Sermon: Why Does Israel Stumble? Romans 11:11115

Why Does Israel Stumble?

Romans 11:11-15

Truth Taught – Gentile enjoyment of the Israel’s blessings will cause Jewish jealousy resulting in Israel’s salvation

Introduction

Why does God do the things He does? I know our answer in unison would be for His glory and all who said that would be right, of course. But why does He do the specific things He does when He could have done it a thousand different ways?

Last time we saw together that God has hardened the non-elect Israelites.

Romans 11:7–8 (ESV)

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,

       “God gave them a spirit of stupor,

eyes that would not see

and ears that would not hear,

       down to this very day.”

God has blinded the eyes of the Israelites who thought they could gain righteousness through works. This is what Paul means by hardening.

As blind people they stumble over what they do not see. He’s told us that the main thing they stumble over is Jesus Christ. We may very accurately say Jesus the Messiah.

Romans 9:32–33 (ESV)

32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

       “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;

and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

God has blinded their eyes in judgment and they stumble over Jesus Christ. They were searching so hard for righteousness in themselves that when true righteousness was given to them, they missed Him.

God has offered salvation by faith to the Israelites since the day of Abraham and they refuse. Throughout the OT period God had continued to send prophets to warn them and still they refused. Then when Jesus came on the scene and did everything the Messiah was supposed to do they still refused.

In Jesus’ ministry there was a shift as He predicted the removal of God’s pleading with them.

Matthew 21:33–44 (ESV)

33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

       “ ‘The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

       this was the Lord’s doing,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

So, Jesus very clearly tells those Israelite leaders that God will remove the Kingdom from them just as soon as He is crucified.

Then we move forward a few years to Paul’s ministry recorded in Acts. He preaches first to the Jews and when they reject the true Messiah he then moves on to the Gentiles. He does this so frequently that He is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:46–49 (ESV)

46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

       “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.

(See also Acts 18:6; 28:25-28)

So, what we are to see today is that this typical reaction from the Jews is not by accident. They rejected Christ, rejected the Gospel, rejected salvation by grace through faith, they rejected God ultimately. He had the way for them to be saved and they did not accept true righteousness.

Romans 11:11–16 (ESV)

11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

  1. Why Does Israel Stumble? (11-12)

11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
God is at work and many times His providence does make sense to us. Let’s notice the strategy of God…

Israel rejects God, Israel is hardened and made to stumble specifically when it comes to Jesus the Messiah. As Paul writes, this stumbling is not a falling that is irreversible. The NIV really captures Paul’s meaning well when it says have they fallen beyond recovery? Then Paul answers with his usual…by no means.

Next he explains the theological meaning of why Israel has rejected the Gospel of Christ. The Book of Acts shows us the specific incidents and now in Romans Paul explains why they rejected the offer and what amazing event happened next.

46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles…

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.

The Israelites reject the Gospel so that the Gentiles could hear it and be saved. Let’s look at it theologically…the lost Israelites reject God’s offer of salvation in order for the message to then go to Gentiles who were appointed to eternal life. When they hear it they rejoice and are saved.

Now as the Gentiles are given eternal life through Israel’s Messiah eventually the Israelites will become envious and also turn to Christ and be saved.

This is a most amazing display of grace. God would use lost Israel for the salvation of the elect Gentiles and then use the elect Gentiles in the salvation of elect Israel. This is something only God would come up with. This is an example of what may seem a round about way of doing something. In other words, this is probably not the way we would do it.

What is it exactly that the Jews will be jealous of? They will be jealous of at least two things: first, they will be jealous that Gentiles are enjoying Jewish blessings and promises. You see, all the promises are yes and amen in Christ. In other words the church, those saved by faith, are living in the wealth of all the promises God made to Israel. We are the inheritance and are celebrating the joy of being children of God saved by grace through faith. Second, they will be jealous that we are the children of Abraham not them. We are given all the blessings God had promised Abraham and his offspring.

So, Israel stumbles but doesn’t fall far enough that she can’t be recovered. In her stumbling Gentiles are brought into God’s kingdom. Her stumbling will lead to her restoration.

What I proposing is that we need to make another category in our thinking for God’s works of redemption because, quite frankly, none of it makes sense to us.

We look at the story of Joseph in Genesis. This too seems a round about way to save the Hebrews. Joseph is kidnapped and taken to Egypt where he was treated poorly for many years. Then through God’s providence he is raised to be vice president of Egypt. The famine hits, his brothers come and they are saved from the famine. This whole thing takes 20 plus years.

Why did God do it this way?

Genesis 50:20 (ESV)

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

We could look at other accounts as well including the most radical being the cross of Jesus. Why does God do things this way? All we can really say is He’s God and we are not. At the end of the day our response must be similar to Paul’s.

Romans 11:33–36 (ESV)

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34    “For who has known the mind of the Lord,

or who has been his counselor?”

35    “Or who has given a gift to him

that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

  1. Paul’s Motivation for Ministry and Ours (13-15)

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

We see the Apostle Paul is not in any way discouraged at this point. He understands better than anyone to ways of God and has hope that his kinsmen will one day come to Christ. He realizes how this will happen, namely, they will see the blessings God is pouring out on the Church and they will be envious and desire what the Church has.

So, his motivation to serve the Gentiles is that as they come to Christ so too will his kinsmen. He wants the Jews to be jealous of the Gentiles’ faith so he works all the harder that Gentiles hear the Gospel and are converted so that, in turn, his kinsmen will also come to faith in Christ.

14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.

The point the Gentile Christians must grasp is that he does this not just for their sakes, but in the hope that he might arouse his own people to jealousy.

Grace flows forward and backward here in our text. It flows away from the Jews and sweeps over the Gentiles then it flows back over the Israelites. Grace is never just meant for one group but is to save many from various ethnic people.

When that last Israelite is saved, then will come the resurrection from the dead. So, we see all this is God’s doing and is cause for us to rejoice.

Application

Consider the implications that God means to make Israel jealous by our Gentile salvation.

11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.

How can we advance this purpose of God?

I think one of the keys is to understand and make much of the fact that the Church the followers of Jesus Christ is the true Israel and that we Gentile Christians will inherit all the promises of Israel by faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We have to see this and make much of this, if our Jewish friends are ever (by grace) going to feel jealousy that we inherit their promises. The whole spirit of our interaction should be like the Father to the elder brother: Come on in to the party. You belong here!

Paul explains the Gentile inheritance of Israel’s promises…

Ephesians 2:11–13 (ESV)

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

By faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, we have become the true Jews (Romans 2:28-29). Galatians 3:7, “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (see Galatians 3:16).[1]

Are we finding joy in the Messiah to make Israel jealous? Are we living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit enough to make anyone jealous?

We can live full abundant lives and bear fruit for the glory of God and for the advancement of His kingdom in the entire world. As we do, the Jews and others will see our good deeds and begin to also glorify our Father in heaven.

 

 

 

* Resources Used

Teaching Romans by Christopher Ash

Romans by John MacArthur

Romans by John Stott

Romans by Steele and Thomas

Romans 11.11.16 John Piper

 

[1] John Piper

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