There will be a day when many Jews will come to Jesus. This event is sometimes called the “Ingathering of the Jews,” and it is part of the chain of events in the end times connected to the return of Christ. Christians do not agree on all the particulars of exactly what this will look like. However, passages like today’s reading from Romans are difficult to understand without in some way accepting a prophetic teaching about much of Israel finally accepting their Messiah. Paul says that Israel was the original or “natural” family tree of faith. They have rejected Jesus for now, causing their branches to be broken off and Gentile branches to be grafted in as their replacements. However, this separation will apparently not last forever. If the Jews will embrace Jesus as their Messiah, they will be accepted back into the family tree of faith (Romans 11:23-24). In fact, Paul expects that this will happen one day, after the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). The exact meaning of that phrase is unclear, but it seems to indicate that there will be a time when God turns His saving focus from the Gentiles back to the Jews, fulfilling His original promises to rescue the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from their sins (Romans 11:26-27). The Jews may have made themselves into “enemies” of the gospel for now, but we must remember that they were God’s chosen nation through whom our Savior came (Romans 11:28). In some way that we don’t fully understand, God has made promises to Israel that cannot be broken forever by their current disobedience (Romans 11:30). In some way that has not yet happened, Israel will come back to the Lord.
So what’s the application to us Gentile Christians today? First, we should be humbled that God chose to offer salvation up to us. We should be thankful that Jesus came not just for the Jews, but for the whole world. Scripture always exhorts us to take the gift of our salvation very seriously. We should daily appreciate what Jesus has done by making a way for us to come back to God. Secondly, we should show a special love towards people of Jewish descent, recognizing their special role in salvation history. On a national level, Christians should support the modern nation of Israel as a friend and ally. And on an individual level, Christians should reach out to people of Jewish heritage with the love of Christ. God chose them for many blessings, and His friends should be our friends.
The Text (Romans 11:23-30)
23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”
28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Questions to Think About
- Have you ever had any spiritual or religious conversations with someone from a Jewish background? What happened?
- What do you know about the history of the modern nation of Israel and its relationship with the United States?
- Have you taken time recently to thank God for the gift of your salvation? If not, spend a few minutes in prayer today giving God thanks for inviting you into His family tree of faith.