Robert Jeffress - Why The Jew Is Important To You? - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. When Jesus died on the cross, he opened the door for everyone to have a relationship with God, Jew and gentile alike. But now that salvation is available to all, does that mean Israel's special role in God's plan has ended? Far from it. Today, I'm going to explain why the future of Israel is still relevant to your faith right now. My message is titled "Why The Jew Is Important To You," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
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 know, you don't see any Hittites today, or Amorites, or Canaanites, they have been extinguished. But God's people have lived for thousands and thousands of years. God has always preserved a remnant.
Well, Paul takes that word remnant, and he applies it in the New Testament to that small group of Jewish believers. There's always, in every age, been a group of Jews who were righteous with God. And today, there's a group of Jews, who are in a right relationship up with God. And he uses the illustration of Elijah, look at verse 2, "For God has not rejected his people, whom he foreknew, or do you not know what the scripture says in the passage about Elijah? How he pleads with God against Israel".
You remember the story of Elijah, 1 king's 18, Elijah was a prophet of God. And he had that exciting contest on mount Carmel. The battle for the Gods, many of us has been there on Carmel where it happened. And remember the 400, or 850 false prophets of Baal and Asherah were gathered together, and they each had a contest to prove who was God. And when it was Elijah's turn, the fire of God came from heaven, and consumed all of his sacrifice. And at that time, all of Israel yelled, "Yahweh, the Lord, he is God, the Lord, he is God". And Elijah ended up killing all of those 850 false prophets of Baal and Asherah. Well, there was one person who wasn't real excited about that, her name was Jezebel, queen Jezebel. She was the one who ran the country. She was the one who promoted the false worship of Baal and Asherah, and she sent word to Elijah, "Elijah, I'm going to get you". And so what did Elijah do? He started running.
Isn't it interesting, 850 false prophets didn't phase Elijah. One disgruntled female sent him packing. And so he ran, and he ran, and he ran, and he ran. And finally out of exhaustion, he collapsed under a juniper tree. And he said, "Oh Lord, go ahead and just take my life. Go ahead and take my life, I'm the only righteous one left". Now, he didn't really mean it. If he really wanted God to take his life, he could have stayed right there in Israel, and Jezebel would've accommodated him very easily. But he was throwing a pity party for himself. "I'm the only one left".
You know, God could have come down and given him a lecture to set him straight. But God's a gracious God, he didn't do that. He knew that Elijah was emotionally and physically spent. He was exhausted, that's why he was depressed. So God ministered to him. He sent the angels to bring cakes to him, to feed him, to nourish him. Of course, that's where we get angel food cake. No, it's not, I'm just seeing if you're paying attention. But he sent him the cakes. Then he brought water to him, then he told him to sleep, and Elijah slept. And then he'd awaken, and then he went to sleep again. He awakened, he slept again. By the way, did you know sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap. Don't read your Bible, don't pray. Just take a nap, you'll be amazed how much better you feel about life when you're rested.
So once, after Elijah had recharged his physical and emotional batteries, then God came to have a talk with his servant. He said, "Elijah, remember how you said you're the only faithful one left in Israel? That's not true, Elijah. There are 7.000 people just like you, a remnant in Israel, who have not bowed down before Baal". Elijah wasn't alone, and neither are you. Maybe you're tempted to think you're all alone in this world. There may be some of you who are teenagers, single adults, you may think everybody else in the world is sleeping around, even Christians. "I'm the only one remaining pure". No, you're not, there are others like you as well who've made that commitment. You may be a Christian businessman, and you think everybody else is cheating his way to the top. "I alone have integrity". No, there are others like you as well. They don't blow the trumpet and say it, but they're like you.
You may be a member of this church, and you may think, "I'm the only spiritual person in this church who truly loves God. I love God more than anyone, including the pastor. If only they could be like me, I'm all alone". No, you're not, there are many other saints of God here who God as much or more than you do. Don't ever think you're alone. And it was true for Israel. Israel has always had a believing remnant. And even today, there's a believing remnant in Israel. Look at verse 5, "In the same way then, there has also come to be at this present time a remnant, according to God's gracious choice".
