God’s Faithfulness To Israel
By Rich Carmicheal
Scripture Reading: Romans 11
In preparation for this issue on the Second Coming of Christ, I had the privilege of reading about the end time theology of a number of great men of God from the 1700’s and 1800’s. What especially caught my attention in these writings was the general consensus that God’s Word reveals that there will be an end time conversion of the Jews, and in a number of the writings, a restoration of the Jews to the land Palestine. This is even more noteworthy considering that these men lived before the way opened in the 1900’s for the Jews to begin to return to Israel. Here are a few of their statements:
"Nothing is more certainly foretold than this national conversion of the Jews in Romans 11." – Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)
"I am one of those who believe in Israel’s restoration and conversion; who receive it as a future certainty, that all Israel shall be gathered, and that all Israel shall be saved." – Horatius Bonar (1808–1889)
"In Scripture the glory and resurrection of the church of the firstborn ones is always connected with the time when Israel (who will have returned to their own land in unbelief) ‘shall know the Lord.’" – George Müller (1805–1898)
"I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews. We do not think enough of it. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this." "It is certain that the Jews, as a people, will yet own Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David as their King, and that they will return to their own land." – C. H. Spurgeon (1834–1892).
"The second great event, which, according to the common faith of the church, is to precede the second advent of Christ, is the national conversion of the Jews." – Charles Hodge (1797–1878)
"I believe that the Jews shall ultimately be gathered again as a separate nation, restored to their own land, and converted to the faith of Christ, after going through great tribulation…" – J. C. Ryle (1816–1900)
One of the reasons these men (and many godly men and women since that time, including today) believe in the restoration of the Jews is because of the many Old Testament prophecies which point to a glorious end time regathering and spiritual awakening of the Jewish people and nation. Another key reason is the eleventh chapter of Romans which taken in its most natural and straightforward sense clearly teaches an end time restoration of Israel.
God Has Not Rejected Israel
Paul begins this chapter by asking very directly, "I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He?" (v. 1). And he answers just as directly, and emphatically, "May it never be!" (v. 1). He goes on to state explicitly, "God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew" (v. 2) and that "from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (vv. 28-29). (The descriptions of "Israel" and "His people" throughout Romans 9 – 11 make it clear that Paul has in mind the Jewish people chosen under the Old Covenant, and not the church.)
Paul acknowledges that while there is a remnant of believing Jews, most of the Jews were (and are) hardened. But that hardening is only temporary "until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in" (11:25; cf. Luke 21:24 in which Jesus states that "Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled"). In other words, a time is coming when the veil over the eyes of the Jews will be removed and they will recognize and receive Jesus as the Messiah (even now more Jewish people are turning to Jesus for salvation). Paul says that as the "natural branches" they will "be grafted into their own olive tree" (11:24), and that their fulfillment will be riches for the world (v. 12) and their acceptance will be life from the dead (v. 15). Paul is so amazed by the mercy that God has shown to the Gentiles, and will in time show to the Jews, that he breaks out into doxology regarding "the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (see vv. 32-36).
Of course, Israel is undeserving of such mercy (we are all undeserving), but the ultimate issue is not their worthiness or unworthiness, but God’s faithfulness to His promises. And Paul has already declared that the Jews’ unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God! (Rom. 3:1-4).
Our Ministry Toward Israel
Paul reveals that God’s intention is to work through the church to bring the Jews to salvation (11:11). Through the mercy shown to the Gentiles, the Jews will be shown mercy (v. 31). Tragically, just the opposite has happened throughout much of the church’s history as there has been much animosity and persecution by the church toward the Jewish people. Even in our day there is a strong element of anti-Semitism in the church, and the belief that God has rejected the Jewish people and replaced them with the church – even though Paul emphatically states that God has not rejected them!
In light of Romans 11, and many other passages, I encourage you to pray for Israel and for the peace of Jerusalem ("Praying For Israel" on pages 6-7 has helpful suggestions). In addition, take advantage of any opportunities the Lord may provide for you to share His love and mercy with Jewish people. Write to the Herald office for copies of Hear, O Israel, a Salvation herald for unsaved Jews, if these gospel papers can aid your ministry.
Be watchful as well. We are living in the day when end time prophecies concerning Israel are being fulfilled, and many other prophecies as well (see "The Jewish People And End Time Prophecy" on pages 7-8). This certainly seems to be the hour to "straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28).