Series: Family Privilege
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Don Pate
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Vanessa Rivera
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 11:1-36 in The Message (MSG).
Reflect: We still hover near the first two verses of Romans 11. The implications are enormous. “Does this mean, then, that God is so fed up with Israel that He’ll have nothing more to do with them? Hardly.” (Remember the old King James is a lot closer to profanity as Paul seems to blurt out the words “God forbid!”)
I’m not sure any of us can fully appreciate what Paul is claiming here without a larger context. I’d suggest Hebrews 6:13 and the context from which that passage is drawn in Genesis 15:8-18. It’s a strange juncture but one that has eternal significance.
Hebrews 6 says that God made a promise to Abraham and He took an oath regarding that promise, an oath that He could never break or else. . . . Or else what? “He swore upon Himself ” is the Old King James translation and that seems to have even more power than The Message rendering.
I love how The Message says, “When God made His promise to Abraham, He backed it to the hilt,” but the implication in this version goes on to imply that “to the hilt” only deals with God’s reputation. When you read this passage in other versions they give a much more demanding context. They connect it to the next few verses (Hebrews 6:14-18) and read it in the light of Genesis 15. It seems to be more than “putting His own reputation on the line.” God made a promise that was backed up by His very existence!
Basically that verse in Hebrews (out of the context of Genesis 15) reads, “If I ever break a promise I will destroy Myself and all that is!” Is this really saying that if God were ever to fail to keep His word He’d become the ultimate black hole and swallow up all of existence, Himself included? Can my puny brain even scratch the surface of such an idea?
Bathe yourself in that for a moment! Re-read it until the magnitude takes your breath away.
The One who puts His very existence on the line will always be faithful to His word or else. Or else this whole universe implodes. Astounding.
In the light of that concept, reconsider the beginning of our Romans 11 passage. “Does this mean, then, that God is so fed up with Israel that He’ll have nothing more to do with them? Hardly.” God forbid! I guess!
Recalibrate: The claim is that God would destroy Himself if He ever failed in a promise. Do you accept that claim? Can we even imagine the implications of God’s failure?
Respond: Oh Lord, forgive us for the times we have minimized your singular faithfulness or have called it into question. We repent for this blasphemy.
Research: I’d invite you to slowly read the Genesis 15:8-18 passage with a new understanding as to what is being implied by “utter darkness” and the destruction of the critters. It tells us of the One who cannot lie!
Remember: “So I ask, has God abandoned His people? Certainly not!” (Romans 11:1, KNT).
Don Pate is a veteran of ministry, including teaching (seventh grade through college), pastoring, publishing, and radio/television ministry. Now officially retired, he still remains engaged in creative ministry—teaching and preaching nearly every weekend somewhere. But he mostly is increasingly astonished at the generosity of Christ that has allowed him to continue to be the most unworthy servant of the Kingdom.
In Romans 11:11, Paul say, “So I ask: When the Jews fell, did that fall destroy them? No!” When your child first learned how to walk, did they fall? They probably fell a lot. But did those falls destroy them? Absolutely not! Try something new with your child today. Try a sport, a craft, riding a tricycle, anything new! Chances are, they might not get it right the first time. Even adults hardly ever get anything right the first time! Remind your child that falling down or making mistakes isn’t the end of the world—it just means we’re still learning. The Jews still had a lot to learn about God. Paul was able to teach them from their failure. We can learn from our failure too.
Have you ever shared something by accident? Maybe you spilled your bowl of cereal on the floor and your dog got to have a special snack that day too! Paul tells us that the Jews “spilled their cereal” and that by doing that, other people who didn’t have any cereal (like your dog) got to have some! The Jews were given special stories about God and His love for them and they accidentally shared it with people who didn’t have special stories. Sharing is good even if it’s accidental. Today, can you try sharing on purpose? At the end of the day, talk with your family about the things you shared and how it made you feel to share.
Yesterday, we explained the process of grafting. So, let’s recap what was going on between the Gentiles and the Jews. Gentiles (non-Jews) were getting the same privileges the Jews had by virtue of being God’s chosen people. Paul continues with the grafting illustration by stating that the Gentiles—those who aren’t Jews—are wild olive trees that have been grafted onto a pruned tree, one that has been trimmed to produce good fruit. Typically, a wild plant would not be grafted onto a pruned tree. It would go against the whole point of grafting, which is to strengthen the tree. Adding a wild plant to a pruned tree wouldn’t make it stronger. When we are rooted in Jesus, we bear good fruit. This text reminds us that we aren’t the ones feeding the root—the root is feeding us. If we’ve been able to develop strong spiritual roots, it’s all because we have our strong roots in Jesus.