Saturday, 12 January 2013

Will All Israel Be Saved?

"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved." Rom. 10:1

The apostle Paul had a passion for his people, the people of Israel. He was so concerned for the Jewish people that just like Moses was prepared to die for his people (see Exodus 32:32), so Paul writes,

"I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel." Rom. 9:2-4

Paul carried the Father's passion to see man reconciled to God. It was the love of Christ that compelled Paul to reach those separated from God and mobilise a people who would do the same (see 2 Cor. 5:11-21).

All through the history of mankind, God has revealed His passion for His creation and His desire to walk in fellowship with what He makes. God chose the people of Israel to be His people. A people devoted to God who demonstrate their love for the Lord by being a seperate people, (not worshipping idols, not intermarrying other nations, not following the customs of other nations etc). This exclusive group of people called Israel was chosen for a purpose. Their purpose was to walk in fellowship with God, to obey Him and to reveal His holiness and glory. However, because of their sin nature, they consistently disobeyed God and went their own way. Nevertheless, the history of Israel reveals a God who consistently  loves His people and holds out His hands to them despite their being a "disobedient and obstinate people" (Rom. 10:21).Over and over again, the Father sent His messengers, the prophets of Israel, to call His people back to fellowship and obedience to Him. Tragically, Israel consistently rejected God's messengers and so the Father sent His Son (see Heb.1:1 and Matthew 21:33-46). 

Jesus was sent from heaven to redeem the people of Israel. He is the deliverer from Zion, sent te reconcile Israel to God (Rom. 11:26; Acts 3:26). However, even God's very own Son was rejected by Israel! Consequently, God chose to bring near those who are far away (Eph. 2:13, the Gentiles) so that through faith in Christ, anyone can be reconciled to the Father. The mystery that Paul talks about in Eph. 3 is that "through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 3:6). God's plan of salvation to reconcile Israel to Himself has made salvation available to every creature under heaven. God is so passionate about Israel that He has chosen to make His chosen people envious of those who are living in fellowship with, and obedience to the Father because of their faith in His Son. Paul writes,

"Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them" (Rom. 11:13,14).

Paul's insight into the mystery of God's redemptive plan shows us that God wants to save all Israel. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to the rulers, elders and teachers of the law in Jerusalem that "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Clearly not all Israel will be saved but only those who trust in the Capstone. So why does Paul say in Romans 11:26 that "all Israel will be saved"? Is Paul saying that when Jesus comes again that all Jewish people will be saved? Clearly not. The context of Paul's statement in Rom. 11 is important. The sentence reads,

"Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so 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.'" (Rom. 11:25-27)

Paul is saying that all Israel will be saved through faith in the Deliverer from Zion and not through the Law (see Rom. 10:3,4). There is no exception. Every Jew and every Gentile can only be saved through God's Son. "All Israel will be saved as it is written" and as God has planned it in Christ.

"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eph. 3:10,11

May the Church carry the same burden as the apostle Paul to see both Jew and Gentile saved according to God's salvation purposes in Christ.

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