Old Testament Reading: Exodus 28-30 (see note below)
Psalms Reading: Psalm 41
* New Testament Reading: Romans 11
Editor’s Note: I apologize for missing the fact that three days ago our reading plan jumped to 3 chapters a day in our Old Testament reading – it will do that occasionally (mostly during genealogies, land surveys, and detailed “building” descriptions) to fit the whole OT into one year. If you have been following the devotions reading schedule not the printable schedule/download you might have a little bit of catching up to do in Exodus. Sorry!
We’ve talked the last two days about the Israelite’s rejection of God, and the subsequent grace God has shown us Gentile believers who he has adopted into His family. Gentiles, both in Paul’s day and also today, might be tempted to condemn the Israelites and also become conceited because of God’s grace toward us.
Paul addressed the potential conceit we might feel in Romans 11:17-21 which says, “If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”
I find this analogy interesting. In orchards, often a wild rootstock is more hearty than a domesticated rootstock. So when grafting, someone will graft a desirable shoot that will produce good fruit onto a strong rootstock to get the best tree possible. Nobody would ever consider grafting an autumn olive (or Russian olive) branch onto a productive olive tree. Autumn olives are an invasive species, have thorns, and are completely undesirable. Even deer don’t eat autumn olives.
So, given Paul’s analogy, we are worthless. Israelites, in the analogy, were far more valuable than we are. If God pruned them off because of their unfaithfulness, and then grafted us in, we should be thankful, not conceited. Because if God pruned them, he will certainly prune us who are worth so much less, if we don’t continue in our faith.
Paul said that some of the motivation for his preaching to the Gentiles was to make the Israelites jealous, and want to be reconciled with God. Some wonder if God would ever accept back a person who walks away from God. Romans 11: 23-24 suggests that God will welcome rebels back, “And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree!”
This is great news, not only for Israelites, but also for us. First, we have been extended the opportunity of salvation because of the Israelites’ rejection of God. And secondly, because if God will welcome them back when they have walked away from Him, this suggests He will welcome us back if we have turned away from Him.
It’s a dangerous thing to presume on the grace of God. But if you have wandered, come back to God while there is still time. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.“
If you haven’t yet accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, today is the day of salvation. If you accepted Him in the past, but have wandered away, today is the day to come back. We don’t know when Jesus will return. I assume it will be relatively soon. Once He does return, it will be too late to accept Him. Today is the day. Seize the day.
- What do you need to do since Now is the day of salvation? How will you do it?
- How have you been a recipient of God’s grace? Tell Him how you feel about it.
- What do you think of God’s grafting skills? What have you learned about Him in our Bible reading today?