Wednesday, December 24, 2003

The Jews and the Gospel

There is an interesting connection between Romans 11 and Luke's gospel. 

This is another essay in a series exploring the relationship of Jews, Gentiles, and the Gospel. To start at the beginning click here.

Compare these two passages.

"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)

I should note before going on that in 70 AD all these things happened. Jerusalem was trampled, and the Jews were scattered across the face of the earth. But Luke goes on to indicate another end:

There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:25-28)

Certainly this description of "dismay among the nations" is much more in keeping with these words of Jesus in Matthew:

For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:21-22)

In other words, the Great Tribulation is among the nations, not among the Jews alone.

But I want to look more closely at Jesus' words that "Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." It is certainly true that until 1967, Jerusalem was trampled underfoot by the Gentiles. But what are these "times of the Gentiles?" Note what Paul says here in Romans:

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob." (Romans 11:25-26)

Jesus talks of "times of Gentiles" being fulfilled. Paul talks of "the fulness of the Gentiles." Jesus goes on to speak of a Great Tribulation among the nations (aka Gentiles) and the coming of the Son of Man as a precursor to our "redemption drawing near." Paul goes on to speak of the salvation of all of Israel. Indeed earlier Paul had said:

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:15)

And so there seems to be a connection between Jesus' words of the end times and Paul's words in Romans of a future salvation of the Jews. Jesus speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem and a time of banishment for the Jews among the nations, but also of a time of world redemption at His coming. That redemption includes the Jews and seems to be triggered by their acceptance of their Messiah.

Now here is an interesting historical fact. I have mentioned it before, but it is certainly worth mentioning again. In 1967, the Jews took a piece of Jerusalem in what is known as the Six Day War. A piece of Jerusalem was no longer trampled underfoot by the Gentiles. Within 10 years of this event, Jews began to come to faith in their Messiah in greater numbers than previously. In fact, more Jews have been saved since 1967 than in all the centuries since 70 AD. They called themselves Messianic Jews and founded Synagogues in which they now worship Jesus in a Jewish way. They believe Him to be the Son of God. They call on Him as Lord. They believe that God raised Him from the dead. They teach that you obtain salvation by faith alone.

Paul would rejoice to see this day. Perhaps we are seeing the hardening of the Jews becoming less.

After Christmas: Spiritual and Physical Israel

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>


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