Open Your Bible
Ephesians 3:1-13, Romans 11:1-36, Revelation 7:9-12
So say there’s this girl. Let’s call her Izzy. And there was a bully who taunted Izzy and beat her up, starting in kindergarten by calling her teeth yellow, and continuing to senior year by calling her heart yellow.
What a relief to graduate and move on! But then, on her wedding day, her tormenter showed up at the reception, uninvited, eager to share champagne, strawberries, and first dances with Izzy and her new husband. Izzy tried to ignore it. But when she and her beloved reached to cut the cake that symbolized their new life together, a third hand tenderly joined theirs on the knife. Izzy couldn’t take it any longer. She shouted:
GET OUT OF MY SPECIAL MOMENT! This is our special covenant together, and you are not included!
This awkward narrative makes us so mad and squirmy, but this is how the people of Israel felt when the Gentiles came out of the woodwork to join the church. This is our wedding feast. Go find your own.
The term “Gentiles” pretty much means everybody who’s not Jewish. It meant the Egyptians, Medes, Persians, and Babylonians— all those guys who tossed Israel around like game of keep-away. These are the nations who bullied and slaughtered Israel on and off for half of the Old Testament.
Israel did not want anything to do with these bad guys. And they had always seen the promise of the covenant as specific and exclusive to Abraham and his descendants (Romans 11:1-2). When they sang “Father Abraham…had many sons…” they meant it literally and ethnically.
The idea of including the enemy in their special family covenant was radical and unwelcome. Why would Israel want all the mean and dirty Gentiles involved in their intimate covenant with God? Wasn’t He their God?
Paul lovingly tries to bring them around to the idea. He argues that this was actually God’s plan from the beginning (Ephesians 3:11). And not only was it God’s plan, but it’s God’s great grace to the Jews to allow them to minister to the Gentiles. God gave them the opportunity to become more like Christ—to show grace (Ephesians 3:7-9). The Gentiles became fellow heirs in Christ. And I am so grateful, because any of us who don’t literally come from the “many sons” of Abraham are technically Gentiles too.
Thankfully, my husband and I didn’t have to share our special nuptial moments with an intruder, but ours is a small picture of a greater marriage. At the marriage supper of Lamb, we will sit side by side with people who wouldn’t have chosen us to attend their special moments on earth. At the moment the Jews start feeling possessive about the covenant as their own, Paul admonishes them that it’s only due to God’s great grace and kindness that they are at the marriage supper at all.
The same is true for you and me. Yes, the covenant is ours, but we are that creepy third-wheel bully that doesn’t deserve to be there. We all picture ourselves as the bride, but the big news of the gospel is this: I’m actually the problem in the story. We are the ones who have been undeservedly invited in.
Oh, the depth of the riches of both the wisdom and the knowledge of God (Romans 11:33)! We receive the goodness of God’s truth, His grace, and His salvation, and we get to share it. We may be natural born enemies, but we are equal heirs to the inheritance of the gospel.
After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands.
– Revelation 7:9