The Abrahamic Covenant
Part 7
How did the Abrahamic Covenant Transfer to Spiritual Israel?

John Plunkett
March 28, 2015

Last time, in Part 6, we read quite a few verses out of I Corinthians 12.  There is something in there that also applies very much to our Part 7 message today – something that God – through the apostle Paul – is telling us: 

I Corinthians 12:13: 
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body––whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free––and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

In God’s scattered church today, we often tend to apply this verse – and others like it – to the required unity between the various scattered Church of God groups and brethren. 

But the mention of Jews and Greeks here jumped right out to me and brought me to what I find to be a very intriguing aspect of this Abrahamic Covenant topic.  You have possibly wondered about it too. 

Here are the questions that we are going to ask, and hopefully answer, in today’s sermon: 

  1. How did the physical Gentiles gain access to the Abrahamic Covenant and ultimately, to salvation?

  2. How did the Abrahamic Covenant come to include the physical Gentiles – enabling them to be called by God into spiritual Israel? 

  3. How did/does that work?  What is/was the process?  What is/was the procedure that enables it?  What is/was the procedure that makes possible that seemingly impossible condition?

  4. How did God transfer the Abrahamic Covenant over from physical Israel to spiritual Israel – i.e. the New Testament Church of God?

Although the physical “race” part of the Abrahamic Covenant was promised only to the children of Abraham, the spiritual “grace” part is applicable to everyone – both Abrahamites and non-Abrahamites. 

But how?  Again, what is the process – which we might quite rightly think of as kind of a legal process?  What makes what was illegal before, legal now?

These are the questions for today.  And in a nutshell, there is one answer to all of these questions. And the answer is:  Through the "singular Seed" – Jesus Christ:

Galatians 3:16:
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He said not, “and to seeds,” as of many; but as of one, “and to your seed,” which is Christ.

(By necessity, some of the concepts that we will go over today are repeated from earlier parts of this sermon series).

Hebrews Misnomers

We will now go through some of what I call "Hebrews Misnomers."

Although I’m hesitant to question the Bible writers and translators, when we start looking into the covenants, especially in the book of Hebrews, I think we can easily be confused by some  terminology that – in the English language at least – is somewhat incomplete.

If we consider all of God’s covenants that are mentioned in the scriptures, the English translations of some of the Hebrews author’s terminology might perhaps be thought of as somewhat misnamed or poorly-titled. 

I am specifically referring to terms like “old covenant,” first covenant,” and “second covenant.

Let’s hop-scotch around a little in chapters 8 and 9 – just to try to clarify what I’m trying to say here.

Although we do find four instances of the term “new covenant” in the scriptures, we cannot find the term “old covenant” at all in the King James Bible – because it’s not there – although it is alluded to:

Hebrews 8:13:
In that He says, “a new covenant,” He has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away.

It is important for us to remember that the “first” or “old” covenant that the Hebrews author is referring to here is not the Abrahamic Covenant. 

He is referring to a covenant that was made more than four hundred hundred years later at Sinai, between the LORD and Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites. 

How can we know this for sure?  Because it is proved by the very next verses:

Hebrews 9:
1:  Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
2:  For there was a tabernacle made; the first
{i.e. the tent-tabernacle}, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.

Verses 3 to 7 go on to include mention of the Holy Place, the Most Holy Place (the Holy of Holies), the censer, the Ark of the Covenant, the cherubim, and the mercy seat.  The Abrahamic Covenant did not have any of those things; but the “Sinai Covenant” did.

So perhaps, in order to avoid confusion, what the Hebrews author calls "the first covenant" here might be better named “the Sinai Covenant.” 

I am not arguing with the Word of God, of course.  I am just trying to clarify it for us so that we know which covenant is being talked about. 

The Sinai Covenant was not the only “old” covenant.  The Sinai Covenant was not the oldest of the covenants. 

There were other covenants which were much older than the Sinai Covenant, including the one that God made with Noah more than eight hundred years before Sinai (Genesis 9) and, of course, the far more extensive one (the subject of this series) that He made with Abraham four hundred odd years before Sinai. 

But still, just as the Hebrews author plainly states in verse 13 of chapter 8, the Sinai Covenant was logically made “old” by the institution of the second or “new” covenant. 

