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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Why The Jew Is Important To You? - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Why The Jew Is Important To You? - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Why The Jew Is Important To You? - Part 1
TOPICS: Grace-Powered Living, Jews, Israel

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The Old Testament is filled with detailed prophecies about the coming of Messiah. And yet when Jesus finally arrived, the majority of Jews failed to receive him as their king. Today, I'm going to explain that even though God's chosen people initially rejected Jesus, his plans for Israel aren't over yet. In fact, their future salvation should impact your life right now. My message is titled "Why The Jew Is Important To You" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

A.W. Tozer once wrote, "What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you". Now, Tozer wasn't saying God is the sum of all of our speculations about him, what he was saying is what you think about God determines how you relate to God, whether your thoughts are correct or incorrect. For example, do you view God as a loving Heavenly Father who is looking for every opportunity possible to bless you or do you see God as an angry ogre in heaven looking for a chance to smack you over the head with a two-by-four the moment you get out of line? Your answer to that determines the level of intimacy you have with God. Or what about the power of God? Do you see God as an omnipotent, all-powerful Creator who is able to do the impossible even in your impossible situation? Or do you tend to see God as kind of like a benevolent old grandfather up in heaven, kind of drools at the mouth a little bit? He'd love to help you in your problems. He really wishes he could help, but he's impotent to do so.

Your answer to that question certainly affects your prayer life and how you pray. But here's a bottom line question. Do you believe that God is faithful, that he can be trusted to keep his promises? Or do you picture God to be as fickle and half-hearted and subject to change as you and I are subject to change? That's really the bottom line question of life when you think about it. I mean, although God has promised to redeem your soul from hell on the basis of faith in Christ, even though he's promised to redeem your body one day as we just sang and give you a resurrection body, even though he has promised that he will more than compensate for anything that you sacrifice in this life in the next life in eternity, even though he's promised he will never leave you nor will he forsake you, can you really trust him to follow through on that promise?

You see, it's that question that is at the heart of Romans nine through 11. At first, the subject of Jewish salvation, the salvation of Israel, we think that is totally irrelevant to those of us who are gentiles and trying to eek out a living every month or trying to deal with a loss of a relationship or facing an uncertain future regarding our health. Why should we care about God's promise to Israel? Because the real issue is the faithfulness of God. I mean, if God can break his promise to Israel, how do we know he won't renege on those promises that he's made to you and me? And that's why what happens to the Jew really is important to you. And that's the theme of the passage we're going to look at today.

If you have your Bibles, turn to Romans 11. Romans 11. Now, we've been in Romans for nine months, and I told you, I warned you at the very beginning that these chapters we're in right now are some of the deepest theological waters in all of the Bible, but you're doing good. Nobody's drowned yet. So thank you for staying with us. We're going to have you put your waders on for one more week as we get into this passage. And I always think because of the complexity of what we're talking about, it's good, especially for those of you who are a guest today, for us to pull back just a little bit and remind ourselves of where we are in the book of Romans, one of the most important books of all the New Testament. The theme of Romans is the righteousness of God. That word righteousness simply means a right standing with God. How can we have a right standing with God? Paul says the righteousness of God is available to everyone who trusts in Christ. And you see the outline there on your notes.

Chapters 1-3:20, the subject is the problem of righteousness. The problem of righteousness simply is none of us has any of it. We're all sinners, we're all under the curse. That's the problem of righteousness. But then beginning in chapter 3:21 - chapter 5, God's provision for our righteousness. Even though we don't have any righteousness, the fact is God has plenty of it. And he offers us his righteousness through faith in Christ. And then in chapters 6 - 8, the power of righteousness. You don't have to wait until you die and go to heaven to experience the power of being in a right relationship with God. But then when we get to chapter 9, Paul talks about God's program of righteousness. The Gospel, salvation by faith is for both the Jew and the gentile.

Of course, that raises the question, if that's true, why have so many Israelites rejected the Gospel? It's obvious when you read the Bible that from the beginning, Israel was God's chosen people. God chose the nation of Israel to be an object lesson for all the world to see of what God would do through a people who were totally committed to him. That's why in Deuteronomy 7:6 God said, "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession out of all the people who are on the face of the earth". God chose to bless the Israelites unlike any other nation. But he also said that Israel in turn would bless the entire world.

Remember what God said to Abraham in that promise in Genesis 12? He said, "Through you, Abraham, and your descendants all the nations of the world will be blessed". And that's exactly what happened. Israel was a spiritual blessing to the nation. The prophets of God in the Old Testament were Jewish, weren't they? The Messiah would be a Jew. He would come from the tribe of Judah. That's where we get the term Jew. It was the Jews who received, recorded, and preserved the holy scriptures. It was the Jew who was sent to be the apostles to the gentiles. All of the apostles, including Peter and then later Paul, were of Jewish descent. Most of the New Testament was written by Jews. The Jews were the channel of God's message of grace to the entire world. Now here's the question, where's the Jew today? Why have the majority of Jews rejected the Gospel of Christ?

