Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Role of Israel in the Salvation of the Gentile


Regarding the relationship between Jews and Christians at this point in history, it is the job of the Christian to "provoke Israel to jealousy." This comes from Romans 11:11. But how did this occur? If the Jews are the chosen people of God what happened to cause the situation to become turned on its head?

Deuteronomy 7:7-9 (KJV)
7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Deuteronomy 7 confirms that Israel has been chosen by God, not because Israel was better than any other nation, but because of the oath that He had sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Isaiah 49:3,6 (KJV)
3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

The verses of Isaiah show that God would be glorified by Israel's raising up the tribes of Jacob, restoring the preserved of Israel, and being a light to the Gentiles. Salvation is the message of verse 6 and clearly God's intent was to bring salvation to the entire world, not just the Jews.

So the job that God had given the Jews was to be as a light to the Gentiles. They were to cause the Gentiles to become curious about God and to desire to enter into relationship with God. Did they do their job? Actually they were pretty successful. Huge numbers of Gentiles came into Judaism just before the coming of Yeshua. (Baron, Salo. "Population." Encyclopaedia Judaica 13 and Social and Religious History of the Jews.)

But when Yeshua came as Messiah most of the Jews did not accept Him as such. In Mark 11 the religious leaders of the Jews came to Yeshua and asked Him by whose authority did He do the things that He had been doing (cleansing the temple for one).

Mark 11:29-33 (KJV)
29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Mark 12:10 (KJV)
10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:

After this interchange Yeshua stated that the religious leaders representing Israel had rejected Him as their Messiah.

 From this point on salvation was extended to the Gentiles. This is where Romans 11:25 comes in.

Romans 11:25 (KJV)
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Although all of the original disciples of Yeshua were Jewish, Israel's rejection of Messiah resulted in a "blindness" being placed on the Jews. But it wasn't until Peter's vision in Acts 10 (See here:) that the disciples understood that  salvation was  now open to the Gentiles. Paul was the apostle who first brought the message to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world. It caught on. Within three centuries Christianity grew to become the religion of the Roman Empire. It had also become predominantly Gentile.

The plan of God was for Israel to be a light to the Gentiles. After Messiah's rejection salvation was overwhelmingly in the hands of the Gentiles who are now to provoke Israel to jealousy. This is the current situation. Will the "blindness" on Israel continue? How long will it continue? And what will happen after that? Stay tuned for the next post!


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