The Irrevocable Promise…

When you were a child, did you ever make a promise?  Did you say, “If you do this or that, I promise to repay you”?  Maybe you said to your parents, “I promise to clean my room”, even though it was just because you wanted to go out with your friends.

This habit typically continues in our adult life as well.  We promise our bosses to do better, when they say we aren’t doing a good job.  We make promises to God in fear that He might discipline us so harshly that we may not be able to handle it.

The human condition is one that protects itself from danger.  It is a condition that we inherit from our parents.  In fact, if you watch how children interact, you will find out that as soon as they are able to communicate in sentences, they will say, “I promise….PLEASE” for almost everything just to get what they want. So how does God feel about promises?  Does God promise us things just for His wants?

Romans 11:25-32 speak about promises that God made that are considered irrevocable.  This basically means that no matter what people think or what they do, these promises do not and will not change.  Here is the passage:

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

‘The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
 And this is my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.’

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.  Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

Why would Paul write to the church in Rome about Israel?  At that time, the Gentile believers were being inundated with various teachings.  One of those teachings was about circumcision.  There was a group of Jewish believers that taught circumcision was required for salvation.  Another group taught that the time of the Jews salvation was over and only Gentiles could be saved.  Yet another group taught to follow the teachers rather than the Scriptures.  All of this caused confusion and tension between various believers.

Paul was not only taught by Gamaliel (still considered to be the wisest of all rabbis), but was also a Roman citizen.  Paul had gone to Rome to spread the Gospel.  As Paul understood Roman law as well as the Mosaic laws, he was in the best position settle this argument.

He starts out by mentioning that no one should be ignorant on this subject.  Everyone needs to understand what he was about to teach.  Paul wanted to ensure all people had a clear, cut understanding of the position of both Israelites and Gentiles.

Israel has been hardened to the Gospel “for a time”, not forever.  One day, Israel will recognize her Messiah and return to Him.  When will this happen?  After the last Gentile becomes a believer.

“Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” – Romans 11:26a

There will come a time when Gentiles will no longer become believers.  Only God knows how many and we must recognize that our time is short.  Therefore, it is essential for all of us to share Christ with those who haven’t heard yet.  We know from Scripture that there will be representation from “every nation and language”and that the number of those people cannot be counted by man.  However, there are a specific number of Gentiles that will be saved.  Once that occurs, Israel’s eyes will be cleared and she will understand who her Messiah really is.

What I found interesting in this passage was the fact Paul says, “…for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable”.  WHAT A PROMISE!  No matter what we think or do, God’s gifts cannot be returned, destroyed or forgotten.  They are irrevocable!  But it gets even better.

Paul explains that God allows the evil in this world to happen because He desires to show His mercy.  “Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their (Israel’s) disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.  For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy n them all.”

When we sin, we prove this Scripture over and over again.  Is this to say we should continue in sin?  Absolutely not!  In fact, understanding this and taking it to heart should draw us closer to the Scripture and away from sin.  In fact, when we see the sin happening around the world, we should rejoice because God is showing His mercy by not annihilating everyone of us.

One day Israel will recognize who their Savior is and we as Gentiles should not think of ourselves any more highly than them.  We should desire to share the Gospel with those of Abraham’s decent as to complete the task we have been given…to share the Gospel with everyone.

Remember, God’s promises are irrevocable.  They can never be changed.  God bless and encourage someone today.

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6 thoughts on “The Irrevocable Promise…

  1. Pingback: God Disciplines with Mercy « The Daily Bible Plan

  2. No worries Tony…I must admit that at first I was a bit upset but only because the first statement you made appeared to be the basis of what you thought I believe. However, as we have both agreed, this is not true.

    I agree, in part, with what you said. I do believe that the destruction in 70 A.D was the most significant but I also feel that it wasn’t final. Christ never said he was done with Israel. In fact, he continued to call Jews to Himself after the resurrection through the disciples.

    Where I believe we disagree is a simple matter of what is spiritual and what is physical. Do I believe that all Jews will be saved? Not if they don’t believe through faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. That is the requirement for salvation.