Paul says, "Is the Gospel defective in some way? Did God's purpose for Israel somehow fail"? Let me illustrate that for you today, if I could. You know, Dallas, Texas, from where we're broadcasting this program, those of you listening and watching, there's a large Jewish population in Dallas, Texas. Many large temples here in Dallas. So let me ask the question today. If the Gospel is for the Jews, how many people do we have here today who are Jews who have accepted the Gospel? If you are of Jewish descent and you have become a Christian would you please stand up wherever you are? Please, we had several in the first service. Anybody? One, one, okay, two, okay. How do you explain that? Out of this crowd, only two or three who are Jewish? What has happened to the Jew? Why have the majority of Jews turned their back on the Gospel?

Well, there are three possible explanations. Somebody would say, "Well, it's because the Gospel of Christ isn't for the Jew. Pastor, it is the height of arrogance for you to suggest that you take your gentile Christianity and try to impose it on the Jews". I tell you, that is one this stupidest things I've ever heard when people say that. When people say, "Oh, that is just antisemitic to try to force somebody or try to introduce somebody to faith in Jesus Christ, that's antisemitic". You know what people who say that forget? The Gospel did not originate with the gentiles, it originated with the Jews. Last time I checked, Jesus was a Jew, wasn't he? He wasn't a gentile, he was a Jew. The writers of the New Testament were basically all Jews. All of the apostles were Jews. Paul, the greatest missionary the world has ever seen, was not of gentile descent, he was of Jewish descent.

There are those today, some people who say, "Well, God still has two covenants, two ways to be saved. One way is for gentiles, that is through faith in Christ, but God still has a special arrangement with the Jews whereby they can be saved by keeping the Old Testament law". That's heresy, read the book of Galatians. Paul says they are not two covenants, there's one covenant, one way to be saved for the Jews, and it is through faith in Christ. Well, explanation number two, why aren't many Jews coming to Christ today? Some people would say, "Well, God rejected Israel because Israel rejected Christ". In other words, Israel had a chance to accept Christ. They rejected the Messiah, they crucified the Messiah. And because of that, God's finished with Israel. And God has now taken all of the promises that belong to Israel and he's given them to the church of Jesus Christ. That's the heart of amillennialism. We talked about that in our study of Bible prophecy.

Remember, we believe that after the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth, he is going to set up a literal kingdom here on earth. And it is during that time that God is going to fulfill the promises that he made to Abraham and his believing descendants. It's not a promise to all ethnic Israel, it is a promise to spiritual Israel. Every believing Jew who has trusted in Christ is going to receive the fulfillment of that promise. And that is, Israel will finally inherit all of the land that God promised in Genesis 12, all of it. They've never inherited all of it right now. Before in history, they've never had all of it. But one day they will. That is God's promise to believing Israel. He's promised that one of David's descendants will sit on the throne in Jerusalem and rule over the world. That will be fulfilled when Jesus, the descendant of David, sits on the throne in Jerusalem.

There is the promise in Jeremiah that every heart will know the Lord. Everyone will be regenerated at that time. And that will be fulfilled in the millennium. But the amillennialist says, "No". He says, "When Israel rejected Christ, God transferred the promises that belong to Israel to the church of Jesus Christ. And not only did he transfer those promises, he transformed them from literal promises to spiritual promises. That is, there's no literal land out there that belongs to Israel. We ought to just sit down at the peace table and try to barter a deal the best we can because God never meant for Israel to have that land. That land that should have been theirs has now been given to the church and that land is no longer Israel, it's heaven. And so we're marching to Zion as we sing going to heaven and that's kind of the spiritual transformation of these blessings".

That's what an amillennialist believes, that Israel rejected Christ, and so Christ has rejected Israel. Now, what are we to make of that? Turn over to Matthew 21 for a moment. Stay with me on this, Matthew 21. This is a story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem the last week of his life. And remember, as the Old Testament prophesied, he would enter on a colt. And then verse 15, the religious leaders of Israel rejected him. Verse 19 says that Jesus after that rejection came by a fig tree, and seeing that it produced leaves but no fruit, he cursed the fig tree, said it would not bring forth fruit. And of course, the fig tree represented Israel at that time. They gave the appearance of righteousness, they had the leaves of righteousness, but they had no fruit.

And so Jesus cursed it. And then Jesus told two parables, one that begins in verse 28, but the second one begins in verse 33 is especially key. It was the story of a landowner who planted a vineyard. And after the vineyard was planted, the landowner went away. And while he was away, he decided he wanted to reap some of his profits. So he went or he sent some representatives back to the vineyard and back to the tenant farmers to whom he had entrusted the vineyard. And they said, "We want the master's profits". What did the tenant farmers do? They killed the owner's representatives. And so Jesus said the owner sent a second group of representatives, and the farmers killed them as well. And finally, the vineyard owner sent his own son to come and collect the profits, and they killed the owner's son.

