For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.(Romans 11:15-22)
Remember that the reason for Romans, chapter 9-11 is to explain why the Gentiles were pouring into the newly born Christian church, while the Jews were only coming in small amounts. Wasn’t this a Jewish religion, featuring Jewish prophets and Jewish apostles, and wasn’t it the gospel of a Jewish Messiah?
The church in Rome underwent four phases; first of all dating from Pentecost, it was predominantly Jewish. Secondly, as the light of Revelation increased, Gentiles began to be evangelized and saved into the early church. The third phase commenced when Claudius threw the Jews out of Rome, (Acts 18:2) and the church became almost entirely Gentile. The last phase of the church commenced after Nero called the Jews to come back into Rome, and the Messianic remnant returned to join an almost entirely gentile church.
Huge numbers of Gentiles had swelled the ranks of the church, and the Jewish remnant was only a minority. Some kind of replacement theology became the explanation for this, which Romans 9-11 attempts to refute.
The future of the church was gentile, with a remnant of Jews, elected of God. The born again gentiles would be tempted to draw the wrong conclusions, comparing themselves in their current state of grace, with the Jewish nation, currently estranged from God.
What Paul warned of was forgetting that our original lump of sourdough is entirely Jewish. All true religion is in unbroken continuity with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Everything ‘Christian’ comes out of that “Lump”. What the Lump of the church was originally is what the true church is. It is not physical affinity with Abraham and the fathers, but inward spiritual affinity with them that counts.
The second allegory is that of the root and the branches. Israel is like an ancient, cultivated olive tree, whose branches had become unproductive and had to be cut off. The tree has not been uprooted, only the branches were cut off.Those branches were not thrown away, they were placed on the ground beneath the tree, and have been dormant now for two thousand years.
The gentile church are wild olive branches which were cut off of their own useless, wild, sour, bitter fruit producing trees and grafted into the older, cultivated stock. Thus the branches are now nourished on the rich, fruitful heritage of Jewish prophets, apostles, teachings and worship, and above all, are grafted into the life of the Jewish Messiah.
Christians who despise Jews, or who theologically relegate them to the dustbin of salvation history, are doing the very thing Paul warned us not to do. They wrongly “boast against the branches” laying on the ground underneath the tree. We gentiles were allowed to live and thrive in the Jewish tree, the stock of Israel, the roots of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob, and the God of Israel.
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.(Ephesians 2:11-13)
Even now the Presbyterian church USA has been rewriting the scriptures, in conjunction with Palestinian Christians , stripping the Bible of all favorable references to Jews! Many Calvinists and especially the hyper Calvinists see no significance in the miracle of May 1948, because their theological system tells them God is through with the Jews! This in spite of prophecies proclaiming it as a sign of the latter times.
The Roman Catholic church is currently telling Israel to vacate the land of Israel, since it is ‘Arab land’.
This false belief in and commitment to replacement theology literally blinds Christians of all denominations to the program of God, especially to eschatology.
The true church began as a Jewish religion, and it’s consumption in history will be the restoration of the ‘cut off” branches of the Jewish people returning to God in the Messiah.
It was unbelief that cut off the Jewish branches. Should we imagine that God will deal with the Gentile church in a different fashion? Already many expressions of the church are as devoid of God as the temple was when the Shekinah left it in the days of Ezekiel. When does a church stop being a church? When God himself forsakes it.
Is the Homosexual ordinating church still a church? Are people not literally worse off for associating with it? Is the compromising “Chrislam” church still a church? It was when Israel began to accommodate Pagan spirituality that God cut her off, are we going to be any different? What about the church whose Bishops deny the resurrection?
What do we make of churches which promote the liberal agenda, such as abortion on demand? Are they any different from the Moloch accommodating King Manasseh? Will not the same Gd judge us every bit as harshly as He judged Israel? Are we better than they, or more deserving?
Paul warned us, that rather than indulge in replacement theology, and despise our estranged Jewish forbearers, we should fear God. We must remember that we stand by faith in the grace of God, and there is nothing special about us. The jews are the ‘natural branches, not we. God didn’t spare them, he cut them off after long forbearance, for unbelief. Can the church somehow be expert from the same fate, when she indulges in the same idolatry and unbelief?