We saw two of them stand up a few moments ago. I met one this past week on Tuesday, in the Pittsburgh airport. A man approached me and he listens to our program, and he said, "I want to tell you my story". He said, "Six years ago, my wife and I were involved in drug addiction. Our lives were are at the bottom, but we came to know Christs as Savior. And today we're walking with him, we're of the Jewish faith, but now we've accepted Jesus as our Messiah". He's part of the remnant. Did you know about 25 years ago, our church started a church for Jewish believers, Adat Shalom. And today they continue to in North Dallas. There are about 70 or 80 faithful Messianic Jews who meet there, and there are still ministering partners with them. They're a part of the remnant. One way we know God is not through with Israel is there is still a remnant of Jewish believers, even today.
There is a third evidence that God's not finished with Israel, and that's God's prediction of Israel's rejection. That is, this rejection didn't take God by surprise. He didn't sit up in heaven and say, "Oh no, these Jews aren't coming to me. What am I going to do now"? No, it was all predicted that this was going to happen. And beginning in verse 8, Paul quotes from two passages in the Old Testament that prophesied of Israel's rejection. One of those passages I want to look at in verse 9 and 10, it's a quotation from Psalm 69:22, "Let their table become a snare and a trap," this is David talking, "Let their table become a snare and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened to see not, and bend their backs forever".
What did David mean when he said, "Let their table become a snare"? David is saying that what should have been a table, a blessing for Israel, actually became a stumbling block for them to the Gospel. For example, God gave the Israelites the law to lead them to Christ. The purpose of the law was to be like a mirror that would show all of us how dirty we are, and how much we need the forgiveness of Christ. But instead of allowing the law to lead them to Christ, they turned the law into a rule book, and thought they could actually earn God's favor by keeping the law. What was meant to be a blessing, became a stumbling block. And you know, the same thing happens today with Christians, even in Bible-believing churches, things that God meant to be a blessing, to lead us closer to Christ, have actually become a stumbling block for us.
Let me give you three examples. One would be the ordinance of baptism. What's the purpose of baptism? Baptism was meant to be a sign, a symbol of our death and resurrection with Jesus Christ. It was a sign for believers, but what has the church done today? The church has turned that into a ritual and a requirement for salvation. They have perverted baptism from being a sign, to being a prerequisite. And I'm going to climb up on my hobby horse for about 30 seconds here, and say something that I think is a travesty in the church today, and that is what is called infant baptism. To bring a little baby down to the front, and dedicate the baby to the Lord, and then throw water on it, and call that baptism. That's a travesty.
Look, we have dedication services here. We dedicate children to the Lord, that's fine. That's wonderful, that's biblical, but call it that. Don't pervert the sacred ordinance of baptism, which is for Christians only after they're saved. Don't pervert it and use it as a church ritual, because you know what happens? That child's baptism becomes a stumbling block many times for them to come to the Gospel. When that child becomes an adult, and somebody talks to them about their faith in Christ, "Oh, I've already done that. When I was an infant, my parents brought me before the church, and a priest or a pastor. He baptized me". No, he didn't, he just got you wet. He didn't baptize you. He didn't immerse you. No, but there will be people in hell today because they were sprinkled as an infant. That's a stumbling block, a stumbling block.
People have done the same thing with the Lord's supper. They've taken what should have been a sign of the death of Jesus Christ, and what have they done with that sign? They've turned it into a ritual, and come up with this hocus pocus. That's the phrase for trans substantiation, where the priest magically turns the bread into the body of Christ, and the wine into the blood of Christ. And somehow people think they are drinking the grace of God by participating in that. God gives us a blessing, and we turn it into a stumbling block. I even think about material blessings from God. God has blessed many people with spiritual blessings, and compared to other nations in the world, we're all blessed. But what do we do with the blessing of God that should push us toward God? We've, instead of allowing material blessings to demonstrate the kindness of God, we've taken those blessings and turned them as substitutes, idols for God. That's what he's talking about, taking the blessing, and turning it into a snare. Now Israel's rejection was predicted in the Old Testament.
Number four, God's salvation of the gentiles, that's a sign that God's not through with Israel. You say, "Well, what does the salvation of the gentiles have to do with that"? Look at verse 11 and 14, "I say then that they, Israel, did not stumble so as to fall," that means a permanent casting away, "They didn't fall, did they? May it never be, but by their transgression, salvation has come to the gentiles to make Israel jealous. If somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen, and saved some of them". What Paul is saying is at some point in the future, Israel is going to look at all of these gentiles coming to Christ and being blessed, and they're going to say, "Hey, I want some of that. That was meant for me originally. Why are these gentiles experiencing what I'm not experiencing"?
