Though I heard him 15 years ago, I cannot forget
what Kevin said. He grew up in a Jewish home and said the prayers of
his Christian friends shocked him. He said, "They prayed as if God was
really listening." Despite his zeal for God, he found himself jealous
When a romance gets rocky, the oldest ploy in the book is to let the disgruntled lover see his or her love arm-in-arm with another. Few things can kindle a flame like jealousy among lovers. In college an old high-school friend named Stacy looked me up, asking if I wanted to go to a hockey game with her. In high-school I had been attracted to her but had maintained a tame friendship because she had a boyfriend. When the phone call came in college, I jumped at the opportunity. Quite by "coincidence" of course, we found ourselves at the hockey game, arm-in-arm on an obvious date when, who should walk by us? Surprise, surprise. There with his friends was her recently disgruntled boyfriend. As it turns out, I was able to help an old friend. They got back together immediately following my supposed "date."
A STUMBLING LOVER
I find it amusing that God used such a ploy with His chosen and beloved Israel. In Romans chapters one through eight, Paul taught the foundational truths of Kingdom citizenship. In the process, he rejected the Israeli Law as an avenue for righteousness, so Paul realized he had given the impression of rejecting Israel, the chosen people of God. So in chapter nine, Paul clarified his sincere love for the Israeli people. In Romans 9:32, he then said most of Israel had "stumbled." But as Romans chapter ten opened, Paul did not condemn them for stumbling anymore than you or I would condemn a man who literally stumbled on the sidewalk in front of us. We do not despise a stumbling man. Rather, we pity him, and if he has fallen we try to help him. Like chapter nine opened with a profession of love, so does chapter ten open with another profession of love for Stumbling Israel. So we are not surprised to find Paul opened chapter eleven too with yet another declaration of God's love for stumbling Israel!
THE PLOY OF JEALOUSY
Kevin then appeared in Romans 11:13-14 when Paul said, "Because I am an apostle to the gentiles, I magnify my ministry in the hope that I can make my people jealous and save some of them." Recall that when Kevin heard gentiles praying "as if God was listening," jealousy began leading him toward their King Jesus.
Kevin is now part of the remnant Paul described in Romans 9:27 and 11:1-5. The remnant are the few Israelis who believe in King Jesus unlike the majority who stumble. Paul was part of the remnant, and so are the few Jews who continue to enter the Kingdom through the King today.
FATE OF STUMBLERS
Finally, good news arrived for the pitied man who stumbled on the sidewalk in front of us. After opening three straight chapters with professions of love for Israel, Paul said in Romans 11:11, "And so I ask, 'They have not stumbled so as to fall, have they?' Of course not!" Paul then lectured Christians in 11:17-24 not to despise stumbling Israel, concluding with an explanation of how Israel's stumbling would not end in a fall. He said in paraphrase:
11:25 The partial hardening of stumbling Israel is temporary. It will end once the full number of the Gentiles has entered God's kingdom.
11:26-27 Then all of Israel will be rescued as prophesied in Isaiah 59:20.
11:28 From the perspective of the good news of King Jesus, Stumbling Israel is His enemy; which is to say that they rejected the King. They are enemies for your sake which is to say they rejected the King so He could die for you. From the perspective of God's "choosing" however, Stumbling Israel is still beloved for the sake of their chosen ancestors...
11:29 because God's gifts and His calling never change.
God's patience toward Stumbling Israel had two purposes. First, He patiently refrained from destroying them so they could reject Jesus for our benefit. Second, He patiently kept from destroying them so that when the number of Kingdom-Gentiles is complete, He can bring the final remnant of stumbling Israel into His kingdom too (Rom11:31). God still loves Stumbling Israel for the sake of their ancestors (Rom11:28). For thousands of years, He has patiently loved the descendants in dispersion throughout the world because He chose Jacob and because "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable."(Rom11:29 nasb)
Therefore, let us love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength so that some of those Stumbling will be moved like Kevin by jealousy (Rom 10:19; 11:11,14) toward King Jesus into this blessed Kingdom.
"Jealous Lovers" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on April 13th, 2013. All rights are reserved.