The writer of the book of Hebrews seems to prefer to call the Sinai Covenant “the first covenant.”  And what we generally call “the New Covenant,” he calls “the second covenant”:

Hebrews 8:7:
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

But even these are misnomers!  They might be okay if we had only two covenants on the table for discussion; but once we introduce a third covenant – e.g. the covenants with Noah and/or Abraham – the old/new and first/second terminology no longer applies and can become confusing.

Be all that as it may, the Sinai Covenant was good.  When the Hebrews author says, in verse 7, "For if that first covenant had been faultless," there was nothing inherently wrong with the Sinai Covenant.  God made it, so it was good, and it served as a kind of bridge between the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant.

We started off this whole series of sermons with a question from a lady who asked the question, "Are the Abrahamic and New Covenants essentially the same?"  The answer is Yes… and No!

It appears that the New Covenant – which is primarily a spiritual covenant – constitutes only the second part – the grace part – of the Abrahamic Covenant. 


However, as we studied earlier, the physical circumcision of males, which was a required condition for participation in the Abrahamic Covenant, is not mandatory for participation in the New Covenant. 

It appears that circumcision – which, of course, is a very physical procedure – was a condition for the physical race part of the Abrahamic Covenant, whereas for the spiritual grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant a.k.a. the New Covenant, it is the spiritual circumcision of the heart that is required.

We tend to think that this concept of the spiritual circumcision of the heart is a very new concept, or a very New Testament concept; but it was first introduced as far back as Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6.  Also, Jeremiah, who prophesied some details of the New Covenant in chapters 31 and 32 of his (main) book, also preached the circumcision of the heart as part of a stern warning to the wayward Jews in chapter 4:

Jeremiah 4:4:
Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

The apostle Paul reminded the Roman Church of God brethren of this very same requirement – a requirement that is so much more binding on the “true Jews” – the true New Testament "Israel of God":

Romans 2:28: 
For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh…

Actually, even if all the guys in the world walked around with no clothes on, you still couldn’t tell who was a Jew and who wasn’t by whether or not they had been circumcised.  Why not?  Because the Jews are not the only ones who get circumcised.  Other descendants of Abraham do.  The Muslims do.  And there are others that do. 

Other Abrahamites

This fact about circumcision highlights another fact; and that is that the Jews are not the only descendants of Abraham.  They are only one sub-tribe of the Abrahamites.  We have Abrahamites, Israelites and Jews.  The Jews are only one tribe of Israel.  Although temporarily the most important to God, the Israelites are only one "tribe" of the children of Abraham. 

Abraham had quite a few children other than Isaac.  I believe he had another seven.  It is good for us to remember that the Jews are not the only Israelites and that the Israelites are not the only Abrahamites.  One day we might all be surprised.  Because we have lost track of a lot of these other Abrahamite children, one day God will reveal that there might be some special blessings for some of them as well.

Still in Romans 2:

29:  But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

We can safely expand the term “Jew” here to mean all Israelites.  In fact, we could even stretch it even more to include all Abrahamites.  But of course, we must home in on the Israelites because they were the chosen line of Abraham.

Single Seed and Mediator

In the book of Galatians, Paul further clarifies the relationship between the Sinai Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant:

Galatians 3:
18:  For if the inheritance be of the law
{given at the time of the Sinai Covenant}, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise {through the grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant}.
19:  Wherefore then serves the law?
{NKJV: What purpose then does the law serve?}  It {the law and the Sinai Covenant} was added because of transgressions, till the seed {the singular Seed –  Jesus – the "Shiloh" of Genesis 49:10} should come to whom the promise was made {through the grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant}; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator 

Jesus, we know, is the singular Seed.  But He is also our one and only Mediator.  Just to prove this, let’s go to I Timothy:

I Timothy 2:5:
For there is one God
{i.e. the Father}, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

This is very important for us to remember in this day and age.  Nobody comes between you and Jesus Christ at all.  And the only one who comes between you and God the Father is Jesus Christ. 

But is this okay?  Is it okay for Jesus to be the singular Seed and the one and only Mediator?  Is it okay for Jesus to be two (or more) fulfillments of physical symbols?  Yes.  Of course it is!  Jesus is the symbol of lots of things, as we will see as we move along.

Let’s go back again to Hebrews and compare the Sinai Covenant and the Second (New) Covenant:

Hebrews 8:
6: But now has He
{Jesus} obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator {!} of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

We have a better covenant than the Sinai one, and we have better promises.  That’s virtually exactly what Paul wrote back in Galatians 3:19!

