TEXT: Romans 11:20-25
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Israel in the End Times (Part 3)
Today, we are continuing our survey of Israel’s position in the end times. While God has had to deal harshly with Israel in the past, God has not abandoned them completely. As Paul makes clear in Romans 11:1-2, “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid… God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” Although it may seem like God abandoned His people, you can rest assured that He has plans for them. We learned about one part of the plan last week.
That plan is for the Gentiles to be grafted into the family of God. God has ceased dealing with Israel for a time in order that non-Jews might have an opportunity to come into God’s family — that is what is happening right now during the Church Age. In this chapter, we saw that Paul informs us and his Gentile readers that we ought not to consider ourselves better than or more worthy than the Jews. Our new standing as Christians ought not to be a cause for contempt or disdain toward the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Paul explains that God, in his mercy, grace, and “goodness”, is grafting us into His family. Our response ought to be that of humble gratitude and thankfulness.
Now, as we look further at this passage, we notice that God already has a time in mind for when He will begin dealing with the Jews again. Notice verse 25: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” In the Bible, a “mystery” is something that was at one time hidden or not fully understood by God’s people, but is now being revealed to them. Often, when the New Testament uses the word “mystery”, it is referring to something that was spoken of in the Old Testament but is just now — in the New Testament era — being fully revealed. Leon Morris writes that, in this passage, a mystery is not something that is “incomprehensible, [it is] not ‘mysterious’ in our sense of the term; it was something beyond us to discover, though we can understand it all right when God has made it known to us.” God’s complete plan of dealing with the Jews is one of those things that was a mystery in the Old Testament, yet God has chosen to make it known to us in the New Testament. Morris goes on to say that Paul wants his reader to know “that the place of Israel could not be worked out by the unaided human mind; if we are to understand it, it has to be made known by God. This revelation is so that we may not be conceited or ‘wise in ourselves’.”
What is it that we are to understand?
First, that a “blindness” has come upon part of Israel. This blindness is what leads the Jews to reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Savior. Of course, there are Jews who have accepted Christ as Savior today, but they are relatively few in number. According to the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, there are approximately 20,000 Messianic Jews living in Israel. This is compared to a total Israeli Jewish population of 6.2 million. Around the world, there are as many as 300,000 Messianic Jewish believers, compared to a total global Jewish population of 14 million. Why don’t more Jews believe in Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Savior? Paul says it is because “blindness in part is happened to Israel.”
Speaking of Messianic Jews, earlier in this chapter, Paul uses an interesting example from the days of Elijah. He says, “Wot ye not [Don’t you know] what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
Paul is saying that when Elijah thought he was the only one who remained true to God in all of Israel, God told him that He had at least 7,000 who had not turned to worshipping a false god. The number, 7,000, may be symbolical, but according to Leon Morris, what Paul is pointing out is that “even in a time of national declension God had chosen out his remnant, which showed among other things that he had not cast off the whole people.”
The same thing applies to the situation of the Jewish people today. While the majority have rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah, there is a remnant that believes on Him, and God has made sure of it. Martin Luther remarked, “God does not say: When they were all cast away, seven thousand men were left over, or: When Nebuchadnezzar or the devil took them away, he left me seven thousand men, but: I myself kept them back, I who took them away” kept back a remnant of 7,000.
Despite this believing remnant, the majority of Jews remain blind to the Gospel.
Second, we see that this “blindness” is only temporary. There is a point in time when the scales will fall off the eyes of the Jewish people. This will happen when “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” What is the fulness of the Gentiles? Some scholars believe that the “fulness” is referring to a specific number of Gentiles who must be saved before God returns to His dealings with the Jewish people. We do not know what that number is, but God knows, and when that number is reached, He will then be ready to return to His plan for Israel. Dr. Allen Ross of Beeson Divinity School writes, this expression “means the full complement, the full number, or the whole body of Gentiles who are to be saved will have been saved. The expression is a soteriological description, meaning the full, completed number.”
Here, I am reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” This is usually taken to mean that Jesus Christ will not return for His church until the church has taken the message of salvation to every corner of the world — to all of the Gentile people of the world. That has not been done yet. According to the Joshua Project, out of the 7.1 billion people in the world, there are approximately 3 billion who have not been reached with the Gospel.
It is often said that Israel is God’s prophetic time clock. But, when we take both of these verses into consideration — Paul’s writing in Romans 11:25 and Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:14 — that is not entirely true. The church is part of God’s prophetic time clock as well. If we want to see the second coming of Christ sooner rather than later, if we want to see God returning to His plan for Israel sooner rather than later, then the church must become more earnest about the work of evangelism. We must take the Gospel to every nation and group of people in the world; we must work so that the fullness of the Gentiles is brought into the Kingdom of God.
That is the mystery that Paul wanted his Gentile readers to understand. God has not abandoned Israel. He is simply giving the rest of the world an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel. When we look at it this way, we see that the church is the lynchpin of the beginning of the events of the end times. When we have accomplished our task to “go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” then we can expect to see the fulness of the Gentiles as well as God returning to His plan for the people of Israel.
Lord willing, we will continue our study of this passage in our next message.
If you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you how you can trust Him for salvation so that you can be ready for His return.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.