God will cause gentiles salvation to make the Israelites jealous. How do I know God's not finished with Israel yet? The fifth and most obvious piece of evidence is God's ultimate redemption of true Israel. Roman numeral three, God's ultimate redemption of true Israel, and that's the climax of this entire chapter. Look at verses 25 and 26, "For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation". What is this mystery? That a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the gentiles has come in, and thus, all Israel will be saved. Now, this is talking about the age we're living in right now, the time of the gentiles, the church age. When Israel rejected Christ, God turned away from Israel. There's a hardness that has come to Israel's heart, that's why so few in this room are Jewish believers. It's a partial hardening that has happened to Israel. And right now we're living in the church age, when gentiles are being saved. But when the last gentile is saved whom God who ordained to be saved, the gentile time, the age of the church is over.
You know what the end of the gentile age will be, the age of the church? It will be the rapture of the church. And then begins the final seven years of earth's history. We call it the Great Tribulation. The Old Testament called it the day of the Lord, the time of Jacob's trouble, Daniel 70th year, because it is this final seven years that God will give Israel one last chance to repent. The purpose of the tribulation is not just God's retribution. It is his redemption of Israel. And revelation 7 tells us that during this tribulation, there'll be numerous Jews who will be saved. There'll be many gentiles who will be saved as well. And of course, it culminates with the second coming of Christ. And at that time, what Paul is saying is all Israel will be saved. Does that mean every Jew by birth will be saved? No. Does it mean every Jew alive, when Christ returns will be saved? No, it means all those whom God has predestined of Israel, the true Israel, will be saved. And at that time, God would have fulfilled his promise to Israel. You may be thinking, "Okay, what is this all mean to me"?
Let me close today with two practical principles I want you to jot down. Number one, write this down, disobedience brings God's discipline, not his disinheritance. Disobedience brings God's discipline, not disinheritance. Israel rejected God, she disobeyed God, and because of that, God severely disciplined Israel, but he didn't disinherit her. He didn't break his covenant with her. And the same is true for you and me. Hear me this morning, there are some of you listening, some of you here who are Christians, no doubt about it, but you're living in disobedience to God. God loves you too much to allow you to keep going that direction, without his severe intervention in his life.
Just as a parent who really cares about his child disciplines his child, so God is going to bring discipline into your life, if you're a disobedient Christian. That discipline may be the loss of a job. It may be the loss of your marriage. It could be the loss of your health. Sometimes it's the loss of your physical life. God will not leave a disobedient child here forever without intervention. And God's discipline really is a sign of his love for you. Hebrews 12:5-6 the writer says, "But have you forgotten the exhortation, which is addressed to you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him. For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives". If you're God's child, he will discipline you, but he will not disown you. Romans 11:29 says, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable".
Principle number two, God resurrects the dead, not the living. God resurrects the dead, not the living. Look at this phrase in verse 15 of Romans 11, "For if Israel's rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be, but life from the dead"? If God can use their rejection to bring people to God, think of how the world will respond when they see the resurrection of Israel spiritually. Think about it, this nation that people once thought was dead spiritually, suddenly, like that fig tree, will be brought to life. Have you ever noticed how God has a way of bringing dead things to life again? He specializes in resurrection.
One time I was on a plane seated next to a woman, and we were just chit chatting, and she identified herself as a Christian. She said, "May I share my story with you"? And I said, "Well sure," the in-flight magazine didn't look interesting, why not? So she shared the story, and it was an amazing story. She and her husband had been Christian leaders in a well known organization. She said her husband fell into internet pornography, had become addicted to it. And that internet pornography led to numerous adulterous escapades. She said it absolutely killed their marriage. And she said just about every friend she had told her she needed to get out of the marriage. The marriage was dead, it was over. She had biblical grounds to end it, which she did. But God told her to stay in that marriage, and she chose to follow God.
She prayed for her husband, had others praying for him. He came to repentance, turned away from his sin. They went into counseling together. God resurrected their marriage, and today they travel the country together, sharing of God's resurrection power. That's the kind of God we serve. The same God who will one day resurrect Israel spiritually, that same God can resurrect a dead marriage. He can release you from the grip of an addiction in your life. He can revitalize that relationship with God you thought was dead. See, God is the God, not of the possible, he's the God of the impossible.