Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)
The whole concept Paul is speaking of is one that is hard to grasp. Yet Paul is saying that much of Israel has been hardened to the truth that Jesus Christ was their long awaited Messiah. As a result of their not recognizing it, God saw fit to have the gospel preached to the Gentiles too, the people who are not of Israelite descent.
Imagine it like a king’s crown, the outerframe is made of pure gold and there are twelve fixtures in the crown to place precious gem stones. Suppose then that those who receive the gospel by faith in Christ that were not ever Jews are the gold that makes up the frame of the crown. Yet now lets say these 12 gems that go into the crown eventually are people who come to faith in Christ from the 12 tribes of Israel.
Revelations speaks of 144,000 being saved and sealed for redemption during the tribulation.
It says: “saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed. (Revelation 7:3-8)
From my personal study of Scripture, I am led to believe these 144, 000 are Jews that receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord in the last time.
Presently, we live in the age known as the age of Gentiles, meaning, the Gospel must be preached to all nations so that those who are scattered throughout the world in all countries and languages have a chance to hear the gospel and respond.
Once all who have come to faith that will from the Gentile world, (That is to say, non Israelite people groups) then God will begin to work to draw the people of Israel who will respond to the gospel.
Some may not understand how important the Old Testament truly is. It is hard to wade through it and is sometimes difficult to make sense of.
Few questions people may ask, “So Israel was once God’s chosen people, but are they not anymore?”
First let’s define what chosen means in Old Testament context. We must understand whether it means chosen by salvation or chosen by nationality.
Chosen by nation- this is to say, God selected a nation, one nation out of all the nations of the World to reveal His identity to. God is the God of all people, nations and races that make up the world population but He chose specifically to reveal Himself to the descendants of Abraham, through the promised son, Isaac.
Why did God do this? Well for one, He promised Abraham,
seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? (Genesis 18:18)
And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.
What is the large scale implications of this promise to Abraham? How does it impact our lives as Christians today?
Let’s understand why God needed to create for Himself a people (Israel) first.
God had in mind, to bring salvation from sin and had a time in mind in which this would take place.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7)
God needed to preserve for Himself a line of people that were holy and became a vehicle to bring about the Messiah. God desires to use holy things- he was not going to merely use a vessel of dishonor to bring about his holy redemptive plan, so He chose to reveal Himself to Israel. Taught them His ways and provided a temporary ceremonial and sacrificial system to preserve a race of people (Namely the Jews) long enough so that through their ancestory, Abraham’s ancestory, a Messiah would come.
This is how “and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,”
Because from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s descendents eventually came the Christ.
Many in the time of Jesus in Israel could not understand He was the one to come.
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
John 1:11-12 –
This is what Jesus meant when He sees the faith of a Roman soldier who asks Jesus to heal his servant
“When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 8:10-12 –
Here we have a “Gentile” Roman who believes Jesus is truly who He claimed to be. Yet many of the Jews had no faith in Him and His claims.
Therefore Jesus says, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Many who have turned to Christ by faith have come indeed from “East and west” and are now followers of Christ. Yet Jesus is saying those Jews who reject Him and the Gospel, even though they are biological “sons” of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will not enter eternal life. Why, for the fact they rejected the Son of God who came to redeem Israel, and also the world who will receive His message.
Paul says, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” Romans 9:3-7 –
Paul had great anguish over the fact that not every Israelite would be saved. There is a remnant (A sum of people from the entire whole group) that will, but the ones who persist in unbelief will not.
So the truth is that faith, has always been the means for eternal life- the Jews of old who were true Jews were faithful to the Lord there God. Yet we see many forsook him by worshipping idols, Baals, and became like “the surrounding nations”
They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. 2 Kings 17:15-18 –
Eventually, God sent Judah into exile in Babylon and only a remnant repented in their captivity. The remnant returned and later after 70 years filled the land of Judah again.
Yet the timeless principle is there were always people in Israel who turned away from God and others who remained true to Him. The one group had really no “faith” and those who remained loyal to God or repented and turned to Him showed their faith through that.
Ahaz king of Judah as an example of am Israelite who had no faith (2 Chronicles 28:22 says he became more “faithless” in the “time of his distress.”
So werent people like Ahaz technically “Jews” ? By name only but the true worshippers of God are Jews inwardly the Apostle Paul explains
Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Romans 2:25-29 –
So the truth be told, through Jesus Christ by faith we receive a newness of heart, a circumcision of not the body but a changed heart
This is what Jeremiah says “This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.
Jeremiah 4:3-4 –
Being a Jew means being loyal and faithful to the living one true God, not merely being a certain nationality.