Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Grafted into the Holy Root

Monday, June 4, 2018

Grafted into the Holy Root

Biblical Zionism XI
Grafted into the Holy Root

The nation of Israel was established by God to be an island of sanctity amid the oceans of iniquity.  It was constant warfare to maintain that sanctity.  Paul summed this up in his statement about his ministry in Macedonia, “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (II Corinthians 7:5).  Every local church is to be an island of sanctity amid the oceans of iniquity.  The greatest difficulty is that ministry involves bringing people from the oceans of iniquity into the church to “perfect them for the work of the ministry.”  In doing so, the sanctity of the local church is threatened because it is constructed of people in different levels of imperfection of knowing the will of God and living the will of God.  

          Romans 11:11-36 is both a promise and a warning to the Church as a new priesthood.  Just as the priesthood of Israel moved away from the promise of salvation by grace through faith in the Abrahamic Covenant, the priesthood of all believers of the Church is warned about God’s foreknowledge of her own apostasy.  This apostasy would be like the corruption of salvation by grace through faith detailed in the Abrahamic Covenant.  However, there would evolve another level of corruption that Christ calls “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans” (Revelations 2:6 and 15).  “The doctrine of the Nicolaitans” is a division created between what came to be called clergy and laity.  The corruption was the clergy lording over the laity.  There are no such things as clergy or laity within the priesthood of all believers.  The pastors/elders/bishops are not clergymen.  Every believer priest is to be “perfected for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).  This corruption evolved into lording clergy and lazy laity.  

Also, out of the faithful foundation built upon the teachings of Jesus would evolve something that Christ calls “the great whore” in Revelation 17:1 and 19:2.  This drift into Ecumenical apostasy would take place over many centuries as defined by Christ’s seven epistles to seven local churches (Revelation chapters two and three). 

          Just as God committed the preservation of His inspired Scriptures and the Gospel of salvation gifted by God’s grace through faith into the care of the priesthood of Israel, God has committed the preservation of the Scriptures and the doctrines therein taught into the care of thousands upon thousands of local churches of believer-priests. 

It is this faith seed of Abraham of “born again” Christians (Galatians 3:6-7) from the Church Age that are grafted into national Israel at the beginning of the Kingdom Age.  This will be the Melchizedecan priesthood of Christ that will rule the Kingdom Age with a “rod of iron” as His judges.

At the beginning of the Kingdom Age, every person alive on planet earth will be a “born again” Christian.  There will be those saved from all nations during the Tribulation who survive the catastrophic judgments of God.  These will be alive in physical bodies.  They will remain alive, marry, and reproduce children throughout the one-thousand years of the Kingdom Age.  There will be all believers from Adam to the Day of Pentecost who died, were resurrected, and were glorified.  They will return with Christ at His second coming.  National Israel will be comprised of all “born again” Jews from Abraham to the beginning of the Church Age and all the surviving Jews saved during the seven-year Tribulation.
Lastly, there will be all the believers from the Church Age including those martyred believers from the seven-year Tribulation.  It is this latter group of glorified believers that will rule and reign with Christ as His new Melchisedecan priesthood.  This is the group that will be “grafted in” to national Israel at the beginning of the Kingdom Age. 
Not all professing Church Age believers will prove themselves to be genuine believers.  This is the substance of the warning in the parable of the “talents” (Matthew 25:14-30).  The “unprofitable servant” (Matthew 25:30) proves himself to be a false believer by his unfaithfulness.  Such an unfaithful person will be cast out into outer darkness separated from the presence of God.  This is also the warning of Romans 11:11-36.

11 I say then, Have they {the Jews} stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them {the Jews} to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them {the Jews} be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them {the Jews} the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness {the future restoration of national Israel}? 13 For I speak to you Gentiles {in warning}, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh {the Jews}, and might save some of them {the Jews}. 15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? 16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou {Church Age believers-priests}, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee” (Romans 11:11-21).

          On the Day of Pentecost, a new host of Ambassadors of Grace were saved, baptized with the Holy Spirit into the “body of Christ,” indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and sent into all the world to preach the wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This was the formation of a new Priesthood of all believers, “born again” of the Spirit of God, and sent forth as Ambassadors of Jesus Christ, as Ministers of Reconciliation, and given the “words of reconciliation.”

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: {the following words define the Ambassadorship of all believers “in Christ” and their appeal to salvation “by grace through faith” to the lost of the whole world, not just the Jews} we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:17-21).