This “better covenant” with its “better promises” is the New Covenant, and it is one and the same as the grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant. 

7:  For if that first {Sinai} covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second {New Covenant}.

Some have read this and have erroneously exclaimed, "Look!  The Sinai Covenant was faulty!  Here is something that God made that contained flaws and faults!  That’s why the New Covenant was necessary!"

No!  That is wrong!  Please remember the very basics that we learned at the very beginning of this series – that there are two parts to the covenants made with God: God’s part and the people's part. 

So where did the fault lie in the Sinai Covenant?  Did the fault lie with the perfect, faultless Eternal God and His part in it?  No, of course not!  Here’s the answer:

8:  For finding fault with them, {the people, the human beings, the Israelites}, He said {again quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34}, "Behold, the days come," says the LORD, "when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9:  Not according to the
{Sinai} covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt {there’s the “time-stamp” which proves that he's writing about the Sinai covenant}; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not," says the LORD…

It was the human Israelite people who failed to continue to live up to their side of the Sinai Covenant as they had promised to do.

10:  “For this is the {new} covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days," says the LORD; "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD': for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest."

Again, in a nutshell, what we just read is the New Covenant and it is the grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant.

The Grafting of the Two Olive Trees

We will move on now and discuss the symbolic grafting of the two olive trees in Romans 11.

But before we do so, we need to solidify our knowledge of a few things which we have already studied.

Firstly, as we just read in Hebrews 8:8, where the author there is quoting Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 31:31:
"Behold, the days come," says the LORD, "When I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah."

The first point that we need to solidify and cement into our minds here is that God’s New Covenant is primarily – first of all – with the houses of Israel and Judah.  That is number one.  We're not being racist here; but that is what God says. 

The second point is that there is a very strong spiritual tie between physical Israel (including the tribe of Judah), the Sinai Covenant, the New Covenant and the Church of God.

If you are looking for an inspiring Bible study sometime, read through what Stephen said to the people who he knew were going to stone him to death.  In Stephen’s amazing address to his murderers, God inspired him to refer to physical Israel as "the Church in the Wilderness.  Speaking of Moses, here is what he said:

Acts 7:38:
This is he
(Moses) that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spoke to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

Stephen was calling Old Testament Israel "the Church in the wilderness" and there is a very good reason for that, as we shall soon see. 

This verse and Galatians 6:16 are parallel scriptures and are different sides of the same coin:

Galatians 6:16:
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

Paul is referring to the Church of God here.  We need to keep these two things in our minds as we continue: that Old Testament Israel was the Church in the Wilderness and that the church is the New Testament Israel of God.  It is very  important that we remember this.

Now, keeping these two points firmly in mind, just how does the transference of the Abrahamic Covenant work?  How are the New Covenant promises – i.e. the grace part promises of the Abrahamic Covenant – transferred from physical Israel (including Judah) to spiritual Israel – to the Church of God – which includes physical Gentiles?  How does that work?

The apostle Paul answers these questions in Romans 11.  We are going to spend a bit of time there starting now:

Romans 11:1a: 
I say then, has God cast away his people?... 

Has God totally and permanently cast away His people – i.e. physical Israel (including Judah)? 

1b:  ... Certainly not!  For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2:  God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew
{physical Israel}.  Or do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying,
3:  "LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”?

What Paul is showing here is that the Israelites did lots of "bad stuff" over the centuries.

4:  But what does the divine response {the answer of God} say to him?  "I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
5a:  Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant...

The English word remnant is translated from the Greek noun "leimma."  Paul is referring to a remnant of the physical Israelites. 

5b:  ... according to the election of grace.

The English word election is translated from the Greek noun "ekloge" which means means choosing – yes, choosing by grace.  This is not a democratic election by the human beings.  Wouldn't we all be in big trouble if it was?  No.  This is an election of – and by – God the Father:

John 6:44:
No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:65:
And He said, "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."

God the Father is the only one who has the authority to do the electing, the calling, the choosing, the drawing and the setting apart.  If we are truly called, then it is God the Father who called us.  

Carrying on from what the apostle Paul says here, God the Father has elected, drawn, called, chosen and set apart a remnant of the physical Israelites.  Again, not just Jews!  He has called and chosen (etc.) that remnant of physical Israelites to become spiritual Israelites – alongside their physical Gentile brothers and sisters. 

