ROMANS - Chapter 11 - THE OLIVE TREE Print E-mail

 

THE “OLIVE TREE”, THE TREE OF FAITH

ROMANS 11

Pastor Carolyn Sissom

 

Romans 9, 10 and 11 prophetically outline the Lord’s end-time program for the Jews.

 

When I preached this in 2010, Ahmadinejad had just visited the United States and stated Iran’s intent to destroy Israel and the United States.  It is now 2018 and in the ensuing eight years, Iran has consistently followed this agenda.

 

It appears Israel bombed two Iranian bases in Syria this past weekend.

 

“Unidentified aircraft bombed Syrian military bases on Saturday night, leaving several Iranian soldiers dead.

According to reports by the Syrian media, an arms depot in Jabal Azzan in the Aleppo region, said to be one of the largest in the country, was attacked from the air, causing a massive explosion. Witnesses cited in the reports described loud explosions and flames seen from the base. Iranian soldiers were among the casualties in this attack, according to reports.”

 

 

Zechariah 12:8-9:  In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is  feeble among them at that day be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.  It shall come to pass in that day that I will seek to destroy all nations that come against Jerusalem.

 

Just as the Gospel Church is the Seed of Abraham, we are also the Seed of David; so this prophecy is for both natural ingathered Israel and spiritual Israel.

 

I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only sonAt evening time it shall be light.  In the 20th and 21st centuries, Israel as a nation has come into great prosperity and prominence on the world stage---yet they continue to be persecuted and contend for the land.  The Lord will bind up the breach of his people and heal the stroke of their wounds.

 

Crown Him Lord of All --- We will rest in his love.  He will joy over us with singing.  Israel has become the global spiritual metropolis of the nations of the saved, and of the converted children of Abraham. 

 

Isa. 2:2-3: It shall come to pass, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. Many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

 

This prophecy has been fulfilled in our life time.  The nations of the world travel to Israel.  The LORD is God over Jerusalem.  He has walked and talked with me there just like he walks and talks with me here. 

 

All the nations who refuse him allegiance will cast their crowns before him. 

 

It seems we are accelerating into God’s end-time program.  We may be on time again with Romans chapter 11.  It is a clarion call to the Gentiles, that the time of the Gentiles may soon be coming to an end as the spirit of stupor takes over Christian nations; and we watch the LORD fulfill His end-time prophecies concerning Israel and the nations. 

 

In chapter ten, Paul clearly stated to the natural descendants of Abraham, the truth---salvation is by Jesus Christ or not at all.  Men who are offended by these truths are offended by His Cross (Gal. 5:11).  When the Jews are grafted in again, it will be by the blood of Christ, not by the blood of bulls and goats which could never take away sin (Heb. 9:13-14; 10:4). 

 

That is why God is raising up key ministries with a special burden for the Jewish people (just as He is mandating others to sow in other parts of His glorious end-time harvest). (K.V.)

 

11:1:  “I say then, ‘Has God cast away His people’?  God forbid.  For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin.”

 

There is still much theological dispute about this chapter.  Since my “calling” is to preach the Kingdom of God, I will preach it today that the Lord’s Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom and is not of this world.  Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords of all the Kingdoms of the earth.  The Abrahamic Covenant gave Jesus the land, the earth.  The Davidic covenant gives Him the throne, the right to rule the earth.

 

All who are serious bible scholars have to put away once and for all the notion that God is through with Israel.  There are those who believe Israel has been cast aside like a worn out shoe, and that God’s promises are to be fulfilled through the Gentile nations.

 

The political ideology of Christians in many Arab nations is anti-Semitic.   This again is the political spirit over those cultures.

 

The apostle will make no less than ten quotes from the O.T. to show that God is not through with Israel.  Even though she has been set aside for her stubborn unbelief, it is only temporary.  During the interim, The Lord is using the church to proclaim the way of salvation.

 

The idea that God would utterly forsake Israel is unthinkable to Paul.   It is true that a person might get that notion from Paul’s strong words at the end of chapter ten.  But he is ready now with a number of arguments to prove this is just not so.  To his mind, there is no way for God to fail to keep his promises to the forefathers of Israel.  He says, “I’m a full blooded Jew and no man can be a true Jew and believe God would break His Word to us.”  Paul makes his Jewishness known when he says he has descended from Abraham (to whom the promise of the Jewish people was first made) through the tribe of Benjamin.  Being a Benjamite was significant.  It was this tribe, along with Judah, that returned from the exile in Babylon and became the hope of the world.  It was on these two tribes that the future of Israel depended after the Babylonian captivity. 

