“For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ [Yeshua] for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen” (Romans 9:3-5, NKJV).[i]
Before we can discuss the grafting into Israel of the Gentiles—the nations—we must recognize Israel’s symbiotic relationship with the nations, and we must understand God’s blessings and promises for her. In Romans 9, the Apostle Paul lays out a summary of these promises. We can see that everything, and let me reemphasize everything was for them—as Paul says, “my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites.” There is not one single promise for any nation or people group on the face of the earth that does not somehow involve Israel.
Paul further articulates, “at that time you [Gentiles] were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). This alienation left them without any hope for eternal life and salvation, and without any hope for an eternal relationship with the God of Israel. Even Yeshua Himself said, “…salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
Let us break down Romans 9 into its promises for the Jewish people. First, we see the promise of adoption. This is God’s assurance that He would draw Israel unto Himself and be their Father. “…Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you” (Jeremiah 31:3). “…For I am a Father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9). Just as Adam and Eve were orphaned from God through their rebellion, so now, all who are in Yeshua are given the Spirit of adoption and returned to the Father.[ii] “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6). The adoption by God was promised to the sons of Israel.
Next, we see the promise of God’s glory. “I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, For Israel My glory” (Isaiah 46:14). The glory of God was promised to the sons Israel.
Paul then mentions the covenants. I believe scripture speaks plainly for itself. Every covenant from Abraham forward was for and with the nation of Israel, and most importantly, the New Covenant which Yeshua made with His Jewish disciples. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31). The covenants were to the sons of Israel.
Next is the giving of the law. There is much controversy on this subject, but let me state that salvation is by faith in Yeshua alone, and not in any works of the flesh. It is interesting to see how the church has somehow removed herself from God’s law without realizing that His law is eternal.[iii] We must understand that while the contractual terms of the Old Covenant—which contained blessings and curses—have been annulled by the New Covenant, God’s law cannot be annulled by Israel’s failure to fulfill the contract. Let me explain.
A covenant is similar to a legally binding contract. Under the old contract, when Israel failed to obey the law, they were judged according to the law.[iv] Under the new contract, if anyone fails to obey the law, there is grace. Yeshua did not come to abolish the law; He came to fulfill it.[v] And He said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). Since Yeshua fulfilled the law perfectly, all who believe in His atoning works come under God’s grace.[vi] However, grace does not give us a license to sin.[vii]
In the giving of the New Covenant, God promised that He would write His law on our hearts.[viii] When Yeshua returns to Jerusalem to establish His Messianic kingdom, He will also restore the temple and the Levitical priesthood. Israel will keep His law, His appointed feasts, and His Sabbaths.[ix] Israel will also instruct the nations how to walk in God’s law. “Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). The law of God is and remains for the sons of Israel.
Paul then mentions the service of God, which refers to the priesthood. The Lord had promised that Israel would be to Him a kingdom of priests.[x] Because of their rebellion, the Lord chose Aaron and his sons to hold this seat until Yeshua would come. All who are in Yeshua—who is called Melchizedek, translated as King of righteousness—are priests and ministers unto the Lord. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The priesthood was promised to the sons of Israel.
And, lastly, we see the promises. “In your seed [Abraham] all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18). This verse speaks to the Messiah. But the Lord also promised to bless the nations through Abraham’s descendants, Israel, “I will make you a great nation [which is Israel]... I will bless those who bless you [Israel], And I will curse him who curses you [Israel]; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). “Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, And [Israel shall] fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isaiah 27:6). The blessings and the promise to be a blessing to every nation is for the sons of Israel.
By now you must think me to be Israel centric? Let me assure you that my concern is for Yeshua and His earthly kingdom, which includes all the nations. As it says, “…God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). But how do the gentiles become recipients of the promises that were for Israel? The same way that an Israelite receives them. We must believe and accept Yeshua as our Lord and Savior, and we must be “born again” of the Spirit of God.[xi] We are all adopted children, and we are all now called the descendants of Abraham and the seed of Isaac.[xii] There is no distinction [spiritually] between Jew and gentile, for we are spiritually one in Him.[xiii] “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
Once saved, the Gentiles are grafted into Israel. Paul uses the analogy of a cultivated olive tree, into which wild olive trees were grafted in, “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” (Romans 11:17). Paul is telling us that some of the natural branches—who are Israelites—have been removed from God’s kingdom because of their unbelief. “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12). But you are a wild olive tree who have been grafted in amongst them, which means that you have been grafted in amongst the Israelites.
What does grafting therefore imply? Simply, it brings two types of trees together as one species. Wild olive trees are known for having bitter tasting fruit with large stony pits. Cultivated olive trees, on the other hand, produce fleshy, juicy, and pleasant tasting fruit with smaller pits.[xiv] But there is an even greater advantage. “In the olive oil industry, grafting extracts the hardy roots of one variety with the fecundity of another variety. The whole point of grafting is that each part of the grafted tree keeps its original character. The variety used for the rootstock may be resistant to fungus or other pests. The graft may have weak roots but large fruit with high oil content. The resulting tree has the best of both varieties.”[xv] Wow! Could this have been God’s plan all along? That He would graft the nations into Israel—which is the root[xvi]—to create for Himself one people who would yield the best qualities in each of their created natures? I believe so.
Also, take notice of Paul’s use of the word “partaker,” which means to share or participate along with others.[xvii] And so, the nations will share and participate in Israel’s promises and blessings by being grafted in amongst them. These promises include the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God which comprise the feasts of the Lord and the Sabbath, and the promise of resurrection and eternal life in Yeshua. The prophets foretold in saying, “The sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant—Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:6-7).
“Your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). If you are hidden in Yeshua, then you will be revealed in Israel, because Yeshua, Himself is an Israelite.[xviii] You cannot be with Yeshua and not with Israel. God and His people are one. That was Yeshua’s most important prayer to our Heavenly Father. To become “one new man” in Yeshua[xix] you must also become one with His people, Israel. Together, Jew and gentile—formerly called Gentiles in the flesh—are now called “the Israel of God.”[xx] Formerly because, “…you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
Together, we will provoke unsaved Israel to jealousy,[xxi] and together we will fulfill God’s call to restore Israel—the place of His inheritance—which now in Yeshua encompasses all the nations.[xxii] “When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance” (Deuteronomy 323:8-9).
Dear brothers and sisters. Come, let us advance the Kingdom of God together, provoking Israel to jealousy, sharing the great news with all who are perishing, and making disciples of all nations,[xxiii] “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Bible (NKJV) unless otherwise noted, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.
[ii] John 14:6.
[iii] Revelation 13:8.
[iv] Romans 2:12.
[v] Matthew 5:17.
[vi] John 1:17, Galatians 5:4.
[vii] Romans 6:1.
[viii] Jeremiah 31:33.
[ix] Ezekiel 43:11, 44:5, 44:24.
[x] Exodus 19:6.
[xi] John 3:3.
[xii] Romans 9:7.
[xiii] Romans 10:12.
[xiv] Metcalfe, Dan. Wild Olive Trees and Good Olive Branches. AskaBiologist.org.
[xv] What if you grafted a wild olive branch onto a cultivated olive tree? OliveOliSource.com.
[xvi] Romans 11:18.
[xviii] Deuteronomy 18:15.
[xix] Ephesians 2:15.
[xx] Galatians 6:16.
[xxi] Romans 11:11.
[xxii] Psalm 2:8.
[xxiii] Matthew 28:19.