Even Though Israel Was Tremendously Advantaged, The Majority Failed; God Is Not To Be Blamed Because His Word To Israel Has Not Failed Because Not All Israel Are Israel; The True Israelis Receive God’s Promise Of Salvation That Is Found In Messiah
So far in his letter to Messiah’s Community in Rome, the Rabbi has informed us that God has saved us with a great salvation, a salvation that we have not earned or deserved. He has killed our old nature. He has removed us from the control of our old, horrible master, sin. He has freed us from the law of sin and death. He has given us a new nature. He has give us new life. He has given us His Spirit who lives in us, who does so many good things for us. He has promised to resurrect our bodies and give us eternal life and an amazing inheritance.
But, the Christians and Messianic Jews who were in Rome may have started thinking: how reliable are these great promises? Reliable enough to suffer for? Reliable enough to die for? After all, God made a lot of promises to the Chosen People, and things don’t seem to be working out too well for Israel. If God’s promises to Israel won’t be fulfilled, how can we trust God’s promises to us? And what about Israel? Is God finished with the Jewish people? How should we understand Israel? How should we relate to Israel? These are the questions that Rabbi Paul deals with in chapters 9, 10 and 11.
The Rabbi begins by asserting that what he is about to write is absolutely true. I speak the truth in Messiah – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit.
I speak the truth: If Paul claimed no more than this, it would have been enough. Paul was a good man; an honest man. He spoke the truth. But he adds further declarations of his truthfulness.
I speak the truth in Messiah: The truth Paul speaks is “in Messiah.” Paul is united to Messiah, and Messiah is pure truth. How can someone who is united to Messiah and who is a Representative of the One who is the truth, not speak the truth?
The Rabbi has asserted his truthfulness in positive ways. Now he asserts his truthfulness by using a negative. I am not lying. He is not distorting the truth or deviating from the truth.
The Lord’s Representative adds another assertion of his truthfulness. He knows what he writing is true because he has a clean conscience. My conscience confirms it. His conscience, the inner awareness God gave him about the need to adhere to what is right and avoid what is wrong, was in agreement that he is being truthful. But the human conscience is not infallible. If a person has twisted values; if he believes a lie, he can have a clean conscience and still be doing something wrong or saying something untruthful. For example, a woman may have an abortion and her conscience may not be bothered by her action because she has convinced herself that killing the baby in her womb is right. That doesn’t mean that what she did was right. Paul’s conscience, however, was guided by the Holy Spirit. My conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul’s conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit, was confirming what he was writing was indeed the truth.
Would you agree that one of the Lord’s Representatives, who is joined to the One who is the Truth, and who is speaking the truth, and not lying; whose conscience, which was guided by the Holy Spirit and confirms what is being communicated is true, should be believed? Absolutely!
What does the Rabbi want them to believe? While Paul may have been accused of being anti-Jewish, he wants everyone to know that is completely false. He loved his people – intensely, sacrificially, like few others have ever loved us. I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Messiah for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.
Paul declares that he had so much love for his people, and was in constant anguish because of them, and was willing to be eternally separated from Messiah, if it would help Israel be saved – because it was painfully clear to Paul that Israel was not saved. The only other person of whom it is recorded in the Word of God, who expressed this same kind of selfless love for the Jewish people, was another of our great leaders, Moses.
Paul’s declaration of his sacrificial love for his people, like that of Moses, should end all accusations that Paul was anti-Semitic. No, Paul loved his people; and he loved the other peoples of the world; and he told his people the truth – even if it hurt – that Yeshua is the Messiah, and if they didn’t believe in Him, they were lost. And he told the other peoples the truth – that they could be saved from Satan and the demons, sin and the sin nature and death and Hell – by knowing that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah and becoming loyal to Yeshua – without having to live as Jewish people under the laws of the Sinai Covenant.
Paul understood that God blessed His Chosen Nation with tremendous advantages, which he now lists. Paul is setting the stage for his next argument, that God is not to be blamed because the majority of Israel had failed. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
Theirs is the adoption to sonship. The Lord told Moses to declare to Pharaoh: Thus says the Lord, Israel is My son, My firstborn. Of all the son-nations on Earth, the Lord made Israel His firstborn son-nation. The firstborn son had the place of prominence among the other children in the family. He had a double inheritance. After his parents died, he became the leader of the family. The nation of Israel was blessed by God and given prominence and spiritual authority among God’s other son-nations. What a tremendous advantage being the firstborn son-nation was!