 

“Go, then and bend your knee to pray for Israel’s ancient race; ask the dear Savior every day to call them by his grace.  Go, for a debt of love is due from Christian Gentiles to the Jew.”

 

11: 2-4:  God has not cast away His people which He foreknew.  Know you not what the scriptures say of Elijah? How he makes intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Your prophets, and torn down your altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.  But what says the answer of God to him? ‘I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Ba’al’.”

 

Paul employs two words to show that it is impossible for God to abandon Israel…”HIS” and “foreknew”.  Though Israel has rejected God’s way of salvation, she is still “HIS PEOPLE”.   She might forsake Him, but there is no way for Him to forsake her.  And what makes this so certain?  God chose her on the basis of His foreknowledge.  That means He chose her to be His people, knowing ---in advance---all about her rebellion and disobedience.  Aware that she would rebel against Him in stubborn unbelief, He chose her just the same.  This can only mean that her rebellion was part of His plan to redeem the world.  So while the Jews are out, the Gentiles are having their turn.  After the Gentiles are given their opportunity with the WAY OF SALVATION, God will restore the Jews to their rightful place in the worship of the Lord.  Paul’s point is, God could choose while seeing their unbelief and the way they would treat Him.  His choices have to stand.  His choices are made in eternity and carried out according to His sovereign purpose.  If God can foreknow individuals and forgive them their sins, He can also foreknow “peoples” and forgive their sins.  If he chose us knowing what we were, he could choose Israel knowing what she was.

 

Paul also makes it clear that Israel’s falling away from God has never been total or complete; there has always been a faithful remnant within Israel.  Even in the darkest hours of her history, some Israelites were faithful to Him. 

 

Paul takes us back to the days of Elijah when the Israelites were worshipping a foreign deity by the name of Baal.  The northern ten tribes (Israel) had turned to Baal worship in such numbers that the prophet felt the nation was lost to God.  In an attempt to stem the sweeping apostasy, Elijah performed a great miracle.  Fire came from the sky on his cry to God.  This made King Ahab and Queen Jezebel so furious, they ordered him killed.  Elijah lost heart.   From the slopes of Mt. Horeb, he cried to God in despair.  He wanted to die.  Thinking the entire nation had forsaken the Lord, he told God he was the only faithful Jew left.  But God answered, saying, I have 7000 men who are true to Me and have refused to worship Baal. So even though it appeared to Elijah that all of Israel had turned against the Lord, it really wasn’t so.

 

11:5-6:  Even so then at this present time, there is a remnant according to the election of grace. Paraphrase:  “Now if He chose these people, then, of course their works had nothing to do with it.  For if men could earn God’s favor, then the whole idea of grace is meaningless.

 

God has a covenantal people throughout the ages who have come to God by faith (Heb. 11).  The seed of Abraham is a spiritual seed.  There is a small group who have remained faithful.  This group consisted of those Israelites who believed the preaching of the apostles and received Christ as their Messiah.  There will always be a believing nucleus until the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled. 

 

That the Lord has preserved the Jewish people, there can be no doubt.  Nations have come and gone.  Empires have risen and disappeared, but the Jew continued to survive.  His very existence is proof that God has not utterly forsaken His people.  Jesus was a Jew.   When you consider the attempts made in the last 2000 years to wipe them out, the survival of the Jew is miraculous.

 

Jesus sits on the throne of David.  The throne is not a chair or seat somewhere beyond the Milky Way or someplace in the Middle East.  The Greek word translated “throne” is “thronos”, and it means “a place or seat of authority”---it is the right to rule.  To rule from His throne is to speak in the authority of Jesus’ name.  The house of the heavenly David is the church made up of Jew and Gentile.

 

Jews saved today are added to the church the moment they receive Christ.  In that split second, they are exalted to a higher level to become the sons of God.  Thus they exchange their national privileges for spiritual privileges.

 

No Jew is saved because he is a Jew or because he has kept the Law.  He is elected to God’s family only because he is a God-lover and has received the Gift of righteousness by faith.  The big truth of Romans is built on two great things: grace and faith.  Grace is God’s part in salvation.  Faith is man’s part.

 

11: 7-10:  “What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the election has obtained it, and  the rest were blinded.  (According as it is written, God has given them the spirit of slumber (stupor), eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear;) to this day.  And David says, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense to them:  Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and (paraphrased: their back bent double under the burden of their law.)”

