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An Exposition Of Romans 11

By John Wilkinson, 1894 Printer Friendly Version

GOD hath not cast off His people whom He foreknew.
This text comes from one of the most marvellous portions of the inspired volume, unfolding as it does, the purpose of GOD in the Jews during this age of individual election and national rejection. For my own part it has been a prayerful study for the past thirty years and more, until nearly every word has photographed itself on my memory. It is the chapter the HOLY SPIRIT used in awakening an intelligent and life-long interest in the conversion of the Jews in the heart of the late eminent Dr. Marsh. When simply Mr. Marsh, the Rev. Charles Simeon requested him to supply for him at Stroud and preach on behalf of the Jews. Mr. Marsh pleaded inability to deal with this special topic. Mr. Simeon induced Mr. Marsh to accept on supplying him with his (Simeon's) sermon. The portmanteau containing the sermon was, by mistake of the coachman, dropped short of its destination, and Mr. Marsh found himself in Stroud without the sermon. He retired to his room and read and prayed over this eleventh to the Romans. Just before service time the local secretary announced the arrival of the portmanteau, and asked, shall we get out the sermon? "No," replied Mr. Marsh, "neither Simeon nor Marsh will preach to-night on Jewish conversion, but St. Paul." The study of this chapter most probably contributed to Mr. Marsh's clearness of view as to the elective character of the present dispensation, and also as to the relation of the pre-millennial advent of our LORD to the national interests of Israel.

[N.B. At the time of writing, the return to Palestine (later called Israel) was just beginning.]


This eleventh chapter abounds with perhaps a greater variety of distinct doctrinal points on the Jewish question than are to be found in any other twenty chapters of the Word of GOD. It contains a mine of wealth, and cannot fail to enrich all who dig into its contents as for hid treasure. It carefully distinguishes between the election of the nation to special privileges and temporal blessings in Palestine, and the election of individual Jews to eternal life in Messiah Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth. It also distinguishes between the temporary fall and casting off of the nation, and the exclusion of individual Jews from the blessings of the Gospel. It even teaches the doctrine of a spiritual election of individual Jews during the very period of the national rejection. It teaches an election within an election, and that election from the elect nation during the nation's rejection. It links the apostle Paul, an elect individual Jew, with Abraham, the father of the elect nation now temporarily rejected. It links the spiritually elect individual Jews with the inner election in the days of Elijah. It teaches that the national rejection has, by GOD's overruling providence, been made the occasion of extending the blessings of individual spiritual election to the Gentiles. It teaches that if a calamity to the Jewish nation has occasioned large though limited blessing to the Gentiles, how much more may we expect universal blessing to the Gentile world instrumentally caused by the nation of Israel restored and blessed. It teaches that the GOD-fearing, Bible- believing, Messiah-expecting Jew presents facilities to missionary enterprise no other people in the world present. It teaches the duty and privilege of converted Gentiles to seek the conversion of the Jews. It teaches that the gift of Palestine will never be recalled, and that the call of Abraham will never be revoked. It teaches the blessing of the nation of Israel on the return of the LORD; indeed its contents, linked to Abraham and the times of Elijah, extend over the whole period between the first and second advents of the LORD YESHUA MESSIAH, JESUS of Nazareth.

The tenth chapter having closed with a quotation from the 65th of Isaiah, "All the day long I stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people," the eleventh chapter appropriately opens with the question - "I say then, hath GOD cast off His people?" Was their national election only temporary? Or has the nation's disobedience led to a change in the Divine plan? "GOD forbid" or, by no means, it may not, or it cannot be. "For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." As much as to say to those who think that national rejection has at all imperilled individual salvation - Do you believe in my Jewish origin? Yes, certainly. Do you believe in the reality of my conversion? Yes, truly. Well then, Paul might say, apart from the fact that thousands of Jews were converted at Pentecost, and subsequently, the fact of my Jewish origin together with the fact of the genuineness of my conversion is proof enough that, though the nation is rejected for a time, God hath not cast off His people as to their individual, spiritual, and eternal interests, "For I also am an Israelite." "GOD hath not cast off His people whom He foreknew," neither totally nor finally-not totally as to individual salvation, not finally as to the nation.

GOD has always had an election within an election; some loyal worshippers of GOD during times of general apostasy. "Know ye not what the Scripture saith of Elijah, how he pleadeth with GOD against Israel, saying : 'LORD, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life'? Nevertheless what saith the answer of GOD unto him? 'I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'" 1 "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." The fact that notwithstanding the general national apostasy in the days of Elijah the LORD had seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal, leads the Apostle by Divine authority to draw the inference that down to his own day, and in his own time, there continued "a remnant according to the election of grace." We may draw the same inference at any period, past or future, during this present dispensation, and say, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." "But if it is by grace, it is no more of works : otherwise grace is no more grace." If the salvation of the individual sinner be an act of grace or favour on the part of GOD, then works of merit are entirely excluded. Saved by grace excludes works. Saved by works would exclude grace. "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for. But the election hath obtained it, and the rest were hardened; according as it is written, GOD gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this very day.2 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling- block, and a recompense unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway." 3 1 Kings 19: 14, 18. 2 Isaiah 29: 10; Deut. 29: 4. 3 Psalm 69: 22.23.

