Who Gets In?

2 Kings 21: 1–18, Luke 13:31–35, Romans 11:1–12 (read online ⧉)

Scripture leaves no question as to Manasseh. He was not a man after God’s own heart. While the image of God was in him, he in no way honored it. He led his people even further away from God. He is not alone in his guilt. While he may have led the people away from God, they chose to follow. We could excuse their behavior by saying that they were afraid to oppose Manasseh, however, God does not excuse them. There is a lot to unpack there, but not for today.

God does say that the people of Israel (and Judah) have done evil since they left Egypt. The time has come, it seems, for something to happen, and happen it did. The people of Judah were eventually sent into exile.

By the time of Jesus, Israel was again in the clutches of a foreign authority. Just as during the exile, that did not mean that God stopped working, it just wasn’t as expected or often as desired. Jesus is quite blunt about the whole thing when he states that a true prophet of Israel (with some exceptions) will die in Jerusalem, by the hand of Jerusalem. That’s a pretty dark statement.

A people who disregarded God and kill God’s prophets in the very city God “placed” his name. What kind of redemption could they possibly have?

An amazing kind.

Paul had the unenviable task of sharing the Gospel with Jews and Gentiles and placating the long-standing cultural frictions between the groups. Add into this the addition of Gentiles to God’s redemptive plan (despite it being in the Old Testament), and the tensions to cast out the “other” group(s) from the redemptive story was probably pretty strong. Paul had to respond well to the Gentiles who (at least some) seemed to think that now that they had received redemption, the Jews had lost it. Some Jews probably felt that Paul was saying that, too.

Redemption is available to all.

1) Have you ever thought or said that someone is beyond redemption?

2) Reread Romans 11:12. Compare that to the behavior that Jesus noted. What does that tell you about God’s grace and love?

3) Have you ever had to walk between 2 competing groups like Paul had to? What was it about? How was it resolved?