Monday, February 05, 2024

2024.02.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 11:11–15

Romans 11:11–15

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the apostle introduce this new section (Romans 11:11)? What does he ask about the purpose of their stumbling? What answer does he give (cf. Romans 3:4, Romans 3:6, Romans 3:31, Romans 6:2, Romans 6:15, Romans 7:7, Romans 7:13, Romans 9:14, Romans 11:1)? What happened to the Gentiles through their transgression (“fall”)? To do what to elect Israel? What two entities gain riches by Israel’s transgression (“fall”)? What will the completion of Israel be for these entities? To whom does Paul speak (Romans 11:13)? According to what office/calling? What does he do to his own ministry? What does he hope this will do (Romans 11:14)? For how many of them? What has happened to some of these who will yet be saved (Romans 11:15)? Bringing what about? What will happen to some of them? What will this be like?

Why has Israel transgressed the covenant? Romans 11:11–15 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Israel has transgressed the covenant so that the riches of God might be known among the nations, and particularly among the elect Israelites. 

Why is the nation of Israel plummeting to their death?Romans 11:11a. There’s a wonderful assumption in the question in verse 11: everything that happens does so for a reason appointed by God. This is one of the more difficult cases for understanding this. The second “fall” in our version of verse 11, as well as “fall” in Romans 11:12, are actually the word for trespass or sin. 

It’s recognizing that, as a nation, Israel have transgressed the covenant. So, describing this transgressing as a “stumble,” Romans 11:11 catches Israel mid-air, as it were, and asks the question: is this happening so that they will plummet to their death? Have they stumbled so that they should fall? Is this the purpose behind what’s happening to the nation? 

So that elect Gentiles and elect Israel might be savedRomans 11:11b. This is the 9th of the “certainly not!”s of Romans. We have seen the Spirit patiently using this letter by this apostle to overwrite many wrong ways of thinking and responding to spiritual reality and theological truth.

If our focus is on Israelites who are never going to believe, then our focus is on the wrong group. God’s focus, as He deals with national Israel, is upon elect Israel (cf. Romans 8:29, Romans 9:6, Romans 9:8, Romans 11:2a), whom He is saving, AND upon elect Gentiles whom He is saving. Note that, even when He says, “salvation has come to the Gentiles,” He does not mean that every individual Gentile person is now being saved. BUT, those who ARE being saved are the purpose of Israel’s current stumble.

And, elect Gentiles are not the only purpose. For, God is also focused on provoking “them” to jealousy. Who are the “them” in Romans 11:11? Not the nation of Israel generally, for there are many who will not respond to Gentile salvation by turning to faith in Christ. The “them” are elect Israel, whom the Lord is masterfully saving, even by means of this “jealousy”—this provoked love to Christ that comes by seeing Gentiles love Him first.

There is a lesson here about how to understand God’s sovereignty in the courses of the lives of nations. Whatever happens to a nation is especially for the sake of the elect in that nation and secondarily for the sake of the elect in the world. God’s work in history is aimed at gathering to Himself those whom He is redeeming. 

Riches upon richesRomans 11:12Romans 11:15. Truly, by national Israel’s transgressing the covenant, riches have come for the world and for the nations (Romans 11:12). But there is a fullness of Israel yet to be gathered in. The Lord is not done saving Israelites. And as He saves those who remain, until the number of their elect are full, the nations count it even greater riches to have these Israelites brought in as well. The body, the Bride, the kingdom, the nation would not be complete without them. 

Just as we rejoice over the riches of every sinner who repents, so much more do we rejoice over the riches of the fullness of Israel being brought in! Not only does the completion of their ingathering gladden the believer, but it amazes him as well. It is like witnessing a resurrection (Romans 11:15)!

How to save the worldRomans 11:13-14. Bu what can the apostle do? He has not been given a mission to the Jews, and most of the Jews to whom he preaches reject the gospel. But the apostle doesn’t need to save all of the elect. That’s the Lord’s purview. So the apostle magnifies his own ministry (Romans 11:13) because he knows that it is God’s design to weave together all of His work through all of His servants. Since the Lord is provoking Israelites to salvation through saved Gentiles, what Paul can do for Jews’ salvation is pursue his own calling as well as possible by the grace of God. We live in an age in which constant worldwide media gives people the illusion of being able to make a worldwide difference. 

The best thing that we can do for the salvation of all of the elect is “magnify” our own calling. Making sure all of the elect are saved is God’s domain. Trying to take that on actually distracts us from what we have actually been called to do. While it is right for churches, where and when they are able, to send evangelists where the gospel is not yet known, it is a satanic sleight of hand to get individuals to think that they are able or responsible for God’s work in the world as a whole. Instead, receive from the Lord your specific calling where you are, and roll up your sleeves and do the work of serving Him today, already, with those whom He has assigned to you. Magnify your ministry!

Where has God assigned you? To what household, church, and community has God assigned you? What are your ministries among them? What would it look like to minister in each of those contexts as well as possible? Why is this an actual participation in “saving the world”?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for Your generous and merciful plan to gather in all of Your elect to Yourself. Grant that we would live, where we are, as Your diligent subjects. Give us confidence that the role that you have assigned to us is actually a participation in Your own work which You will fully complete. Make us to magnify our own ministries in that hope, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP67 “O God, Give Us Your Blessing” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”

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