Theirs is the divine glory. The Creator of the universe manifested His presence on Earth in a very special way among our people by means of His Sh’chinah, His glorious Dwelling Presence. The divine glory first appeared in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Then the Sh’chinah manifested Himself in the most holy place in the Mishkan, and later in the Temple. No other nation had a visible manifestation of the divine glory like we did. What an incredible advantage having the divine glory was!
Theirs are the covenants. The Jewish people not only participated in the covenant that God made with Noah, like all the nations did, but God made other covenants exclusively with us. He made a covenant with Abraham – to be our God, to bless us, to give us a land, to make us into a great nation, to bring the Messiah from us and bless all the families of the Earth through us.
God made the Sinai Covenant with us, which contained wise laws that formed the basis of our society so that we could have a successful national life.
God gave us the Davidic Covenant, which provided for King David’s descendants to rule over Israel forever – especially David’s greatest descendant, King Messiah – which we know is Yeshua.
The Lord promised to make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, promising that He would forgive all of our sins; that all of us would really know the Lord; that we would have His Torah, His divinely-inspired teaching written on our hearts. What a tremendous blessing these covenants were. What a great advantage the covenants gave us.
Theirs is the receiving of the law – the divinely inspired laws formed our constitution and gave us the right way to live; a way to live that would result in our being greatly blessed by God. The Torah also taught us where we come from, and how we were alienated from God, and how God would end our alienation by sending the Seed of the Woman, the Redeemer; the descendant of Judah who will receive the scepter and rule Israel and the nations; the Star from Jacob who will shine divine light on us and destroy our enemies. The law gave us instructions about atonement: how to build the Holy Place; who to choose as priests and how they should operate; the way to offer sacrifices that were acceptable to God. What a great advantage is the law!
Theirs is the receiving of the law – not just the law itself, but the receiving of the law – the way we received it. We received it when the God came down on Mount Sinai, accompanied by thunder and lightning, smoke and a thick cloud and the blowing of a shofar that got louder and louder. Then we heard the voice of God Himself speak the Ten Commandments. The receiving of the law was an incredibly powerful experience that was indelibly printed on our national memory. The receiving of the law was a great advantage.
Theirs is the temple worship – which included the temple itself, the priesthood, the sacrifices and the days and times to worship. The temple and its worship enabled God to manifest His presence among us; taught us about the holiness of God; taught us about God’s principles of atonement; provided temporary atonement for us until the final atonement of the Messiah was accomplished.
And the temple, priests, sacrifices and holidays pointed us to and prepared us for the arrival of the Messiah.
Yeshua fulfills the priesthood. He is our High Priest, the One and Only Mediator between God and man, bringing us closer to God and bringing God and His blessings closer to us.
Yeshua fulfills the sacrifices. He is our sin offering that atones; our burnt offering of dedication; our guilt offering that forgives; our peace offering that brings peace with God; our grain offering whose life and work were perfect.
Yeshua fulfills the temple and the things in it. He is the true temple because He enables the presence of God to live among us in the greatest way. He is the ark that contained the tablets of the covenant that taught us, over which God’s presence was manifested. He is the golden menorah that gave light; the bread that nourished; the golden altar for incense that symbolized our prayers; the bronze altar that atoned; the wash basin that cleansed – all find their fulfillment in Yeshua!
Yeshua fulfills the holidays. He is the Passover Lamb that atones, the Unleavened Bread that overcome sin, the Firstfruits of the resurrection. He gave His Spirit to His disciples in fulfillment of Shavuot. He will return as King to fulfill Rosh Hashana. He will judge the world to fulfill Yom Kippur. He will gather His redeemed ones into His Kingdom in fulfillment of Sukkot.
The temple worship was full of meaning and blessings and vastly superior to the worship of any other nation. What a tremendous advantage it was!
Theirs are the promises. God made many wonderful promises to us: that He would be our God and we would be His people; the promise of a land strategically placed at the center of the nations; the promise that we would become a great nation; the promise of preeminence – that we would be high above all the nations; the promise of victory over our enemies; the promise of peace and prosperity; the promise of the New Covenant; the promise that the Seed of the Woman who would redeem humanity would come from us and rule over us and the nations; the promise that in spite of our failures, God would forgive us and save us and make us successful; the promise of the outpouring of the Spirit of God on us. What a tremendous blessing are the promises God gave us.
