Tag Archives: transgression

BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING!

BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING!

But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!” Romans 11:12.

Now there’s a thought!

If the door of God’s grace was opened to the Gentiles because the Jews refused it, and blessing came to the whole world instead of to only one small group, just imagine what would happen if the Jews as a people, and not just individuals here and there, were to receive Jesus as their Messiah. The entire Jewish nation, not only those in Israel but those who are scattered all over the globe, would be a blessing wherever they are! Isn’t that what God promised Abraham?

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2, 3.

However, that does not give the Gentile believers any cause to gloat. We who are not the natural descendants of Abraham, have no reason to think that, because the Jews refused their Messiah and we received Him, that we are any better than they.

“I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and so save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.” Romans 11:13-16.

Paul was doing much more than expressing wishful thinking or inventing a reason for believing that the Jews will still play a big part in God’s plan for the world. His reasoning was based on a solid Biblical principle which applies anywhere and everywhere. It’s called terumah or the firstfuits offering.

From the beginning of time, God required the first portion of the increase of the harvest, and the firstborn of the flocks and herds to be given to Him. Hence Abel’s offering of the firstborn of his flock was acceptable while Cain’s sacrifice of “some of the harvest” was unacceptable because he did not honour God first. The terumah, offered to God and given to the high priest to support him and his family, guaranteed God’s blessing on the rest of the harvest.

“Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfuits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9, 10.

Israel was God’s “firstborn” son, set apart and belonging to Him. Every firstborn son belonged to God and had to be redeemed by the payment of a sum of money to the high priest. God redeemed Israel through the blood of a lamb – symbolising the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He took the Levites to be His special tribe in place of all the firstborn of the nation. 

“I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine.” Numbers 3:11-13.

Therefore, according to Paul, if the Israelites were holy, set apart for God, then the rest of the harvest (the world) is holy. Since the door of grace has already been opened to the Gentiles because the Jews, God’s firstborn, refused Him, in order for the blessing which has come to the world through Abraham’s descendants to be authentic, the firstfruits of the harvest must be given to God – that’s the Jews.

Paul, basing his case on sound Biblical truth and in a kind of reverse reasoning, argued that, since the rest of the harvest is already being blessed i.e., the Gentiles, the full harvest of His people, the Jews, must be blessed and gathered in as well since the firstfuits, the Jews, were gathered in at Pentecost.

That puts paid to the teaching that God is finished with the Jews. He cannot be because He is always true to His word and His nature. The firstfruits and the full harvest are inextricably tied together. Since the blessing of Abraham has already come to the Gentiles, it must still come on the Jews because they are his natural offspring. By faith in their Messiah, they will also become his spiritual children and the full harvest, which began with the first believers who were Jews, will be gathered in.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

THE BOOK OF ACTS – STUMBLING BLOCK

STUMBLING BLOCK

“When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah. But no such luck. All they did was argue contentiously and contradict him at every turn. Totally exasperated, Paul had finally had it with them and gave it up as a bad job. ‘Have it your way, then,’ he said. ‘You’ve made your bed, now lie on it. From now on I’m spending my time with the other nations.’

“He walked out and went to the home of Titius Justus, a God-fearing man who lived right next to the Jews’ meeting place. But Paul’s efforts with the Jews weren’t a total loss, for Crispus, the meeting place president, put his trust in the Master. His entire family believed with him.” Acts 18:5-8 (The Message).

Paul’s ministry to the Jews was like trying to wring blood out of a stone. The same stubborn resistance and unbelief that frustrated God through their entire history was still in them. It seemed that there were few Jews who responded wherever Paul went, until he was forced to shake the dust off his feet and turn to those who welcomed him and received his message with enthusiasm. I guess, had Paul not had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus that shook him out of his stubborn unbelief, he might not have been where he was, doing what he was doing.