Israel sought justifying righteousness in obedience to law, but obtained it not, for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Paul could say even of his unconverted state, "as touching the righteousness which is of the law, blameless." "But the election hath obtained it" - hath obtained justifying righteousness. The election here represents the individual believing Jews, willing to be saved in GOD's way, by grace alone, through faith, without the deeds of law. "Israel" in this portion represents the nation as such, and the "election" represents the saved individual Jews. The saved individual Gentiles during this elective dispensation are saved on the same terms as individual Jews. "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith: but Israel, following after a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works." 1 GOD's way of salvation for Jew and Gentile is, by grace, through faith; man's way is any other way. Man is saved only in GOD's way and surely lost in his own way. "The rest blinded," or hardened, denoting a heart devoid of feeling, and a darkened understanding, or perverted judgment. The unbelieving Jews, like unbelieving Christians, are all the worse for abounding in religious privileges; for bright light blesses some and blinds others. The hardening was the natural result of the unbelief and outward conduct of those hardened. "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds (thoughts) of the unbelieving," is true alike both of Jew and Gentile. Though the above word for "blinded" is "hardened" in the Greek, there is a distinction made between blinding the eyes, and hardening the heart, as given in John 12: 40, the former word being from tuphlo-ow, and the latter poro-ow. The blinding of Israel's eyes and the hardening of Israel's heart were the natural result of Israel's wilful refusal to admit the force of the evidence by which GOD confirmed the Divine mission of YESHUA JESUS of Nazareth. "I say then, Did they stumble that they might fall" (hina pesowsi) to their destruction. "GOD forbid" - by no means, certainly not. "But by their fall" (marginal reading, trespass) "salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy"; or, to excite them to emulation.

The stumbling of the Jewish nation at the doctrine of MESSIAH YESHUA, JESUS of Nazareth crucified is not a stumbling resulting in the destruction of the nation, as the first word translated "fall" implies - the same Greek word being used in the following passages, 1 Romans 9: 31-32. "Whose carcases fell in the wilderness"; "the walls of Jericho fell down"; "Babylon is fallen, is fallen." The second word in the verse translated "fall" is another word altogether, whose proper meaning is trespass, and is translated in the New Testament by the words trespasses, offences, sins, faults. The meaning of this verse is that, although the Jewish nation has fearfully stumbled, it is not to be destroyed, and that pending the nation's restoration and blessing, and the fulfilment of the purpose of the nation's election and preservation, the nation's trespass in rejecting their Messiah is to be made the occasion of large though limited blessing to the Gentile world, and thus the Divine mission of YESHUA, JESUS of Nazareth proved to the unbelieving Jews by the transformed characters and lives of Gentiles who believe in and follow Him. The effect of Messiah-like lives amongst Gentiles will be to excite the Jews to emulation when they see the reality and power of the Gospel of YESHUA MESSIAH, JESUS of Nazareth. Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness? Here it must be distinctly observed that the word "fall" is not the word representing ruin and destruction, but is the word used in the preceding verse to represent trespass, offence, fault. The truth taught seems to be this - the Jews committed a trespass in rejecting the LORD YESHUA JESUS of Nazareth, and suffered terrible loss as a consequence; but GOD overruled this trespass and loss to the spiritual enrichment of the Gentile world. The Gentiles have received large though limited blessing occasioned by the trespass of the Jews. The inference is that, if the Gentiles have been largely blessed through an overruled calamity to the Jews, "how much more their fulness" - that is, how much more may we expect the fulness of blessing to the Jewish nation to prove an instrumental blessing to the whole Gentile world. "Their fulness" stands in contrast with "their loss" and represents their complete national restoration and conversion.

The rejection of YESHUA of Nazareth by the Jews, and the national rejection of the Jews in consequence, were both predicted in the Old Testament Scriptures; and when fulfilled became evidence to the Gentiles both of the Messiahship of YESHUA and of the inspiration of the Scriptures, and thus helped forward Gentile conversion. But the Old Testament Scriptures contain also predictions of national restoration and blessing. When these latter predictions are fulfilled, the former having lost none of their force, the evidence to the truth of Holy Scripture and to the Messiahship of the LORD YESHUA will simply be overwhelming. But I speak to you that are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry: if by any means I may provoke to jealousy (excite to emulation) them that are my flesh, and may save some of them. For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" The LORD had said to Ananias at Damascus respecting Paul, "He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel." And "the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost." Paul could thus speak to the Gentiles with commanding authority. He put honour upon his ministry as the apostle of the Gentiles, rejoicing to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of YESHUA MESSIAH, not simply and solely to get Gentiles saved, but that by winning Gentiles to MESSIAH "I may excite to emulation" my Jewish brethren and save some of them. As much as to say, "I have tried by observing the Divine order 'to the Jew first' to bring my Jewish brethren to YESHUA MESSIAH of Nazareth; but have not succeeded to the extent of 'my heart's desire.' I will now see if I cannot save some Jews by preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles.

