Romans 11:25-27: ‘…in this way all Israel will be saved.’
- Mystery explained
- Mystery applied
Matthew 24:32-35, ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’ This is one of the more abused texts when it comes to talking about Israel. Many modern day popular interpreters see 1948, when Israel became a nation marking the time of the fig tree budding, and so we have had many people claim that it will be any day now that Christ will come. One writer claiming that a generation is 40 years long claimed it would be 1988, but was proven to be a false prophet. All such prognostications are contrary to scripture and a misunderstanding of how Christ was using this text. In Matthew 24:3 we see Jesus is asked three questions by the disciples, that relate to the destruction of the temple, the signs of His coming and the signs of the end of the age, ‘As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”’ Verses 32-35 are with reference to the signs that foretell the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. we can know this because v36 makes very clear that the second coming of Christ will not be known and be unexpected, ‘”But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.’ He merely warns us to always be ready, for He comes when we do not expect, v44. So verses 32-35 relate to the first century and were heeded by the first century Christians who when they say Vespasian’s armies come against Jerusalem, they fled to Pella because of Christ’s warning and escaped the siege of Jerusalem. The state of Israel is not a sign of the end. Many ask me, well if Israel is not a sign what is the significance of Israel as a state, isn’t it a preparation for the various millennial blessings that many see are promised. I answer no! God has a plan to save ethnic Jews, we have been spelling out that God intends to honour promises made to the patriarchs by having a remnant among them. I believe that God has preserved their ethnic identity as a testimony to His honouring of this promise and the state of Israel is not the fulfilling of land promises, nor a sign of the end but another way in which God preserves this people who rejected their Messiah to demonstrate His mercy upon them as a distinct people. I will say more about this next week when we investigate the various promises made to the Patriarchs and what their fulfilment looks like.
Today we come across other verses that have been employed alongside Matt. 24:32-35 to teach that there will be a future mass salvation for Israel. Rom. 11:25-27 are the most popular verses to try and prove that Israel will one day experience mass conversion. ‘Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”’
Today we want to understand the mystery as Paul explains it and then apply it.