If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root do not boast over those branches. If you do consider this: you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say, then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. (Romans 11:18-21)
In 2017 my husband’s very much-loved father passed away. Selling the homestead, full of wonderful family memories, was very difficult. My niece, Haley, a super-talented Biologist who is in charge of a greenhouse at a college in North Carolina, took a plant from the homestead before it was sold. When our family was in North Carolina for Christmas, Haley gave presents of the grafted plant to each of us. It was a sweet gift to enjoy a bit of the homestead and the delightful reminiscences of our family.
Paul uses the analogy of plant grafting, to explain how we Gentiles fit into God’s family. He speaks of an olive tree. The root is God, the trinity, and the branches are the Jewish people. Some of the branches are broken off (temporarily) because of unbelief so that new branches can be grafted in. The new branches that are grafted in are Gentiles who believe in Jesus and stand by faith. Every branch is connected to the root, fully supported and fed by God. God doesn’t want us to be arrogant. He wants us to remember that we are saved by His grace, not by anything that we do.
It is natural for us to ask: “What happens to the branches that are broken off? Are they thrown into hell?” No! Jesus holds those branches in his hands until their time of grace approaches. Jesus, himself, states in John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.”
If those of us who are Jewish from the line of Jacob who don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah or if those of us who have declared Jesus to be our Savior lose belief and/or faith and/ or backslide are still sitting in the hands of Jesus, why should we be afraid?
The enemy is always trying to snatch us out of Jesus’ hands by making us believe that God is a crutch and that we should be able to get through life without Him. But life is too hard to get through without Him and still have joy. Ultimately, the enemy cannot snatch us out of the hands of Jesus. But, since we are not attached to the root, our life source, we are subject to the wrath of God. He will let you choose to go with the enemy for a bit, and He will not spare you from the consequences of your choices. So, until we believe or recover from a fall, we need to be afraid.