Thursday, 10 October 2013
I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Romans 11:11
Paul asks an obvious question based on verses 7-10 and words it in the form of an objection, “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall?” He has already demonstrated that God has not cast away his people by showing that there was a faithful remnant at his time. What about the future? When this remnant generation has passed, what then?
To “stumble that they should fall” implies that eventually they will hit the ground and not be able to get back up. This isn’t the case at all. It is neither absolute nor is it permanent. It isn’t absolute because there was and continues to be a remnant. It isn’t permanent because the Old Testament promises were to national Israel, not the church. They can only find their fulfillment in the land of Israel and in the people of Israel.
Yes, they have stumbled, but they will be able to stand aright once again; they have not fallen entirely. As an emphatic way of demonstrating this, he exclaims, “Certainly not!” Other versions state this widely translated term, “God forbid!” or “May it never be!” etc. And the reason, as amazing as it may seem, is given, that “…through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.”
God’s promises to national Israel are not transferable. They are unconditional in the sense that they will be fulfilled, but they are conditional in the sense that they will not be fulfilled until Israel is found to be in a state of obedience. This goes back to the promises and curses of Leviticus 16 and Deuteronomy 28. And so, in His infinite wisdom, God determined to use the salvation of the Gentiles as a point of provocation to Israel, to bring them to national repentance.
As clear as Paul’s statement is here, it’s astonishing to see how many people can’t see this and instead come up with an endless stream of excuses and ideologies which attempt to show how Israel has, in fact fallen entirely. But what is written is clear – “through their fall” meaning the Jews, “salvation has come to the Gentiles.” The term gentile is applied to anyone on earth other than a Jew. To all people groups, salvation is now offered. This salvation is apart from the law which Christ fulfilled. Now salvation is applied to any who place their faith in Him.
And this marvelous gift has been granted in order “to provoke” the Jews to jealousy. It’s been a long 2000 year period and throughout it some have been provoked, thus making up the remnant God has faithfully preserved. At some point in the future, this remnant will turn into a national movement and “all Israel will be saved.”
Life application: A day is coming when Christ will return and rule in the midst of His people, national Israel. Today, they haven’t called on Him, but yet He has returned them in preparation for that wondrous time. Remember to pray for and support Israel. The times are coming to their fulfillment as is evidenced by the return of this wayward group to their ancient homeland.
Lord God, it seems like every day there are things which take up my time, divert my eyes from You, and lead me down paths that I wish I hadn’t taken. And yet, when I look back, I can see how things actually turned out better than what I originally expected. And so, I know that You are there, working through my faults for my good and Your glory. You are simply wonderful. Amen.