ROMANS 15: 1 A View of the Future of Jews and Gentiles
Let’s open our Bibles tonight to the 15th chapter of Romans. We’re fast coming to a conclusion in our study of this wonderful epistle this is my 255 th sermon from the book of Romans when I started this in 2009 at Rivers of Joy Baptist Church, Minford, Ohio. But even though we are coming near the end, there is still great and rich truth for us. We’re going to be looking tonight at chapter 15:1 7, and this is part five in our series on “The Unity of Strong and Weak Believers.”
Let me just say by way of introduction that it’s obvious to all of us and it really begs the issue to say much about it except by way of reminder that discord strikes a deadly blow at the work of God in the church. Chaos, confusion, strife, envy, jealousy, anger, bitterness, dissension, fighting, hatred, indifference to the needs of others, selfishness, a lack of sacrificial love, all of these things violate the unity of the church and therefore they violate the will of God and they cripple His testimony in the world. The loving harmony and unity of the church is of grave concern to God. And I want to see if I can’t point that out to you as we begin our study.
First of all, let me just say that the unity of the church is the concern of God the Father. The unity of the church is the concern of God the Father. And just by way of background to that, in Psalm 133, a very brief Psalm, I want you to listen to the three verses that make up that Psalm. “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity; it is like the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments.” In other words, like a fragrant and beautiful and lovely perfume, like the dew of Hermon, the glistening dew of the morning that settles on that great mountain peak in the north of Israel, “like the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion, for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forever more.”
And here the psalmist says that unity, to God, is a sweet and fragrant and beautiful thing. In Jeremiah 32, we find another reference to this in a couple of verses in that 32nd chapter, a section dealing with the New Covenantwe read, and God says, concerning those people who someday will become partakers of the New Covenant, “they shall be My people and I will be their God and I will give them one heart and one way that they may fear me forever for the good of them and of their children after them.” I love that. I will give them one heart and one way. That is one internal attitude and one external path of behavior.
One other Old Testament text — and I’d like you to look carefully at it — is the 37th chapter of Ezekiel’s prophecy, Ezekiel 37. And if you’ve ever studied Ezekiel, you’ll remember chapter 37 begins with the vision of the valley of dry bones, a picture of God’s re-gathering of the nation Israel in final salvation. But I want you to notice that as the Lord looks ahead to the future glory of His redeemed nation Israel, beginning in verse 15, the Word of the Lord comes to the prophet and says this, “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick and write upon it for Judah and for the children of Israel his companions; then take another stick and write upon it for Joseph the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel, his companions, and join them one to another into one stick and they shall become one in thy hand.”
Now Ezekiel carried out a lot of object lessons in his ministry and this is another very unique one. God says take one stick and identify it as Judah, the southern kingdom; take another stick and identify it as Israel, also called Ephraim, for the son of Joseph, who became the leader of the nations in the northern kingdom, and identify it as Israel. Those two sticks represent the divided kingdom which was divided under Jeroboam. And take them and put them together and make them one stick in your hand because that’s the way it’s going to be some day. Some day God is going to take His divided kingdom and join it back together in final glory.
Now taking such a stick is not foreign to the audience of Ezekiel 17. If you go back to the Numbers 17:2, you will read there that every tribe had a stick to identify it. And here God simply takes that same idea and joins those two together as if to say the day will come when God will join His people as one again, this to come in the future.
I want you to notice, also, Zephaniah 3:9 the minor prophets, There are only three chapters. It’s right at the end of this little prophecy, again God looking forward to the salvation of His nation Israel, “For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language.” A pure language, that is a spiritual speech, “That they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him (With what?) with one consent.”
Look at Zachariah 14:9. “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day shall there be one Lord and His name one.” That is, all the inhabitants of the earth will hold up and exalt the one name of the one who is alone, the Lord.
And if we were to back up in the minor prophets to Hosea 1:11 the first of the minor prophets, we would read, “Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, appointing themselves one head and they shall come up out of the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”
Now in these prophecies we see that God has intended through the New Covenant and ultimately through His design with the nation Israel to bring them together as one people. It is the same for the church. Just as in the future of the nation Israel, all the rebels will be purged out and there will be a wonderful oneness among those redeemed people, so it is in the church. And to see that, we look at John 10:14 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd and know My sheep and am known of Mine.” That is, they know Me as well. Now listen to this, “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father and I lay down My life for the sheep and other sheep I have that are not of this fold.” That is, they’re not Jews, they’re Gentiles. “Them also I must bring and they shall hear My voice and there shall be one fold and one shepherd and for that reason does My Father love Me because I lay down My life.”
In other words, it is God’s purpose that Christ lay down His life to redeem Jew and Gentile and make them one people. That is God’s desire. God’s desire was to make of one the nation of Israel which was fragmented. God’s desire was to take that one redeemed nation and the redeemed church and blend them together as well. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15:28 we find the consummation It says, “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him,” that is Christ, “then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him that God may be all in all.” In other words, everything will ultimately resolve in a great, glorious eternal unity under God.
So what we gain from just looking over those scriptures briefly is the desire of God that His people, whether they be the covenant people Israel or the New Covenant people, whether they be Jew or Gentile, whether they be talking about the past, the present or the future millennial kingdom, it is God’s desire that His people be one people with one heart and one voice and one consent to the way and the will of God, who worship one God who is known by one name. The unity of the redeemed is indeed the purpose of God. And that purpose, of course, ultimately finds its consummation in eternal glory, and we are reminded in Revelation 21 something of that scene. “A new heaven and a new earth, a new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, the tabernacle of God is with men, He will dwell with them, they will be His people, God Himself shall be with them, be their God, wipe away all tears from their eyes, no more death, no sorrow, no crying, no pain. The former things are passed away.” And there in that eternal glory, all people are brought together under the kingship of God forever and ever.
Now we know that at any given point in redemptive history, it is God’s desire that His people be one. And that is their ultimate consummation.