Thesis:The issue of "Life" is the active focus of God for benefit.
Introduction:There is not a person on the planet who does not intuitively know that the essence of Life is the presence of a deep contentment. But there are not very many people on the planet who have not been deceived into thinking that contentment at a sufficiently deep level to call it "Life" can be possessed apart from an active faith in God as He is. Most people are dissatisfied, but are extremely adept at denying it. It is into this reality that Paul inserts his "Gospel of God".
In Paul's "Gospel of God" there is one outstanding truth: Life is the result of God turning His focus of attention upon a person for the purpose of imparting His contentment.
This one outstanding truth has a huge complexity of details -- that's why the Bible is a revelation with many, many words in it -- but the fact is Life travels down the line of God's vision when He has the communication of contentment in mind for the object of His sight.
This evening we are going to look into this one outstanding truth as Paul addresses it in Romans 11:12.
I. The Issues of This Text.
A. The issue of Israel's "fall" bringing "riches" to the world.
B. The issue of Israel's "diminishing" bringing "riches" to the nations.
II. The Particulars of This Text.
A. The distinction between "fall" and "diminishing".
1. The word translated by the translators of the AV as "fall" is defined by the context as "egregious rebellion".
a. The closest identifying concept in this context for Israel's "fall" is 11:4 where bowing to a false god is the problem.
b. The next closest identifying concept is 11:3 where Israel's "fall" is identified as "killing God's prophets and destroying His altars".
c. Then we have the testimony of 10:21 where Israel's "fall" is identified as the deliberate and persistent refusal to submit coupled to the outspoken argumentative contradiction.
d. And, ultimately, we have 10:3 where Israel's "fall" is identified as the determined commitment of pride in attempting to establish their own righteousness.
e. "Egregious rebellion" is my "summary term" for the complex reality called "their fall".
2. The word translated "diminishing" by the translators of the Authorized Version is a fairly rare word in the lexicons, so we have to put some information together in order to attempt to see what it is that Paul is saying.
a. When I considered all that I could find about this word, the bottom line seemed to be this: it describes the problem of ceasing to be in that special place of God's focus of attention in view of benefit.
b. The meaning of this word is highlighted by both Babel and Pentecost.
1) In both cases, the issue is the shift of attention by God from one object of His attention to a different object.
a) At Babel God gave up His focus upon the nations to pursue a focus upon a nation, beginning with Abraham.
b) At Pentecost, God gave up His focus upon that nation to pursue a focus upon the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
2) In both cases, the issue of this shift is the same: persistent and egregious rebellion.
a) Babel was not even a generation away from the Flood.
b) Pentecost was in spite of 1500 years of special divine focus.
c. The point is this: persistent and egregious rebellion caused God to shift His focus from the rebellious to others.
1) This was not to terminate His interest in them.
a) Pentecost denies that Babel terminated God's interest in the nations.
b) Paul argues that the Church denies that Pentecost terminated God's interest in Israel.
2) This was to introduce a new thread in His overall plan so that He could include them.
a) God turned to "nation-building" with Israel in order to lay the foundations for extending salvation to the nations.
b) God turned to "Church-building" among the nations in order to lay the foundations for bringing Israel to salvation.
B. The distinction between "the world" and "the nations".
1. The word "world" has to do with a structured whole consisting of many parts that are arranged around certain fundamental principles.
a. God's interest in "the world" has to do with His intention of setting up His Kingdom rule over it.
1) God's Kingdom will be a "world" in that it will be a structured whole.
2) God's Kingdom will be a "world" with profoundly different fundamental principles.
b. The "world" now lies within the dominion of the wicked one, but it is destined to be delivered from his clutches (this is "salvation for the world").
2. The word "nations" has to do with the multiple parts of the world as it has to do with those who are participating in the structure and principles of it.
3. Paul's use of "world" and "nations" was intended to communicate the fact that God is going to remake the world by remaking the governing principles of the nations within it.
C. The true meaning of "riches".
1. The issue of Israel's egregious rebellion leading to the riches of the world is the issue of true wealth being brought into existence in the structured reality.
a. This means that "riches" must be understood.
1) Riches, according to the divine perspective, is what I have called "deep contentment".
2) Riches identified by the Scriptures consist of the fruit of the Spirit.
b. This means that the "path to riches" must be understood.
1) Paul calls "salvation" the true "riches".
2) Paul teaches that "salvation" is the restoration of a relationship of contentment between God and the "saved".
3) Thus, the "path to riches" is that course which establishes and maintains contentment between God and men.
2. The issue of Israel's displacement in God's focus of attention leading to the riches of the nations is the issue of salvation being extended to the various national entities which make up "the world".
III. The Question of the Bigger Picture.
A. Paul declares that Israel's egregious behavior leading to God's shift of focus has resulted in "Life" (i.e., profound contentment) for both "world" and "nations".
B. Paul's question is simply a prod to our thinking: what will Israel's "fullness" produce?