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The Net Bible rendering of today’s text.

ON JEALOUSY. Today our passage mentions jealousy. We usually think of jealousy as a bad thing and we equate it with envy. I’d like to propose that envy (desiring something belonging to someone else) is always bad, but jealousy can be justified. Jealousy is what we experience when something that rightfully belongs to us has been stolen away. A husband can rightfully feel jealous when his wife is seduced away to another man. God is said to be a jealous God when we chase after idols. (example: Exodus 20:5–the 2nd of the 10 Commandments.)

Our passage mentions that the salvation of the Gentiles is intended to cause jealousy among the Jews. Their special status as God’s chosen people has been transferred to the Gentile believers with the intended effect being to make them to desperately want “back in.”

ON GLOBAL EVANGELIZATION. Looking at the big picture, it seems this passage addresses missions. From the inception of the Jewish race God promises that Israel will bless all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12). It seems that their love and knowledge of God was supposed to be something they spread to all nations. But it seems they failed miserably, becoming self-focused and exclusive so God had to intervene. So God keeps His promise by pulling out Plan B (only from a human perspective–God is sovereign). Paul, whose message was rejected by most Jews has turned directly to the Gentiles with the good news. Now the Gentiles are finally receiving that blessing of being God’s people too. They’re finding real life and it’s making the Jews jealous. And if that serves to wake them up to the truth, Paul is glad.

So the nations are being reached just as God promised. And He’s doing it in spite of the Jews rejection! In fact God uses their failure to extend salvation to the whole world. And what’s more He’ll even use their failure to ultimately bring salvation back to them –where it started — using their own jealousy to do it.

If he does this much global good through their defeat, think how much He can and will do through their ultimate obedience! The nations will truly be blessed then!

There is a practical application here. If I don’t allow God to use me through my obedience, He’s not hindered in any way. Instead He will freely use my failures to accomplish His same purposes. But how much better is it when done through me instead of in spite of me!