How did God weave this wholesale rejection into His plan for the salvation of the nations? Would these Jewish missionaries have so readily gone to the Gentiles had the Jews responded in greater numbers? As difficult as it was for Paul to accept the persecution he experienced at the hands of his fellow-countrymen, it was all in the plan of God to make Himself known to the nations to the ends of the earth.

Try as he might, as he went from city to city he could not persuade the Jews that Jesus was their Messiah. What was the stumbling block? The cross! The very reason why God could invite His people into His presence, apart from the rituals that they had so come to trust in was the reason why they rejected Him in the end. They could not accept a crucified “criminal” as their Messiah, resurrection or no resurrection.

Paul understood this and he also understood that God in His sovereignty used this very rejection to open the door for Gentiles to hear the same saving message.

“Again I ask; did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious…Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” Romans 11:11-12; 22 (NIV).

Did God make the Jews rebellious and unbelieving? No, it was their choice. But God, in His sovereignty, used what they were to fulfill His purpose for the world. At the same time, He didn’t cast them off as rejects. In spite of those who believe and propagate that God is finished with the Jews, that is not what the Bible says.

“As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.

“Just as you who were one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so now they too have become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all.” Romans 11:28-32 (NIV).

Blessed To Be A Blessing!

BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING! 

“But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!” Romans 11:12.

Now there’s a thought!

If the door of God’s grace was opened to the Gentiles because the Jews refused it, and blessing came to the whole world instead of to only one small group, just imagine what would happen if the Jews as a people, and not just individuals here and there, were to receive Jesus as their Messiah. The entire Jewish nation, not only those in Israel but those who are scattered all over the globe, would be a blessing wherever they are! Isn’t that what God promised Abraham?

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2, 3.

But that does not give the Gentile believers any cause to gloat. We who are not the natural descendants of Abraham, have no reason to think that, because the Jews refused their Messiah and we received Him, that we are any better than they.

“I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and so save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.” Romans 11:13-16.

Paul was doing much more than expressing wishful thinking or inventing a reason for believing that the Jews will still play a big part in God’s plan for the world. His reasoning was based on a solid Biblical principle which applies anywhere and everywhere. It’s called terumah or the firstfuits offering.

From the beginning of time, God required the first portion of the increase of the harvest, and the firstborn of the flocks and herds to be given to Him. Hence Abel’s offering of the firstborn of his flock was acceptable while Cain’s sacrifice of “some of the harvest” was unacceptable because he did not honour God first. The terumah, offered to God and given to the high priest to support him and his family, guaranteed God’s blessing on the rest of the harvest.

“Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfuits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9, 10.

Israel was God’s “firstborn” son, set apart and belonging to Him. Every firstborn son belonged to God and had to be redeemed by the payment of a sum of money to the high priest. God redeemed Israel through the blood of a lamb – symbolising the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He took the Levites to be His special tribe in place of all the firstborn of the nation.

“I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine.” Numbers 3:11-13.

Therefore, according to Paul, if the Israelites were holy, set apart for God, then the rest of the harvest (the world) is holy. Since the door of grace has already been opened to the Gentiles because the Jews, God’s firstborn, refused Him, in order for the blessing which has come to the world through Abraham’s descendants to be authentic, the firstfruits of the harvest must be given to God – that’s the Jews.

 

Paul, basing his case on sound Biblical truth and in a kind of reverse reasoning, argued that, since the rest of the harvest is already being blessed i.e., the Gentiles, the full harvest of His people, the Jews, must be blessed and gathered in as well since the firstfuits, the Jews, was gathered in at Pentecost.

That puts paid to the teaching that God is finished with the Jews. He cannot be because He is always true to His word and His nature. The firstfruits and the full harvest are inextricably tied together. Since the blessing of Abraham has already come to the Gentiles, it must still come on the Jews because they are his natural offspring. By faith in their Messiah, they will also become his spiritual children and the full harvest, which began with the first believers who were Jews, will be gathered in.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.