          Because most lack an understanding of the Biblical continuity within the Abrahamic Covenant, they lack the understanding of the overwhelming nature of the beginning of the transition within the Abrahamic Covenant in the setting aside of the Mosaic Covenant and the beginning of the unfolding (already, not yet) of the New Covenant “in Christ.”  Because many professing Christians do not understand this transition, they do not understand their stewardship within the Age of Grace and exactly for what God will hold Church Age believers accountable.
          Prior to the Day of Pentecost, the physical descendants of Abraham were God’s chosen people through which the Seed (Messiah; i.e. JEHOVAH incarnate) would be born into humanity. 

15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 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 shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:15-18).

          Paul tells us that the “seed” of Genesis 22:18 does not refer to the many physical descendants of Abraham, but to One Individual; the Christ of God that we know as Jesus.  When we read the Messianic Psalm seventy-two, we should understand that every Jew should have known that the Messiah was the Seed to which Abrahamic Covenant refers.  Paul tells us in very specific words in Galatians 3:16 that this is God’s intent.

“His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him {the Messiah} blessed” (Psalm 72:17).

11 But that no man is justified by the law {Mosaic Covenant} in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law {Mosaic Covenant} is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law {Mosaic Covenant}, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 16 Now to Abraham and his seed {Jesus} were the promises {the Abrahamic Covenant} made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant , that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law {Mosaic Covenant}, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise {the Abrahamic Covenant} of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the law {Mosaic Covenant}, it is no more of promise {the Abrahamic Covenant}: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Galatians 3:11-18).

          Essential to our understanding of Romans 11:11-32 is understanding exactly what Romans 11:11 says, “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”  The problem in most English translations lies in the use of the same word “fall” to translate two different Greek words.  The first word translated “fall in the opening question is from the Greek word pipto (pip'-to).  The second word translated “fall” is from the Greek word paraptoma (par-ap'-to-mah).  These two Greek words are not referring to the same thing.  That is why the translation as we read it does not make any sense. 

In the question, “Have they stumbled that they should fall,” the answer is emphatic in the negative; “God forbid.”  It corresponds with the opening question and answer in Romans 11:1, “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid.”  The opening question of Romans 11:11 consents to Israel’s stumble.  But the question is, did Israel fall completely and for good[1].  The “God forbid” is Paul’s inspired response to such a foolish notion.  The facts of both the Palestinian Covenant and the Davidic Covenant would emphatically refute the very idea of such a question. 

The second use of the word “fall” translated from paraptoma (par-ap'-to-mah) means a side-slip, referring to a lapse or deviation[2] from the right pathway.  A more common term for this would be backsliding.  The text is not referring to the salvation of individuals or even the backsliding of individual Jews.  The text is referring to corporate Israel or the nation of Israel collectively primarily as represented in the priesthood of Israel.  The fact that the spiritual condition of the Levitical Priesthood of Israel was thee representation, not merely a representation, of the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel is critical to our understanding of what Paul is saying in Romans chapter eleven. 

1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. 3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away. 4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. 5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. 8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. 9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (Hosea 4:1-9).

          The majority of the Levitical Priesthood were unfaithful to teaching the Law and in living it.  They perverted the Law by injustices in that they were also those who administrated the Law.  They perverted the purpose of the sacrifices and the moral Law to the place that Moralism and Ritualism, “works,” perverted “the way” of faith.  The people became like the priests.  They thought that if they kept the sacrifices, they were alright with God, even if their hearts were far from Him.  Moralism and Ritualism became replacements and pseudo-substitutes for a real, intimate, and righteous relationship with God.  The priesthood of Israel had perverted the purpose of the Law to such a degree that they literally turned things upside down from God’s original intent.

13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. 15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding (Isaiah 29:13-16)?

          The priesthood of Israel’s side-step, referred to by the second use of the word “fall” in Romans 11:11, was the priesthood leading the nation of Israel away from salvation “by grace through faith” to salvation by “works”; i.e., Moralism and Ritualism.  Because of this side-step of the priesthood of Israel, God would call a new priesthood of all believers during the Church Age, test that new priesthood throughout each individual’s lifetime.  God would prove that new priesthood by each person’s faithfulness to discipleship and the Great Commission with the intent that those proven faithful will be installed (consecrated) over national Israel at the beginning of the Kingdom Age as the new Melchisedecan Priesthood, then ruling with Christ in glorified bodies.  

The criteria for testing and proving of this new Priesthood of all believers are found in two phrases in the Scriptures:  saved “by grace through faith” and “the just {those saved} shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).  Many get saved “by grace through faith,” but few of those saved “live by faith.”  The grace-life is the Christ-life that becomes available to every believer in the indwelling of the believer and is manifested through the filling of the Spirit. 

1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:1-5)?

[1] A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures, Romans 11:1, SwordSearcher Software 4.8
[2] Strong’s Greek Dictionary, SwordSearcher software 4.8

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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