Will Israel be saved?

Marko Joensuu         No comments
The Christians who idolise the modern state of Israel often forget to ask an important question: how will Israel be saved? After all, a piece of a Promised Land won’t help an Israeli—or a Palestinian—to gain salvation in eternity. And paradoxically, the very Christians who seek to “protect” Israel the loudest, often discourage other Christians talking to the Jews about Jesus.  But the Book of Zechariah gives us a prophetic glimpse of the time when the Holy Spirit will be poured on Israel, and many Jews will accept Jesus as their Saviour.

The inherent problem with every dominionist worldview, including the modern-day Zionism that elevates a nation above God, is that one day, we will all have to die, and after that our possessions—or land—will matter very little. But we have come up with the gospel that is very unconcerned of time after death, but obsessed with life before death, and this has become a breeding ground for all sorts of heresies, as we want heaven now, and not later.

For the apostle Paul, who was a Jew, the salvation of the Jews was one of the greatest goals, as he didn’t believe that the Jews would be saved automatically. The apostle Paul by no means taught replacement theology, but he was afraid that his own nation would lose God’s greatest gift to them—eternal salvation.

Hear me right—the land of Israel is not God’s greatest gift to Israel. God’s greatest gift to Israel—and Palestine—is Jesus. And unless we understand that, our understanding of what God is actually doing in the Middle East will always be based on error.

I believe that the next fifty years will see a mass-scale return of the Arabic people in the Middle East to Jesus—the Middle East was Christian for centuries, after all—as God will make Israel jealous through the Arabs. And that will be such a wonder in the eyes of the Jews in Israel, that many of them will give their lives to Jesus—enough in numbers to fulfil a significant Old Testament prophecy. It might not look like that right now—but it will happen!

Romans 9-11

In Romans 9-11 the apostle Paul lays out his understanding about the salvation of the Jews, and below are the three chapters in their entirety.

Romans 9

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”

And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As He says also in Hosea:

“I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.”
“And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:

“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
The remnant will be saved.
For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness,
Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.”

And as Isaiah said before:

“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed,
We would have become like Sodom,
And we would have been made like Gomorrah.”

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written:

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”(that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace who bring glad tidings of good things!”

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:

“Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:

“I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”

But Isaiah is very bold and says:

“I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”

But to Israel he says:

“All day long I have stretched out My hand to a disobedient and contrary people.”

Romans 11

I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying,  “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written:

“God has given them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes that they should not see
And ears that they should not hear,
To this very day.”

And David says:

“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
A stumbling block and a recompense to them.
Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see,
And bow down their back always.”

I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  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?

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. 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;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?”

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Chosen but not saved

So, the apostle Paul’s view is that God loves Israel, and that all the promises God has given to Israel are still valid, but the Israelis aren’t saved unless they accept Jesus. And paradoxically, some of the loudest supporters of the modern state of Israel, such as John Hagee, actively discourage Christians from evangelising the Jews. According to John Hagee, for example, the Jews don’t really need the New Covenant, as the Old Covenant is good enough for their salvation.

Now let me ask you—do you believe the apostle Paul, or John Hagee? I believe the apostle Paul. And another great paradox of our time is that many of the people who talk about believing in the Bible the loudest seem to read it the least! 

If the apostle Paul says that the Jews need salvation, I take it as God’s Word. And if they need salvation, it means that the “helpers” of Israel like John Hagee in fact end up destroying the eternal Israel, as because of them, millions of Christians travel to the “Holy” Land, but hardly anyone is bothered about the eternal salvation of the Jews. And because they “love” the Jews so much, they hate their enemies, and hence not many Christians give a damn about the eternal salvation of their enemies either—the Arabs.  But the Arabs also are another chosen people of the Old Testament, and God has many promises for them as well!

But God will provoke the Jews to jealousy through loving the Arabs

I believe that God will be bringing many Jews to Jesus after mass conversion of the Arabs that will be taking place during the next 50 years. In my previous blog post Is there hope for the Middle East? I wrote about the move of God that is slowly beginning in the Middle East. Right now, it is hidden by the violence and Satan’s attempt to kill the generation that is destined to bring it forth, much like he tried to kill Moses and Jesus by killing a whole generation of babies. But Satan won’t succeed.

We can see a prophetic promise of Israel finding Jesus in Zechariah 12:10 where the prophet foresees a time when the Jews will accept Jesus as their Saviour as a nation.

“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”

Most prophetic books in the Bible, including the Book of Zechariah are a series of prophecies, dreams and visions that often cover the same events again and again, as God talks about the same issues repeatedly from different perspectives. So, the prophecy or vision that follows the first one might not refer to a new event, but it might look at the same event from a different perspective. All this might be confusing, but if you read read the texts carefully, they will become clear. 

For example, the Book of Zechariah was written around the time when the temple was being rebuilt after returning from the exile in Babylon, so it seeks to encourage the contemporary hearers, but it also speaks about the first and second coming of Jesus, and about yet another return of the Jews to the Promised Land in the end times. What many readers miss it that it also tells about many events between these key events. But thankfully, the Book of Zechariah is surprisingly clear about the chronological order of events.

So, the chapter 12 that prophesies that one day the Israelis will accept Jesus as their Saviour begins with predicting that in the end times Israel will again be inhabited by the Jews, and they will govern Jerusalem. What is striking is that the prophet Zechariah defines Israel through a fairly small piece of land—Jerusalem. It doesn’t look like Israel would be governing any large territories at the time. But God will protect Jerusalem against the nations—and it is at this time that God will pour His Holy Spirit on Israel, and they will look on Jesus who they pierced.

Now slow down. What causes this turning to Jesus? It is not the second coming of Jesus, but the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!

Straight after, Zechariah 13:1-2 says,

“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. “It shall be in that day,” says the Lord of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.”

This is the time when large part of Israel will receive the Holy Spirit but Jesus is yet to return. It is in the next chapter, in Zechariah 14 when the nations will yet again gather against Israel, and Jesus will return with the saints.

"And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal.
Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You. It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light; the lights will diminish. It shall be one day which is known to the Lord—neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen that it will be light. And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—'The Lord is one,' and His name one." (Zechariah 14:4-9)

So, according to the prophet Zechariah, the Jews will return to Israel in the end times, God will protect her against the nations, the Holy Spirit will be poured on Israel and the Jews will find Jesus in great numbers, and then the nations will gather against Israel again, and then Jesus will return with all the saints!

What are you praying for when you pray for Israel? I am praying for the salvation of the Jews and the Arabs, and for peace between them, as according to many prophets in the Old Testament, they will one day worship God together.

Published by Marko Joensuu

Marko Joensuu has worked for over sixteen years in the publishing and media ministries of Kensington Temple. He is an author, publisher and screenwriter.
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