The point is that the Israelites did a lot of "bad stuff"; but they are not totally and permanently cut off.  This should come as good news for those of us who think we are Israelites.  

Yes, the physical Israelites are this remnant that Paul is talking about here.  But are the physical Israelites inherently more righteous than the physical Gentiles?

No!  But as God, through Paul, tells us in Romans 11:5 (which we have just read), He is saying that His calling is "according to the election of grace"; not because the Israelites are inherently any better pr more righteous than the Gentiles.

Grace is a spiritual concept that my limited human mind has had a problem fully grasping and one which I need to spend more time studying more deeply. 

This next verse in Romans 11, is a great verse which is actually referring to the perfect logic of God:

6:  And if by grace, then it is no longer of works {Greek: ergon}; otherwise grace is no longer grace.  But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

You have to spend a bit more time on that verse in order to get your head around it!  But basically, God, through Paul, is being logical.  He is simply stating: Grace is not works and works is not grace!

The works that Paul mentions here are specifically – but not totally limited to – the works of the sacrificial offerings of the Sinai Covenant.  Like all of God’s chosen ones (both physical Gentile and physical Israelite), our salvation comes by grace; not by the works of animal sacrifices. 

But we must be careful not to take this too far; because some works are required of New Testament Christians.  Also, self-sacrifice is still necessary for New Testament Christians.  So we can’t say all works and all sacrifice is now unnecessary.  There are other kinds of works and other kinds of sacrifices that are necessary (James 2; I Peter 2:5; Hebrews 13:15-16).

7:  What then? Israel {physical} has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect {ekloge the elected ones spiritual Israel – made up of both physical Israelite and physical Gentile brethren} have obtained it, and the rest {the unconverted majority of physical Israelites} were blinded.
8:  Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor
{insensibility or slumber}, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day."

God did that!  God did the blinding!  God the Father is the One who says, "I want you, you and you; but sorry – not you – not yet anyway."

We all know what the word "blinded" means; but the Greek (poroo) can mean spiritually calloused, hardened or dumbed down.  Don't we see a lot of that in modern Israel today?  As mentioned in an earlier sermon of this series, physical Israelites can tend to be somewhat thick-headed – especially if not enlightened by God’s Holy Spirit. 

But again, please remember who it was who blinded them.  It was God. 

The Israelites had everything.  They had the holy scriptures.  They saw God's works first-hand.  They had God with them.  They saw many fantastic miracles.  And yet they were blinded!

9:  And David says: "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a recompense to them."

Paul was inspired here to quote David’s inspired words from Psalm 69 and to apply David’s words to the uncalled majority of physical Israel  – both ancient and modern – many of whom appeared – still do! – to be blissfully happy in their ignorance. 

In effect Paul is saying here, "For the time being, let the physical cares, riches and pleasures of this world be their wages – all of those physical appetites and all of that "stuff" that Jesus said in His "Sower" parable, would choke the development of the seed (Matthew 13:22).  Let that stuff be their wages."

But for you and me, we cannot allow that to be our wages!  Yes, we can enjoy what we can out of it; but we have more important things to spend our thoughts and time on than those physical things.  We have the New Covenant!

10:  Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, and bow down their back always.”

Again, they were spiritually blinded by God.  Like those doubting Jews said to Jesus (John 8:33), modern Israelite people today think they are totally free.  The uncalled majority of physical Israelites continue to be spiritually blinded and continue to be bowed down in slavery – both to Satan and to the world.  (This brings to mind one of Herbert Armstrong’s booklets entitled "A World Held Captive," the front cover which had a picture of the world behind some prison bars).

11a:  I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall?…

Again, from the context, we know that Paul is asking, “that they should fall totally, permanently, and irrevocably?”  And his answer comes right away:

11b: …Certainly not!  But through their fall {which is partial and temporary}, to provoke them {the physical Israelites} to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles… 

From that time, when Paul wrote this, to now, I would say that most physical Israelites have not been and still are not provoked to jealousy.  Not yet, anyway!  I would say that many – if not most – physical Israelites have gone over to rank paganism, atheism or (at best – arguably) professing Christianity. 

Most physical Israelites really do not care one whit about true Christianity or the fact that it has been offered to the Gentiles.  But they will!  At some time in the future, most of them will be enabled to realize these things!  

