Message: In Romans 11 Paul explains that God used the rebellion of the Jews to bring in the Gentiles. This is explained several different ways throughout the bible. One example is in the parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22. Jesus gave a scenario where a king prepared a big, beautiful banquet for his son, and all the distinguished guests were invited. The king sent his servants out to bring in the invited guests, but they refused to come. The king sent his servants out again to let them know the feast was ready and was full of wonderful things but this time they took the servants, abused them and killed them. The king was enraged and he punished them for the harm they inflicted, and he sent his servants out again to invite anyone in the streets that they could find and the wedding hall was filled. In this story, the servants that were harmed and killed represented the prophets (and ultimately Jesus) in the old testament that had been harmed and killed by corrupt Jewish leaders.
In Romans 11 Paul explained it another way. He described God as a cultivated olive tree with rich roots, and the Jews as the natural branches. God cut off the unfruitful natural branches and grafted in branches from a wild olive tree. If you have never seen this done, it’s fascinating. We once owned a “fruit cocktail tree”. This was originally a grapefruit tree but some of the branches were cut down and some branches from a lemon tree and an orange tree were grafted in. They do this by putting the new branches butt up against the chopped down stubs and wrapping them up until the branches grow into one. We are actually about to try this process ourselves as we just acquired some baby citrus trees from a friend, so this is a timely message. When this process is complete there will still be some of the natural citrus branches and fruit as well as some other varieties. In our case we will have lemons, limes and tangelos all on one tree. In the scenario that Paul gave he explained that those of us Gentiles who were grafted in should not become prideful, but we should maintain a godly fear, because the same God who cut off the natural branches and grafted us in can also cut us off and regraft in the natural branches. Paul also explained that the blindness that the Jews were experiencing as their punishment would not be permanent. Their sight will eventually be restored when the full number of Gentiles are in, and so will their inheritance. Verse 26 says that in this way all of Israel will be saved. Paul explains that God was bringing in the Gentiles in order to make the Jews jealous, and he will use the salvation of the Gentiles as a catalyst to provoke the Jews into salvation. Paul tells us that the Jews being our enemies of the gospel is for our advantage, but they are still loved because of the patriarchs. There are promises that God made to the patriarchs that will bless their lineage. These promises are not irrevocable because God is faithful. Paul ends this reminding us that none of us are in the position to question God. We may not understand it, but not one of us are qualified to council or question God.