When the unbelieving Jews witness the changed hearts and transformed lives of converted Gentiles they may be convinced of the divinity and reality of the religion of YESHUA MESSIAH of Nazareth." Thus Paul glories in his ministry to the Gentiles as another channel for the expression of his burning love to his Jewish brethren. And why so earnestly desirous for the conversion of 'some of them?' Let the answer be first given in the beautifully simple words of the Holy Spirit Himself, "For if the casting away (the national rejection) of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?" This verse asks, in what relation do Jews stand to Gentiles? How do the fortunes of the former affect the interests of the latter? And the answer seems to be this - If the temporary casting away of the Jewish nation has been used of GOD in bringing reconciliation to multitudes of Gentiles, how will the reception of the nation into Divine favour affect Gentile interests: it will indeed prove "life from the dead" to the whole Gentile world, as Charles Wesley says in this passage: "The world shall their reception find, Life from the dead for all mankind."

Not only is the restoration and salvation of the nation to be a blessing to the world - this Paul knew perfectly well - but the salvation of "some of them" now, in this dispensation of the church, is to be a strength to Gentile believers, and a blessing to Gentile sinners, by helping to preserve from spiritual death Gentiles who are spiritually alive; and by instrumentally producing spiritual life in Gentiles dead in trespasses and sins; in short, hastening the completion of the church, and the return of her LORD. "And if the firstfruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the branches." There is a beautiful connection between the truth taught in this verse and that taught in the verses immediately preceding. We have just gathered that the conversion of the Jews as a nation will be "life from the dead" to the whole Gentile world. But the nation as such is cast away, and has been cast away for nearly two thousand years, so that many Christians have given up all hope of national restoration to Palestine, and consequently all hope of national conversion; believing that so far as the Jews are to be blessed in the future they will simply drop one by one into the Christian Church as the result of the Holy Spirit's blessing on means at present in operation. No, says the inspired apostle, the nation, as such, is not yet done with; nor is the mission of the nation fully accomplished, although temporarily the nation is still "cast away." "If the firstfruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the branches." The "firstfruit" and the "root" represent one class of Jews, and the "lump" and the "branches" another class of Jews; but they are both alike "holy."

The word kadosh in the Old Testament and hagios in the New have a two-fold meaning, separation and purity. In the Old Testament it is used to represent not only the "holy people" but also the "holy land," the "holy house," and the "holy vessels." These were all "holy" in the sense of having been separated, dedicated to GOD, irrespective altogether of the question of moral purity. Indeed the same Hebrew root is used to describe a harlot amongst the daughters, and a Sodomite amongst the sons of Israel. That is, those separated, dedicated to sin. 1 The term "holy" as applied here to the "firstfruit" and the "root," and also in the same sense to the "lump" and the "branches" must be understood as the separation of the Jewish people from all other people by their national election, and the dedication of that people in all time to GOD. The "firstfruit" and the "root" we take to represent the patriarchs of the nation, and the "lump" and the "branches" to represent the entire nation sprung from their loins; for the promises were to Abraham and to his seed. (1 Deut. 23: 17) So that, though the patriarchs are dead and generations of their descendants have passed away, the people still exist a separate people - dedicated in all time to GOD, preserved to be blessed and to become a blessing to the world. "But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, and didst become partaker with them of the root and fatness of the olive tree; glory not over the branches; but if thou gloriest, it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, branches were broken off that I might be grafted in. Well; by their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear; for if GOD spared not the natural branches, neither will He spare thee."

