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Israel and the Church

Israel and the Church – Roman’s Chapter Eleven

In the first eight chapters of Romans, Paul presents the doctrine of salvation.  In chapters nine, ten and eleven, he discussed the role of the Jews.  Chapter nine looks at Israel before the church age; chapter ten shows the Jew during the church age as being members of the Church.  In chapter eleven, he presents the Jews as a remnant during the Church age, shows that they are spiritually blinded, and that God will restore them as a nation when the church age is complete.  Chapters twelve through sixteen exhort us to live our lives for Christ.

Beginning with verse seven of chapter eleven, Paul comments on why there are so few Jews in the Church.  “What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.  ‘Just as it is written: God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear’, to this very day. And David says: ‘let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a recompense to them.  Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, and bow down their back always’” (Romans 11:7-10).

Paul, quoting from Isaiah 29:10,13 and Psalms 69:22-23, shows us that the Jews are rejecting Christ because God has spiritually blinded them.  Christ is foolishness to the Gentiles but a stumbling block to the Jews.  It seems that they were blinded to Old Testament prophecy relating to the coming of a suffering Messiah.  It is very difficult for a Jew to become a Christian but when they do they are usually very zealous for the Lord.

It seems that the eyes of the Jews were spiritually blinded before they came out of the wilderness into the promise land.  “The great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders.  Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day” (Deut. 29:3-4).  Perhaps their blindness is partly due to their sins of rejection of God when they built and worshiped the golden calf.  God wanted to destroy them when they worshiped the idol but Moses convinced Him not to do it.

John commented on the spiritual blindness of Israel in the twelfth chapter of his gospel.  “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them” (John 12:37-40).

The apostle Paul tell us that the Jews where blinded so that God could give the kingdom to the Church and provoke the Jews to jealousy.  “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.  Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.  For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead” (Romans 11:11-15)?

God used the Church to reach the Gentiles thus spreading the good news of this love to most of the world.  We see that God is using different methods and dispensations to reach as many people as possible.  Paul tells us in the next verses that the Church is firmly rooted into the covenant with Abraham.  “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.  You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in’” (Romans 11:16-19).

We can visualize what took place considering the stump of a tree.  Israel was the tree rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant and God cut the tree down leaving only the stump.  He then grafted in a new branch to the stump which is the Church.  Therefore, today, we have a new tree, the Church, with the roots in God’s covenant with Abraham.  God is going to graft Israel back into the stump at a later time thus having a tree with two branches – the Church and Israel.  The Church has never been a branch of Israel and Israel will never be a branch of the Church.  God deals with them individually.  The Gentile Nations will also be grafted into the tree (probably into the branch of Israel).

“For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.  Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.  And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree” (Romans 11:21-24)?

Paul warns us not to be conceited because the church age will come to an end.  “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins’.  Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Romans 11:25-28).

The church began at Pentecost and will end with the rapture of the Church.  Israel will go through the great tribulation and then be judged. “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (Ez. 20:37).  “I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God'” (Zech. 13:9).  “”And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10).

 

To see Scripture support click on “The Spiritual Blindness” and “Eternal Salvation