Romans 11:11-12- “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” NKJV
In Romans chapters 9 through 11, we have been looking at the state of Israel in relationship to their belief in Jesus as Messiah. In chapter 9 we saw that Paul was in distress over their rejection of the Messiah as a whole; making it perfectly clear, that being born an Israelite did not make you a part of the chosen people of God. As a matter of fact, Paul spoke of God’s choice of Isaac over Ishmael and of Jacob over Esau! In each situation, both men were physically born an Israelite, but God had plans for a chosen people through Isaac and later through Jacob.
In chapter 10, Paul wrote that the Israelites were so intent on ignoring the righteousness of God that they sought to establish their own righteousness. Yet, Paul made the point that it was not possible to become righteous outside of faith in Jesus. And in order to believe in the Savior you had to hear about Him; and you couldn’t hear about Him without a preacher who was sent. And if you didn’t have a preacher who was sent, it really posed a problem, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Preachers need to preach the word of God for people to believe and get saved! Shouldn’t we know this?
It is said in a commentary that chapter nine refers to Israel’s past, chapter 10 referred to their present condition at the time of the writing, and chapter 11 refers to their future, where Paul has another question to pose:
The next question is, “Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?” And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God’s kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!Romans 11:11-12 MSG
I like the way it is stated in the Message Bible. Are they down for the count? Paul makes it clear that the nation of Israel has not been totally counted out of the plan of salvation. After all, God made a forever promise to Abraham and His descendants. Paul even believed that although he was assigned to the Gentiles, he would in fact be used to provoke the Jews to jealousy!
For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.Romans 11:13-14 NKJV
Paul begins a lesson on pruning an olive tree. Since agriculture is not my thing, I’ll just simplify this for myself and others like me. Paul speaks of two olives trees, one is cultivated and represented the Jews, while the other is a wild olive tree representing the Gentiles.
If the first portion [of dough offered as the first fruits] is holy, so is the whole batch; and if the root (Abraham, the patriarchs) is holy, so are the branches (the Israelites). But if some of the branches were broken off, and you [Gentiles], being like a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them to share with them the rich root of the olive tree, do not boast over the [broken] branches and exalt yourself at their expense. If you do boast and feel superior, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root that supports you.Romans 11:16-18 AMP
Sometimes I need another version. In the Amplified Bible it speaks of the root of the olive tree being Abraham and the patriarchs; and since they are holy, so are the Israelites. But some of them were cutoff because of their unbelief, causing the Gentiles (the wild olive tree) to be grafted in. Zechariah also mentions two olive trees:
And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side [supplying it continuously with oil].”Zechariah 4:3 -AMP
Zechariah’s olive trees were releasing a continuous flow of oil into the candlestick. I believe these two olives trees also represent the Jews and the Gentiles collectively fulfilling the vision of God, becoming one. That was free!
Scientifically speaking, one commentator spoke of the wild olive tree branches being grafted into a cultivated tree that was no longer producing fruit to bring life and production back to it. Spiritually, the Jews rejected Jesus, and He found a “people who were not a people” to become His people, the Gentiles. But He still has a plan for their salvation.
Paul warned that this was no reason for rejoicing and pointing a finger at the Jews, criticizing and judging them, thinking that they have been cast off from God forever. It simply wasn’t true and the Gentiles needed to remember, but for grace!
The bottom line, Paul explains, is that in the end, when the Jews received Jesus as the Messiah, they will be welcomed back into the tree, that they too can produce good fruit! Now for those of us who are living thousands of years after Paul wrote this, we may be thinking that it won’t happen! Or that it will take a miracle! Well, our salvation was miraculous, so why wouldn’t the salvation of Israel be miraculous? God can do just what He said He would do!
Paul calls this situation a mystery:
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…Romans 11:25 NKJV
But the mystery, Paul states is quite simple:
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.Romans 11:28-31 NKJV
Paul is clear on this thing: Israel was disobedient to the word of God that the rest of the world could be saved, but His gifts and calling of the Israelites as His own special people was irrevocable. God had a plan for the whole world from the beginning. Jesus came because He loved the whole world! His plan isn’t off track! He wasn’t surprised by anything! But with the foresight of a loving Father, things fell into place that we might all have access to His wondrous salvation! But don’t be fooled, Israel still holds a special place in the heart of God! Wonderful Jesus!