Skip Heitzig - Romans 11
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Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 11. My errant though well-intentioned attempt at covering two chapters, since that has happened now a few times, I have now become more realistic. And so tonight I'm not promising you to do two chapters. I'm going to be focusing in on just chapter 11 of the book of Romans, finishing that up and comparing what we read in Romans 11 with other texts of scripture, just so that we get a good understanding of it, rather than chopping it up and going then partly into the next section of Romans that begins in chapter 12 to the end of the book, which is the fourth and final segment of the book.
Rather than chopping it up that way, I will just spend the remainder of this evening talking about and wrapping up these three chapters of 9, 10 and 11, which deal with God's promise to His covenant people, the Jewish nation, so that we get an understanding of some of these things that I feel has been a source of confusion for so many. So we are simply going to look at Romans 11, and, comparing that to other texts of scripture that I have marked in my Bible, to give us a fuller-orbed understanding of God's plan for Jew and Gentile.
So we typically are in this for about an hour. I watch my time pretty carefully and then, when time's up, or thereabouts, we close and we go home. So it's about an hour Bible study. If you don't think you can be in for all of that, I understand that that's a lot for some folks, even though it's funny how we can sit and watch a movie for two or three hours and barely get up. But, be that as it may, we're going to be in it for about an hour. If you're like rolling your eyes, going, a Bible study for an hour. You know, I don't know if I can handle that.
Well, obviously, some can. Most all of us can. But if that describes you, and you're thinking, yeah, I'm going to tap out early. Then I'm going to encourage you, while we pray and our heads are bowed, that you tap out now by going to the very edge or the periphery of the auditorium, so that your getting up and moving around and leaving in the middle of it wouldn't then become a source of distraction to somebody who really is in it to win it. They're in it all the way to the end. They want to get as much as they can out of this study.
So I make that announcement from time to time. And I thought, since I'm only doing one chapter, I have the opportunity to make such an announcement and take up a few moments at the beginning. Shall we pray.
Father, thank you for the opportunity you've given us to gather again, to gather together, to pause in the middle of our week to consider a section of scripture that reflects so many of the promises made in the Old Testament, promises You made to Abraham, promises that You made to his sons and grandson, promises that You made to David, promises also that You gave to Jeremiah of a New Covenant. Oh Lord, help us, who are Gentile recipients of that New Covenant, to understand, not only what our place is in the grand scheme and plan that You have laid out in Your word, but also, in particular, what Your plan for the Jewish nation, the nation of Israel, the covenant people, is in the last days. Father, our heart's prayer, like Paul, is that Israel might be saved. And, Father, if there's a way that our lives could provoke them to jealousy, if there's a way that we, by our witness, our words, could help in that, Father, we pray You will use us individually, and as a fellowship. Lord, thank You for those who also make this a regular part of their study online, people from all around the world. And so we are grateful for that technology. But here we, as Your body, this local church, this precious flock, I commit to You, Lord, and pray that You would, as we just sang, break every chain and, in so doing, bind us to You as our master, in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Romans chapter 11, now we covered part of it last week. I'm going to go back over a couple sections, and really pick it up in verse 11. Now, I remember, when I first bought my first set of Encyclopedia Britannica, I knew that it was the gold standard in research. And I also knew that I couldn't afford it. But there was, in a local newspaper, somebody who had been gifted a brand new set of Encyclopedia. Britannica. They weren't interested. They needed the cash. I saw the ad. I made the phone call. I scored a deal on Britannica.
So I have loved that. And, of course, this is all before online. Now it's a moot point. You just sign up, become a member of Britannica, and you can do all the research with that membership. But back in the day of libraries and people reading books, there was Encyclopedia Britannica, which, of all the encyclopedias, I feel, as I said, was the gold standard. People writing encyclopedias would look up what Encyclopedia Britannica had to say.
So it's always interesting to me when such a reputable and formidable source like Encyclopedia Britannica makes a huge error. And they did in their 1911 version of Encyclopedia Britannica. You see, the Hebrew language had been considered a dead language since about 300 to 400 AD, after the Bar Kochba revolt in Israel, after the Jewish dispersion around the world, Israel was not a living language. It was not used like it had been used in antiquity. It was only preserved in certain synagogue prayers. The temple wasn't in use. Israel wasn't in their land. So it just sort of died. And there was talk, among some, that God would revive it one day.
