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Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Welcome to HBS a place I often refer to as Bible study-lite. By this I mean to say here there are no schedules to keep, there are no materials to purchase, no Bible verses to memorize, no unnecessary stress brought on by imminent quizzes, and no testing on the subject matter. You study at your own pace and in the safety and comfort of your home or office…easy peasy. Back in the day, my classroom students never imagined it could be this effortless. I gain from this exchange as well, but I lose some assets too. I don’t get to see your smiling faces regularly, we’re missing the opportunity to develop relationships, and I have no idea if you’re “getting it.” But it is what it is.
Last week we looked carefully at Romans 11:1-6 and primarily verses 2-5 which cover the principal of the remnant of Israel. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. During the time of Paul’s writing and even at this time in history a remnant exists according to God’s gracious choice.
In Paul’s day the majority of the Israelites rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah. However, a substantial number of Jews accepted Paul’s Gospel and were saved by faith. In verse one Paul compared himself to Elijah; effectively saying he too was a member of the faithful remnant. He may have also included himself in this analogy because like Elijah he endured persecution from his countrymen. We also learned that throughout history God has chosen to work through His faithful remnant. Here are some examples:
- Noah – Noah’s family was a faithful remnant supernaturally preserved through a divine deluge on the basis of divine grace (Genesis 7:23)
- Abraham – From out of all the people on this planet God sovereignly and graciously chose Abram with whom to make an unprecedented covenant (Genesis 12:1-3)
- Lot – Lot’s family was a faithful remnant supernaturally preserved through a divine disaster on the basis of His grace (Genesis 19:29)
- Isaac – Abraham had two sons, but only one was sovereignly and graciously chosen as the child of the promise (Genesis 17:19)
- Jacob – Isaac had twin sons, but only one was sovereignly and graciously chosen as the child of the promise (Genesis 28:13-15)
- A remnant of Israel was sovereignly preserved from divine judgment following the young nation’s apostasy at Mt Sinai (Exodus 32)
- Caleb and Joshua were the only members of the Exodus generation to enter the land of promise, following divine judgment (Numbers 14:38)
- Elijah was reminded that the Lord had sovereignly and graciously preserved 7,000 Israelites who had not bowed a knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18)
- Upon the divine judgment of Assyrian conquest of Israel, the Lord sovereignly and graciously preserved a remnant from the northern tribes (Ezekiel 37:19)
- Upon the divine judgment of Babylonian exile, the Lord sovereignly and graciously preserved a remnant from the southern tribes and oversaw their return to their land (Zechariah 8:5)
- During the divine catastrophic judgment of the Tribulation, the Lord will sovereignly and graciously preserve a remnant (Revelation 7:4).
Let’s begin. Please open your Bible at Romans 11:7.
7: What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen (Greek translation = Ekloge) obtained it (Paul is referring to both Jew and Gentile for now there is no difference – 1 Corinthians 12:13), and the rest were hardened;
The Greek word for “blinded” and “hardened” is: Poroo meaning – to cover with thick skin, to harden by covering with a callus; to make the heart dull, to grow hard, and to lose understanding.
We understand from our study of Romans 9-10 that Paul greatly desired to communicate the Gospel to his kinsmen. We know too from the Book of Acts that our Apostle Paul always preached God’s good news to the Jews first for this is what God intended him to do (Acts 9:15). God would give His people every opportunity to be saved individually by His grace, and God would prove through the historical accounts in the book of Acts that the majority of the Jews would remain firm in their unbelief. So, this book stands as an everlasting report validating the “partial blindness” or “hardened hearts” (Poroo) that has come upon national Israel.
Therefore, Israel was set aside for a time after the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7) and God is now working in this parenthetical era called the Grace Age where He is filling up the Body of Christ (His Church) with both Gentiles and Jews. Before this the LORD God worked primarily with the nation of Israel corporately with some gentile exceptions but now God is working primarily with individual gentiles and some Jewish exceptions.
There is no longer such a thing as corporate redemption such as we find in the book of Exodus and as this pertains to God’s covenant relationship with Israel. Under God’s Old Covenant He blessed or cursed a people according to their birth (Deuteronomy 27-28). Under the New Covenant, God deals only with people according to the “new birth” or as individuals. And this thought takes us back to Romans 11:1, where Paul states, “God has not rejected His people…For I too am an (individual) Israelite… (saved by grace)
Paul began his first missionary journey with the pronouncement of “blindness” on a magician and false prophet. Paul came across a man named Barjesus in Paphos, a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus. He was a Jew, but not a believing Jew. With this account God gives us a clear picture of the “partial blindness” that happened to national Israel which Paul speaks of in Romans 11.