 

 

Wednesday night we were discussing these verses in view of the spirit of “stupor” which appears to be over this nation.  I was reminded that in January 2004, the Lord spoke to me to preach these verses (11:8-10) until March of that year.   During the three month period, we did have our monthly speakers, but otherwise, I faithfully preached on those verses.  These verses are repeated five times throughout the Holy Bible.  When words are repeated three times, that carries a lot of authority, but five times is powerful.  There was some grumbling from the people as I was obedient to my mandate.  However, I did not falter.  At the end of the appointed time, the oceans didn’t roar, the mountains didn’t tremble, and thunder did not roll across the skies.  What I have noticed is that spirit of “stupor” has become stronger and stronger over this nation.

 

 

Moses, Isaiah, David, Jesus and Paul prophesied these words that the unbelieving masses would be hardened by the Lord.  Isaiah said a “narcotic spirit” or “spirit of stupor” was upon them.  He is referring to the anesthetic effect of unbelief upon a person.  If a man turns his back on the Light, he then faces in the direction of darkness.  When an unbeliever does this, he becomes “anesthetized” against the truth.  No Jew or Gentile is born with spiritual blindness upon him.  Anyone who wants to receive Christ may.  But the one who doesn’t want to, who prefers to walk in the way of his fathers (blindly following the Jewish tradition), will remain in that blindness which God has visited upon Israel for the last 3500 years.

 

I believe in 2004, a “narcotic spirit” was poured out over the minds of the unbelievers in this nation.  Whether Jew or Gentile, this renders them insensitive to the Spirit’s witness.  Their spiritual senses have become stupefied. 

 

He hardens unbelieving hearts the same way He hardened the heart of Pharaoh.  He was given repeated chances to repent, yet with each opportunity his heart got harder until it was like stone.

 

The Lord hardened the hearts of the Jews with repeated messages and warnings by the prophets.  He hardened them with frequent confrontations of the truth. The more they resisted it, the harder their hearts became.  It is a psychological law that once a truth is rejected, it is easier to reject the second time, and still easier the third, until a person’s heart becomes calcified. 

 

The snare of the table is interestingly described by C.S. Lovett: “The Lord established the holy feasts of the Jews as a means of worshipping Him.  These feasts were to the Jews what the communion (Lord’s supper) is to us.  Yet Paul, quoting from the 69th Psalm, says these holy feasts which the Jews loved, constituted a snare!  But how?  In the orient, if you were invited to sit at a man’s table, you were his friend for life.  Following that tradition, the Jews figured that sitting at the table made them holy.  They assumed they were right with God simply because they sat at the feast table.  There trust then, was not in the Lord, but in the feasts.  They trusted in the ceremony and the tradition.  That’s what made it a snare.

 

They did not have the revelation that the Feasts were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  He is the Passover Feast.  The Holy Spirit is the Feast of Pentecost and the Glory of God is the Feast of Tabernacles.

 

11:11-12:  Does this mean the Jews have stumbled never to rise again?  Is their ruin complete?  Absolutely not!  The result of their failure has been to bring salvation to the Gentiles.  God planned it this way so that the Jews would be jealous when they saw what they were missing and would want salvation for themselves.”  Now if the failure of the Jews means the riches of  the world, and their rejection heaped spiritual riches on the Gentiles, think what it will be like when Israel receives her fullness.”

 

For thousands of years, Israel had the only salvation store in the world.  She alone had the privilege to show the other nations how to worship God.  However, since she herself ignored that way, she of course, didn’t take the job seriously.   When her Messiah finally arrived in the world, she rejected Him.  Consequently she was put out of business as God’s only agent.  Shortly after the rejection, Pentecost occurred and Jesus became available to anyone who wanted Him. No longer was it necessary for a person to go to the Jews to be saved.  All anyone had to do was hear the gospel, believe it, and receive Jesus as his Savior.  He became righteous the moment he did.  So Israel went out of business and God began sending apostles into the world with the good news.

 

When Paul speaks of Israel’s failure, he is referring to her going out of business as Gods salvation store.  When he speaks of riches coming to the Gentiles, he means all the covenants, promises, and power promised to those who believe by faith.

 

If the fall of Israel has already brought spiritual riches to the world, think of the benefits mankind will enjoy when she receives Jesus as her King and Messiah.

 

11:13-14:  ”For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office.  If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what the receiving of them shall be, but life from the dead.”

