The Secret of Israel (16) – Jesus Rejection

editor - 16 April 2019

By now it has become clear that the Gospel has to be preached to the nations outside Israel. If you look at what Isaiah 49 says about the calling of the Messiah the third mission is given priority: From Jerusalem God’s name must be made known in the entire world.

In itself this is completely in line with what the prophets said and it has everything to do with Israel’s election in the history of salvation: Ultimately God is concerned about Israel’s election in the world. Not only His people, but all nations of the world will bow to God after all. And thus the Gospel sets off for her long journey through the world.

In the meanwhile a dramatic development becomes apparent: The gathering in of the nations means for many Jews that they are no longer coming along. That is not yet a general rule: The mother congregation will stay the Jewish-Christian congregation in Jerusalem for decades and Paul speaks in the letter to the Romans of some of the branches have been broken off” (Romans 11: 17), but the tone is set.

It is important to realize that not Jesus is the breaking point, at least for the moment – that will be different in our time. And that probably has everything to do with the fact that the Church from the nations has for centuries separated Jesus from His complete prophetic calling for Israel – the real breaking point is the coming of non-Jews as followers of Jesus.

If you read the Acts of the Apostles (Book of Acts) you notice that Paul can speak Shabbat after Shabbat in synagogues in different places undisturbedly and with consent about Jesus, but that a conflict arises only after the non-Jews come to faith (Acts 13:43-44; 22:22!).

The cause of the rejection of the Gospel is Israel’s fear of intermingling with other nations and the subsequent loss of Israel’s unique place and identity. After the confrontation with Hellenism (See the Secret of Israel 11), the Jews are struck with fear. Now, the Jews do not find it hard to accept when non-Jews show themselves in the synagogue and sympathize with the Jewish faith. Everywhere we hear about the so-called God-fearing and proselytes.

But the Jews go beyond that: Non-Jews are invited to completely become part of God’s people – and that is very important – without ultimately converting to Judaism! The council of the apostles in the year 46 AD decided that! (Acts 15). Non-Jewish followers of Jesus are not required to keep the law of Moses given to Israel. With this message Paul and Barnabas are sent off by the assembly in Jerusalem.

It is this decision that will lead to great confusion. The Jews blame Paul for teaching apostasy from God’s holy law everywhere (Acts 21:28). This suspicion is even living amongst the Jewish-Christian congregation in Jerusalem. When James is waiting for Jacob on his return from Jerusalem, James says: “They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.” (Acts 21:21). This decision will even sow the seeds for the permanent split between the Church and Israel.

Paul struggles with Jesus’ rejection by his own people. In Romans 9 through 11 he will examine this matter extensively. The answer he formulates is: The rejection of Jesus (not by Jesus! Romans 11:15) does not mean that God has cast off Israel. God Himself has His hand in it. It is temporarily. It serves the way of the Gospel to the world.

So, the gathering in of the nations is not only a breaking point for the Jews, but this breaking point itself is set to reach the nations with the Gospel. He expresses this all beautifully in Romans 11:28: “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs”.

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