Theirs are the patriarchs. Our founding fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were men of faith and courage whom God loved and blessed in a very special way. God made a covenant with them to bless them and their descendants. God made great promises to them like: I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse. Because of God’s love for Israel’s founding fathers, He has a special love for their descendants. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob benefitted greatly because of the patriarchs.
From them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Israel had the advantage of having the Seed of the Woman, the Messiah, the ultimate Prophet, Priest, King and Savior, come from us and come to us. The Messiah is the greatest human being who ever lived or ever will live. But He is more than a man. He is God over all, worthy of eternal praise.
When the unique God-Man came into the world, He did so through the Jewish people. Immanuel, God With Us, became one of us and loved us and taught us and corrected us and revealed God to us and did amazing miracles for us like no one else ever did.
The Messiah lived a perfectly Jewish life, died as a righteous Jewish man, rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God as a glorified Jewish man. And when the Messiah returns, He will come to Israel, and rule from the throne of David. Our nation should be able to understand the Messiah the best because He came from us and lived among us and is one of us. What an great honor, what a tremendous advantage it is to have the Messiah, who is God over all, be one of us!
Yet, in spite of these tremendous advantages, the majority of Israel failed by rejecting the Messiah. The majority of the nation was in a state of disobedience. The majority of the nation was in a state of sin. The majority of the nation were not saved and would not receive the good promises God gave us. Was that God’s fault? Was He unfaithful? Had He reneged on His word to us? Not at all. It is not as though God’s word had failed. And the Rabbi gives us a reason why God’s word to Israel had not failed. God’s word had not failed because not every Jewish person is really Jewish. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”
Here’s the Rabbi’s argument: Not every Jewish person is Jewish in the sense of being “spiritually Jewish.” Not every Jewish person is a true child of Abraham. Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
Paul communicated the same truth earlier when he wrote: A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. It takes more than being born to a Jewish parent to be truly Jewish. There is a spiritual component that is essential to true Jewish identity.
The Rabbi uses Abraham and his children to illustrate this truth. Abraham had two sons, but the Lord told Abraham that it would only be one son, Isaac, not Ishmael, who would be Abraham’s spiritual heir. “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Ishmael’s physical descent from Abraham was not enough to make Ishmael a spiritual child of Abraham. It is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children. In other words, simply being born to a Jewish parent is not enough to be truly Jewish, to be one of God’s children who are spiritually saved – even if the parent is Abraham.
There must be a spiritual component to true Jewish identity. There must be a giving and a receiving of God’s promise. It is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.
Isaac, not Ishmael, was given and received God’s promise. For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” That was a promise, and Isaac participated in that promise – not Ishmael. Here’s the Rabbi’s point: only those Jewish people who participated in God’s great promise of salvation through the Messiah, are Abraham’s children. They are the true Jews. They are the true Israel.
God’s word had not failed. God’s promises had not failed. God was faithfully fulfilling His word and His promises to Israel – but it was through the faithful remnant of Israel who received God’s promise of salvation through the Messiah.
Lord, You have truly given us amazing promises – in some ways even better than the promises You gave to Israel. Help us believe, not doubt those promises, and be strengthened by those promises.
Help us know that You are faithful; You are reliable. You always keep Your promises; You fulfill Your covenants.
Lord, You blessed Israel with tremendous advantages, yet, in spite of those advantages, the majority of Israel failed by rejecting the Messiah. Lord, You have blessed those of us who are part of Messiah’s New Covenant with tremendous advantages. Let us not fail You in any way.
Lord, just as so many of the Jewish people thought they were right with You, but in reality were not right with You, so many people today consider themselves to be Christians and Messianic Jews, but are not genuine Christians and Messianic Jews. They are not Your true sons and daughters.
Lord, I pray that You would help each one of us make absolutely sure that we are part of the faithful remnant of today – true Christians and genuine Messianic Jews who are truly Your sons and daughters. Just as not all Israel are Israel, so not all who have been baptized and go to church or synagogue are saved. Help us Lord to truly be saved.
Lord, I pray for those people who claim to be believers, yet teach that the Jewish people are not lost. I pray that You would reveal the truth to them and help them repent of their dangerous and destructive error.
Lord, it’s so obvious that Your Representative to us, Rabbi Paul, had great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart because he understood that those Jewish people who reject Messiah, and they are the majority, are lost. I pray that we would care more about the Jewish people who are lost, and the other people who are lost, like Paul did, and You would re-energize us to bring them the Good News.