Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Natural Branches

God makes it clear that He has not rejected the natural branches forever. God’s election is sure: “the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance.”[1] Ephesians 1:4 tells us that “He chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundations of the earth.” God predestines on the basis of foreknowledge. He is not a captive of time; He looked into all of human history and chose those who would choose Him. God chose the descendants of Israel to be a nation of people that He would work through. Even though He has not chosen every individual person of that natural nation, He has not forgotten them as a people. In Jeremiah 31:37 God says, “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all of the descendants of Israel…” [2]. Had he rejected them forever, their destiny would have been the same as other nations that He has obliterated forever. Malachi 1:2-5 recounts that God hated Esau and that his descendants would always be under God’s wrath. This was because Esau had no faith and was willing to sell his inheritance to satisfy his flesh. Perhaps Esau’s descendants were cursed in that each one individually would follow in the paths of their patriarch and reject God. Historical evidence proves that nations like Edom (Esau) have been wiped from the face of the earth. But, miraculously, Israel has survived as a nation for three thousand years. God has preserved them through conquest exile and holocaust and has returned them to their promised soil in these the last days.

Many eschatologists (those who study the future as it concerns the end of this age) claim that the next major event on Gods calendar is the rapture of the church. I do not believe this to be the case. For over nineteen centuries, the church consistently taught that Christ would come for his church at the end of the Great Tribulation. A comparison of 1 Thessalonians 4 and Revelation 20 would confirm this view. In Revelation 20, Tribulation saints are included in the “first resurrection”, i.e., the rapture. Moreover, this is consistent with God’s character. Scripture repeatedly refers to one church, one bride and one new man from Jew and Gentile.[3] Jesus is not a polygamist. He will not celebrate His wedding feast in heaven while part of His church is being martyred on earth! Romans chapter 11 refers to God’s plan to graft the natural branches, natural born Jews, back into The Vine. This later day ingathering of Jews to Christ is the next major event on God’s eschatological calendar. We are beginning to see this occur to a small degree evidenced by the birth of such messianic organizations as Jews for Jesus. God will draw the Jews back to Himself in mass. Romans 11:15 refers to this phenomenon as resulting in the “resurrection from the dead…” This verse most obviously refers to the great resurrection when Christ will gather His church unto Himself and thus the in-grafting of the natural branches would precede the rapture.

 

Romans chapter 9 makes it clear that not all natural born Jews are the inheritors of the covenants and promises of God, but that the spiritual descendants of Abraham, those who have inherited the promises by faith and have been born of the Holy Spirit, are true Israel. In speaking of the natural children, the Jews, Paul writes that theirs is the divine glory (Ro. 9:4). God chose to reveal Himself to Israel and to establish His literal earthly kingdom through them as a prophetic representation of the Kingdom to come. The Divine Glory is the revelation of Gods nature and person. So in this text Paul is reminding us that the natural Israelites had experienced the physical manifest presence of God. Moses, Joshua and others met God face to face. A pillar of fire and smoke guided the nation of Israel. God parted the Red Sea and the Jordan for them. He miraculously delivered them from their enemies on many occasions. On several occasions, God literally answered their prayers with fire from heaven. God literally stopped the rotation of the earth for Israel. They saw the power of God. Their descendants have been taught about the mighty supernatural saving acts of God on behalf of His people. When they see God moving like this on behalf of His people today, it will get their attention.

Many in the church believe in and attest to the miraculous power of God today, but many either do not believe or do not expect God to do the miraculous today. Perhaps that is why we do not see God’s manifest presence to the extent that it would capture the attention of the world and the Jews in particular.

Romans 11 makes it clear that God will draw the Jews back to Himself by causing them to envy what we as Christians have, that is a relationship with the one True God. But, how will they recognize that we have this relationship? The key is the manifest presence of God in our midst, which will produce fruit in us that the Jews will recognize as being from God. Modern Judaism has placed more credence upon this world and good deeds than correct theology. The natural branches will be able to recognize The Vine when they see Him in our midst. We must begin to look and act like Him.


[1] Romans 11:29. KJV.

[2] Jeremiah 31:37,NIV.

[3] Ephesians 2:15 NIV.