Would you agree with this short, non-detailed summary of Romans 9, 10 and 11? Feel free to modify or add to it as you see fit.
Summary of Romans 9, 10 and 11: The apostle Paul is not sorrowful because the Word of God is being nullified by Jewish unbelief (for in fact the Scripture is being fulfilled by their unbelief, as God is revealing His elective purposes in the salvation of the Gentiles and the stumbling of the Jews), but he is sorrowful for the Jewish people themselves, the seed of Abraham, because they are lost, and he prays for them that they might be become Abrahamic, the true people of God as they are meant to be. Paul knows that they are beloved of God and that God is not through with them yet. God has not cast away His people but has a glorious end for them, as He has promised. Sadly that end will be for but a few, for God’s judgments are at work in that nation, yet that few will at last be all. Paul’s heart breaks and longs for the salvation of His people, but his desire for them is not based upon national sentimentality. It is a Spirit-filled, Christ-like, prophetic desire that causes him to marvel and rejoice in the wisdom and purposes of God. Israel’s salvation will be life to the world and the final and greatest revelation of the mercy of God to mankind in Christ Jesus.
-Eli — www.timothyministry.com
That’s right! I love this. It is better than adequate; it is an excellent summary. I agree that Paul’s great sorrow is further explained in the tragedy of a people whose zeal for God does not gain them life (Ro 10:2), since the only thing that counts is a new creation (Gal 6:15). So this is correct. It is the sad state of the chosen people that evokes Paul’s longing and tears, as it did Nehemiah’s.
It is not only because the larger number of Israel is being lost. Tragic as that is, this is not the surprise that the mystery reveals. What is surprising is that the people of the ancient testimony should be estranged and blinded at the very time that the eschatological salvation has come to light in the gospel, and is now shining into the hearts of gentiles, while Israel remains in the grave of exile.
This is the great anomaly of the apostolic period that no one expected. Yet, as Paul shows, this too was foretold (Ro 10:19; Deut 31:17-18; 32:20-21, but see also Isa 8:17 with Ezek 39:29). This is the time between the comings that only God knew. It is the gap that is discovered in such places as Mic 5:3-4 and Hos 5:15-6:2, which also makes sense of the gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel, as comprehensive of both comings of Christ, a mystery indeed!
We can scarce conceive what a mystery it was that confronted Israel in Jesus. No one, not even Satan and the principalities of this world’s darkness knew about the cross (1Cor 2:7-8). It was a trap into which they fell to their utter defeat. If the mystery of Christ’s coming, departure, and return to Israel was hidden in other ages, we may be sure that the great parenthesis between the comings was equally unknown, particularly that this would the time and means by which God would fulfill His promise to bless the gentiles, “calling out from the gentiles a people for His name (Acts 15:14; Ro 15:18).
This is what Paul means when he speaks of God’s hidden intention to make the gentiles fellow heirs with the Jewish saints “by the gospel” (Eph 3:6). The emphasis should be on “by the gospel”, because it is the instrumental agency by which the gentiles are united to Christ, and therefore to all the covenants of promise, since ultimately there is only “one” seed that inherits anything (Gal 3:16). That’s why it is only by being “in Him” that anyone is counted for the seed.
The seed is Christ, but Christ is also the Word and Spirit. The believer is counted for the seed by reason of the divine nature, which is the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Peter says the “Spirit of Christ” was “IN” the OT saints (1Pet 1:11). They were as much born of the Word (and hence of the Spirit) as any believer today. When this gospel is quickened by the Spirit, it puts the old to death and creates the new nature. Whether Old Testament believer or NT believer, it is only through union with His / Christ’s divine nature that the promises are made sure to all the seed. He is the covenant surety. That’s how we are made partakers “by the gospel”. The gospel is the revelation of Christ that comes to Israel “at once” and “in one day” (Isa 66:8; Ezek 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:19; Mt 23:39; Ro 11:26), just as Christ was sovereignly revealed to Paul on the Damascus road at the ‘set time’ (compare Ps 102:13; Gal 1:15-16).
It was well known that the gentiles would be blessed in the day of Israel’s national rebirth, but no one anticipated the great reversal that would bring salvation to the nations through Israel’s fall (Ro 11:12, 15), BEFORE the “great day” of national redemption. That is what is behind the imagery in Rev 12. BEFORE Zion’s travail (“the tribulation” of Isa 13:8; 66:8; Mic 5:3; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1), the ‘man child’ (seed of the woman) would come first and win the victory over Satan. What we take so much for granted today, was to first century a mystery of first magnitude. To demonstrate that this had been all foretold was the basis of the apostolic “apologetic” to Israel, and should be ours in days to come.
The apostles presented the gospel as a revelation of a mystery that lay hidden in other ages amidst the prophetic writings (Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:11). Though entirely foretold, the gospel was strategically concealed in the divine purpose until the appointed time (Isa 8:17-18; 1Cor 2:7-8). Only as the testimonium could be shown to be in agreement with what the prophets had spoken, could its validity be justified in first century Israel. The witness must show that the proclamation consists of “none other things than what Moses and the prophets did say should come” (Acts 26:22). That was its great evidence and claim to validity. The appeal was always to what stands written. That was the test. This was the apostolic approach to evangelism.