Now, obviously this was a picture of Israel's rebellion against God. They killed the prophets of God. They even killed the Son of God. Now look at verse 43. "Therefore I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and will be given to a nation producing the fruit of it". God is going to take the kingdom from you, Israel, and give it to a kingdom, a nation, the gentiles, who trust in you. You say, "Well, pastor, you just made the case for the amillennialist. You've just made the case. Israel rejected Christ, Christ has rejected Israel". That would be true were it not for this fact. The promise God made to Abraham and his descendants was not a conditional promise. It was an unconditional promise.

Remember what happened in Genesis 12 after God made that promise to Abraham, then in Genesis 15 it was time to ratify that covenant? In Abraham's day, whenever two kings entered into an agreement, they would ratify that agreement by taking animals, different animals, cutting them in half, laying them side by side with a path between them, and then the two kings would each hold a torch and they would pass through the animal pieces together, signifying that the fulfillment of this promise depended on each party keeping his part of the bargain. In Genesis 15, God told Abraham, "Take these animals, cut them in two". And so he did. He laid some on one side, some on the other. But then God did something on unbelievable. He put Abraham to sleep, Abraham went to sleep. And God appearing as a flaming torch walked through those animal pieces by himself, Genesis 15 said, signifying that the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham had nothing to do with Abraham or Abraham's descendants. It had to do with the faithfulness of God.

Now, that is the unconditional promise that God made to Abraham. And we see it again in Psalm 89, the passage we read just a few moments ago. God is talking about his future dealing with Israel. Look at verse 31 of Psalm 89. "If they," Israel, "Violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes". God said, "If Israel disobeys my commandments, they will suffer, they will be disciplined". And the whole history of Israel is that of suffering, captivity, and attacks. God said, "If you rebel against me, I will send the Assyrians, I will send the Babylonians. You will suffer, but," verse 33, "But I will not break off my loving kindness from Israel nor deal falsely in my faithfulness. My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of my lips. Once I have sworn by my holiness, I will not lie to David. His descendants shall endure," how long? "Forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful". God says Israel's disobedience would result in discipline, but it would not cause him to break his covenant with his own people.

And that leads to a third possible explanation, which is Paul's answer to Israel's rejection of the Gospel. Why is Israel today rejecting the Gospel? Number three, Israel's rejection of Christ is temporary. It's temporary, it won't last forever, it's temporary. Look at chapter 11:1, Paul says, "I say then, God has not rejected his people, has he? May it never be"! That word rejected is the word apotheo. It refers to a permanent casting aside, a thrusting away of Israel. Paul asked the question, has God forever cast away Israel? And there's that phrase again, me genoito, may it never be, a thousand times no. God has temporarily turned his back on Israel and turned his heart toward the gentiles, but that is a temporary turning. It is a temporary rejection versus a permanent rejection. How do I know that God's turning away from Israel is only temporary and not permanent? Beginning in verse 1b all the way through the end of the chapter, God gives five evidences that he's not through, Paul gives five evidences that God's not through with Israel. We'll go through these quickly here.

Number one, God's choice of Paul. That's the first evidence that God's not through with the Jewish people, God's choice of Paul. Look at this again in verse 1. "I say then God has not rejected his people, has he? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin". Paul never got over the fact that God chose him, him to be the greatest spokesman the Christian world had ever known. I mean, consider Paul's background. He was Jewish, he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. In fact, he was so zealous and sincere in his beliefs that he persecuted and killed Christians. First Timothy 1:16, Paul says of his own testimony, "And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost of sinners Jesus Christ might demonstrate his perfect patience as an example for all those who would believe in him in eternal life". Hear me today, some of you listening right now, you think your sin is too great for God to ever forgive.

You say, "Pastor, you just don't know what I've been up to. You don't know the depth of the depravity I've been involved in. God could never forgive me". Paul's saying, "You're not nearly as good of a sinner as you think you are. I've got the market on sin. I am the foremost of sinners. I'm exhibit a of God's grace. If he can forgive me, he can forgive anyone". That's the grace of God. And we need to at least be as gracious in the church as God is. But you know, Paul is not just an exhibit of God's grace and forgiveness. He's also an illustration of God's dealing with Israel. The fact that Paul was a Jew and he was chosen to be the foremost of all of the apostles is evidence that God is not through with the Jewish people. Secondly, God's preservation of a Jewish remnant, that's evidence that God is not yet through with Israel. Now, this word remnant was used in the Old Testament to describe that group of Jews who always survived captivities and persecutions. There was always a remnant, a small group who survived. And that's a measure of God's faithfulness. You don't see any Hittites today or Amorites or Canaanites, they have been extinguished.
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