In the mean-time, whether we be physical Israelites, or physical Gentiles or (as is most likely in these latter days) a mixture of both, it is our responsibility to be good, true Christian examples to them – beginning with true agape love for one another, which might perhaps initiate even a tiny spark of desire in them for the true Christian way of life! 

John 13:35:
By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.

We don’t need to go around preaching to people who do not want to hear it; nor do we need to go knocking on people’s doors.  But please don’t be ashamed of what you believe.  Always try to be ready to give an answer if somebody asks you a question.

But I digress!  Let me repeat that most physical Israelites really do not care about true Christianity or the fact that it has been offered to the Gentiles.  Back to Romans 11 – edited for clarity:

12:  Now if their fall {the partial and temporary fall of the physical Israelites} is riches for the {physical Gentile} world, and their failure {the partial and temporary failure of the physical Israelites} is {comes to be} riches for the {physical} Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
13:  For I speak to you
{physical} Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the {physical} Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
14:  If by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh
{physical Israelites} and save some of them.
15: For if their
{physical Israelites'} being cast away {partially and temporarily} is the reconciling of the {physical Gentile} world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

So here we have eternal life for everybody – the ultimate reward of the Abrahamic Covenant’s grace promises.  Eternal life for everybody – not just Jews – not just Israelites; but Gentiles as well.

The Grafting

From verse 16 on, Paul leads us into this discussion of the grafting of two symbolic olive trees.  As we shall see as this unfolds, the wild olive tree symbolizes physical Gentiles and a natural, cultivated olive tree symbolizes physical Israelites.

16:  For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Who is the firstfruit?  Who is the lump?  Who is the root?  And who are the branches?  Other scriptures tell us that the First of the Firstfruits and the Root both  symbolize Jesus Christ.

From Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12, we know that Jesus is the number one Branch as well.  There are other secondary branches too.  In John’s gospel account, Jesus expands this concept even more, saying that He is the Vine – the main Trunk of the tree! 

The lump and the secondary branches represent Jesus’ brothers and sisters both in physical Israel and in the New Testament Israel of God, both today and in the World Tomorrow.

17:  And if some of the branches {of the natural physical Israelite olive tree} were broken off, and you {physical Gentile Christians} being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the {natural Israelite} olive tree… 

So again, please remember those trees.  We have a wild Gentile olive tree and a natural cultivated olive tree.  Here we read of some branches having been broken off the Israelite one so that wild Gentile branches could be grafted in.

"Partaker" is an interesting word in verse 17.  Using Strong’s, please take the time to look up the verses containing the word "partaker"  and see how many benefits there are for Gentiles and Israelites alike in becoming partakers of the Root and Fatness of this “natural” spiritual olive tree. 

Continuing in Romans 11, we fine Paul still writing to the Gentile brethren in Rome:

18:  Do not boast against the branches {physical Israelites}.  But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root {Jesus who, by the way, was born a physical Israelite!} supports you.

All of the prophecies about the lineage of Jesus Christ are important.  They culminate in what Paul says here, "The Root – Jesus – supports you."

19:  You will say then, “Branches {physical Israelites} were broken off that I {and my fellow Gentile branches} might be grafted in.”
20: Well said.  Because of unbelief they
{physical Israelite branches} were {temporarily} broken off, and you {Gentile branches} stand by faith.  Do not be haughty, but fear.

Paul is saying to the gentile brethren, "Don't get uppity because you have been brought into God’s church and think that you are somehow better than those physical Israelites because they have been temporarily broken off to allow you to come in!"

21:  For if God did not spare the natural {physical Israelite} branches, He may not spare you {Gentile branches} either.
22:  Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God.  On those
{physical Israelites} who {partially and temporarily} fell:  severity.  But toward you {physical Gentile branches}, goodness, if you continue in His goodness.  Otherwise you also will be cut off.
23: And they
{physical Israelites} also, if they do not continue in unbelief {i.e. if and when they repent and come to obtain true belief and faith from God}, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

Yes.  They will actually re-grafted back in.  This sounds amazing.  The Israelite branches were cut off from their own Israelite tree for a while and now they have to be re-grafted into that same tree – their own tree. 

These amazing verses from 20 to 23 remind me of the many scriptures that describe how the righteousness of God is virtually synonymous with the faith and belief that only He can give!

24a:  For if you {Gentile branches} were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree…

This cultivated olive tree is elsewhere in this chapter referred to as the natural olive tree, which we know to be the Israelite olive tree – the olive tree of the Israel of God – including the spiritual promises of the grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant.

