Eschatology in Romans Related to Israel and the Church, Part 4

December 9, 2016 at 9:34 AM 2 comments

israelAs noted by the title, this is the fourth installment of Eschatology (study of future things) in Romans. Part 3 can be read here. If you have not read that previous article (or the first two; here and here), it is strongly suggested that the reader does so before delving into this article.

In Part 3, we went through sections of Romans 11 pointing out that Paul essentially states that God is not done with Israel as a nation. In fact, Paul pointed to himself as a Jewish believer in order to prove that God has not, in fact, abandoned His people, the Jews, as some during Paul’s adult life attempted to teach. Thus the reason for what he wrote in Romans 9 through 11. It is interesting to realize that not long after the birth of the Church in Acts 2, factions were already at work in an attempt to negate God’s promises to Israel.

We ended our last article on Romans 11:12, in which Paul asks the question as to whether or not Israel’s transgression (unbelief) would lead not only to spiritual riches for the world (those who eventually find faith in Jesus), but spiritual wealth for Israel as well? In effect, Paul’s question is a rhetorical one by nature and can be clearly seen in his answer.

…how much more will their full inclusion mean!

It should be clear to the person studying Romans 11 that, due to the context, Paul can only mean national Israel, not individual Jewish persons. As we have stated previously, in every generation, God pulls out some Gentiles and some Jews who become (through Christ and faith in Him), part of the Church. These Jews who receive salvation become part of the Church. But Paul’s point is that God is not ignoring Jewish people. He still saves them as well as Gentiles.

However, during the coming seven-year Tribulation period, which ends with the physical return of Jesus Himself, Jews who become saved during that period of time and are not killed during the Tribulation, will physically enter the Millennial Kingdom over which Jesus Himself will rule for 1,000 years and they will do so as human beings who have not died. It will be those particular Jews who will make up God’s final remnant of Israel and will then go into the Millennial Kingdom to inherit the full blessings/promises given by God to Abraham concerning the Land and other benefits as well. In fact, we learn the entire earth will benefit from the covenants promised to Israel.

In verse 12 of Romans 11, Paul describes Israel’s present condition, the one that we see today, but again, this is as far as the nation of Israel is concerned (not individual Jews who might become saved in Jesus). In verse 14, Paul then explains the main reason why God has extended salvation directly to the Gentiles.

…in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.

God has deliberately gone around Israel to offer salvation directly to non-Jews (Gentiles) outside of Israel, and this is supposed to make Jewish persons jealous. Think about it. To the Jews God gave the Law, the prophets, the oracles, and promises. Israel was meant to be a light to all nations, but they failed in that respect. In spite of that, God’s promises related to the Savior came to pass. His purposes were not thwarted. In the same way, God’s original intents and purposes for the nation of Israel will also finally come to pass, finding fulfillment in the coming Millennial Kingdom.

Those individuals who do not believe that there is either a coming seven-year Tribulation or an actual, physical Millennial Kingdom ruled by the physical Presence of Jesus Himself are in complete error, in our estimation, because of the way they have allegorized major passages of Scripture. This is to their detriment. Let God be true and everyone else a liar because it is very clear from Scripture that God’s promises and purposes will come to fruition just as sure as He exists in spite of the belief by atheists that He does not exist. In that regard, no wonder the writer of Hebrews tells us what a terrible and dreadful thing it is to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31). Imagine spending your entire life arrogantly believing there is no God only to discover immediately after your physical death that you were wrong! Is that not a terrifying thought?

Note also in Romans 11:15, the “loss” the nation has experienced since their rejection of Messiah. This loss will result in “reconciliation of the world” (Romans 11:15 ESV). This is exactly what has been happening since their rejection of Jesus and continues through to the present time as the gospel has gone out to people all over the world. But let’s not forget that in Romans 11:12, Paul also notes that Israel will still experience “full inclusion.”

