Romans eleven holds the key to understanding the big picture concerning Israel. In Romans 11:11 we find the reason for Israel’s future glory. Israel stumbled and fell, but because of their fall and rejection of their Messiah, salvation came to the Gentiles. The Jews stumbled at the point of a crucified Messiah – unconscionable to them. They expected a warrior king but received a suffering servant.
The factoring in of the Gentiles is designed by God to make the Jews jealous. This jealousy, plus the pressure put on them by God’s divine adversaries, will one day move the Jews to repent (change their minds) and receive their Messiah. Gentiles gained the righteousness that Jews sought because they exercised faith. The Jews, however, sought righteousness by attempting to keep the law and being circumcised. They were arrogant and proud because they thought that they had kept it. They tripped over a crucified King.
If the Gentiles have been richly blessed because the Jews failed, how much more of a blessing will the fulfillment of the Jews be? “Fulfilment” (Rom. 11:12) is pleroma, meaning to be made complete. If the Jews’ failure produced riches for the world, how much more will their full inclusion bless the world?
The Jews made God jealous by worshipping idols. God turned the tables. He will (future tense) provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation. He will (future tense) move them to anger by a foolish nation (Deut. 32:21). This time is now! He is in the process of provoking the Jews to jealousy by including the Gentiles in His plan (Rom. 11:13–14). But there is coming a time when the Jewish people will be once again factored into God’s plan.
Paul used some can’t miss illustrations. If the Jews being cast away leads to the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead (Rom. 11:15). If one takes a small piece of dough from a big lump, and that small piece of dough is set apart to God, what about the large lump? That is certainly set apart to God. The small lump represents the Gentiles having been extended grace. The large lump would refer to God’s chosen people – the Jews (Rom. 11:16).
Then there is the olive tree and the wild olive branches. If a root that produced the cultivated olive tree is set apart to God, the branches that come from the root are also (Rom. 11:17–18). What if some wild olive branches are grafted in, do they become a part of the tree (Gentiles)? Some branches being broken off refers to those Jews who have been blinded. In Hosea and Jeremiah, Israel is likened to an olive tree. The wild olive branch being grafted into a cultivated tree is against the laws of nature. It is not natural for this to happen, but God is making it happen.
Gentiles became the recipients of the richness of the Abrahamic Covenant by grace (Gen. 12:3). Speaking of the Galatians (Gentiles), Paul wrote that if we belong to Christ, we are Abraham’s descendants according to promise (Gal. 3:29). Christ is the link that brings us together. The natural branches have been broken off (Jews) and the wild branches grafted in (Gentiles). The Gentiles had best not be cocky or arrogant toward the failure of God’s chosen nation. They had better not become like the Jews had been (Rom. 11:19–21). If God is righteous in temporarily putting aside Israel as a whole for unbelief (motivated by their arrogance and pride), He certainly could put aside the Gentiles for boasting and haughtiness. Why is all this true? It is true because of God’s ability. God is able to remove Israel from their own olive tree and to graft many Gentiles in.
God is also able to once again graft Israel back in. This He will do if the Jews do not continue in unbelief (Rom. 11:23). Israel is today scattered to the four corners of the earth, but the prophets tell us that a remnant will be grafted back into their own olive tree. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Rom. 11:25–26).
God will once again extend grace to the Jews. Notice the pattern: God shut out one to extend mercy to another (Rom. 11:32). Jesus Christ is one day to return, and Israel as a nation will be crying out for His return and will know Him when they see Him. They will look on the One whom they pierced and mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son and grieve for Him (Zech. 12:10; Jn 19:27). All Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:26). God will begin His kingdom reign over the earth (Zech. 14:9).
Paul ended this section by attempting to plumb the depths of God’s mind. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:33–36) Stay safe and stay tuned.