11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! – Romans 11:11-12
What is the difference between stumbling and falling? A stumble causes you to become off balance and can lead to a fall where you cannot remain standing. When something comes your way that can cause you to doubt it is like stumbling. When it becomes unbelief then the result can be that you can fall away from God. Pride can cause us to stumble and fall:
The proud one shall stumble and fall, with none to raise him up, and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it will devour all that is around him. – Jeremiah 50:32
Defying God leads us to stumble:
For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence. – Isaiah 3:8
Isaiah even prophesied that the one God was going to send (the Messiah) would become a stumbling stone;
14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.” – Isaiah 8:14-15
The teachings of Jesus is offensive to those who do not want to repent and believe. To those who are proud or rebellious. To those who want a political or military solution.
But, God had a purpose in allowing Israel to stumble. Through Jesus the Gentiles came to God and received the same blessing that the Children of Israel were promised. The Gentiles were adopted into the family of God. This made the children of God (Israel) jealous. As we have already seen Paul spent a lot of time trying to get the Jewish believers to accept their Gentile brothers and sisters.
Israel’s failure to recognise Jesus as their Messiah led to the whole world being blessed. Anyone can accept Jesus and be saved. Their trespass means riches for the world, for the Gentiles, through the suffering of the despised and rejected Saviour.
The same principle works in our lives. If we are living in sin, we reap the negative consequences. If we see a Christian whose life seems to be blessed that can either lead us to be jealous or or to repent, change our mind about the way we are behaving.
The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11) has shows us that principle as the older son who did not rebel and waste his inheritance gets upset when the prodigal son gets forgiven and blessed. The older son stumbled when he saw the grace of God extended to his sinful brother. He stumbled when he saw the love of God expressed to someone he felt did not deserve it. But the Father reassured him that he was loved.
31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'” – Luke 15:31-32
God loves the nation of Israel and He will fulfil His promises to them.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-4