Three lessons from the Epistle to the Romans (10 Mar 2013)

#1 Our faith will be more deeply rooted in Christ when we study both the Old and New Testaments.

 We will wonder at God’s unfailing love and promises when we see prophecies fulfilled in Jesus, in our lifetime and in the future (Rom 11:33-36).   In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul quotes extensively from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, 1 Kings, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Habakkuk, and Malachi. So when Paul says, “A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom 11:25), we sense that many OT prophecies are yet to be fulfilled.

 For example, in Leviticus 23, only four FEASTS of the LORD have been fulfilled by Yeshua (Jesus):

(1) Passover by His Death (Ex. 12; Lev.23:4,5; 1Cor.5:7),

(2) Unleavened Bread by His Burial (Lev.23:6-8; Num.28:17-20);

(3) First Fruits by His Resurrection (Lev.23:9-14; Num.28:17-25; 1 Cor.15.23);

(4) Pentecost  by His sending of the Holy Spirit (Lev.23:15-22; Acts 2).

 In God’s timing, three FEASTS will be fulfilled when the Messiah (Christ) returns the second time:

(1) the Trumpets – Resurrection of the Dead; Rapture of Believers; Coronation of the Messiah; Marriage of the Lamb (Lev.23:23-25; Num.29:1-6);

(2) the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), Literal Second Coming of Yeshua (Lev.23:26-32; Num.29:7-11) on the Mount of Olives, and

(3) the Tabernacles in the Millennium (1000-Year) Reign of Yeshua (Lev.23:33-44; Num.29:1-34).

 #2 The gospel of Christ is God’s power to save (Rom 1:16-17). Ignorance of God’s plan to save by faith in the Gospel of Christ can lead to spiritual blindness (Rom 3:22; 10:12).

 Today, many different people groups are following Jesus Christ through the preaching of the gospel. Messianic Jewish communities have come to believe in Yeshua Ha-Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah). They are the remnant of Israelites who believe (Rom 9:17; 11:5).  In Israel, small pockets of Messianic Jews are persecuted by the ultra-Orthodox Jews.  Today’s ethnic Jews, secular or orthodox, who remain in unbelief are hardened. They are the broken natural olive branches. They could easily be re-grafted by God if they believe (Rom 11:20,23). Pray for them.

 #3 Behold God’s present and future deliverance of Israel. Ignorance of God’s plan for Israel can lead to spiritual arrogance among Gentile Christians (Rom 11:18, 25-26; Isa 59:20).

Paul alerts the predominantly Gentile house churches in Rome of the danger of spiritual arrogance (Rom 16:3-5,14,15). When Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire, spiritual pride sets in. Today, we have two views of Israel and the Church:

(1)    reformed theology which says that the Church is spiritual Israel and has replaced Israel, and

(2)    dispensationalism which says that Israel and the Church are separate. The Church is God’s mystery, the Bride of Christ, born on the Day of Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  The Church will continue until it is taken to Heaven at the Rapture return of the Lord. Bethesda Chapel holds to this view.

God has not given up on Israel.  Many prophecies concerning the Israelites are yet to be fulfilled.  When Paul uses “Israel” (11X) in the epistle to the Romans, he always means the physical descendants of Abraham. When he says, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel (Rom 9:6), he means that “true” Israelites are those within Israel who believe.

 As Gentile Christians, we will one day behold the coming of the Deliverer from Zion who will remove ungodliness from Israel (Rom 11:26 cf Isa 59:20).

Elder Yoong Yuen Soo