To those of us who love Israel, that question sounds preposterous. Yet many Christians suffer from what I call a Replacement Theology hangover. They finally made room in their eschatology for a restoration of Israel, but they do not accept the present return of the Jews to their ancient homeland as part of that restoration. They point out that most Jews in Israel and abroad are still unbelievers in Jesus and therefore must be considered God’s enemies. They’ll quote Paul’s words, “that from the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies” (Rom. 11:27). If they’re enemies of the gospel, they argue, then they are enemies of God.
Sadly, these Christians have taken Paul’s words in Romans 11 completely out of context. After warning all the non-Jewish believers grafted into Israel’s tree “to not be arrogant towards the branches [that had been cut off],” Paul instructed us concerning the Jews in their present state of unbelief. “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, BUT from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the Fathers, for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (vs. 28, 29).
From an earthly standpoint we should expect them to oppose the promotion of the gospel, tooth and nail. And that for our benefit! God had deliberately made them enemies of the gospel to drive it out into the nations where we could hear it and get saved.
But then Paul urges us to look past their angry opposition and view them from God’s perspective. He says, “that from the standpoint of God’s choice” they are still beloved. In other words, don’t think God has rejected them and put them in the same category as every other unbeliever in the world. No, they are still His people – even in their unbelief! The promises to the fathers had not been nullified.
Over and over He assured Israel that “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2). So even though a majority rejected Yeshua, their unbelief did not cancel out His eternal commitment to them. “Though some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be!” (Rom. 3:3,4). God had put them in a state of suspended, militant unbelief until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in [to Israel].” Then He’ll provide the same mercy and grace to the Jews He gave to us. “For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all” (v. 32)
What these undiscerning Christians don’t realize is that a paradigm shift has taken place in God’s dealing with the Jews. Everything changed with the founding of Israel in 1948. We know this because God always deals with Israel in the same way.
Whenever the nation’s disobedience finally exhausts God’s patient warnings He allows them to be conquered and thrown out of the land. It happened when Assyria invaded the northern kingdom in 722 BC, when Babylon conquered Judah in 586 BC, and when Rome exiled them again in 70 AD. But those times of exile had an expiration date. We know Judah’s time of punishment, which culminated with the Holocaust, has ended – because they’re back in the land. Their miraculous return, impossible victories against overwhelming odds and rejuvenation of the land, all confirm God is with them, and again fighting for Israel!
So, yes, the Jews have come home in unbelief. But that’s exactly what had been prophesied. “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. THEN I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean” (NAS Ezek 36:24,25). And again, in Ezekiel’s famous dry-bones prophecy, it is after the nation is restored from extinction that the prophet is commanded, “say to the breath…Come from the four winds and breathe on these slain, that they may come to life” (Ezek 37:9).
I believe that Breath will soon come. And it will be accompanied by those believers who have awakened to the Hebraic roots of their faith. For if you noticed in my recounting of Israel’s three exiles, there is still one scattering that has not been resolved. Namely, the worldwide banishment of the northern ten tribes of Israel. I have no doubt that all believers who have joined themselves to Messiah from among the nations are their lost descendants. If so, then the next thing on God’s restoration calendar would be to make it possible for us to make _aliyah. _Along with many more Western Jews.
“In those days, ten men from among the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech 8:23).
Brian Hennessy is author of Valley of the Steeples