 

He says I don’t want to sound as if I am ignoring you Gentiles when I dwell on Israel’s fulfillment.  He has repeatedly expressed his passion for the Jews and now he has devoted almost three chapters to them.

 

The O.T. predicted that God would scatter Israel and bury her among the nations of the world.  This was literally fulfilled in A.D. 70 as prophesied by Jesus.  Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews dispersed.  For almost 2000 years now the nation has been buried in the “valley of dry bones.”  In our day, we have seen the return of the Jews to their homeland.  However, they are mostly returning in unbelief.  Yet, there are Messianic Jews who continue to evangelize their people.

 

Jesus will return one day and plant his feet upon the Mt of Olives and they will “look on Him Whom they have pierced.”  When that day arrives, they will embrace him as their King.  A thought came to me that as the Olive Tree is the tree of Faith, then the Mt. of Olives would be the mountain of faith.

 

11: 16-24:  “For if the firstfruits are holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root is holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches are broken off, and  you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches.  But if you boast, you bear not the root, but the root you.  You will say then, the branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith.  Be not high-minded, but fear:  for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed less he does not spare you.  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness; otherwise you also shall be cut off.  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?”

 

Paul is leading up to a flat statement (Vs. 26) “all Israel will be saved.”

 

The idea of Israel as an olive tree is taken from Jeremiah’s prophecy where she is pictured as a “green olive tree, beautiful in form and fruit” (Jer. 11:16)  It is interesting that this figure of speech describing Israel is in chapter eleven, verse sixteen.   Eleven is the number of judgment, disorder, revelation, transition, the prophet.  Sixteen means love, established beginnings.

 

The nature and character of living things are determined by their roots.  Paul is saying, since the roots of Israel are holy (i.e. belong to God), so is the rest of the tree.  By the roots, he means Abraham and the patriarchs.  The branches of the tree are those Jews who have sprung from Abraham.  The tree grows out of the promises made to the founding fathers.  These are the heroes of Faith who revealed God’s program to those to whom they were sent.    Those promises are both spiritual and physical.

 

Mt. 6:33: “But seek you first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”

 

If we get this part right, then everything else in our life will blessed and in order.  The problem is people get their eyes off the Kingdom and back on “things”. 

 

We Gentiles have had over 2000 years to take advantage of the privilege of being grafted on to this tree.  The Gentiles are not doing any more with their opportunity than did the Jews.  Those who will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit receive one of the greatest promises of the O.T.  The Holy Spirit is the rich sap flowing from those Jewish roots.  The Holy Bible is a Jewish book written by Jews. 

 

We should regard our place in this Grace with greatest humility.  One day the Jewish and Gentile Christians will be joined on the tree by the mass of renegade Jews, who will come to share their faith and be restored as active members of the people of God.

 

There was evidently an anti-Jewish bias among Gentile converts.  Gentiles were learning to shout down Judaism’s proud claims with even louder counter-claims of their own privileges and the Jews deprivation.  Paul deplores this unhealthy attitude.  He reminds them of their debt to the Jewish heritage.

 

Gentiles have the Bible (a Jewish book).  We have the Holy Spirit (a Jewish promise).   We have the LORD (a Jewish Messiah).  We do not have to go to any temple; neither do we have to perform any rituals.  We can meet the Lord any place and any time we care to come to Him on the ground of His mercy.

 

In the present stupor of the Gentiles, very few want a personal relationship with God through Christ.  As a result, false Christianity has arisen in the world.  Many preachers are not only unsaved, but deny the virgin birth, Christ’s deity and His blood atonement.  Educators and politicians are hell bent on destroying the faith of young people, taking particular delight in flaunting the theory of evolution in the face of God’s Word.  The Gentiles world is clearly an unbelieving world, every bit as faithless as the Jews.  Paul’s warning that God won’t coddle Gentiles any more than he did the Jews is going unheeded.  They have been given over to a spirit of stupor. We are coming to the end of the times of the Gentiles. 

 

This evening I will continue with Chapter 11 with the theme, “All Israel will be Saved”. 

 

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries, Inc.

www.eastgateministries.com

Scripture from K.J.V.  I entered into the labors of Lovett’s Lights on Romans by: C.S. Lovett, F.F. Bruce Bible Commentary, Leslie C. Allen; Whose Right It Is by:  Kelly Varner; The comments and conclusions are my own and not a reflection of the views of those from whom I have gleaned.  The Olive Tree Sermon by:  Pastor Carolyn Sissom, 9/26/2010. 

 
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