Scripture Reading: Romans 3:1-8
“Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.” (Romans 3:1,2)
One may have expected Paul to answer his question, “Then what advantage has the Jew?,” in the negative; but he doesn’t. Remember his priority always went to the Jews —“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes, to the Jew FIRST and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Paul recognized the special place the Jews have in the redemptive work of God.
When God called Abraham out of paganism, He promised to make him the father of nations from his descendants — “Behold, my covenant is with you; and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations…I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and to your offspring after you” (Genesis 17:3,6,7). Abraham was the father of the Jewish people and they were chosen of God to be His special possession.
However, when Jesus Christ came to fulfill His mission as the Messiah, many of the Jews rejected Him. But remember that the first believers in Jesus were Jews. It was later that the Gentiles were engrafted into God’s covenant people. Paul reminded the Gentiles of the advantages of the Jewish people — “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12,13).
Paul always had a great respect for the Jewish people — “To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God” (v. 2). Having just returned from a visit to Israel, I can appreciate what Paul wrote. Clearly the Jews had the Old Testament Scriptures and they knew all that God had done for their ancestors in the past. They have a rich heritage of God’s blessings and so much historical proof of His work among them. Paul so deeply cared about the Jewish people that he actually wrote these words — “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” (Romans 9:3,4).
All of us Gentile believers should have a special place in our hearts for the Jewish people. We should pray regularly for the peace of Jerusalem and we should support missional movements to reach the Jewish people with the gospel.
Lord God, I know that the Jewish people are dear to Your heart. I pray for Jewish believers around the world. Thank You that they are brothers and sisters in Christ now. I also pray for the unbelieving Jews, both secular and orthodox, who do not know that Jesus is the Messiah. I pray that You open their eyes and bring them back into Your redeemed fold. I also pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all of Israel.
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