“Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.”
Romans 11:11-12 NLT
There is always hope. God never stopped loving His people and His offer of salvation was, and is, always available to them. Jesus came to this world, as their Messiah, but the majority of His people rejected Him. They were looking for a “Messiah” made in their image rather than God’s. They expected their Messiah to arrive and throw out the hated Roman occupiers, restoring the land of Israel to them. They rejected Jesus’ invitation to the Kingdom of God (Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew’s Gospel), in spite of all His miracles and teachings. They knew the Scriptures, but they failed to make the connection with prophesies such as we find in Isaiah 53, which includes the promise that Jesus was to become the sacrifice for their sins. “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins”. (Isaiah 53:10-11). How did they miss their Messiah? I’m sure their rejection broke God’s heart. But God was planning for eternity. He could see the end from the beginning.
The prophet Zechariah gave a prophecy about the End Times, and we read in Zechariah 12:10, “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.” There will be a day, still to come, when God’s people will realise their awful mistake. But in the meantime, the Jews continue to worship God without their Messiah, still looking for Him. We Gentile pilgrims are the enlightened ones, secure in the knowledge that our sins have been forgiven, by the Jewish Messiah. But we cannot be complacent.
Are the Jews jealous of God’s grace that he has so lovingly poured out on the gentiles? Probably not because they considered themselves to be strictly monotheistic, and the concept of the Christian view of God the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, was to them verging on pantheism. The Jews continue in their legalism, adhering to the Torah and other Jewish rules and regulations. But Jesus was a Jew. Born of Jewish heritage, to a Jewish family. His ministry was to the Jews. Their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah continues to this day, a rejection amplified by the way Christians have treated the Jews over the centuries that have passed. But as Paul said, “the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation”. However, the people of Israel are not beyond hope. God’s grace is there for all.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:9-10, “God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfil his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth“. We have not yet reached “the right time” but it is coming and it may be nearer than we think. God’s plan includes His people. And you and I. No-one who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour will be left out, whether Jew or Gentile. Paul finishes our verses for today with the thought, referring to “God’s offer of salvation”, “think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it”? To many today, the name “Jew” stirs up feelings of hatred. Hardly a day goes by without another news report of antisemitism. Small wonder that so many Jews have returned to the land of Israel, where they hoped to find a place where they won’t be persecuted. The persecution of God’s chosen people over the centuries has been tragic, and at a level not experienced by any other race. But it’s no surprise that the devil hates them with a passion and will always be looking for ways to annihilate them. However, God has His hand of blessing on His people, and has promised never to leave them or forsake them.
We pilgrims must pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters, and we must remember that one day we will be serving a Jewish Lord, Jesus Christ Himself.
Dear Lord Jesus. We thank You for coming to this sad world, bringing Your message of redemption, hope for all eternity. Amen.