International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 21, 2016
Purpose: To find our place on God’s family tree
Bible Lesson: Romans 11:11-24
Background Scripture: Romans 11:11-36
Key Verse: So look at God’s kindness and harshness. It’s harshness toward those who fell, but it’s God’s kindness for you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise, you could be cut off too. (Romans 11:22)
Romans 11:11-24 (CEB)
(11) So I’m asking you: They haven’t stumbled so that they’ve fallen permanently, have they? Absolutely not! But salvation has come to the Gentiles by their failure, in order to make Israel jealous. (12) But if their failure brings riches to the world, and their defeat brings riches to the Gentiles, how much more will come from the completion of their number! (13) I’m speaking to you Gentiles. Considering that I’m an apostle to the Gentiles, I publicize my own ministry (14) in the hope that somehow I might make my own people jealous and save some of them. (15) If their rejection has brought about a close relationship between God and the world, how can their acceptance mean anything less than life from the dead? (16) But if part of a batch of dough is offered to God as holy, the whole batch of dough is holy too. If a root is holy, the branches will be holy too. (17) If some of the branches were broken off, and you were a wild olive branch, and you were grafted in among the other branches and shared the root that produces the rich oil of the olive tree, (18) then don’t brag like you’re better than the other branches. If you do brag, be careful: it’s not you that sustains the root, but it’s the root that sustains you. (19) You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” (20) Fine. They were broken off because they weren’t faithful, but you stand only by your faithfulness. So don’t think in a proud way; instead be afraid. (21) If God didn’t spare the natural branches, he won’t spare you either. (22) So look at God’s kindness and harshness. It’s harshness toward those who fell, but it’s God’s kindness for you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise, you could be cut off too. (23) And even those who were cut off will be grafted back in if they don’t continue to be unfaithful, because God is able to graft them in again. (24) If you were naturally part of a wild olive tree and you were cut off from it, and then, contrary to nature, you were grafted into the cultivated olive tree, won’t these natural branches stand an even better chance of being grafted back onto their own olive tree?
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
In the eleventh chapter of Romans, Paul is making a case for both the Jew and the Gentile to be recipients of God’s grace and salvation.
In the previous chapter (10) he speaks of Israel’s rejection of Christ as the Messiah, because of the lack of “faith.” In today’s lesson he says while they (the Jews) have stumbled or tripped, they can still have hope. Paul speaks as a Jew, and knows that all hope is not lost. While the original covenant made with the Jews coming out of Egypt was based on works, (acts of worship) and their willingness to follow Moses and Aarons teachings, a new covenant has now been made with the whole world that involves faith. Paul who was an early recipient, when he encountered Jesus (The Christ) on the road to Damascus. Paul has accepted his call to witness and proclaim Christ to the Gentiles. However, he is also willing to proclaim the Gospel to the Jews as well.
Paul goes to great lengths to use the example of grafting both the natural branch and the wild or voluntary branch into the root or trunk of a tree. God’s original promise to Abraham was that the whole world would be blessed by Abraham's seed (Gen. 12:3 "I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you.”
Paul wants both Jew and Gentile to know that God grafts whom he wants, into the root of the tree. God can be considered both kind and harsh, His kindness comes because no one deserves it and His harshness comes because, just as He was willing to destroy, the ungrateful and disobedient Jew, He will also make the same choice for the disobedient and unfaithful Gentile.
All salvation now depends on man’s faith and God’s grace or goodness. Labels of Jew or Gentile no longer matter. All humankind now depends on faith and faithfulness to receive the promise of God. God has provided the seed promised, how we react to that seed determines our blessing or curse. Paul closes this chapter with this quote from Isaiah 40:13 Who directed the Lord’s spirit and acted as God’s advisor? And Jerimah 23”18 “But who has stood in the Lord’s counsel to listen to God’s word? Who has paid attention to his word and announced it?” And then Paul concludes with these words “All things are from him and through him and for him. May the glory be to him forever. Amen.”
My hymn for this week is “To God be the Glory.”