UNDERSTANDING GOD’S PLAN CONCERNING ISRAEL
Paul felt urgency about the Church understanding God’s plan for Israel’s salvation (Rom. 11:25). God’s mystery refers to His “secret plan” that He hid through the ages until He revealed it to the apostles (Eph. 3:5, 9). We must understand the Lord’s plans in order to cooperate with them.
25I do not desire...that you should be ignorant of this mystery...that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved. (Rom. 11:25-26 )
Israel’s original national calling was to have the primary leadership role in bringing God’s salvation to all nations (Gen. 12:3; Deut. 28:1; Isa. 2:1-4; 43:10-12; 44:8-9). Israel will take the gospel to the nations in the Millennium (Isa. 66:18-20).
UNDERSTANDING GOD’S PLAN CONCERNING ISRAEL: 4 PARTS
In Romans 11, Paul highlighted four parts of God’s plan to bring the gospel to the nations. God’s plan includes the fullness of the Gentiles (v. 25) and the fullness of Israel (v. 12).
The Jewish people have a temporary spiritual blindness on them (v. 25).
The fullness of the Gentiles (v. 25) will provoke Israel to seek Jesus for salvation (v. 11).
All Israel will be saved (v. 26).
The fullness of Israel (v. 12) will lead to God’s glory filling the millennial earth (v. 15).
11Have they stumbled that they should fall [permanently losing their global leadership calling]? Certainly not! But through their fall [temporary stumbling], to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12Now if their fall [temporary stumbling] is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!...15For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead [in the Millennium]? (Rom. 11:11-12, 15)
25...that you should be ignorant of this mystery...that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved. (Rom. 11:25-26)
Has Israel stumbled that they should fall? Israel has stumbled temporarily, but they have not fallen so as to permanently lose their primary global leadership calling. Israel was temporarily cast away (v. 15) from her leadership role, but will walk in that role again at Jesus’ coming.
Paul used the word fall three times in Romans 11:11-12, but in two different ways. He contrasted “fall” with “stumbling” in verse 11a and then used the terms interchangeably.
In verse 11a, “fall” is used in posing the rhetorical question of whether or not Israel has permanently lost her global leadership role in bringing salvation to the nations and been disqualified from receiving all of God’s special promises to them as a nation.
Twice “fall” is used (v. 11b, 12) of Israel stumbling, or “temporarily losing their global leadership calling”—referred to as their “failure” (v. 14) and being “cast away” (v. 15).
The important point Paul is making is that Israel has not fallen (v. 11a) in the sense of permanently losing her leadership calling.
For the last 2,000 years, the international Gentile church has had the primary leadership role in bringing a witness of the gospel to all nations (Mt. 24:14).
Many have wrongly interpreted this, thinking that this proves that the Lord is finished with Israel. True, Israel was temporarily cast away (v. 15) from her primary leadership role in the earth (for 2,000 years), but God will reverse this by granting them acceptance back into that role again (v. 15). Israel will have that role forever, on the millennial earth and then on the new earth.
Summary: The fullness of the Gentiles (v. 25) will lead to the salvation of Israel (v. 26), then to her fullness (v. 12), which will result in God’s glory filling the millennial earth (v.15; Hab. 2:14).
PART 1: THE JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE A TEMPORARY SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS
Believers who are ignorant of the temporary spiritual blindness on Israel will wrongly conclude that God is finished with Israel, instead of laboring for their salvation and full destiny in God.
25I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery...that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Rom. 11:25)
Blindness: Israel has stumbled in sin and unbelief and so has walked in a spiritual blindness that continues even to this day (v. 25). Their blindness includes neither seeing Jesus as their Messiah nor seeing their hostility against Him, but it does not mean that she has permanently fallen from her original calling to have the main leadership role in the earth in the Millennium. It is “until.”
Israel’s rejection of Jesus is not total (Rom. 11:1-10), and it is not final (Rom. 11:11-32). Israel’s blindness is one of God’s mysteries (v.25)— it is partial and temporary. Their spiritual blindness is in part, meaning that some Jewish people have been and are being saved. Their blindness is temporary, in that it will be lifted off Israel as the fullness of the Gentiles comes in.
The sovereign calling of God on nations and individuals is irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
28Concerning the gospel they [Israel] are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved...29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Rom. 11:28-29)
PART 2: THE FULLNESS OF THE GENTILES WILL PROVOKE ISRAEL TO SEEK JESUS
Salvation: Salvation coming to the Gentiles speaks of more than individuals being born again. It refers to the Gentiles being anointed as God’s primary instrument to bring the gospel to the nations for 2,000 years and giving a witness of the gospel to all nations (Mt. 24:14).