The first point to be noticed in these most instructive verses is this - some branches broken off, not all. Another important point is - that the Gentile, compared to a worthless wild olive, was grafted in among believing Jews. Another important point is - that the Gentile believer was simply to "become a partaker" with the Jewish believer, of the root and fatness of the olive tree. The Gentile was not to become a monopoliser of spiritual blessings in YESHUA MESSIAH of Nazareth - only a partaker. The Gentiles have not taken the place of the Jews, but have merely been admitted to a share on common terms in the blessings of a common salvation. "Glory not over the branches; it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee." The "root" has the same meaning here as in the two preceding verses; the root is Abrahamic. United to the LORD YESHUA MESSIAH by faith the Gentile becomes linked to Abraham in a covenant of faith made with Abraham "not in circumcision but in uncircumcision, ....... that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised." The Gentile believer must not cherish a spirit of pride and boasting towards even the broken-off Jewish branches, but rather cultivate gratitude for undeserved mercies flowing through a Jewish channel. "Thou wilt say then, branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." This, observe, is what the Gentile in his ignorance says; not what the apostle Paul by inspiration says. Paul is here anticipating an error into which the Gentiles would fall. Paul does not say (Rom. 4: 10, 11), "the Holy Ghost saith"; nor even, "I say"; but "thou wilt say" - the Gentiles will say "branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in." Paul had already admitted that "some branches were broken off;" so that the Gentile was right as to the fact, he was wrong only as to the cause. The broken-off branches was made the occasion, not the cause of the blessing to the Gentile. "Well"; granted. Granted what? Granted the fact already stated, that some branches were broken off. Now the cause which the Gentile should have waited for - "by unbelief they were broken off." They were not broken off in order to make room for the Gentiles, but in consequence of their own unbelief. There was room enough in the atoning work of YESHUA MESSIAH, room enough in the heart of YESHUA JESUS of Nazareth, for every individual Jew. The unbelief of the Jews caused the breaking off, and the breaking off of some Jewish branches occasioned blessing to the Gentiles.

Jewish and Gentile believers in YESHUA JESUS of Nazareth were alike Abraham's spiritual children, and were joint partakers of the root and fatness of the olive tree; for having embraced the religion of YESHUA MESSIAH they perpetuated the essentials of the religion of Abraham, Moses and the prophets; but those Jews who rejected YESHUA MESSIAH broke away from the religion of Abraham, Moses and the prophets based on atoning blood, and became adherents of Rabbinism, which boasts the absence of atoning blood. "Thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if GOD spared not the natural branches, neither will He spare thee." The Jewish branches were broken off for unbelief; the Gentile wild olive graft stands only by faith. GOD's Word never says "fear" without a reason. The history of Gentile Christendom shows that the warning was not unneeded, though it has been unheeded. The unbelief and moral corruption of the Jews brought the judgments of GOD on "the natural branches;" so the unbelief and moral corruption of "the wild olive" will bring down the judgments of GOD on apostate Christendom. "Behold then the goodness and severity of GOD; toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." We are here called upon to contemplate two different aspects of GOD's conduct towards men - Jews and Gentiles. Towards the Jews - severity; their temple destroyed; their cities laid in ruins; their land made desolate; themselves butchered by tens of thousands, and the remnant hunted into, and persecuted in, the four corners of earth. Severity - the inevitable result of national apostasy. "But toward thee (the Gentile) goodness." Not absolutely and unconditionally, but only "if thou continue in His goodness."

This epistle is the epistle to the Romans, a divine letter addressed to the Church of Rome, and farther into Gentile Christendom. At the time when this epistle was written the Church at Rome was a model Church. Paul could say of its members, "your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." 1 Continue to bear such a character and to maintain this position, and the goodness of GOD towards you will continue. Let there be no change in your condition and you will find no change in GOD's conduct. Preserve apostolic simplicity, sound faith, fervent love, holy zeal, and the blessing of GOD will be continued and increased; but apostatise from sound doctrine and holy practice, as did the Jews, then assuredly "thou also shalt be cut off." "And they also, if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for GOD is able to graft them in again." This verse holds out hope on behalf of cases the least hopeful - the branches broken off for unbelief. If any might be despaired of surely these. There is hope for the unbelieving individual Jew all through this present dispensation, if he continue not in his unbelief. There is hope also finally for the nation continued in successive generations.

GOD's ability to bless the individual and also the nation implies His willingness and perhaps also His pledged purpose. Let us not then any longer look on these unbelieving Jews as dry and withered olive branches along which sap never more can flow, but like dry sticks, are fit only for the fire; rather let us in obedience to, and in the spirit of YESHUA MESSIAH, take hold of them kindly and gently, and bring these broken-off branches to their own olive tree; and though we cannot give them vital union, GOD says I can. "GOD is able to graft them in again." Grafted again into their own olive tree, "they shall bud and blossom, and fill the face of the world with fruit." "For if thou wast cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and wast 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." The apostle here takes a long step beyond the mere hopefulness of cases the least hopeful; he asserts that, humanly speaking, Jews are less difficult to convert than Gentiles. 1 Rom. I.8. At the risk of repeating some remarks given in a former chapter on this verse, to keep up the connection with the context - preceding and following - we must offer a brief exposition here of this remarkable verse.

