I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.(Romans 9:1-5)
Israel is a miracle nation. She came into existence after the tower of Babel, when all of the nations defected from the living God.
If you or I wanted to create a new nation, we would search out a virile young couple at the prime of life and start with them. But when God wanted to create a new nation, He chose an older couple, Abram the idolater, and his wife Sara, barren and long past child-bearing years, and said “Here is someone I can work with!”
The existence of Israel is a miracle, and so is her recent resurrection. It is not amazing to hear of an Ancient nation which was exiled, enslaved and scattered throughout the world, never to be heard of again.
But for a nation to be defeated in war , (in 70 AD) , and sent as slaves into a complete international exile,(the Diaspora), and yet to be preserved as a national entity,(in spite of all attempts to assimilate) is nothing short of amazing. But the perhaps the greatest miracle is that after almost two thousand years, the nation of Israel was reconstituted in her own land, in fulfillment of countless Bible prophecies.
Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.(Jeremiah 31:10-11)
What happened in May 1948 is not only a miracle but a Billboard sized portent that God’s Word is true and the world has entered into the last days.
Here in Romans, Paul laments Israel’s failure to enter fully into the blessing of the New Covenant which was promised to her.For the present the bulk of the nation is lost, and Paul invokes the Holy Spirit as witness to the truth that He(Paul) would be willing to take Israel’s place in judgment, if it would save her. Such is the Love of God and his true saints for the children of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob.
The apostle then lists the privileges that God had bestowed upon her; Romans 11 assures us such gifts and callings were given and never repented of by God. These are irrevocable privileges, one day Israel shall take her place as a Priest and witness again.
What are these irrevocable blessings?
*The name Israel, “Who are Israelites…”- Remember that the name was conferred upon Jacob after the long night of wrestling and finally clinging to God. Who is Israel? Literally it is “He that strives with God, and prevails…”.
Jacob had long relied on his own quick wits and ability, until the ultimate showdown with his enraged brother Esau, who drew near with the seeming intent to kill him. He divided his wealth and family, and eventually himself, from all that he held dear. As the night drew near , Jacob was by himself when the Angel of the Lord drew near.At first Jacob wrestled the Angel, but after the Angel disabled his hip(The body’s strongest part), Jacob clung to the Angel and would not let go.
This drama will play out again soon , for the modern Jacob, hated by the whole world, increasingly isolated and heading into the final long night, “The time of Jacob’s trouble”. Scripture goes back and forth, referring to Israel as either Jacob or Israel, for Israel is an ideal name. The nation will cling to God until the morning and then enter into a glorious new day.
Finally,Israel will become Israel, and the world will be resurrected.
* The Adoption– “…to whom pertaineth the adoption…”. Israel is the Son of God. God created the nation and adopted into Sonship. There is no other nation that could say this. Israel is God’s ‘prodigal Son’, one that he mourns for and awaits his return.
And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:(Exodus 4:22)
We can all hear God’s agonizing lament as he remembers Ephraim as a little child, and mourns his defection from God!
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.(Hosea 11:1-4)
* The Glory- “…and the glory…”- God called Israel to be the people and the place where He would dwell with men in a Holy Temple. Jerusalem is the place on earth where He would set his name, forever. When the temple was completed, the Most High descended in a cloud of Glory, and literally “Dwelt between the Cherubim” in the Holy of Holies!
For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?(Deuteronomy 4:7-8)
* The Covenants- “…and the covenants…” . To Israel were given covenants, such as the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic and Davidic covenants. Even the New Covenant was given to “the house of Israel and of Judah”.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: ….(Jeremiah 31:31-34)
We the gentile church have been graciously included into the “Commonwealth of Israel” and by faith we have a share in the covenants and promises.
* The LAW- “…and the giving of the law…”. How little we moderns understand the beauty and richness of the Law of God, revealed to the Jewish people.Much of this blindness is due to an antinomian emphasis in the teaching in churches these days. You would almost think that the Law was a curse rather than how the Psalmist sung of it,
Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.(Psalm 119:30-38)
The Law was far more than mere “Do’s and don’t’s” . It elevated Israel, taught them, and separated them physically, hygienically, morally, intellectually,and spiritually. The Law is the TORAH, the teaching of the Way,for it is a revelation of Jesus.
The Law was the constitution of the nation, the teaching of discernment, psychology, medicine, ethics. The Law is the deliverer and Saviour of the family, and it is the preserver from the sexual anarchy which prevailed in the ancient world, Truly Israel was privileged above all nations to be the repository of the Law of God.
* The Worship- To Israel was vouchsafed the worship of God. Jerusalem was set as the one place on earth where God could be worshipped. Levites were the priests, they held the services, and presented through the rituals appointed by God, the vision of God and salvation. All nations would come to Jerusalem to seek God. What an indescribable privilege!
* The Promises- There are precious promises given to Israel which are conditional and there are promises given by God which are unconditional.
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.(Genesis 17:7-8)
* The Fathers- Abraham,Isaac and Jacob are so precious to God, he incorporated their names into His own name.”I am the God of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob…”. God will keep his everlasting promises to them inspire of Israel’s unbelief. The Fathers, chosen of God, despised by the world, and now even by the apostate church, are very significant to God.
*The Messiah- God used the Jews to bring himself into the world as a man. Jesus is a son of Israel, and in a representative sense, He is the true Israel. He was born and raised as a man in a Jewish context. Israel served as the receptacle nation for the Messiah, the seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head and redeem mankind unto God.