Well, the scholars at Encyclopedia Britannica in 1911 wrote this comment, "The possibility that we can ever again recover the correct pronunciation of ancient Hebrew is as remote as the possibility that a Jewish empire will ever again be established in the Middle East." If they would have just waited, and, of course, they did have to wait 36 more years, because 36 years after this was printed, they had to revise it, because essentially what you have today is people speaking the ancient Hebrew language as an everyday language and doing so in the Jewish empire, in the regathered state of Israel.
So that brings us to the very first question that is posed in chapter 11, has God cast away His people, Paul the apostle asks, in Romans chapter 11, verse 1. Certainly not. Obviously, for God to regather them back in the land, as we see today, May 14, 1948, that happened, is an indication to us that something is up. God isn't done with His people. The covenant people are still in line to be blessed by God in the future.
Now Israel has had its share of problems nationally. It disobeyed God. It went into captivity for 70 years. The nation was essentially destroyed. It had been divided already, tribally, between north and south. The Assyrians had taken the 10 northern tribes captive. The Babylonians did the rest on the two tribes left over in Judah.
But, eventually, they came back after 70 years. As predicted by the prophet Jeremiah, they came back into their land. So there they were, growing and thriving and rebuilding and populating that land, but 70 AD rolled around. The Jews had rejected the Messiah that came to them. Jesus held them accountable for that rejection, in fact, held them accountable for the very day He came to Jerusalem, fulfilling the prophecies of Daniel.
And since 70 AD, after that, the Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem. Again they were taken captive, so to speak. There was a diaspora, a dispersion into countries around the world, until as I mentioned, May 14, 1948, when the United Nations established Israel, again, as a nation. And that perked up the interest of Bible scholars around the world, because Isaiah the prophet said, or God said through Isaiah the prophet, that the Lord will set his hand a second time to restore the remnant of My people, Israel.
The first time was after the Babylonian captivity. The second time was May 14, 1948. God once again gathered, literally not figuratively, not spiritually, Israel within its own borders. But, as to our chapters that we have been dealing with, the promises of God had been coming under scrutiny, God's promises to the nation of Israel. The national promises of the plan of God for Israel had come under scrutiny. Why? Because Israel had rejected the Messiah.
Jesus said, you will not come to Me that you may have life. They rejected Him. So the question is, if they rejected Him, hasn't He rejected them? Again, that is Romans 11 verse 1, has God cast away His people. If they have rejected Jesus as their Messiah, then certainly God must reject them as His people. And, as we mentioned last week, the amillennial believer would say that's true.
Now there's spiritual Israel. There's no such thing as national Israel. There's no such thing as geopolitical Israel. God isn't concerned with that. It's all spiritualised in the church. We have fulfilled and will fulfill the promises that God made to the Jews. Now, by the time this book was written, there was already a shift in the church from Jew to Gentile. The early church was all Jewish. All Jewish, every single believer in Jerusalem had a Jewish background.
Jesus was a Jewish Messiah. Salvation came to the Jews through a Jew, named Jesus. So all the believers in Judaea had a Jewish background. That changed when Peter went to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile, and Cornelius believed and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Things began to change. I'll get back to that story.
At this point, the church is largely, especially in Rome, not Jewish, but mostly Gentile, non-Jewish. So just looking at who is populating the seat next to you in church, around this time, one could surmise, I guess God really is done with Israel. That was sort of a starting point. But they rejected Him. He's rejected them. Now God is turning to and dealing with the Gentiles.
Now, why would they think this? They would think this because, indeed, and Paul will make this clear. There was a blindness that happened to Israel. We're going to get down to chapter 11, eventually, verse 25, where Paul says, "Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles are come in."
They became hardened. They became so hardened voluntarily that God added to that by causing a blindness to occur, because of their willful rejection. So I'm sort of going around the block to get next door, but I'm going to read a complementary verse of scripture, and that is 2 Corinthians, chapter 3, where Paul says, "Moses put a veil over his face." This is 2 Corinthians, chapter 3, verse 13.
"Moses put a veil over his face so the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away, that is the covenant of the law. But their minds were hardened", their minds were hardened, or as other translations say, their minds were blinded, they became blind, "for until this day," he continues, "the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. Even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart."
He's speaking of a national blindness that occurred to the Jews, a stupor, a spiritual stupor, so that they read the scripture, but they don't get it. They don't have a real, full-orbed, clear understanding of how Jesus Christ fulfills their scripture. Now, that was true when Paul wrote it. It's true to this day. And I'm underscoring that, because, by the time we get to verse 25, you'll have that as a background of understanding.