The Gentile believer has for many hundreds of years thought it almost if not altogether impossible, to convert the Jews; and many, to their reproach think so still. We may say of such: "they do err, not knowing the Scriptures." The apostle here takes an illustration from nature while reversing nature's law, and the reversal of nature's law adds beauty and force to the illustration itself. First notice the principle on which olives are grafted. The good are grafted on the wild, and not the wild on the good, and the wildness of the wild olive is subdued by the goodness of the good graft. If the wild were grafted on the good, the wildness of the wild olive would subdue the goodness of the good olive, and all would run wild together. Some, aware of this, have supposed that Paul had fallen into error. But Paul was inspired; besides, he was an educated man and familiar with Palestine and olive grafting. Mark his words. He speaks of grafting the wild on the good as "contrary to nature;" had he said in harmony with nature, then we might have suggested a mistake. The Jews here are termed "natural branches." It is quite as appropriate to designate the Jews natural branches as to call the Gentiles wild olive grafts. They are both regarded as to the difference in their religious condition, the Gentiles as idolaters, the Jews as fearing GOD, believing the Old Testament Scriptures, and waiting for the Messiah on the authority of those Scriptures. The Gentiles as idolaters may be considered wild in three aspects. They have gods many and lords many, in contradistinction from one and only one. They worship the many visible to the bodily eye, instead of the One invisible. They worship the many they themselves made instead of the One who made them. In these three respects the Gentiles may appropriately be termed wild olives.

The Jews are natural branches. How so? YESHUA JESUS of Nazareth is the embodiment and interpretation of the Mosaic economy. He is GOD incarnate. He reveals the Father. He fulfils Jewish prophecies, and explains the sacrifices and priesthood of the Jewish religion. To be a true believer in Moses is to be a true believer in YESHUA JESUS of Nazareth. Hence the Jews are natural branches. Now mark the force of the inference. If the wild olive graft of an idolatrous Gentile can be taken and grafted contrary to the laws of nature into a good Jewish olive stock, how . ROMANS XI much more shall these Jews which are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree. It occurs to me that we may derive further instruction from this remarkable passage. The wild olive grafted on the good, if left to itself, would subdue the good; that is, it would work according to nature. The wild olive graft, the Gentile, though grafted contrary to nature, is controlled by grace, and while controlled by Divine grace is contented to be a partaker, and a partaker only, of the root and fatness of the olive tree. But these wild olive grafts, the Gentiles, have misunderstood their relationship to the Jewish natural branches and to the Jewish olive tree, as partakers only with believing Jews of the root and fatness. The Gentiles have neglected the warnings in this chapter - "be not high-minded, but fear," "glory not over the Branches," "otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." They have regarded the Jews as altogether cast off to an indefinite period, and themselves as having taken the place of the Jews in the Divine purpose and favour. They have called themselves spiritual Israelites, and have designated the Christian Church - composed of Jew and Gentile - the Gentile Church - justifying this designation by welcoming Gentiles everywhere, and by excluding Jews, under the influence of idolatry and persecution at the worst, and by neglect at best.

The Gentile wild olive graft should have lost its wildness by incorporation in the Jewish Christian Church as a partaker only of its blessings; but it has claimed to be a spiritual Israel, the Gentile Church, and has thus produced a Gentile Christendom almost as corrupt as heathendom. The Gentile wild olive graft has subdued the good olive; it has worked according to nature instead of under the controlling and subduing influence of grace. "For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." The partial unbelief and consequent partial blindness of the Jews is a revealed mystery, ignorance of which will produce conceit. Has there been no culpable ignorance of this mystery resulting in Gentile conceit and sense of superiority? What is this revealed mystery? Simply a partial hardness or blindness which has befallen Israel - partial and temporary; neither total nor final. What part of the Jewish nation is blinded or hardened? Is the blindness an arbitrary infliction of GOD, or has it an adequate cause? We read in the 7th verse that "the rest were hardened," and in the 17th verse that "some of the branches were broken off." The partial blindness is the result of an adequate cause.. ROMANS XI The blindness is not a cause, but a consequence, a consequence of another cause, that cause - unbelief. "Because of unbelief they were broken off." The unbelief has been partial and the hardening partial.

If the Christian Church has not regarded the Jews as finally abandoned of GOD, she certainly for ages regarded them as totally blind, and treated them accordingly; that is, she has cruelly treated them at the worst, and culpably neglected them at best, regarding the conversion of the individual Jew as almost if not altogether hopeless; inflicting a grievous wrong on the Jews themselves and incalculable injury on herself. The four vails on the Jews, their nature, and manner of removal, are fully discussed in chapter x, and so to that chapter we direct the reader's careful attention. This partial blindness, chronologically, is bounded by a fixed and definite period. It is to last during the period of national rejection and dispersion. It is to last during the "time of the Gentiles." It is to last during the gathering of the Church - that is, between the first and the second advents of our blessed LORD, who, addressing the nation, said, "Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the LORD." 1 It is to remain "until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." "Until" implies continuance and cessation - continuance during a period and cessation at its close.

