin reading: It begins by using “Christians” in quotations and I want you to understand that he is doing that to separate the ones committing the evil deeds he references from true followers of Messiah.
This essay starts off being painfully convicting but I think it is a needed cold splash of water. Hang in there, because it ends with a great deal of inspiration and a Godly call to action. To quote Mr Stern “Gentile Christians should understand the words “provoke them to jealousy” as a challenge. The rest of chapter 11 expands on this theme and chapters 12-15 are nothing if not a manual on how to provoke Jews and unbelieving Gentiles to jealousy.”
To provoke them to jealousy. Is there anything about Gentile Christians that would make non-Messianic Jews jealous of them? Throughout most of the last two thousand years, the Church, to its great shame, not only has not provoked Jews to jealousy but has engendered repugnance and fear; so that Jewish people, instead of being drawn to love the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, have usually come to hate or ignore him, remaining convinced that their non-Messianic Judaism or secularism or agnosticism is superior to Christianity.
If this seems a harsh judgment, then let us hear of which Christians Jews are expected to be jealous. Of the “Christians” who trapped Jews in their synagogues and burned them alive (which happened when the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, as well as in several European cities)? Of the “Christians” who forced Jews to hear conversionary sermons against their will and expelled from the country those who did not respond (which took place for centuries during the Middle Ages and the Inquisition)? Of the “Christians” who invented the “blood libel” that Jews murder a Christian child and use his blood in their Passover matzah! Of the cross-carrying “Christian” priests leading murderous mobs in pogroms? Of the “Christians” who remained silent while six million Jews perished in the Holocaust? Or perhaps of the “Christians” who murdered them — including Hitler himself, who was never excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church? Of “Christian” members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white “Christian” supremacy gangs and their brutish demonstrations? Of “Christians” that support Palestinian organizations whose terrorists kill and maim Israeli Jewish children? Of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Capucci, convicted of gun-running for those same Palestinian terrorist organizations? (These horrific events are further chronicled by Messianic Jew Michael L. Brown in his book, Омг Hands Are Stained With Blood: The Tragic Story of “The Church ” and the Jewish People, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: Destiny Image Publishers, 1992.) Of which of these “Christians” are we Jews supposed to be jealous? After such a recital, it is kinder not to dwell on what these people provoke us to — but jealousy it is not.
The Jews’ pain would have been the same regardless of whether these people called themselves Christians: and the name “Christian” is not copyrighted, so that anyone who chooses can apply it to himself, whether his behavior entitles him or not. But the Church’s shame is not only in not having taken a stand consistently repudiating every one of these and other horrors committed against the Jews, but in having actually authorized and encouraged some of them. There is no way of silencing every individual who misuses the name of the Messiah, falsely claiming his authority for their evil deeds. But there is a way for a community to withdraw its approval and fellowship from such people and condemn them publicly; instead, through much of its history, the Church did exactly the opposite. Of this Jews are to be jealous?
Nevertheless, there is another side. The point is not to cite merciful deeds done for the Jews in Christ’s name, to “balance the ledger”; that is no consolation at all. Rather, it is that Gentile Christians should understand the words, “provoke them to jealousy.” as a command, or at least as a challenge. Non-Messianic Jews ought to be able to look at saved Gentiles in the Church and see in them such a wonderful change from their former selves, such holy lives, such dignified, godly, peaceful, peace-bringing, honorable, ethical, joyful and humble people, that they become jealous and want for themselves too whatever it is that makes these Gentiles different and special. Many Jews — myself among them — have been won to trust in Yeshua through the jealousy-provoking behavior of Gentile Christians, behavior that overcomes with its love all the pent-up antipathy, distrust and pain which a Jewish person can feel, even when these feelings are justifiable by objective historical reality. Not natural? Yes, the Good News is not natural, but supernatural. Its work is done in people and through them by the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, who can remove every shred of antisemitism and falseness and replace them with the transparent love that truly “fulfills the whole Torah” (13:10). The rest of Chapter 11 expands on this theme, and Chapters 12-15 are nothing if not a manual on how to provoke Jews — and unbelieving Gentiles — to jealousy. -David Stern, Complete Jewish Guide To The New Testament
There are so many precious truths in our readings today. I’ve written several verses out to cherish and ponder. I don’t want to speak to too much else because I want you to leave these notes with the charge to provoke the unbelieving to jealousy. So I’ll just point out one other verse because it is also a culmination of an ongoing conversation we’ve been having since we began our reading.
Remember when I told you that the Greatest two commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) sum up the ten commandments? You can read about that here for a recap. Here in Romans 13 Paul explains some of this concept.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10
May we be hearers and doers of the Word of our Precious Father.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. Isaiah 58:12
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!