    I won’t argue history as it has been clearly written already, however, the interpretation of history I must argue. Here is what I mean…

    When I went to a Pentecostal church, they told me I couldn’t be a Christian unless I spoke in tongues, as they believe that is evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Why would they say that? They knew and understood the Scriptures just like you and I, however, it was the understanding of spiritual theology they had confused. This is not all Pentecostal churches just this one. Yet, growing up we were taught that the gift of tongues was eliminated at the close of the Scripture. We were taught that there was no need for them and Scripture was only referencing this to allow us to understand the spiritual aspects of how the Holy Spirit works.

    This lead me to do a study on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I know this is a separate topic but this is my point…. When we look at the gifts in Scripture alone, we see that no where does it say that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for a time and then they will go away. Neither do we see that the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the evidence of Christ working in our lives. What we see is that God allows certain gifts to be exhibited for a specific reason, to lead others to Christ. Personally, I have witnessed the gifts being used by believers and watching how others respond to Christ positively.

    Now, if the this portion of Scripture is only spiritual, then the gifts are of no significance as they only teach the concept of how the Holy Spirit works. However, this does not lead anyone to Christ, it then would be just for the believers as a guide book. On the other hand, if the gifts are both spiritual and physical, then they can and will be used, both as a guide as well as a testimony to Christ being real. Both the physical and spiritual must be taken into consideration.

    When we look at Romans, we must do the same. If we take Israel as simply a spiritual nation, then you would be correct, but then there would be no need for Paul to state that eventually Israel would turn back to Christ and be saved. If Israel is just physical, then we end up with a conclusion that is directly opposite of what Scripture teaches about salvation. Israel is both physical and spiritual here.

    Physical in the sense that Israel will one day repent of her sins and return to God. Spiritual in the sense that we are a part of that nation because we are grafted in by Christ. Christ is the root, but we are grafted in.

    In any case, we can simply continue to study and agree to disagree here. Again, no worries, all is good, my brother…

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  3. I agree, Joey! The distinction between physical and spiritual is the essence of this particular view. However, in this particular context, isn’t Paul referring to the spiritual when he is speaking of the elect Jews being grafted in to the tree, who’s root is Christ? After all “in regards to ELECTION they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.” Election, not all Jewish people. And therefore “all Israel”, Jew and Gentile, will be saved. All of a sudden, the church in Rome did get concieted by thinking they were better than the Jewish people. This is the thrust of Paul’s letter: to remind them that salvation is through faith alone. The 1st century Jew’s lineage to Abraham will only be of use to him if he has “the faith of Abraham” which is in Christ, ‘but he WILL in fact be saved based on that faith, Romans, so don’t think your any better than Jews, since salvation is not earned’.

    In regards to repeated destructions, no, not all of the articles were destroyed. This is purposely and providentially pointed out in 2 Kings 25. The great majority of Jews were exiled, not killed. Even Jehoiachin was spared his life and dined with the babylonian king. All the temple articles were preserved and returned to Jerusalem during the release of Persia. So it was never a COMPLETE destruction of Israel. But in Luke 21, when Jesus specified what he means by “abomination that makes desolate” spoken in Daniel (parallel to Matthew 24), he spoke of Roman armies coming from the North and that “these are the days of vengeance”. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was predicted well before Christ spoke of it again in the Olivet discourse. Israel was told over and over again throughout the Old Testament to repent or they will be totally destroyed. They were warned by prophets repeatedly and even sent into exile and then returned. They were given chance after chance after chance until finally, through Isaiah, in chapter 65, he says He is DONE! This is the main point of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem in Matthew 23. He would have gathered them, but they wouldn’t have it. Now they will become desolate unless they recognize Him as Savior. God is a spirit, an those who worship God will worship Him in spirit and truth, not in a temple (John 4:20-24). Because Jesus has died and risen, there is no more need for the temple. What priests had to do over and over again, Jesus completed for all eternity (refer to Hebrews 7). Now we offer sacrifices of praise directly to God and Christ reigns with us through His Holy Spirit. The TOTAL destruction of Jerusalem was historically significant in redemption and providentially necessary, as judgement was passed to unbelieving Jews through the salvation of the Gentiles and the end of the sacrificial system (see Daniel 9:27 – Jesus quotes this verse in Matthew 24 and it is interpreted as “Roman armies” in Luke 21 while Daniel sees this as the “end to sacrifice and offering”). This marked the end of the Old Testament age and the beginning of the church.