But what is meant by "the fulness of the Gentiles" which must come in before Israel's partial blindness passes away? It cannot mean, as some take it, a filling up of Gentile iniquity. This "fulness" must evidently mean blessing. The word pleroma "fulness" must consistently be taken in the same sense as pleroma applied to the Jews in verse 12 - that is, in the sense of blessing. But it cannot mean the blessing of all Gentile nations as such, for this blessing is to come after Israel's national conversion, and Israel's national blessing is to be the instrumental cause in producing it. We take it then to mean simply this - "All the individual Gentiles saved during this elective dispensation and who form the Gentile portion of the Church, the body and bride of YESHUA JESUS, and designated in Acts, 15th chapter, "A people taken out for His Name" - these, with the "remnant according to the election of grace" from the Jews, complete the Church and close this dispensation. The partial blindness of Israel then passes away, and the time for the blessing of the nation arrives. "An so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written, 'There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob': And this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." Here we have the guaranteed conversion (1 Matt. 23: 39)of the entire nation of Israel. "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD; I will put My law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their GOD, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more." 1

No language can express in clearer or stronger terms the conversion of the Jewish nation. "Israel shall be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation." "In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." 2 But the special circumstance under which the nation's conversion is to take place is by the personal and pre-millennial advent of our blessed LORD, "As it is written." We are now referred to Isaiah, 59th and 60th chapters. "The Redeemer shall come to Zion." "The Deliverer shall come out of Zion." He shall come to Zion, and shall display His power and glory out of Zion, in turning away ungodliness from Jacob, and in His personal superintendence of the world's blessing through restored and saved Israel. "As for Me, this is My covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of they seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever." This is final restoration and blessing. Now restored and blessed Israel is addressed - not the Church - but the national Israel - "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee ..... And nations (Gentiles) shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." "As touching the Gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake." The Jews, as a nation, are enemies of the Gospel of YESHUA MESSIAH, and, as a nation, are "cast away" during this dispensation. As their national rejection of YESHUA of Nazareth and their own national rejection were both predicted, both these events become evidence of the truth of the Scriptures and of the Messiahship of YESHUA of Nazareth; and thus Jewish unbelief becomes mysteriously a ground for Gentile faith.

Gentile believers reap benefit from Jewish unbelief. Here the election, on account of which the Jews are still beloved for their fathers' sake, is the national election (1 Jer. 31: 33, 34. 2 Isaiah 45: 17, 25). The word "election" has two distinct applications in this chapter; one refers to individual Jews elect to eternal life in YESHUA MESSIAH, and are called "a remnant according to the election of grace", the other refers to the elect nation. The latter sense is the meaning in this verse. GOD has entered in covenant relationship with the patriarchs and with their seed, and in view of the purpose of their national election they are still beloved of GOD. The national election was typical of individual and spiritual election in MESSIAH YESHUA of Nazareth. The interests of the national are bounded by time; but the interests of the spiritual extend throughout eternity. The Jewish nation cannot be destroyed, but must be preserved till the purposes of election are fully accomplished; neither can the elect in MESSIAH YESHUA be destroyed, for YESHUA has said, "All that which the Father giveth Me shall come unto Me"; 1 and "they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand." 2 The unbelief of the Jewish nation, like the national "casting away," and the national "trespass" referred to in verses 11, 12 and 15, having been overruled for large though limited blessing to the Gentiles, the faith of the Jewish nation will prove a direct and instrumental blessing on an universal scale.

"For the gifts and the calling of GOD are without repentance." GOD has not repented, has not changes His mind, respecting the gift of Palestine, or the call of Abraham and his seed to be a blessing to the world. "For as ye in time past were disobedient to GOD, but now have obtained mercy by their disobedience, even so have these also now been disobedient, that by the mercy shown to you they also may now obtain mercy" (R.V.); "the mercy shown to you" of the revised version is clearer than "your mercy" in the authorised version. Notice the little word "now" occurring three times in these two verses. We take this word here as covering the present dispensation. All through this dispensation the partial disobedience of the Jews is made the occasion of the partial conversion of the Gentiles. Further, all through this dispensation the partial conversion of the Gentiles is to be the instrumental cause of blessing to the Jewish "remnant according to the election of grace"; that is, through the mercy shown to Gentiles the Jews are now to obtain GOD's mercy in MESSIAH YESHUA.

