Israel’s Election, Unbelief, and Restoration

Posted: January 22, 2013 in Religion
Tags: , , ,


by Chad Daugherty

Many people today struggle with understanding what God’s plan for Israel is and how he is dealing with the jewish people. The scriptures tell us that the jewish people are God’s chosen people whom he would bless and also bring blessings to the world (Genesis 12:2-3):

“I will make you into a great nation, 

and I will bless you; 

I will make your name great, 

and you will be a blessing.  

I will bless those who bless you, 

and whoever curses you I will curse; 

and all peoples on earth 

will be blessed through you.”

They are God’s special children whom he entrusted with his written word. God dwelled among them and even filled their temples with his presence. The scriptures say the jewish people would always be God’s people that he would never forsake them in Genesis 17:7-8:

 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

Yet history shows that the jewish people repeatedly turned from God and rejected Jesus as God’s son the messiah. It shows that their land was invaded and they were taken captive on different occasions with their temple being destroyed two times in the process. Finally they were taken from their land and scattered throughout the world for almost 2,000 years. This leads to many questions such as: Are not these Abraham’s descendants—the people God blessed and entrusted with His Word? How could they possibly refuse the gospel? Did God’s plan fail? Does this cast doubt on God’s integrity?

Fortunately, God uses Paul in the book of Romans to give the answers we seek. In Romans chapters 9-11 Paul explains Israel’s Israel’s election, Israel’s unbelief, and Israel’s restoration which I will discuss here.

In Romans chapter 9, Paul confirms that the jewish people are God’s chosen people. He uses the covenants made with God through Abraham, Moses, and David. He also refers to the ancestry of Jesus to confirm his point. Paul goes on the explain Israel’s election and answers the question of “Has God’s plan failed?”. Paul makes his point in Romans 9:6-7:

It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 

Paul is saying that God’s word and plans have not failed. There is a natural Israel and a spiritual Israel. There are the jews who receive Christ as the son of God and those who cling to their pride and position instead of the truth written in God’s word. A person whether Jew or gentile who has believed the truth of Christ are the ones who are the descendants of Abraham and therefore receive the blessings of the covenants (Romans 2:28-29):

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

The thing that distinguishes Abraham’s spiritual descendants from his natural descendants is their belief in God and his promises.

Next Paul goes on the explain Israel’s unbelief at the end of Romans chapters 9 and into chapter 10. The Jews pursued a law of righteousness to obtain salvation. Instead of relying on faith in God they attempted to uphold the law and obtain righteousness by works which is useless (Isaiah 64:6):

All of us have become like one who is unclean, 

and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; 

we all shrivel up like a leaf, 

and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

The fact that the Jewish people had been entrusted with the very words of God (Rom. 3:2) had led to pride. Their extensive knowledge of scripture coupled with the traditions of the elders—rules, interpretations, and applications of Scripture developed over the years by the rabbis caused them to be blinded to the truth revealed in God’s word (Rom. 10:3-4):

For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

 Throughout the scriptures God makes it known that salvation comes through faith in his son Jesus Christ and not by works. One of the clearest examples is in Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

 The prophet Isaiah gave a prophecy about Jesus referring to him as a stone that would make people stumble. We see this in Isaiah 8:14:

 14 He will be a holy place; 

for both Israel and Judah he will be 

a stone that causes people to stumble 

and a rock that makes them fall. 

And for the people of Jerusalem he will be 

a trap and a snare.

Paul also refers to this in his explanation of the Jew’s unbelief in Romans 9:30-33:

30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: 

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble 

and a rock that makes them fall, 

and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 

Just as it is with many people in the world today……pride, position, greed, etc. caused many of the Jews to stumble over the stone instead of embracing the rock of their salvation….Jesus Christ!

Finally, lets examine the issue of Israel’s restoration. God knows the beginning from the end (Isaiah 64:10). God knew from creation the choices his chosen people would make and yet because of his love for mankind he followed through with his plan to use them to bring salvation to the world. Although God has temporarily turned his attention away from the Jews in order to bring salvation to the gentiles, his ultimate plan will bring restoration to Israel (Romans 11:25-27):

25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: 

“The deliverer will come from Zion; 

he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 

27 And this is my covenant with them 

when I take away their sins.” 

Paul confirms this in Romans 11:1-2:

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. 

Israel’s unbelief did not catch God by surprise. In fact God used their unbelief to bring salvation to the gentiles and to make the Jews envious so they would eventually return to him (Romans 11:11-12):

11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.

We see this also in Romans 11:15–16:

15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

God still has the Jewish people included in his wonderful plan! One day soon Jesus will return for his bride the church and will call us up to be with him in Heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18):

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Then God will turn his attention back to the Jewish people. He will bring restoration. He will be with them, and bring a remnant through the seven year tribulation period. At the end of the tribulation period the Jewish people who put their trust in Jesus as God’s son will go into the millennial kingdom where they will be with Jesus who will reign for a thousand years. What a wonderful plan God has for those that love him!

There are many people today who claim to be Christian because they believe they are good people or possibly because they go to a church service occasionally, and yet they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Their lives and actions do not reflect Christ. They are the ones the scriptures talk about who will be left behind at the Rapture of the Church (Matt. 7:21-23):

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

If your reading this today and do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I encourage you to not be like the Jewish Pharisees. Surrender you life to Christ, ask forgiveness of your sin, get connected with a church grounded on the literal word of God. Allow God to fulfill his plan through your life and you will know peace that surpasses all understanding and the love of a God who gave his life for you!

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