    I also wanted to point out that I meant no personal attack on you. I am FULLY confident that you have a true desire to search the Scriptures, as demonstrated by your questioning of the rapture. Love you, brother. I just hope that my input provokes you to search Scripture more an more, as you do for me! 🙂

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  4. You would be correct in stating that we probably won’t agree here, but it has ZERO to do with my upbringing. In past blogs and in personal conversations, I have expressed that I believe no one except if they agree with Scripture.

    Romans is a letter by Paul dealing with many different subject matters, but mainly salvation. The difference that we have is simply which is physical and which is spiritual. In the entirety of Scripture, we see examples of actual physical events and actual spiritual events.

    When we think of ourselves as Israel in both a physical and spiritual sense, other Scriptures must then meet that standard. As Paul stated, Gentiles are grafted into Israel. We are adopted by the grace of God. We are not part of the natural born Israelites. This is stated in many ways throughout Paul’s letters.

    The problem here with the typical reform thinking is how to justify Paul’s statement, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery. brothers, so that you may not be conceited…” If Paul felt that Israel was not to be saved in a physical sense, then why would he warn the Roman believers not to be conceited? Why would Paul make such clear statements regarding the nation?

    I have heard others (historians) state that all the genealogies were destroyed regarding Israel. However, wasn’t the temple destroyed and all the articles with it several times in the Old Testament? Wasn’t it Elijah who thought he was the only believer left? Yet throughout all this, God provided a way to bring His remnant back.

    If we feel that Israel is done with simply because of destroyed genealogies, then we also must also take every ounce of Scripture regarding Israel, spiritualize it and then see it through that light. Unfortunately, when we over spiritualize every verse, our minds tend to wander and due to this wandering we think that God has limits and cannot do the impossible.

    Personally, I believe Romans has both physical and spiritual references regarding Israel. As stated earlier, we have been grafted (not born) into Israel. Therefore, there must be both spiritual and physical aspects to this letter. This has nothing to do with Israeli politics. It has to do with their vision (or lack thereof). We don’t have to agree, but please understand that my upbringing has NOTHING to do with my beliefs. I study EVERYTHING that others claim to be in Scripture otherwise I do not comment.

    You are and always will be my brother. God bless.

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  5. Btw, the beginning of chapter 11 further explains the reformed view that I expressed, particularly verses 5 and 7. Also, Paul further intimates that “there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile” in 10:12. I would encourage you to carefully exegete every text you use. When it comes down to it, both of us know that God’s promises WILL come true, even of we disagree on what that promise will ultimately look like. I just hope this view will not aide as a distraction to 21st century Israeli politics because it has nothing to do with it. WE are Israel, and ALL Israel WILL be saved! Jesus reigns NOW “until His enemies are made a footstool under His feet” (the end of the age!)!!!

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  6. Be careful with this, Joey!! Your exegesis on this text is dangerously off and it’s because of you’re dispensational up-bringing. Early in that letter, in chapter 4, Paul has already specified that Israel includes anyone who has the faith of Abraham, Jew or Gentile! When this is considered, it changes the hermeneutics of chapter 11. The elect of the Jews will be saved on accordance with the promise to their forefathers that a remnant will be saved. These Jews, along with the Gentiles who continue to be converted today, will be “all Israel”. You must remember that historically, when Paul referred to Jews, it was important that these Jewish people be able to trace their geneologies to Abraham. The priesthood had to be performed by the Levitical line. In 70 AD, all the geneologies were destroyed, the Levitical line was killed and cut off, and the remaining Jews were killed and dispersed. There is only one genealogy that survived: the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 1!!!(How awesome is THAT providence????) According to Paul in chapter 4 of Romans, WE are Israel. Remember that the promise of Abraham was that he would be the father of MANY nations! According to Old Testament law, Paul would say that that there are NO living Jews existing today because no one can trace their lineage to Abraham. Only Jesus can. But because the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us by faith, we recieve the promises to Abraham as his heir through Christ. In the end, ALL Israel, Jew and gentile, will be saved!

    Furthermore, since the Levitical line has been broken, it will be impossible for Israel to reestablish the sacrificial system according to scripture, even if they build a temple, since only Levites can serve the office of priest. But according to 1 Peter 2, WE are priests now!

    Before you assume that physical Jews will all be saved, take consideration that Paul repeatedly says that a Jew’s ethnicity will not save them unless they have faith in Christ, just like us!

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