“Who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” Romans 9:4-5
Think about this. This is simply incredible. They have been a great gift to mankind. Even God’s Word the Bible was delivered to us through the Jewish people. And the greatest gift is Christ. It doesn’t end there however. Jews through the centuries have been such a blessing in the arts, sciences and medicine. Even though they are one fifth of one percent of the world’s population they have been awarded almost 20% of Nobel prizes.
Here in Romans 9 Paul is strongly arguing that the uniqueness of the Jewish people, their relationship to God, is not abolished in the New Testament. The gifts of God are irrevocable in regards to the Jewish people. God’s intent for Israel was to be the interface between God and man. Let’s look again: Genesis chapter 12:2-3:
“I’ll make you a great nation, I will bless you and I will make your name great,
and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who curse you, and through you all of the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
There’s a lot of blessing there! Did you know that God wants to bless you? His conduit of bringing that last thing has been the Jewish people.
“And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:3-6
What an awesome honor! What an awesome responsibility! But we see God’s intention for the Jewish people, for the nation of Israel to be like an intermediary between God and the nations. The nation of Israel representing the nations to God.
It’s no surprise then that when Jesus was in the region of Samaria and spoke to a woman there saying: “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22
As Gentile followers of Jesus, the foundations of our faith are in the Jewish people. They are God’s covenant people. Jesus was first in those covenants. The covenant with Abraham Isaac and Jacob, the covenant of Mount Sinai, the covenant with David regarding the kingdom. Without any of that we would have no faith at all. And our salvation comes to us through the Jewish people.
The Bible that we love is a Jewish book. The creation story,the psalms of David, the proverbs of his son Solomon, the prophetic books, the gospels, the epistles and the revelation – all.Jewish books. The holy land, the magnificent city of Jerusalem, the city that Jesus walked in the city to which he will return. The land of the Jewish people and landmarks in human history! The contributions to human history are simply immeasurable. The ramifications of God’s relationship to the Jewish people are immeasurable… and irrevocable!
“Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:28-29
But what about us Gentiles? If God’s historic covenants have been made with the nation of Israel where does that put the Gentile world? Let’s go back to Romans chapter 11:
“For if the first-fruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree.” Romans 11:16-17
Israel is the cultivated olive tree, the nations who turn to Jesus for their salvation are like wild olive trees. We are grafted into that holy root which is God’s covenant with Israel. Oh, the goodness and mercy of God!
“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off
have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2: 11-13
You don’t need to be Jewish to be in a right relationship with God. Through Jesus work upon the cross all of mankind can have a relationship with God even though we were not part of his ancient covenants.
It’s important to note as well that Paul has a warning to Gentile believers: “Do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.” Romans 11:18
Again: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Romans 11:25-27
As Christians if we reject these foundations, if we think the God is finished with the Jewish people, if we reject any relationship to the Jewish people then we are actually rejecting God himself. There is no room in the Church for Antisemitism.
There is no room in our theology for the notion that God is finished with the Jewish people.
We need to include Israel in our salvation story and in our presentation of the gospel. God’s promises are irrevocable and that’s good news for us! How do we know that our relationship to him is sound and secure? Well, we can look at the Jewish people, scattered to the four corners of the Earth for millennia and now returning to the land as God said it would be. We can look at the Jewish people and proclaim “our God, their God, is a promise keeping God!”
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35 & 38-39
Through Jesus’ (son of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David) finished work upon the cross our relationship to God is secured!
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
The Holy One of Israel cannot abandon his promises to the Jewish people and he cannot abandon his promises to you!