What does “full inclusion” mean? Paul goes onto explain, stating that Israel (the nation) will be saved because of the final remnant hand-picked by God during the coming Tribulation period. This upcoming entire remnant of Jews then will only include saved Jews; those who place their faith in Jesus for salvation. Plenty of Jews and Gentiles will die during the Tribulation, both saved and unsaved. But there will be a remnant of Jews who will be set aside by God Himself, who will experience His divine protection and preservation in the wilderness and will remain alive through to the end of the Tribulation period.

and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days (Revelation 12:6).

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time (Revelation 12:13:14).

During the coming Tribulation, Satan will do what he can to attack God’s remnant, but God will divinely protect them for 1,260 days (time, and times, and half a time or 3 1/2 years), which occurs during the second half of the seven-year Tribulation. Jesus Himself commented on this in His Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Satan will have no choice but to turn his attention to the rest of God’s people who, though saved, will not make up this final remnant of Israel. Throughout Revelation we learn of the untold millions who will perish during this upcoming time of tremendous evil and upheaval throughout the earth because of Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet (Revelation 6).

What we need to understand is that Paul is laying out his argument in Romans 11 that God is most definitely not done with Israel as a nation. While some allegorize the text to mean that God has transferred His blessings/promises to the Church, this damages the text, because it changes God’s intended meaning. Clearly, Paul is speaking of a particular group of Jews who will trust in Jesus for salvation during the coming Tribulation period. It will be these Jews (out of all Jews living then), who will make up the final remnant as national Israel and will inherit the promises first given to Abraham.

Through Romans 11:25, Paul speaks of God grafting the natural branches back into the vine. He also warns Gentiles against becoming arrogant, but unfortunately, this is too often the tone and attitude of too many Christians today, who thoroughly believe God is forever done with Israel and they get to a point where they don’t even see Jews as people who are in desperate need of salvation. They simply see Jews as “enemies” of God. We were all enemies of God until the day we received salvation!

As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:28-29).

Paul continues making his case here. He again asserts that as far as the gospel is concerned, the Jews are enemies but are so for our sake! In other words, as he has stated, their rejection of Jesus has worked out for our benefit because Gentiles are now no longer required to become part of Israel in order to gain God’s favor. Imagine if Gentiles had to now be part of Israel, to participate in the sacrificial system, and obey the 613 laws handed down by Moses! It is a tremendous blessing that this is not the case for Gentiles! Why? Because Israel rejected Jesus, which allowed God to “go around” the nation, offering salvation directly to people of all cultures and ethnic make-up. What a tremendous blessing. By the way, let me be clear again that even when Israel was told to observe the Law and the sacrificial system, this was not to gain salvation. It was simply the way God demanded He be approached because of what the Law and sacrificial system meant. Salvation has always and only been received through faith, not works.

[Israel] is beloved not for their own sakes but for the sake of the patriarchs, because the gifts and calling of God are not regretted. Their status as beloved is because God made certain promises to the fathers. Thus, whether God keeps the promises or not does not relate at all to the generation of Israel when the Messiah came. They will be kept because God made the promises to the patriarchs. Therefore, the fact that Israel rejected her Messiah cannot nullify promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob many years earlier (v. 28), not will, in any case, God go back on His promises since this would make Him a liar (3:1-4). [1]

In a way, things have switched for the two ethnic groups in the world. At one point, Gentiles were objects of God’s wrath while Jews as the nation of Israel were not. Now, the nation of Israel has been temporarily set aside and their disobedience has made that nation an object of God’s wrath while His mercy is poured out on Gentiles who place their faith in Him. Paul asserts that one day, Israel – the nation – will again find favor with God because it will be made up of only those Jews who express faith in Jesus. These Jews will make up the final remnant and enjoy the full blessings of the promises God made to Abraham centuries ago. This is essentially Paul’s overall argument of Romans 9 – 11.

