Text: Romans 11:17-24
Theme: Through trust in Christ we Gentiles can be grafted into the same Vine as the Jews.
Key verses: “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” (v. 17-18). “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” (v. 22).
What I believe God said to me: Dwayne, tread carefully and humbly through this chapter. Do not assume your many years of Bible study and devotion have prepared you to fully and easily grasp the enormity and deep truth of this part of Romans. This is “other-nationally” for you. This is written for you as a Gentile but it primarily speaks to my chosen people, the Israelites. You have been given great grace to be able to participate in their blessings and nourishment. Because of my mercy and love for you, you have been grafted into me. As a Gentile you were by nature a child of wrath and not my child. But I chose you and placed you in my eternal family. I did that for you–you had only to trust in my Son (and even your faith was given to you by me). It’s important to keep in mind that in this chapter Paul is addressing my “future dealings with Israel in fulfillment of prophecy” (as H.A. Ironside explained it). He was speaking of Israel as a nation. When my people, the Jews, shouted, “Away with him. Crucify him. May his blood be upon us and our children,” I took them seriously. I rejected them as a nation because they rejected my precious Son the Messiah. However, as Paul is masterfully explaining, it is a temporary rejection. There is coming a day when the nation of Israel will turn back to me. Meanwhile, I established my Church made up of Gentiles like you to shine as a living example to the world, to bless the world with the gospel of Christ. Don’t miss the solemn warning from Paul that is also in this chapter. Ironside sheds light on it to help you comprehend its gravity: “Who can doubt that the day of the cutting off is near at hand, when the true Church having been caught up to be with the Lord, (then) judgment will be meted out to unfaithful Christendom, and then God will turn back in grace to Israel, if they abide not still in unbelief, and they shall by regrafted into their own olive tree, according to the power of the God of resurrection?”
What I said to God: Lord, I admit I am struggling to understand this passage. But I am beginning to get it, at least in part. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for helping my weak and feeble human mind. I really want to sense the weight of this warning and the adulation of this truth–that You have chosen me and my family to be grafted into You, the true Vine. What a privilege! And what a responsibility is placed on us to share Your Good News with others. Thank You that we have been given this season of grace to trust You as Savior. Help us “work ’til Jesus comes” when we’ll be carried home.