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The Mystery Of The Jews

(Mystery, in the Scriptures, denotes that which is only known through revelation to those taught by the Holy Spirit.)

The marked contrast between the first eight chapters of the epistle to the Romans, and of those which follow, must impress the careful reader of the Scriptures. What a delightful spiritual experience it must have been for Paul, as he traced in those eight chapters, as guided by the Holy Spirit, the great features of God's revelation of Himself in grace in this present dispensation ! The great truths of the gospel, justification in its several aspects, grace, righteousness and sanctification, have been fully expounded and the writer reaches a fitting climax in the triumphant language of chapter 8. 31-39, concluding with the words, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ?

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

In turning to chapter 9, in which he now deals with dispensational matters, particularly with regard to his own people, the Jews, we note the sudden change in his outlook.

"I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were anathema (which means, accursed) from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh " (verses 1-3).

The reason for this sorrow and pain is stated in verses 6, 7: "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are Abraham's seed, are they all children."

While Paul could recall, with thankfulness, Israel's glorious past, particularly those matters enumerated in verses 4, 5 "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law ... and the promises," etc., these benefits and advantages which they enjoyed under God, did not, of themselves, confer upon the people of Israel any lasting or eternal blessing.

The truth here stated is still further clarified in verse 8, where we read,

" It is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed."

The promise here referred to is the promise concerning Christ, the Redeemer, who should come through Isaac, "for in Isaac shall thy seed be called " (Genesis 21.12). Men in past ages were justified on the same ground as men are justified today, that is, on the principle of faith, for " the just (or righteous) shall live by faith," even as "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God," and the father of all such as followed in the same faith.

God, in His blessing of Abraham and multiplying of his seed, had a dual purpose in view, according to Genesis 22. 17,

"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea share."

So that Abraham had an earthly seed associated with earthly blessings, and also a spiritual and heavenly seed whose blessings through faith are eternal; for it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed.

>From this point the godly seed runs on through Isaac and Rebekah, and in the children that were born to them God made a choice, according to His purpose in election, by which He revealed to Rebekah before they were born, that the elder should serve the younger. This is contrary to nature, and some have charged God with unrighteousness on this account. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? No, there is no unrighteousness with God, for while He said before Jacob and Esau were born, that the elder should serve the younger, it was hundreds of years after they were dead, that He further said, "Jacob I loved but Esau I hated." No scope for any such objection is possible here. Their father is one, and their mother is one, and before they have done good or evil the divine choice is announced to Rebekah. Only be it ever remembered that whilst the choice was of God, ere the children had come to the birth, yet the word "hated" is a quotation not from the scripture in Genesis, but from Malachi. That is to say, we read of the hatred after the children have lived and died, and after the natural wickedness of the heart of one, unchecked by divine grace as in the other, had developed into a sinful course of life.

"So then He hath mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth" (Romans 9.18).

Even so today there is an election according to grace, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles, and out of all the nation of Israel, even if the number of them be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that shall be saved. The reason for this is stated in verses 30-33. The Gentiles attained unto God's righteousness because they sought it by faith, but Israel did not arrive at that law, the law of righteousness, because they sought it not by faith, but by works.

Through Israel's failure and unbelief, salvation is come to the Gentiles, and the writer illustrates and amplifies the matters he is here expounding under the figure of two olive trees, a good olive tree, which is Israel, and a wild olive tree, which is the Gentiles. A complete change has taken place in God's dealings with the world, through the death of Christ on Calvary's cross. He is the Stone of stumbling on which Israel fell, but through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles, and through the casting away of Israel their fall is the reconciling of the world. This is not the reconciling of individual believers, but the reconciling of the world by the casting away of Israel. God is now dealing with the world on the broad platform of sinnership, having concluded all under sin that He might have mercy on all. The branches were not cut off; they were broken off in judgement, and branches from the wild olive were grafted in to partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree. The broken-off branches were the unbelievers of Israel, and the branches which remained were believers in Christ, a remnant according to the election of grace. So that believers both Jews and Gentiles who are in the good olive tree, draw their spiritual nourishment from the word of God given through the fathers, the great progenitors of the nation of Israel. Thus we who are Gentiles become partakers of the root and fatness of the good olive tree, consequently as Gentiles we have nothing to glory in, more particularly as we claim by faith spiritual descent from the fathers of Israel.

"For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." (Romans 11.25).

But this hardening through unbelief, and also the veil that lieth upon their heart, shall be taken away when they turn to the Lord. In that glad day when as Son of Man the Lord comes for their deliverance they will say, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Isaiah 25.9).