Lesson 20 | Sabbath, 13 November 2021
“Thus Paul shows that God is abundantly able to transform the hearts of Jew and Gentile alike, and to grant to every believer in Christ the blessings promised to Israel. He repeats Isaiah’s declaration concerning God’s people: ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: for He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma and been made like unto Gomorrah.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 379.
A green olive tree and good fruit
1. What plant is used in prophecy to represent the people of Israel? What happened to the noble plant after it reached full development?
Jeremiah 11:16, 17; 21:14 The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. 17For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal….21:14But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the Lord: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.
“Where her branches should have yielded fruit without stint, they were broken off because of her stubborn disobedience. The wrong course of the people of Jerusalem brought its sure result upon them and upon those whom they influenced. They departed from the example of the holy men who caught their inspiration from Jesus Christ, their invisible Leader. They could not possibly form characters that God could approve.” –(Letter 34, 1899)Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1155.
2. What were some of the gifts and benefits that Israel received? However, what had the nation become at the beginning of the gospel era?
Romans 9:4,5; 11:28, first part; 9:2, 3. Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen…11:28As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes…. 9:2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
“The Jews were God’s chosen people, through whom He had purposed to bless the entire race. From among them God had raised up many prophets. These had foretold the advent of a Redeemer who was to be rejected and slain by those who should have been the first to recognize Him as the Promised One.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 374.
“As a nation the Jews refused to receive Christ. He had led them in their travels, as their invisible, infinite Leader. He had communicated His will to them, but in the test they rejected Him, their only hope, their only salvation, and God rejected them. ‘But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.’ John 1:12. To all who receive and obey the conditions, God’s gifts flow steadily, without repentance, without recall. God has imparted His gifts to man to be used, not according to hereditary or fanciful ideas, not according to natural impulses or inclination, but according to His will….” –This Day with God, p. 31.
3. Why were some of the original branches of the olive tree broken off? When did this problem begin?
Romans 11:20. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear.
Acts 19:9. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
Hebrews3:19; 4:6. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief….4:6Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.
“Through unbelief and the rejection of Heaven’s purpose for her, Israel as a nation had lost her connection with God.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 377.
“Shall the warnings from God be passed by unheeded? Shall the opportunities for service be unimproved? Shall the world’s scorn, the pride of reason, conformity to human customs and traditions, hold the professed followers of Christ from service to Him? Will they reject God’s word as the Jewish leaders rejected Christ? The result of Israel’s sin is before us. Will the church of today take warning?” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 306.
4. What did the fact that a large number of Israelites were unbelieving and were therefore cut off from the tree (the nation) mean for Israel as a whole?
Romans 11:1, 2, 5. I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. 2Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying…. 5Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
“Even though Israel rejected His Son, God did not reject them. Listen to Paul as he continues the argument: ‘I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 375.
What determines the outcome
5. If people continue in unbelief, what hope is there that they may be grafted back into the noble olive tree?
Romans 11:23, 24. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
“Israel had stumbled and fallen, but this did not make it impossible for them to rise again. In answer to the question, ‘Have they stumbled that they should fall?’ the apostle replies: ‘God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.’…
“Notwithstanding Israel’s failure as a nation, there remained among them a goodly remnant of such as should be saved. At the time of the Saviour’s advent there were faithful men and women who had received with gladness the message of John the Baptist, and had thus been led to study anew the prophecies concerning the Messiah. When the early Christian church was founded, it was composed of these faithful Jews who recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the one for whose advent they had been longing. It is to this remnant that Paul refers when he writes, ‘If the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 375-377.
6. While some branches were broken off for their unbelief, what happened to others that originally were part of a wild olive tree?
Romans 11:17. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.
“Paul likens the remnant in Israel to a noble olive tree, some of whose branches have been broken off. He compares the Gentiles to branches from a wild olive tree, grafted into the parent stock….
“In his epistle to the Romans, Paul set forth the great principles of the gospel. He stated his position on the questions which were agitating the Jewish and the Gentile churches, and showed that the hopes and promises which had once belonged especially to the Jews were now offered to the Gentiles also.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 377, 373.
A solemn appeal to Christians
7. What solemn appeal did the apostle therefore make to both classes of people?
Romans 11:18, 19, 21, 22. Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.19Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in….21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
“In this we are plainly taught that we should not despise the Jews; for among them the Lord has mighty men, who will proclaim the truth with power. ‘For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God;…” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, pp. 325, 326.
“Through unbelief and the rejection of Heaven’s purpose for her, Israel as a nation had lost her connection with God. But the branches that had been separated from the parent stock God was able to reunite with the true stock of Israel–the remnant who had remained true to the God of their fathers. ‘They also,’ the apostle declares of these broken branches, ‘if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.’‘If thou,’ he writes to the Gentiles, ‘wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 377, 378.
For additional study
“If ever a people needed light, it is those who are living in the very closing days of this earth’s history. We want to know what saith the Scripture. We want to come to the living oracles of God. We want that living faith which grasps the arm of infinite power, and we want to rely with all our being upon Jesus Christ, our righteousness. And we may do it. Yes, we do it profitably to our own soul’s interest.” –Faith and Works, p. 66.
“Notwithstanding the awful doom pronounced upon the Jews as a nation at the time of their rejection of Jesus of Nazareth, there have lived from age to age many noble, God-fearing Jewish men and women who have suffered in silence…. Some have learned to see in the lowly Nazarene whom their forefathers rejected and crucified, the true Messiah of Israel….
“It is to this class that Isaiah referred in his prophecy, ‘A remnant shall be saved.’ From Paul’s day to the present time, God by His Holy Spirit has been calling after the Jew as well as the Gentile. ‘There is no respect of persons with God,’ declared Paul. The apostle regarded himself as ‘debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians,’ as well as to the Jews; but he never lost sight of the decided advantages possessed by the Jews over others, ‘chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.’‘The gospel,’ he declared, ‘is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 379, 380.