What did the Apostle Paul mean when he said, “salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious?” Is it true that one of the reasons Gentiles are saved is to make Jews jealous? Really?
If this is true, and I believe it is, then the Church has yet to fulfill this mission in any real way. In fact, we, the Gentile believers in Jesus, have done more to provoke the Jews to anger than to envy. Maybe you and I didn’t do it directly, but throughout Church history Gentile “Christians” have been responsible for some of the most horrific acts against the Jewish people i.e. The Spanish Inquisitions, the Crusades, the Pogroms in Europe, and eventually the Holocaust.
If this is true, then how did we get so far off the mark? I believe the single greatest reason is the emergence of Replacement Theology that has rooted itself deep within the Church for the last 2,000 years. Simply stated, Replacement Theology teaches that there are no future promises left to the Jewish people, no land to call their own, and no future national regeneration. This theology teaches that the Church has in fact replaced Israel as the people of God.
Let’s just follow the logic of such a doctrine. If God has replaced Israel with the Church, then He has in fact turned his back on them. If God no longer has a special heart for the people He once called “the apple of his eye” then why should we? If God doesn’t love them, then why should his followers?
This is the logic of what I believe to be the most dangerous theology in the history of the Church. If God can turn His back on Israel, whom he made certain eternal and unconditional promises to, then who’s to say he won’t turn his back on you and I?
A straightforward reading of scripture ensures us that He indeed has not turned his back on the Jewish people. In Jeremiah 31:35-36 He says emphatically that the only way He will ever turn His back on Israel is if the sun, moon and the stars–light sources that He Himself decreed–cease to give their light. In other words, He will never turn His back on the Jewish people.
Yes, God has a wonderful plan for the Jewish people! One of complete restoration, and we, the Gentile followers of Jesus, play an intricate role. Since Israel as a nation (not including the believing remnant) rejected the Messiahship of Jesus, He in turn offered salvation to the Gentiles. One of the reasons for this was to make the Jews jealous (Rom.11:11-15).
I believe God’s idea was for the Gentiles to have such a special relationship with the Jewish people that we actually arouse them to jealousy because of our possession of their Messiah. We are to be an example of God’s love to them, we are to respect them, and have gratitude towards them. In this way they would become so jealous of us that they in turn come to faith in Jesus as their Messiah.
Could you imagine how different the history of the Jews and the Church might have been if the body of Christ put this teaching into practice?Church Fathers Origen, Justin Martyr and Augustine would have taught Christians to have love toward the Jews, rather than hate. John Chrysostom would never have written his “Eight Homilies Against the Jews.”There would be no such events as the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisitions. Martin Luther would have never written his book _On the Jews and Their Lies _and, in turn, Hitler and his Nazi regime might not have had the support from the German people to succeed in murdering six million Jews.
This generation of Christians can change the course the Church has taken. We need to start with making the Jews in our life jealous of our relationship with the God of Israel through Jesus. This jealousy needs to start and end with love for the Jewish people, and an attitude of gratitude towards them.
I challenge you to ask God how He might accomplish His mission to the Jewish people through you. If you don’t have any Jewish friends then start by praying that God would bring some into your life. Let’s change the course of Church history and fulfill our mission to the Jewish people.