Prophecy was the properly required evidence for every truth claim, and even when the gentiles didn’t demand proof from prophecy, the apostles made sure they got it none the less, because they understood that this is God’s ordained method of revelation and confirmation of revelation (Ro 16:26), as He is especially glorified through the witness of “the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10b). This justified insistence that all be confirmed in the prophetic scriptures was also a great safeguard against deception. Every truth claim had to pass through this filter. “What saith the Scripture?” This was the required divine imprimatur.
We need to see that the present mystery concerning Israel and the end times is part of the same Old Testament mystery that existed in puzzle form, “here a little and there a little” (Isa 28:10-13 KJV) in the Old Testament scriptures. It concerns, not only one, but both comings, and the full context of Messiah’s return to the place of His rejection (Mic 5:3; Zech 14:4).
So if a mystery has been revealed of an atoning first coming of a Messiah who comes twice (Acts 3:18-21), and if this mystery has been to Israel the foretold stone of stumbling (Isa 8:14-15), and the occasion by which Jews would be made jealous by a “not a people” (Deut 32:21), we may be sure that it is not only Israel that will be tested by this Old Testament mystery.
It is this inviolable covenant Word that is ultimately at stake in their return (Ezek 36:22, 32). So how say some that Jewishness counts for nothing? Paul did not say that. He said that only “in Christ” could anyone hope to inherit anything, since only a new creation counts for life (Gal 6:15).
If Jewishness counts for nothing, then why them? Why can the end not come, and the covenant not be complete until Jesus returns to “turn away ungodliness from Jacob”? God tells us why. “Because this is My covenant unto THEM when I will take away their sins” (Isa 59:21; Ro 11:26). Something concerning the covenant is not finished apart from their salvation. The church must learn the covenant to understand the mystery of Israel.
That there is neither Jew nor gentile in Christ changes nothing of God’s predestined purpose to bring them in at the appointed time. They are God’s self-assigned “mission impossible”. Through them, He will sanctify His name openly in the sight of all nations, as the God who raises the dead. Through them, He will publicly vindicate His sovereign prerogative to “have mercy on whom He will have mercy”, as foundational in defining His glory (Ex 33:18-19). For this end and purpose, a sufficient ethnic distinction of Jewish identity has been divinely preserved in the creation.
“In Christ” (in the Spirit) there is indeed no difference between Jew and Greek, bond or free, male or female. Still, in the creation, and for God’s purpose through them, the Jew is preserved as distinct people ‘set apart’ (Num 23:9; Amos 3:2). It is not in the first place for the sake of their personal salvation. That is open to all. Rather, Israel exists for both a test of the heart and for the sake of a glorious demonstration of divine grace and power. Their public and visible return, “their fullness”, will be “life from the dead” (Ro 11:15). It will be the open vindication of the everlasting covenant at the day of the Lord, which is the principal reason for a millennial interim before the final perfection.
Through them, every gainsaying tongue will be stopped. The return of Christ accomplishes the impossible event that begins the millennium, namely, the salvation of “all Israel”. This doesn’t only mean that God has intentions to save some additional Jews in the future. That is NOT the point. Rather, it means the time that the covenant is vindicated by the salvation of the nation in one day (Isa 59:21; 66:8; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1). It speaks of that time after Jacob’s trouble when every Jewish survivor will be saved and all their children born after them, without the exception. Only such uniformity of Jewish salvation can confirm them in their Land forever (see 54:13; 50:21; 60:21; Jer 31:34; 32:40 etc). Only this can fulfill the explicit language of the “everlasting covenant”, as detailed in the prophets.
As inextricable to the mystery of Christ and the gospel, the mystery of Israel is central to the formation of that divinely ordained context that defines the overarching cosmic “mystery of God” (Rev 10:7). The Jew exists, and is divinely preserved, as the “beloved enemy” of irrevocable calling and election, for the sake of this mystery (Ro 11:25), which is ordained to level all pride and exalt God in the vision of the believer as nothing else (Ro 11:33-36). They exist to find out what we really believe about God and the nature of the grace by which we stand. They exist as final rebuke of that spirit that lifts itself up to ask, “Has God really said?” They exist for God! (Num 14:15-21).
Finally, I have this last thought: There is an old hymn that we sing, which asks, “must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone, and there’s a cross for me.” Well, I’d like to ask, “will Israel bear the tribulation alone, and all the church go free?” But what is even more, shall Israel alone be sifted by the mystery, a mystery so formidable that all unaided flesh and blood must stumble? Is Israel alone to be so deeply searched and sifted by the stone of stumbling?
No, even though revealed by the Spirit, the mysteries of God continue to elude pride (Mt 11:25; 1Cor 1:19-20). The stone that stumbled Israel in the mystery of a twice coming redeemer, will yet again stumble the nations in the form of the coming crisis of Israel, the foretold “controversy of Zion”. It is the same divine foolishness that is aimed to catch and dethrone pride.
I believe the same mystery that tested Israel, though finally revealed, still requires the mercy of divine illumination in order to escape the snare that it will be to an unsuspecting world at the last hour. That is why we believe that the same mystery that confronted Israel will take its last form in the impending “controversy of Zion”. The mystery of Israel is calculated to test not only Israel and the nations, but no less. In such things, the church is first (1Pet 4:17) The spirit that has for so long boasted against the branches must be fully exposed, in order that it might be broken forever.
Your brother, Reggie