Please turn to the book of Acts at chapter 13. I suggest you begin reading at verse 1 for your learning. For the sake of time we’ll start at verse 11.
11: “Now behold the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind (Poroo) and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand.
Now flip back to the book of Romans, chapter 11, at verse 25.
25: For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery – so that you will not be wise in your own estimation – that a partial hardening (Poroo) has happened to Israel until (when you see the word “until” in the text it relates to prophecy; it means God intends to do something in the future. Here Scripture links the word “until” with the future event) the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
When the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, the partial hardening (blindness) that has happened to national Israel will be lifted. God’s Church will be raptured and sometime after this event a 7-year peace treaty will be signed between the anti-christ and the nation of Israel which triggers God’s prophetic time clock and Daniel’s 70th week. From that moment on only 7 years of human history remain. (Daniel 9:24-27).
If you’ve read Acts 7, Acts 13:11, and Romans 9:25 carefully, and then consider conscientiously all that God has done for national Israel, the “blindness” or “partial hardening” the Bible texts speaks of is not so much a spiritual blindness as it is Judicial Blindness imposed on Israel for her persistent rebellion and unbelief.
Let’s go to verse 8.
8: just as it is written, “GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR, (and) EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT, DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY.” (Isaiah 6:9, 29,)
9: And David says, LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP, AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM. (Psalm 69:22)
10: (God can say,) “LET THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT, AND BEND THEIR BACKS FOREVER.” (Psalms 69:23)
Here a spirit of stupor has been referred to as: “an attitude of deadness towards spiritual things. Scripture has given us a word picture of men who have gathered together, sitting around comfortably (no worries), at a banquet; and it’s their very sense of comfort and safety that has brought about their ruin! Their defenses are down and the enemy has come in. The Jews security rested in the idea of being God’s chosen people; a great privilege indeed. Scripture reveals that they even ate with Jehovah (Exodus 24:11, 12; Leviticus 6:16, 7:18), but this false sense of security, this national pride, caused them to stumble. This leads us right into verse 11.
11: I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them (what) jealous.
The book of Psalms is much more than beautiful songs, poetry, and prose it also contains quite a bit of prophecy and Psalms 69 is an example of this truth.
Psalms 69 predicts the stumbling of Israel:
Psalms 69:8a – predicts the Jews would reject the Messiah
Psalms 69:8b – predicts the Messiah’s brothers would disbelieve Him
Israel has not been rejected by God. Mark Twain once said of Israel, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” Scripture holds the answer: The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. (Psalms 18:2-3)
Our Apostle Paul saw the risen Lord Jesus Christ while on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:3-5). He visited in the heavenly realms hearing and seeing things beyond our imagination which were unspeakable (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). Paul faithfully interpreted and preached Jesus Christ’s words during the remaining years of his life. In his missionary journeys he revealed God’s mysteries to us. Our understanding of the church and its mission comes from Paul’s teachings. Thus when Paul says in Romans 11:2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew we may accept this statement with the same authority and certainty as though God Himself delivered it.
The O.T. Scriptures ring out loud and clear on this topic as well. Please turn to Jeremiah 31:35. Here the LORD God speaks of the ordinances of the sun, moon, stars, and the waves of the sea as fixed orders set by Him; then in verses 36-37 we have this: “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declared the LORD.
If you saw the moon in the evening sky last night, the North Star holding its celestial position, or if by chance you happened to look up this morning in the eastern sky and saw the sun rise then you know that the nation of Israel remains firmly fixed as God’s firstborn of the nations.
The reason for this may not be so obvious but God’s plan is always working; it’s never on hold. The salvation of the nations, morally and physically, and the continuation of the human race on the earth depends on the preservation and continuance of the Jews as a Race (Acts 15:13-18; Romans 11:1-5, 11, 12, 15, 17, 23-27).
I’ll take this thought one step further because Scripture does. The present degenerate condition of this planet and its inhabitants is owing to the fact that the Jews have lost their savior, as the salt its saltiness, and until the Jews recover their Savior this world will sink further and further into a degenerated state until Divine intervention is called for (Zechariah 12; 14:1-11; Matthew 5:13; Revelation 19:11-20:6).
(To be continued)
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