11Through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles... 25Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Rom. 11:11, 25)
Their fall: Israel’s animosity against the gospel has led to various benefits for the Gentiles. For example, there has been a greater expansion of the number of Gentile converts as a result of the primary leadership in the gospel being entrusted to Gentiles. These Gentiles have ministered the gospel in the diverse cultures and languages of many Gentile tribes and nations. Israel’s fall created this context for the Gentiles to come to fullness and then provoke Israel to jealousy.
Fullness: The fullness of the Gentiles (v. 25) speaks of the fullness of the international Gentile church. This fullness includes the full number saved and walking in the fullness of power and godly character so they might fulfill the fullness of God’s purpose for them in the nations.
Jealousy: Gentile believers will walk in the Spirit to such a degree that they will provoke Israel to jealously desire to possess the things of God in the way that they see the Gentiles do.
The Great Tribulation will be the context that will lead Israel to change her hostile view of Jesus and His Church. Gentile believers standing with Israel in her persecution will provoke Israel to jealousy. This will happen in different ways. For example, Israel will be touched spiritually as Gentile believers risk their lives to provide refuge for them in persecution, sharing their resources with them and performing miracles like those that Elijah and Elisha did (multiplying food, healing the sick, prophesying), and by Gentiles living godly lifestyles in a perverse culture and walking fearlessly in the face of death because of the hope of the resurrection.
PART 3: ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED
Literally all Israel will be saved in the context of Jesus’ return and the Millennium. This means that 100% of the Jewish people who survive the Tribulation will believe in Jesus.
26And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer [Jesus] will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel].” (Rom. 11:26)
Paul’s teaching that all Israel will be saved is confirmed by Isaiah (Isa. 45:17, 25; 59:20; 60:21). Israel will be the first nation that is totally saved and living righteously (Isa. 60:21).
God will pour out His Spirit on the remnant of national Israel before Jesus returns (Joel 2:31). Joel described the outpouring in relation to the Jewish people and national Israel (2:28, 32).
28“I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your [Israel’s] sons and daughters shall prophesy...29I will pour out My Spirit in those days...31Before the coming of the great...day of the Lord...32In Jerusalem there shall be deliverance...among the remnant whom the Lord calls.” (Joel 2:28-32)
Zechariah prophesied that one-third of Israel will survive the Tribulation and be saved (13:9). Rabbinic Judaism numbers the Jews around the worldwide at 13 million (those with Jewish mothers); others suggest 18 million (Jewish fathers and Gentile mothers). Today, there are more Jewish people being saved than at any time in history, with 250,000 Messianic believers worldwide—over 125,000 in the USA, 60,000 in Russia and Ukraine, and over 10,000 in Israel.
9“I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined...They will call on My name... and each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’” (Zech. 13:9)
Jesus’ return is contingent on Jewish people turning to Him. Jesus “must” be kept in heaven until the Jewish people repent and become converted to being followers of Jesus.
“Repent...and be converted, that your [Israel] sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you [Israel]...21whom heaven must receive [retain] until the times of restoration of all things [Millennium] which God has spoken by...His holy prophets...” (Acts 3:19-21)
PART 4: FULLNESS OF ISRAEL WILL LEAD TO GOD’S GLORY FILLING THE EARTH
The fullness of Israel (v. 12) will lead to God’s glory filling the earth in the Millennium (v. 15).
12If their fall is riches for the world...how much more their fullness...15If their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead [in the Millennium]? (Rom. 11:15)
Fullness: The fullness of Israel includes the full number saved and walking in the fullness of power and godly character in order to fulfill the fullness of God’s purpose for them as a nation.
Cast away: Israel was temporarily cast away from her global leadership role. God will accept them in this role again. Israel will walk in the fullness of her original national calling, with the primary leadership role in bringing God’s salvation to all nations in the Millennium. The significance of Israel’s salvation is related to life from the dead for the whole earth.
Israel will lead in a way that will cause the earth to be filled with God’s glory (Hab. 2:14).
14The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD... (Hab. 2:14)
Israel will be the lead nation when Jesus governs a worldwide kingdom from Jerusalem, in which all the kings of the earth will be saved (Ps. 72:11; 102:15; 138:4; 148:11; Isa. 62:2; Rev. 21:24).
11All kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him. (Ps. 72:11)
We must not remain in ignorance (v. 25), because ignorance can become arrogance, which can become passive resistance (being silent in refusing to help Israel), then active resistance (helping those who persecute Israel), which then leads to being cut off by God (v. 22). We must continue in God’s goodness (v. 22) by fully embracing this purpose of God concerning Israel.
18Do not boast against the branches...20...Do not be haughty, but fear. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches [Israel], He may not spare you either. 22...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...25For I do not desire...that you be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion. (Rom. 11: 18, 20-22, 25)
God has connected the fullness of the Gentiles and Israel to each other; we are in this together. Neither the Jews nor the Gentiles will reach fullness without the other. The fullness of God will be released as the fullness of both Israel and the Gentiles come together (Eph. 3:6-10, 18-19).