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Yellow Balloons Devotional Series: Advent

Romans 11:9-12

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.


In chapter 11, Paul explains that God has not abandoned nor rejected Israel. God will keep His promises to His people. For now, God has set aside a remnant of faithful believers, including Paul himself. Even so, Israel has broken fellowship with God and has stumbled against Christ’s gospel of grace. This has allowed the Gentiles to come to faith in Christ, being like wild olive branches grafted into a tree, where unbelieving branches were broken off to make room for them. In light of this, Paul warns his Roman readers not to become haughty toward the Israelites. God will punish those who are proud. God will also restore Israel to Him, He will keep His covenant promises. The mercy of God is unfathomable.


Israel has not been cast aside forever. They have sinned, but through their sin God is ushering the Gentiles into salvation. In part, God has done this to make the Israelites jealous, so they would remember their need for Him. Even so, God has worked Israel’s transgression to richly benefit the Gentiles, and He will work to restore Israel to Himself. Imagine how much greater that restoration will be. God’s sovereignty works the sin of man into blessings for the world and for Israel.

 

Paul quotes one of King David’s psalms (69) against his enemies to liken them to Israel’s enmity toward God (through rebellion in constructing their own righteousness). Let their table become a snare and a trapAnd a stumbling block and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened to see notAnd bend their backs foreverThe stumbling block (which in this context is Christ, Romans 9:33) is not there for Israel’s destruction. God has allowed Israel to be blind to Jesus. He has allowed them to follow the law (which cannot save anyone) and reject the author of the law, and the person whom the law was intended to reflect: Jesus.

 

Paul clearly explains that the Jews are in a state of rebellion, but this does not mean it will last forever, they did not stumble so as to fall. By their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, both to provide salvation to all people, and to provoke Israel to desire reconciliation with God (to make them jealous). But, Paul says, since this transgression is bringing riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles (salvation for the Gentiles), and since God is not finished with Israel, we should take comfort in how much better the restoration of Israel will be when the Israelites finally return to God. How much more will their fulfillment be! When Israel is restored, it’s going to be greater than it was before. God has not rejected Israel, and He has rich plans for it, all in His sovereign design (Romans 8:28).

 

Biblical Text

9 And David says,

“Let their table become a snare and a trap,

And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.

10 “Let their eyes be darkened to see not,

And bend their backs forever.”

11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!