Today's topic involves "mystery". Now we should recognize that "mystery" is not so much a problem to be solved, as it is a greater reality to be appreciated. We should appreciate that God's ways are not our ways, and that His ways are beyond our ability to trace out.
So with this in mind, let's dive deep into the mystery of this week's reading.
(Read Romans 11:1-36)
It is very timely for us to discuss these things right now. This weekend attacks have occurred between Hamas in Palestine and the Israeli military. Unfortunately, many civilians on both sides of the "fence" have suffered loss. So it is of utmost importance that we embrace this mystery regarding the "remnant of Israel" even as we pray for peace in that region of God's world.
So clearly Paul says, "God did not reject His people", but why? Some might argue that it appears God has indeed rejected His people since earlier Paul had said, "What then shall we say? That the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness has not attained it." (Romans 9:30-31) So why can Paul now say, "God did not reject His people"?
Well, the reason is because of the remnant. The "remnant" is the "7,000" who have not turned their backs on God, but have instead embraced His promise in the person of His Son Jesus. Jesus is the true "seed" of Abraham (see Galatians 3:16) and the fulfillment of all of God's promises.
This is how we can also understand the imagery of the olive tree. (see verses 11-24) Jesus is the olive tree. Wild olive branches (Gentiles) were grafted into Jesus through FAITH (i.e. believing God; particularly His promise fulfilled in Jesus), and the natural branches (Jews) can also be grafted in through that same FAITH. (see verse 23) However, without FAITH no one is included in Jesus, and no one is grafted in, no matter whether they are "wild" or "natural" branches. The Bible says clearly, "Without FAITH it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6).
So back to today's situation in Israel, and the conflict between Hamas and Israel. We should not believe that Israel has a divine right to do whatever it pleases. Yes they can defend their borders, their citizens, and their interests. However, we should not think that the current nation of Israel has God on their side. The question, as has been asked time and time again, even when Joshua encountered the "commander of the army of the LORD" is not "Is God on our side?" but rather "Are we on God's side?"
All who place true FAITH in Jesus (Believing God; particularly His promise fulfilled in Jesus) are on God's side, but all who persist in unbelief have rejected God and His promise fulfilled in Jesus. This is the bottom line, and it is, in my humble opinion, the best way to embrace this "mystery".
So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Why or Why not? Let's discuss.
p.s. I will take the week off next week due to the short week and the Thanksgiving holiday, and I will start fresh in December with a new focus. I would like to wrestle with real questions your family, friends, and neighbors have asked when you have spoken about your FAITH. What are their objections? What questions have they asked that you feel ill equipped to answer? Let's discuss those questions together. So either comment on this blog, or comment on Facebook. Together we will seek God's answer as we continue to go deeper into God's Word together. Thank you!