Gentile Christians, please observe (1 John 6: 37. 2 Ch. 10: 28.), it is not through your cruelty; it is not through your neglect; but "through your mercy," or "the mercy shown to you" - through your compassion in exercise, your love at work - "they also may now obtain mercy." Gentile Christian, will you faithfully examine your own conduct in the presence of GOD with this passage of His own Word before you? If you do so, and adjust your conduct to its teaching, you will assuredly be blessed in your obedience. "For GOD hath shut up all unto disobedience, that He might have mercy upon all." The Gentiles lost the knowledge of GOD and became disobedient. Their disobedience became the occasion of Jewish national election. The Jewish nation became disobedient. The partial disobedience of the Jews became the occasion of partial blessing to the Gentiles. The obedience of saved Gentiles becomes the instrumental cause of salvation to the elect remnant of Jews. Gentile Christendom becomes disobedient and apostate. The disobedience of Gentile Christendom becomes the occasion of the conversion of the Jewish nation, and the Jewish nation becomes the instrumental cause of the blessing of the world. GOD shut up all - Jews and Gentiles - unto disobedience that He may have mercy upon all. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of GOD! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past tracing out!" Here the apostle, with his powerful, well trained, and well stored mind, aided by the inspiration of GOD, seeks to fathom the depth of the riches of Divine wisdom and knowledge as manifested in the plan of human redemption and unfolded in the history of the Jews.

The apostle does not carp and cavil at that which he cannot comprehend; he does not question the wisdom of GOD's arrangements; but he finds his own wisdom unequal to the task of judging GOD's determinations, and his own knowledge insufficient to trace out GOD's ways. In the plan of Divine dispensations there are infinite depths, not only of wisdom and knowledge, but also of the riches of wisdom and knowledge. In deep consciousness of our very limited capacity to understand even all GOD has in mercy revealed, let us cultivate a spirit of devout and humble gratitude for all we are permitted to know, and firmly trust His wisdom where we cannot discover the meaning of His words, and rely upon His knowledge where we cannot trace His ways. Here "we know in part." We will not be so foolish as to refuse YESHUA of Nazareth and salvation through Him because He is GOD's unspeakable gift. Neither will we refuse the riches of His grace here, or the riches of His glory hereafter. ROMANS XI because those riches are "the unsearchable riches of Christ." We know enough to adore, to praise and to trust. Job had an exceptional experience, but even he confessed, "Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways: And how small a whisper do we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power (mighty deeds) who can understand?" 1 "For who hath known the mind of the LORD? or who hath been His counsellor? or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?" What man on earth, or what angel in heaven has ever understood all the reasons of GOD's conduct towards men in redemption and in providence. To whom has GOD been indebted for counsel and advice in the formation or execution of His plans? If any one can show that GOD is under any obligation to him for counsel he shall have a full recompense. GOD is indebted to no one. He knows the end from the beginning. He says, "I am GOD, and there is none like Me; declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure." 2 "For of Him, and through Him, and unto Him, are all things." Of Him as the source of all things created. Through or by Him all things are upheld and governed. And unto Him the universe owes adoration, praise, trust, love, and service. "To Him be the glory for ever. Amen." To Him, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one GOD, be the glory unto the ages. Amen. "Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD." 3 1 Job 26: 14. 2 Isaiah 46: 9, 10. 3 Psalm 150: 6

We have gathered from the Word of GOD that Israel's national election is unconditional, and that the preservation of this nation to the end of time is guaranteed. We have also gathered, from the same Word, that the purpose of this election and preservation is that Israel may be a channel and an instrument of blessing to all the nations and families of the earth. We have also gathered, on the same authority, that all the promises to Israel, relating both to temporal blessings in Palestine, and to spiritual blessings in MESSIAH YESHUA of Nazareth, are to be literally fulfilled to the national Israel - they are neither cancelled to Israel nor transferred to the Church, even though the Church may make use of them in a secondary and spiritual sense. We have also gathered that the rejection of Israel is only national and temporary; it is neither total nor final. Their rejection has excluded the nation from the possession of Palestine for a definite period, but has never excluded the individual Jew from the blessings of the Gospel except on the ground of individual unbelief. We have also gathered that during that national rejection of Israel, and occasioned by that rejection, the Holy Spirit is calling and preparing the Church, composed of individual Jews and individual Gentiles, as a Bride for the Bridegroom - a second Eve for the second Adam. The Jewish portion of the Church is called "a remnant according to the election of grace:' and the Gentile portion, "a people taken out for His Name"; both one in MESSIAH YESHUA, Who is the Head of His body, the Church.

We have also gathered that a future restoration to Palestine, in unbelief, is assured to the entire nation of Israel; that the time of "Jacob's trouble" will culminate after restoration, in the attempt of Antichrist to crush the nation out of existence, in order to produce universal atheism; and that in Israel's extremity the LORD YESHUA of Nazareth will appear in person on Mount Olivet, accompanied by His Church which met Him in the air, to destroy Antichrist; to establish universal peace; to convert the remnant of the restored nation; to "reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously" - indeed, to be "King over all the earth, one LORD, and His Name one.". CONCLUDING REMARKS AND SUGGESTIONS We have also gathered that the throne of David will be occupied by David's Son and LORD. He having received the millennial kingdom from the Father, reigns over the house of Jacob; superintending the blessing of the entire world through restored and saved Israel, and then, at the close of the millennial reign, He delivers up the kingdom to the Father that GOD may be all in all. We have also gathered that the theory of the Israelitish origin of the Anglo-Saxons is unscriptural and mischievous, and indeed directly contradictory to many of the plainest passages of the Word of GOD.

