The Mystery of the Wild Olive Shoot (Lent 31-2013)

When I was a kid, I loved reading Nancy Drew Mysteries.  There was something inspiring about the near perfection of Nancy Drew.  Smart, pretty, adventurous! She was one of my childhood role models…and all the books had a happy ending.

I like happy endings.

The Mystery of the Wild Olive Shoot that is being investigated by Paul in Romans 11:12-32 also has a happy ending. 

Very Old Olive Tree at GethsemaneAll Israel will be saved.  Gentiles receive mercy and God has mercy on us all.  And yet, like a good mystery, the evildoers get caught, and justice is served.

There are many things in today’s passage that are easily misunderstood.  Reading the words apart from the flow of the Letter to the Romans, one could develop some pretty unorthodox theology!

No matter how hard Paul’s writings are to understand, the truth is that God isn’t saving everyone, not even every national Jew.  There is no universal quick-fix for mankind’s sin that suddenly makes us all adorable to God.  God isn’t replacing Jews with Gentiles, or Israel with the Church.  God doesn’t whitewash disobedience or act like sin and rebellion don’t matter.  And God doesn’t go back on His Word.

The truth being affirmed throughout Romans is that all humanity is under the same curse.  We’re all sinners.  We all need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Sin and disobedience get punished in the end.  Faith and obedience are celebrated.  God is victorious and merciful.  God-lovers are saved and God-haters aren’t.  And, God honors His promises.

The mystery is how God works it all out.  You see, the happy ending is from God’s perspective, not from ours across the board.

For those who disobeyed and were therefore cut off from fellowship with God, deciding never to humble themselves or return, it’s not a happy ending.  It’s justice.

For those who disobeyed, repented and were grafted into the Kingdom as Gentiles, or back into the spiritual Israel, it’s a happy ending only because Jesus experienced the punishment we should have received.

Has your disobedience or rebellion cut you off from God who loves you? 

It’s not too late to repent and be grafted back in.

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Give it up for Lent: Believing that God doesn’t care how you live

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 For further study:

  1.  What does it mean that “all Israel will be saved?”  Read Psalms 95-96.  In what ways do worship and obedience go hand in hand?
  2. Read John 15:9-17.  In what ways are love, faith, and obedience necessary to a happy ending?
  3. What will we see when all Israel is saved in regard worship, love, faith, and obedience?  What does it mean to be grafted back in?

Categories Articles and Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 20, 2013

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