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All Israel?

editor - 20 October 2020

Romans 11:25-27 says, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way, all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My Covenant with them when I take away their sins.” Compare with Jeremiah 31:33-34 about the New Covenant.

Much has been written in theological contemplations about Paul’s words, all Israel. What does Paul mean by this? Will every Jew who ever lived be saved? Or will the last generation of Jews alive at Christ’s return be saved, by an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Zachariah 12:10-14)?

Or does he mean for us to understand ’all Israel’ to mean that the believers from Israel (believers in Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world) plus the believers from the gentiles (who believe the same) together form all Israel, and in fact are the true Israel that will be saved?

This perspective can be heard among Messianic Jews as well. I recently heard one of the leaders of a Jewish Christian congregation in Jerusalem say the following:

The ‘root’ in Romans 11 is Christ. We Jews who believe in Jesus are the true branches of this noble olive tree that grows out of this root and you gentiles are grafted in, you have received a share in Christ and have joined us as the Jewish-Christian congregation and together with us form the true Israel. The ‘natural’ Israel is finished. God has broken it off, and we hope to save as many Jews as possible through evangelisation to see them added to the true Israel. You, Christians from the Gentiles, and we, Christians from the Jews, form all Israel together.

This puts the nation of Israel and the Jewish people at large in a precarious position. In this line of thinking, one can use this to distance oneself from the Jewish state of Israel, as the protestant churches in the Netherlands are busy doing. It allows you to maintain a much vaguer, more general solidarity with ‘the Jewish people’ and ‘Judaism’ and the ‘Holy Land’, without any solidarity with the current Jewish State of Israel or Israeli politics – whether left-wing or right-wing or middle of the road. With this theological concept the ‘natural’ Israel is finished as the specially chosen people of God and the State of Israel, and the Israelis become a state and a people like any other state and like all other nations in the world.

“There are ‘white’, ‘black’ and ‘yellow’ Jews, along with many other variations, because anyone with a Jewish mother is considered to be a Jew and because gentiles (of any race) can convert to Judaism and become fully Jewish by faith and conviction.”

And so Israel must carry the yoke of the United Nations like every other nation and every other state or else they be labelled as a “racist nation with an ‘apartheid state’”. There is no understanding of the fact that Israel is a nation you are born into. So in a way, it is a ‘race’, although the members of the Jewish people display all of the racial features of the world. There are ‘white’, ‘black’ and ‘yellow’ Jews, along with many other variations, because anyone with a Jewish mother is considered to be a Jew and because gentiles (of any race) can convert to Judaism and become fully Jewish by faith and conviction. The ‘natural’ and ‘biological’ Israel was created by the Lord out of Abraham and Sarah, who, although she was beyond child- bearing years, received Isaac as a ‘miracle- baby’, created by God Himself. His firstborn son, Hosea 11:1; Exodus 4:22-23.

And yes, it is a separate state, because Israel will dwell alone and not be counted among the nations, according to Numbers 23:8-9 KJV: “How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? Or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks, I see him, and from the hills, I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” The nations – and many in Christian theology – are revolting against God’s election.

In Scripture, you come across three groups of Jews:

  • Firstly a ‘faithful’ Israel that follows God’s Commandments.
  • Secondly, a ‘worldly’ Israel that goes along with the cultures and religions of the world around them. Sometimes even merging with them, assimilating and secularising. Consequently, they are warned repeatedly by the prophets and repeatedly encounter God’s wrath.
  • And thirdly a part of Israel that believes in Jesus the Messiah. Many of them today are looking for and seeking to experience ever more intensively their own Jewish roots. Yet they also find a growing unity with gentile Christians, including Christians from the Arab world.

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