Scripture Reading: Romans 11:15-16 (Holman Christian Study Bible)
15 For if their being rejected is world reconciliation, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?
16 Now if the firstfruits offered up are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches.”
Thought for the day:
At first glance, these verses seem to be quite difficult to understand. There are a number of references to big topics that could be more than a little overwhelming. For example, the Jewish rejection of the Messiah is a huge topic in of itself. The whole subjects of Reconciliation, Acceptance and ‘life from the dead’ can’t really be taught nor understood in the 500 words I have at my disposal today. What about firstfruits, ‘the whole batch’, roots and branches? All of these could take many, many pages of description and cross references in order to get a proper grasp on what the apostle Paul is presenting in these couple of verses.
So, where do we start? Firstly, quite simply, we as Gentiles have been reconciled to God because of the Jewish rejection of the Messsiah. God’s plan always was to reconcile us to Himself and that plan involved the rejection of Jesus and the resulting crucifixion of the Saviour of the world. As the apostle Paul says, ‘Thanks be to God for His gift beyond words’. To properly understand verse 16, we need to go back to the Old Testament. In fact, we need to look at one of the most difficult books in the OT. The book of Numbers isn’t one that I read when I’m looking for inspiration! Whenever it crops up in my daily devotions, I have to be honest in saying that I skip over so much of it. I like the subject of mathematics, but all those Numbers don’t make for easy reading! However, chapter 15 is the passage that God’s Spirit is inspiring Paul to reference here in Romans. In particular, verse 20 says ‘Present a cake from the first of the flour you grind, and set it aside as a sacred offering, as you do with the first grain from the threshing floor.’ The principle behind this is that God is asking Israel to bring an offering of the firstfruits of the grain worked into the dough and baked as a cake. As they prepared this cake and set it apart for the Lord, so the entire grain harvest was now regarded as being set apart also. From that point, whatever the people used from the harvest was also regarded as a gift from God’s hand. Similarly, if the root of a tree is consecrated to the Lord, so are all its branches.
Prayer and Application:
It is easy to overstretch the application of these verses, but I’d like to briefly apply this to our giving to the Lord. If we set apart the firstfruits of our income to the Lord, then I believe that in a greater dimension, we will appreciate that ALL of our income is also His.