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The Salvation of the Jews

October 20, 2009

Interpreters differ on the meaning of Romans 11:25-36. We must think hard and pray as we read the Scriptures (especially when we are teachers) so that we give the clear meaning of difficult passages. I wish I had done a better job last Sunday night with this passage. Forgive me for misquoting 2 Peter 3:9 in my excitement. It says:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

When interpreting Scripture we cannot say that there are several interpretations of all Scriptures and you can just pick the one you like. There is a real danger in saying “Oh that’s just your interpretation”. I’ve heard that response to my witness for Christ from unbelievers. It is also common when a hard saying of Jesus offends our logic. However we must be humble when confronted with mystery in the Scriptures. Paul’s response was to break out in praise! (Romans 11:33)

On Sunday night I promised that I would give you four main viewpoints of Romans 11:25-36. They are listed below.

1) All people both Gentiles and Jews will ultimately be saved. This is called Universalism and is rejected because of the clear teaching of other texts to the contrary.

2) “All Israel” means the church, the new Israel of God. This explanation spiritualizes the term “Israel” instead of regarding them as a people. I reject this view. God still has a purpose for His people the Jews.

3) A great conversion of Israel will take place at the time of the Lord’s return. There are variations of this viewpoint depending on your understanding of eschatology.

4) “All Israel” indicates a great turning of Israel to Christ when the fullness of the gentiles has come in (Rom. 10:25). It does not mean every individual Jew.

I pray the following verse for the Jewish people almost every day:

And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10

One day Israel will know that they have rejected their Messiah. Now we should show compassion and pray that Jewish people would trust in Jesus Christ. Our burden for lost people is not very great (Romans 9:1, 10:1)!

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