Is God Finished With Israel as a Nation?
According to the late theologian David Chilton, “The Book of Revelation is not about the second coming of Christ. It is about the destruction of Israel and Christ’s victory over His enemies in the establishment of the New Covenant temple. … Revelation prophesies the judgment of God on apostate Israel; and while it does briefly point to events beyond its immediate concerns, that is done merely as a ‘wrap-up,’ to show that the ungodly will never prevail against Christ’s Kingdom.”
This reflects the views of those Christians who believe that the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD marked God’s final judgment on Israel as a nation. And so, they explain, even though the door remains open for individual Jewish people to come to faith in Jesus, God’s purposes for Israel on a national level were terminated almost 2,000 years ago.
Is there any truth to this teaching? God forbid.
In fact, Paul addressed this notion even before the Temple was destroyed, replying with such force in the Greek that the KJV rendered his words with, “God forbid.”
I’m referring to Romans 11:11, part of Paul’s lengthy discussion about God’s ongoing and future purposes for Israel, culminating with the promise that “all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26; for the meaning of this verse, see my related, 2018 article titled, “Is God Finished with Israel?”).
See the Very Next Verse: God Isn’t Done With Ethnic Israel
Ironically, a webpage titled, “The Wrath of God Executed on Israel: A Preterist Perspective,” cites Romans 11:7-10, which speaks of God’s judgment on the people of Israel for rejecting the Messiah, but fails to cite the very next verse, which reads: “I ask then, they did not stumble into an irrevocable fall, did they? Absolutely not! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous” (NET).
What an interpretive gaffe!
An expanded translation of Romans 11:11 rightly explains: “So I ask, Have they stumbled so as to fall [to their utter spiritual ruin, irretrievably]? By no means! But through their false step and transgression salvation [has come] to the Gentiles, so as to arouse Israel [to see and feel what they forfeited] and so to make them jealous” (APMC).
And the Verses After That: They’re Not Out for Good
But let’s not stop here. Instead, we need to consider the verses that follow. Here’s verse 11 in context:
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:11–15, NIV)
As creatively paraphrased in The Message:
The next question is, ‘Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?’ And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God’s kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!
But I don’t want to go on about them. It’s you, the outsiders, that I’m concerned with now. Because my personal assignment is focused on the so-called outsiders, I make as much of this as I can when I’m among my Israelite kin, the so-called insiders, hoping they’ll realize what they’re missing and want to get in on what God is doing. If their falling out initiated this worldwide coming together, their recovery is going to set off something even better: mass homecoming! If the first thing the Jews did, even though it was wrong for them, turned out for your good, just think what’s going to happen when they get it right!
What is Paul Saying Next About Firstfruits?
Then look at verse 16: “If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches” (NIV).
What, exactly, is Paul saying?
The popular, 1871 commentary of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown explains:
But ‘if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root … so the branches’ — The Israelites were required to offer to God the first-fruits of the earth — both in their raw state, in a sheaf of newly reaped grain (Leviticus 23:10, 11), and in their prepared state, made into cakes of dough (Numbers 15:19-21) — by which the whole produce of that season was regarded as hallowed. It is probable that the latter of these offerings is here intended, as to it the word ‘lump’ best applies; and the argument of the apostle is, that as the separation unto God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from the rest of mankind, as the parent stem of their race, was as real an offering of first-fruits as that which hallowed the produce of the earth, so, in the divine estimation, it was as real a separation of the mass or ‘lump’ of that nation in all time to God. The figure of the ‘root’ and its ‘branches’ is of like import — the consecration of the one of them extending to the other.
Or in the words of theologian and commentator Charles Hodge (1797-1878), “They [meaning, the people of Israel] stand now, therefore, and ever have stood, in a relation to God which no other nation ever has sustained; and, in consequence of this relation, their restoration to the divine favour is an event in itself probable, and one, which Paul afterwards teaches (ver. 25-26) God has determined to accomplish.”
Against All Odds, Israel Stands as a Testament of God’s Faithfulness to His Promises
God will finish what He started, which is why the Jewish people have been preserved throughout history (against all odds) and why they are back in the Land as a nation (against even greater odds).
His purposes will stand, and no one can overrule His hand.
Is God finished with Israel as a nation? God forbid!
Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He is the author of over 40 books, including Can You be Gay and Christian?; Our Hands Are Stained With Blood; and Seize the Moment: How to Fuel the Fires of Revival. You can connect with him on Facebook, X or YouTube.