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The Jew and the Gentile

Henry Allan Ironside

For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either... And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, who are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? (Romans 11:13-24)

Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and as such, he magnified his office; but he would not have the Gentiles for a moment think that he had lost his interest in Israel; rather he would see them stirred to emulation, that many might be saved from among them as they saw the grace of God going out to the Gentiles. On the other hand, he would not have the Gentile glory over the Jew because the latter was set aside and the former enjoyed the blessings that the Jew would have had, had he been ready to receive them. He continues his argument by introducing a parable, which brings out most vividly the divine plan. He says: "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?" That is, if, as they wander among all the nations, a disappointed and weary people, under the ban of the God of their fathers, the message of grace is going out to the Gentiles, and an election from them are receiving the message, what will it mean to the world as a whole when Israel nationally will turn back to the Lord and become in very truth a holy people, His witnesses to all nations?

"For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches." If the regenerated remnant in Israel be indeed a people set apart to God, so eventually will the nation be to which they belong. And if the root of the covenant olive tree be holy (that is, Abraham, who believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness), so are all those who are really linked with him by faith. They were natural branches in the olive tree – Israelites by birth but not by grace, who were broken off. And in order that the promises of God to Abraham should not fail, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," the branches of the wild olive tree - the Gentiles – were grafted in among the remnant of Israel, and thus Jew and Gentile believing together, partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree. But now the grave danger is lest the Gentile should rest on mere outward privileges, and while linked with the children of the promise, should fail to appreciate for themselves the gospel of God, and so prove unreal. In that case, God will have to deal with the Gentiles as He had dealt with the Jews. And so we get the solemn warning: "Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee." Some might say, "Well, but the natural branches were broken off, that I, a Gentile, might be grafted in." The answer is clear and distinct: "They were broken off because of unbelief, and thou standest by faith." Therefore the admonition, "Be not highminded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee."

Do we need to pause to ask whether the Gentiles have valued their privileges? Is it not patent to every observing spiritually–minded person that conditions in Christendom are as bad today as they ever were in Israel ? Do we not see apostasy from the truth everywhere prevalent? Are not the characteristic features of the last days, as depicted in 2 Timothy 3, everywhere manifest? If so, may we not well be warned that the time is near when the unfruitful branches will be torn out of the olive tree and the natural branches, at last turning back to God, be grafted in again to their own olive tree?

In these dispensational ways we see manifested that goodness and severity of God, which has already been so clearly brought out in the ninth chapter: on those who fell, who refused to believe the testimony, severity; but toward ignorant and unworthy Gentiles, goodness, but this goodness is only to be continued toward them if they continue to appreciate it, otherwise they, too, shall be cut off. Who can doubt that the day of the cutting off is near at hand, when the true Church having been caught up to be with the Lord, judgment will be meted out to unfaithful Christendom, and then God will turn back in grace to Israel, if they abide not still in unbelief, and they shall be regrafted into their own olive tree, according to the power of God?