Friday, 11 October 2013
Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! Romans 11:12
Again, Paul’s words to us in this verse show brightly and clearly, even to the doubter, that there was a plan for the return of the Jewish people – as a collective whole – to a right standing with the Lord. He just got done telling the gentiles (to whom he is the apostle) that Israel certainly hadn’t stumbled to a permanent fall. Instead, their stumbling is what allowed the gentiles to be a part of God’s plan of salvation. And in turn, the gentile’s salvation would “provoke them to jealousy.”
This obviously hasn’t happened yet, and the state of such a national conversion even now seems unlikely. So what is it that would bring an entire nation to such a point? A good guess would be the rapture of the church. This is an event which is very precisely laid out by Paul in his writings, and which is actually prefigured in the Old Testament. If this occurs, the mindset of Israel may quickly change. A host of gentiles and a remnant of Jewish Christians suddenly disappearing would certainly be a strong impetus for self-reflection. Regardless of whether this is what happens or not, something will awaken Israel to the truth of their long-rejected Messiah. When they turned their back on Him, it resulted in a fall which has meant “riches for the world.” Their loss meant Gentile gain in two ways. First, as God’s plan of salvation moved from them to the church. The abundant blessings of Christ have been lavishly poured out upon a people who were not a people.
Secondly, while the land of Israel lay in ruins, the Jews have been scattered about the world. Those nations who received them and tended to them certainly were lavished with God’s blessing in accordance with the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Those who blessed them, in turn have been blessed.
In both earthly and spiritual matters, their fall has certainly meant riches for the world. It has truly received wealth and abundance during this dispensation. But it is, in fact, only a dispensation, not a permanent arrangement. This is seen in Paul’s next words, “…and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” Two contrasting words are used. The first, “failure” is the word hēttēma. It indicates a diminishing or a degradation; a removal of their special privileged status. And “fullness” is the word pleroma. This is a filling, such as a cup.
What is being relayed is that the current arrangement is temporary. Regardless of how the church perceives itself, there is currently a lack in what should be without the state of Israel being in favor with God. Thus without them, the cup isn’t full. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) lived long before the re-establishment of Israel, but he took this passage at face value. Not knowing what God would do after his lifetime, his comments on this verse state, “In what way, or when, this shall be, we know not. But it is easy to see, that if the Jewish people should be converted to the Christian faith, they would have facilities for spreading the truth, which the church has never had without them.”
After this, he listed four major reasons why this is so. With relatively few changes in his thoughts, the truth of his comments still hold true. His insights, without realizing there would be a re-gathering of the people to Israel, are worth noting:
“(1) they are scattered in all nations, and have access to all people.
(2) their conversion, after so long unbelief, would have all the power and influence of a miracle performed in view of all nations. It would be seen why they had been preserved, and their conversion would be a most striking fulfillment of the prophecies.
(3) they are familiar with the languages of the world, and their conversion would at once establish many Christian missionaries in the heart of all the kingdoms of the world. It would be kindling at once a thousand lights in all the dark parts of the earth.
(4) the Jews have shown that they are eminently suited to spread the true religion. It was by Jews converted to Christianity, that the gospel was first spread. Each of the apostles was a Jew; and they have lost none of the ardor, enterprise, and zeal that always characterized their nation. Their conversion would be, therefore, to give to the church a host of missionaries prepared for their work, familiar with all customs, languages, and climes, and already in the heart of all kingdoms, and with facilities for their work in advance, which others must gain only by the slow toil of many years.”
Life application: If great scholars of the past could anticipate the Jewish conversion to the true faith of Christ, how much more should we who now see the marvel of the re-established nation? Ezekiel 37 shows that Israel would first become a united people again and only after that would they receive the Spirit (verses 11-14). Have faith that God is readying this select group for spiritual re-birth. Pray for them – to see what for so long they have been blinded to.
Heavenly Father, it’s true that You have established the nations. You build them up and tear them down according to Your purposes. For those who honor You, there is the expectation of blessing and abundance. But for those who turn away, there is the expectation of wrath and judgment. I sense that it is the time to pray for my nation; we have certainly turned from You. Help us to turn back before it’s too late. Amen.