We have also gathered that the LORD expects His Church to spread the knowledge of His Name and Gospel all over the world, and that He and the Holy Spirit together have given definite instructions as to how this work can best be accomplished. First, the disciples were to receive Holy Ghost power; then be witnesses to MESSIAH YESHUA, according to the programme laid down by the LORD Himself in His very last words --Jerusalem, all Judea, Samaria, and uttermost part of the earth. Obedience as to Jerusalem, all Judea, and Samaria, was followed by marvellous blessing. Then Paul was specially chosen to carry out the last clause--"to the uttermost part of the earth." Now the Holy Spirit gives definite instructions as to the best way of accomplishing this part of the commission, namely, "To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile." This order was strictly observed by the apostle Paul all his life long, and with glorious results in the interest both of Jews and Gentiles; and as this order has never been reversed or cancelled, we infer that it ought to have been observed all through this dispensation, and ought to be observed today. GOD has thrown His power, available to the Church, along the line of His plan, and His blessing along the line of obedience; so that to miss His plan is to miss His power, and to be disobedient is to lose His blessing. We have also shown that GOD has owned and blessed obedient effort to evangelise His beloved Israel, in the conversion of many souls; in making converted Jews a blessing to Gentiles; and in answering prayer and honouring trust for funds to carry on His work, without any personal appeals for subscriptions. It has also been shown that every doctrine vital to Christianity is plainly taught in the Old Testament Scriptures, so that to deny the claims of YESHUA MESSIAH is to deny or pervert the Old Testament Scriptures on which His claims rest, and by which they are clearly proved..

Surely all Christians who really and truly love the LORD YESHUA MESSIAH, sincerely desire to know the will of GOD in order to do it. We suggest that the entire Word of GOD should be prayerfully studied to ascertain GOD's purpose in the Jews: that the terms used by the Holy Spirit to describe the Jews should be understood of the Jews: that the terms used to describe the Gentiles should be understood to mean the Gentiles ; and that both promises and threatenings to each respectively should be taken in their plain, literal, and obvious sense. We suggest that the prophecies relating to the second advent of our Blessed LORD should be understood in the same sense as those fulfilled predictions relating to His first advent. We suggest that in all practical effort to evangelise the world the Divine order, "to the Jew first," should be acted upon, unless it can be shown from the Word of GOD that this order has been reversed or annulled. We also suggest that loving effort should be made to reach with the Gospel those Jews who live near to us, and to whom we may gain neighbourly access; that we express to them our deep gratitude to GOD for the Bible and the Saviour we have received from them, that we give or send them suitable tracts or New Testaments; that we invite them to our places of worship; and that under the impulse of YESHUA of Nazareth's love we show them every kindness, "that through the mercy shown to us, they also may now obtain mercy."

We also suggest, in the most kindly and brotherly spirit, that evangelical ministers of all denominations should occasionally bring the claims of Israel before their congregations, and give their people an opportunity, at least once a year, of contributing towards the work of GOD amongst the Jews. Their people might also be encouraged to look after the Jews residing near them. We also suggest that monthly prayer meetings on Israel's behalf be established, as far as possible, in all evangelical churches in London and throught this and other lands. In many cities and towns one monthly meeting might be considered sufficient. In that case, of course, Christians of all denominations should be invited, and the local ministers invited to preside in turn to give a brief address. Above all we suggest that constant, earnest prayer be presented in the closet and at the family altar by all Christians on Israel's behalf, but especially on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, when the Hebrew Scriptures are being read in the Synagogues in all lands, and when Missionaries are preaching the Messiah YESHUA to numbers of Jews in all parts of the world. Shall we not pray that the LORD will awaken in the Church of MESSIAH YESHUA such an interest in Israel as is warranted by His own Word; and give such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Israel as the Church has never witnessed since apostolic times? Already GOD is beginning to answer these prayers in quickened interest in Israel amongst Christians; and in the wonderful movement amongst the Jews as the result of GOD's blessing on the free distribution of the Hebrew New Testament, and Scripture portions, amongst the Jews throughout the world, and especially in the Russian empire. Lastly, we suggest that the New Testament Scriptures and portions should be freely, but discriminately, distributed amongst the Jews throughout the world; "First to the Jew and also to the Gentile."

For more information on Zion Messianic Fellowship
email us at info@zmf.org, or call 604.321.0466 (321-ZION).