IS GOD FINISHED WITH ISRAEL?
“I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject His people whom He foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah – how he appealed to God against Israel. ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me’? And what was God’s answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So, too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:1-6.
There is a stream of teaching in the church today that says that God has washed His hands of the Jews. If Paul were here, he would vehemently defend the argument of Scripture that God still has a plan for them in spite of their mass rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. ‘If not,’ says Paul, ‘then why is it that I, who am an Israelite and a descendant of Abraham, am also one of his spiritual sons, by faith in Jesus?’
The Bible teaches that there are two “Israels” – natural Israel, those who are the physical descendants of Abraham, and spiritual Israel, those who follow Abraham’s example of faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
Not all natural Israel are God’s children because they have rejected Jesus, set up their own standard of righteousness and fallen short of God’s requirement, perfection. On the other hand, Gentiles who have no claim to Abrahamic descent, have been welcomed into the family of God because they did what Abraham did; they believed God’s promise and received His righteousness as a free gift. And this when they were not even actively seeking Him!
It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. Romans 9:6-8
What Paul is clearly teaching is that God has established a new covenant with Israel, not based on the law but based on the one who perfectly fulfilled the law. Only those who receive and participate in this new covenant are the true people of God. Jews and Gentiles are included in the New Covenant, sealed in the blood of Jesus.
This covenant was not an afterthought. It is the central message of the Bible and the fulfilment of God’s covenant with Abraham. The Mosaic covenant was an interim agreement by which God set up His holy standards to show His people what was needed to be accepted and which was intended to show them just how far short they fell and how impossible it was to achieve the righteousness acceptable to God by their own efforts.
No, God did not reject the Jews, but He did show them that they are no different from the Gentiles. They have to come to God in exactly the same way as any non-Jew – through the one whom God appointed to be the mediator – His Son, whom He sent to be the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the whole world.
However, at the same time, does that mean that He has no further use for the Jews as a nation? Does He treat them as He does any other nation on earth? He chose Abraham and promised that He would make of him a great nation and through him all the nations on earth would be blessed. Did God cancel His promise to Abraham? Did He go back on what He had said simply because Israel failed to keep their side of the agreement? Does that make God’s sovereign plans subject to human failure?
Some argue that God is finished with the Jews; that He wiped His hands of them when they crucified their Messiah. That’s the reason the Romans came in and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD and scattered the Jews. That’s why Hitler exterminated millions during WW2. That’s why the world is against Israel today and the Arab nations are bent on wiping the Jews from the face of the earth – so they say.
But is that what God’s Word says? We shall have to read on to find out what God has to say about Israel…
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