Sunday, 27 October 2013
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. Romans 11:28
“Concerning the gospel…” Because of their rejection of the good news (meaning Israel as is evident from the preceding verses), it is determined that the they “are enemies for your sake.”
As Paul is writing to the gentiles, this tells us that the bond of fraternal love found in Christ is severed towards those who reject Him, including those from His select and special group of people. Their selection is noted, for example, in Deuteronomy 7:6 –
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”
However, on another level, that of “election,” Paul goes on to say that “they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.” The “fathers” are those to whom the promises were made. They include Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve sons of Israel. If one considers Paul’s use of “fathers” as the same concept as the “patriarchs,” then this would also include David who is, along with the others, termed a patriarch in Acts 7:8.
This verse seems internally contradictory, but “enemies” is being used in opposition to “beloved” to show a distinction between the two which is reflected on different levels. They are cut off from the holy tree for the purpose of corporate blessing, and yet they are still viewed with an end-purpose in mind. God will continue to keep them as a people as He covenanted with them –
“Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God.” Leviticus 16:44
The context of Leviticus 26:14-43 shows that God in no way approves of their conduct during their time of exile, but the covenant bond (26:44) is stronger than the consequences of their disobedience, extreme as those consequences may be. To be sure, God does not possess changing human emotions as we do. Rather, these terms are applied to Him who is unchanging to show exactly that; His character doesn’t vacillate as we move in relation to Him.
Regardless of whether the church is now in God’s favor and Israel is currently an “enemy” for the sake of the gospel, it is unthinkable that those promises made to His chosen people should ever be revoked, fail, or be replaced by another group. What He has promised to Israel must stand, and in fact it will stand.
Life application: When you called on Jesus, the Bible says that you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Just as God will never reject His people, even when disobedient, He will never reject you, even if you fall from whatever position of obedience to His word that you once held. In the end, rewards and losses will result based on your conduct, but your salvation will never again come into question.
Heavenly Father, I truly know what mercy is. Before meeting Jesus, I had a large debt written to my account, and yet You cancelled it in Christ. Since that day, I have failed You more times than there are stars in the sky… and yet because of Christ, I remain Your child. How marvelous to have such a relationship with my Creator. Surely mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Hallelujah and Amen.