24b: … How much more will these, who are natural branches {physical Israelites}, be grafted into their own olive tree?

What an amazing thing!  Can you imagine it?  The Israelite branches have been cut off and they have been sitting there – sidelined, as it were.   But they are going to be re-grafted back in to be part of their own olive tree once again.  They might look around them and ask, "Who are all these branches on our tree?  They are not Israelite branches!  Oh!  They are Gentile branches!"  And they will be reassured by Jesus, "Yes. These are your new brothers and sisters.  They have become Israelites too!"

25:  For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness {calloused-ness, hardness, spiritual dumbing-down} in part has happened to {physical} Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Please note the words, "in part."  Between the Jews and the professing Christians scattered across the modern territories of the various Israelite tribes, there still remains an ever-so-tiny glimmer of spiritual understanding.  But it is almost as if those physical Israelites and Jews have "blinders" on – what the English call “blinkers” – eye-shades which they’re unable to clearly see through.  Yes, they do have spiritual blinders on!  But please remember what Paul wrote back in verses 7 to 10, that it was God who put those blinders on them.  Purposely!  Here it is again:

8:  Just as it is written: “God has given them a spirit of stupor eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.”

Why would God do such a thing?  Here is part of the answer:

II Thessalonians 2:
10:  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11:  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12:  That they all might be damned
{condemned} who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

This is a very important scripture.  It is a test and a warning for us too.  We have received the love of the truth.  But we have to maintain that love of the Truth.  If we don’t, God warns us that He will send a strong delusion on us and that we will believe a lie.  The breaking of the ninth commandment spirals down. Lies build upon lies, lies build upon lies, lies build upon lies; and the end product is damnation.  Condemnation. 

Back to Romans 11, where we see that, thankfully, God has not cut off Israel totally:

Romans 11:
26a:  And so all Israel will be saved …

Now there is some good news!  All Israel will be saved!  Not just the tribe of Judah.  Not just the modern physical Israelite nations either.  But the totality of the natural olive tree of the Israel of God – with the converted wild olive tree Gentile branches grafted in! 

26b: … As it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion…

It was written in Isaiah 59:20.

I am not totally sure whether this means that He will come out of the heavenly Zion (Revelation 14), or its earthly counterpart, or both.  I need to do more studying on that.  We know that, upon His second coming, Jesus will land on the Mount of Olives, not on Mount Zion.  This could be significant with regards to the symbolic olive trees. 

26c: … And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27:  "For this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins."

This ties right back in with the New Covenant prophecies as quoted here from Jeremiah 31:34 and Isaiah 27:9; and is very welcome good news that we can all be looking forward to right now!  

But when will the fulfillment of this all be?  Partially in the Millennium.  Completely during the Great White Throne Judgment period following the Second Resurrection.

28a:  Concerning the gospel, they {physical Israelites generally} are enemies {of God} for your {Gentile Christians} sake...

Again, why did God do this?  He did it so that the Gentiles would not be cast off forever.  He cut off His own chosen people temporarily because He also loves the Gentile people.  He wants them to have salvation too.  He wants them to live forever.  What a fantastic God we have!

28b: … but as touching the election {ekloge} they {the physical Israelites} are beloved for the sake of the fathers {the fathers of the covenant… Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph}.
29:  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable
{permanent; irreversible}.
30:  For as you
{physical Gentile brethren} were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their {unconverted physical Israelites’} disobedience,
31:  Even so these
{physical Israelites} also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you {through the calling and conversion of you physical Gentile brethren} they {the physical Israelites} also may obtain mercy.

Who are the “you”?  Who are the “they?”  I have tried to make those things clear today.  Usually in this chapter, when Paul mentions "you," he is referring to the physical Gentiles.  And when he mentions "they," he is referring to the physical Israelites.

Likewise, in the same way as the Gentiles, through God’s miraculous calling and conversion, the physical Israelites will obtain mercy and salvation.  It is no different.  The Israelites have to come to God in the same way as the Gentiles do.

32:  For God has committed them all {unconverted physical Israelites} to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all {including both Israelites and Gentiles}

Again, what a wonderful, merciful, loving God we have!

Hopefully, today's sermon has clarified the method by which God brings physical Gentiles into spiritual Israel, into the New Covenant, and into the grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant.