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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Romans by the Book (Lesson 92)

Home Bible Study ©
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

Romans by the Book                                                                    Lesson 92

I want to begin by welcoming all of you back to HBS and expressing a heartfelt gladness that you’ve dropped by.  I pray you had a good week and that you are “finding your pace” regarding your Bible study.

Both athletes and some “week-end warriors” understand the importance of gauging how fast (or slow) to go while jogging, sprinting, or merely walking fast in order to make every work-out more enjoyable and to increase its benefit.  However, the key to a satisfying exercise experience is finding your pace and maintaining it during the exercise.

In like fashion, a diligent Bible student should gauge how fast (or slow) to go in order to make each session with their Bible enjoyable and to get the most out of the effort.

They do this by making a decision to set aside a certain amount of time every day to study God’s Word.  Starting with this resolution and keeping it has been the turning point for many Believers in their life.  Only you know how much time you have to give, but be faithful to time you give, whether that is fifteen minutes or an hour a day.  I prefer the morning hours because I like the idea of giving God the first part of my day before it gets cluttered by the daily routine.  But whatever works for you is what works for you.  Develop a pattern and then stick with it, find your pace.

Finding a time to quietly think, study, and pray remains one of life’s greatest challenges.  However, Believers need to find the time to “connect” with God daily. 
We need to “plug in,” so to speak, so God’s Spirit can renew the life of our spirit.
I liken this to an electric car battery that must be recharged on a regular basis.  Without this re-charge the car isn’t going to be able to fulfill its purpose.  Unless the battery is fully charged, and kept charged, this car is just blocking the driveway…

Believers spend time with God’s Spirit and in the Word to grow stronger. 
This is accomplished by increasing their knowledge of God and what He has revealed to us through the written Word, which we apply to our lives daily (Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:5-8).

Thomas Edison said:  Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.  So, Spend your time wisely.

Please open your Bible to Romans 11:15 and we’ll begin today’s lesson.

Romans 11

15: For if their (temporary) rejection is the reconciliation of the (believing) world, what will their (the Jews) acceptance be but life from the dead? 

We spent some time on this verse last week, and in so doing we learned that God’s firstborn of the nations will be restored to their land at some future point.  It doesn’t matter what the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, or the U.N. is planning for that region; the land belongs to Israel and this will not change just because man wills it so.  What the LORD GOD has prophesied will come about; the twelve tribes of Israel will return to the land, and all (true) Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

 I returned to this verse this week because there’s “one more thing” that I need to bring to your attention before we move on.  Some people teach that prior to the Millennium God will supernaturally resurrect all the individual descendants of Israel from their graves and put them back in the Land of Palestine.  One of the verses they use to support this belief is Ezekiel 37:12:  “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.

But if you consider the entire Bible passage, the numerous prophecies that preceded this book, and then remember that every verse must be in harmony with the rest of the Bible, you discover that this is not what the LORD GOD is saying at all. 

Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished.  We are completely cut off. 
This isn’t the cry from an individual dead Israelite.  It’s the cry from a dead nation that’s been cut off from the land of promise and a people who have fallen out of favor with God – it’s the cry of a spiritually and nationally dead people.

Knowing this we should not assume the literal meaning of the word graves in verse 12.  How do we know this?  I’m glad you asked.  Where did Ezekiel observe these dried bones?  Were they in graves or were they scattered across the entire valley floor? 
What does this book say?  …the valley was full of bones (Ezekiel 31:1).

If you’ve seen the pictures that were released after WWII showing the Nazi concentration camps and the skeletal bodies piled high atop each other waiting to be burned in the furnaces, the massive and numerous burial pits filled with decaying bodies, or the thousands of living skeletons the allies encountered while liberating these death camps then you can imagine this too might have been part of Ezekiel’s vision. 

Taking everything we know into consideration, we understand the LORD GOD will bring His people, who are presently buried (not literally but figuratively speaking) in graves meaning they have been Judicially dispersed by the Sovereign God in the graveyard of the gentile nations and God has given them a spirit of stupor for 2,000 years (and counting).  Israel’s rebirth as a nation took place in 1948 as prophesied and one day future He will place true Israel in the land (Ezekiel 3; 4:3-6). 

Let’s proceed to verse 16.

Starting with verse 16, Paul gives us the first of two illustrations of how God “incorporates” (= to put or introduce into a body as an integral part) both Jews and Gentiles in His Redemptive plan and the first picture we have is a lump of dough.

I’m going to be honest with you.  I can cook but I’m not a baker.  I know just enough about baking to get myself into trouble - I’ll leave out the details.  However, I do know that a bit of “yeast” when incorporated into the dough reproduces when exposed to the correct combination of flour, temperature, and moisture causing the lump to rise. 

I also know that Jesus Christ used leaven or yeast as a metaphor in two different parables to illustrate how His message, once received, also reproduces; it “works” from within changing the heart of the individual.  This inward change which is invisible becomes visible as they walk by the Spirit, producing the fruit of the Spirit.  As Paul said, these folks become a new creature.       

Another lesson we learn from Jesus’ parables about “yeast” is God’s Gospel is meant to (reproduce) have an effect on every living soul – worldwide:  For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20-21; Psalms 72:19; Daniel 2:35; Habakkuk 2:14). 

With these truths in mind, I think we’re better prepared to examine verse 16.

Romans 11

16: If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.  (Numbers 15:18; Galatians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 5:6)

If you take a small piece of dough from the whole lump, it should provide you with a good representation of the original batch – If the first piece is holy, then the whole batch is holy (set apart).  This same truth applies to the root.  If the roots from which the whole tree gets its life are holy, then the branches are holy too. 

Our Apostle Paul wants his countrymen and us to know that the first piece of dough is the original believing Israel:  “I remember concerning you (Israel) the devotion of your youth, The love of your betrothals, Your following after Me in the wilderness, Through a land not sown.  Israel was holy to the LORD, The first of His harvest.  (Jeremiah 2:2-3a).

Israel was holy (set apart) to the LORD, and according to Paul’s imagery they are the lump:  to become the whole Israel of God:  And those who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16b).

The root in Paul’s metaphor is Abraham for he was the one the LORD God called and established His covenant with (Genesis 12:1-3; 15).  Thus, the tree of Divine blessing in Paul’s metaphor lives and grows by these promises God gave to Abraham, and to His Seed, which is Jesus Christ the promised Redeemer:  I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die (John 11:25). 

But as we learned not so long ago:  they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children (simply) because they are Abraham’s descendants. (Only) The children of the promise are regarded as descendants.  It is this assembly, the saved remnant of Israel, or the natural branches that Paul speaks of and not the entire nation of Israel.  (Romans 9:6-7, Romans 9:8b)

Let’s go to verse 17.

Romans 11

17: But if some of the branches were (what) broken off, and you, (insert your name here) being a wild olive, were grafted in among them (the saved remnant of Israel) and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,

18: do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports your root, but the root supports you.

The branches that were broken off from this olive tree of life were the unbelieving Israelites:  The LORD called your name, “A green olive tree, beautiful in fruit and form”; With the noise of a great tumult He has kindled fire on it, And its (what) branches are worthless.  The LORD of hosts, who planted you, has pronounced evil against you because of the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done to provoke Me by offering up sacrifices to Baal.  (Jeremiah 11:16-17)

When you plant any type of fruit tree, what do you expect that tree to do - bear fruit; right!  In the beginning you have to establish it.  You nourish it, you water it, and you protect it from harm, but when all is said and done you expect that orange tree or apple tree (whatever it may be) to be fruitful. 

This is exactly what the LORD GOD planned for the nation of Israel.  Both Israel and Judah were called “a great olive tree.”  God planted this tree in the land of Canaan in the days of Joshua, but when the season came for them to bear fruit, its branches were spiritually barren (worthless).  Thus, God pruned them from the “tree” of His kingdom (Jeremiah 11:19).

The Hebrew word for “broken” is ra’a, which means either “evil” or “broken.”  The NASB translates the word “worthless,” in the sense of being “evil.”  The KJV translates it “broken.”  Either way, the double meaning indicates that these branches were broken off or pruned by the LORD GOD because they were evil; they were double minded, unproductive, and worthless.   

In verse 19, a plot against Jeremiah the prophet was exposed, however, it’s really a Messianic prophecy foretelling how future conspirators planned to destroy the tree with its fruit - It’s no wonder that they were “pruned.”  (Jeremiah 11:9-19; Psalms 2:1-3)

(To be continued)

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