Romans 11 “…is distinctly premillennial in perspective. In addition, it is distinctly contrary to the amillennial concept that God has taken Israel’s national promises from it and fulfilled them in the church so that there is no future kingdom for Israel as prophesied in the Old Testament. In this section, whether describing the present age or the future, Israel and the Gentiles are always distinct and different entities. Thus the outlook of this passage, as well as 3:1-4, is clearly dispensational.” [2]

If folks would stop, step back, and look at Romans 11 as a whole, it is fairly easy to see that Paul’s argument sets out to prove that Israel is not permanently rejected by God, but the nation has only been temporarily set aside. Since the time of Jesus, Jews like Paul have been added by faith to God’s Kingdom. The one change is that Gentiles now also are added the same way – through faith – since God has temporarily placed Israel the nation on the shelf. At a point in the future, during the coming Tribulation period, God will once again turn His attention to Israel the nation and begin restoring her fortunes, which will find complete fulfillment during the Millennial Kingdom immediately following the Tribulation.

We need to understand that the world is not going to improve. It will continue to worsen until everything comes together that brings about the start of the Tribulation period. This is why any form of “Dominionism” is not only wrong but is faulty on any number of points, chief of which is the erroneous belief that people must work to help create enough change in society so that Jesus can return. His return is not dependent upon what humanity accomplishes (or not). The time of His return is set by the Father in His authority and to suggest that He waits for man to do something places Him in a subservient position to His Creation. Yes, we should always do what we can to help the fatherless and the widows, to help those who are less fortunate than we are, but this is not done as a means of improving society at all.

One day, an extremely evil person will make his way to the top of the heap. He will broker a covenant with Israel’s leaders (Daniel 9:27), and that event will kick off the Tribulation. The seven years which follow will literally be hell on earth. Millions upon millions will die and yet, God, in His mercy, sovereignty, and love, will rescue a remnant of Jews for Himself. Those Jews will be protected from death and will go into the Millennial Kingdom to inherit the full measure of God’s covenantal promises made to Abraham. It is that simple. The truth usually is…

 

[1] Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (1996 Kregel), Thomas R. Edgar, p. 382

[2] Ibid, p. 383

 

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Christman Means Jesus Whether World Likes It or Not Eschatology in Romans Related to Israel and the Church, Part 5

2 Comments

  • 1. rutnerh  |  December 13, 2016 at 1:21 PM

    “Those Jews will be protected from death and will go into the Millennial Kingdom to inherit the full measure of God’s covenantal promises made to Abraham. It is that simple. The truth usually is…”

    Cruel to the persecuted left behinds in the Tribulation among them the 144,000 undefiled Jews who will become effective missionaries saving both a remnant of Jews and many Christians in name only…thus becoming Tribulation saints joining the saints in the future Kingdom. Many converts will die as martyrs during the unprecedented but brief Tribulation period. But they will escape the infinitely longer eternal damnation of the Rich Man in the true story in Luke 16;19, not a fictitious parable, now in the literal hell joining the “many”, in Jesus’ words, possibly multi-billions of unbelievers, by defiance or default.

    As in every aspect of our daily lives, our priorities need to be set in light of our unexpected deaths and the eternal consequences of eternal life in hell versus a transient stay on earth!

    The late Dr Cook of The King’s College used to tell his students to live by the 3 Ts or think things through and so must we all, knowing that our eternal destinies truly depend on it!

    • 2. modres  |  December 13, 2016 at 1:32 PM

      I cannot imagine the terrors that await those who will be here during the coming Tribulation. Scripture is clear that there will be MULTITUDES of martyrs during that upcoming time of God’s wrath.

      I also agree with you, by the way, on the Luke 16:19 narrative. In my view, it is not a parable, but I believe one in which Jesus saw the actual situation and relayed it to His hearers. Of course, we know that since His resurrection, He led the captives free, out of the paradise side of Sheol and into His eternal presence. The hell side of Sheol continues to fill…unfortunately.

      Thanks again for your comments.


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