September 26th, 2014 | By admin
by Paul Holland
Many people believe the Jews will one day convert in mass to Jesus Christ and such will be a sign of the second coming of Christ. So, let’s take a look at what the Scriptures teach about Israel, especially on this side of the cross.
Matthew wrote his gospel for a Jewish audience. Consider these passages: 3:7-10; 8:5-13; 21:18-22; and 21:33-44. What each of these passages show is that since Israel would not repent in their behavior toward God and believe in Jesus Christ, Whom He sent, they would be cast out of the vineyard of God’s people and that vineyard would be given to a nation producing fruit. There is no hope held out in Matthew – short of repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ – for the nation of Israel to be saved.
The letter of Romans shows clearly that Israel, in mass, refused to accept Jesus and His righteousness as the goal of the Law. Yet, in writing to Christians who were (partly) Jewish, Paul uses their own Scriptures (the Old Testament) to show them that Christ/the Gospel/Christianity/ the Church were the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law of Moses.
In 2:28-29, Paul writes that it is not physical circumcision (anymore) that matters to God. It is spiritualcircumcision (which happens when we are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins – Colossians 2:11-12) that matters to God, now.
In 4:10-12, 16 (really, all of chapter 4), Paul shows that Abraham was justified (forgiven of his sins) based on his faithful response to God (recorded in Genesis 15) before (and without) circumcision (which happened in Genesis 17). Thus, we will be saved as Abraham was saved, if we respond to God faithfully (and without physical circumcision).
So what does this mean for Jews? Israelites?Descendants of Abraham? Romans 9-11 is a trilogy on the relationship of Israel (on this side of the cross) with the God of heaven. Chapter 9 is focused on how God worked through Israel, through His sovereignty, to bring Jesus into the world.
Chapter 10 is focused on the historical fact that Israel rejected God. The stubbornness and unrepentant heart of Israel was predicted in the OT. All Israel heard God’s message (10:18, quoting Psa. 19:4). All Israel knewGod’s message (10:19, quoting Deut. 32:21 and 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1). But what was lacking in Israel but prevalent among the Gentiles was a response of faithful obedience (10:16-17).
So, chapter 11 is about the fact that everyone must submit to God. God has not universally saved the Israelite nation nor has He universally condemned the Israelite nation. Just because one is an Israelite or Jew does not mean he is automatically condemned. It also means that the Gentiles ought not to be proud and boastful over against the Jew because the Gentile Christian can be cut off just like the Jewish nation was cut off.
Finally, there are a number of passages which teach that the church of Jesus Christ is the “Israel of God” today: Romans 2:28-29; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 3; Galatians 3:28-29; 6:16; Ephesians 2:14; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:9-12; James 1:1, 2:2, 5:14; 1 Peter 2:9.
The nation of Israel living in Palestine today is notGod’s chosen people anymore. Israel served its purpose when it brought Jesus into the world. I seriously question if any “Jew” today can even prove that he/she is a descendant of Abraham!
As God’s elect in Christ, let us continue in our faith and share His news with the lost.