Now in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 19, Jesus comes to Jerusalem. And as He drew near, it says He saw the city and He wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day the things that make for your peace, but now they are hidden from your eyes." You are blinded to that. You are hardened to it. That spiritual stupefaction has ruled over you. "For the days will come," Jesus continues, saying to Jerusalem, "the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you to the ground. And they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
He is predicting the fall of Jerusalem under the Roman siege that occurred in 70 AD under General Titus. They're going to come in and destroy this town, take the stones, toss one off the other. And if you go and see the ruins today of Israel, you will see how complete that destruction is, one stone not left upon another. So they lost their temple. They lost their national identity. They lost their land. They lost eternal life.
And so Paul begins in this section by asking a series of questions, rhetorical questions. It's that Socratic method. He offers a question as somebody who would dissent in a conversation would ask. Somebody would say, well, wait a minute now, Paul, I have a rebuttal. So he supposes that. So he asks a question then will answer it. And one of those questions is, as we noted, in verse 1, has "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."
He didn't cast me away. I'm a Jewish rabbi. I believe in Jesus as the Messiah. He continues in verse 11, "I say then have they stumbled that they should fall?" It's the next question. Let me put that in a more understandable way. Have they fallen so they can't get up? You know the commercial. That medical alert, I've fallen and I can't get up. And it's no laughing matter, I mean, that really is a tragedy when that happens.
But the question is have the Jewish people fallen to the extent that that fall is irrecoverable? That God has set them aside from His plan in the future, have they fallen so they can't get up? "Certainly not, but through their fall to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles." It's tragic that the Jewish people did not see Jesus as the Messiah. Now many did. Hundreds did, thousands did. We see that in the book of Acts. But as a nation, they were so hardened, their leaders would not permit it. So they rejected Jesus. They were glad when He was crucified. But, as tragic as it was, it opened a door for God to let Gentiles, non-Jews, come in.
That is one of the grand points of this chapter. Because Jesus was rejected by Israel, salvation was offered to the whole world. Remember the parable of the wedding feast, and people said, no, I'm busy, no, I won't come. They didn't come, so the master of the feast said, go into the highways and byways and get anybody who will come. That's the same truth. Non-Jewish people, anybody who would believe in Jesus, could be admitted to it. And really that was the idea of Israel from the beginning. When God first established the nation, who did he establish it through? Who was the first person? Abraham. God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, and He promised him a land.
And He said, I'm going to make a great nation out of you, Abraham. I'm going to bless you. I'm going to make your name great. I'm going to bless those who bless you. I'm going to curse those who curse you. And in you, listen to this, all the families of the earth will be blessed. Not some of the families, only those with a Jewish background, will be blessed. All of the families of the earth will be blessed. And my family has been blessed. This German American Gentile family has been blessed, because of what Jesus did in bringing salvation. It was God's intention from the beginning to let Israel be a light to the Gentiles, Isaiah said very clearly. But they rejected God's plan. God had a plan for them.
The question is, does God still have a plan for them? According to Paul, yep, He still does have a plan for them. Even their faithlessness to Him can't cancel His faithfulness to them. In fact, it should provoke them to jealousy, because salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now verse 12, "if their fall is riches for the world," that is, their rejection has opened the door for non-Jewish people. The world, anybody can believe. If their riches, "if their fall is riches for the world and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness."
If their rejection of God and His setting them aside temporarily brought such blessing to the world, can you imagine if God decided to restore them, bring them back, regather them, and cause them all to believe? What would that mean? How much more their fullness, "for I speak to you, Gentiles, inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry." It's interesting that Paul, a Jewish rabbi, became the one that God used to open the door of faith, largely.
Though he used Peter at first with Cornelius, He used Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles. And Peter, in Galatians, is called the apostle to the Jews. So you have Peter, who is from Galilee, a largely Gentile region, the apostle to the Jews, and you have Paul, a Gamaliel, Jerusalem-trained rabbinic scholar, Hebrew of the Hebrews, tribe of Benjamin, Jewish, true blue Jew, an apostle to the Gentiles.
I love it, because God's call is often counter-intuitive. If you wonder, Lord, why did You call me to that ministry, or to that place, or to that group, or in this situation, just know that. Sometimes God calls you to do something and has a little smile on His face when He does it, because He calls you the areas, you go, I don't have any experience with this. I'm not good at this.
Moses, I'm calling you to lead My people. I-I-I can't even talk, Moses said, I stutter. You want me to be a spokesperson? Wrong guy. Paul, the Jewish rabbi, an apostle to the Gentiles, "how much more their fullness." I'll get back on track. "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." As I said, salvation came to the Jews through a Jew.
Jesus was Jewish. He was raised in a Jewish family. He was dedicated at a Jewish temple. He went to Jerusalem to go through His bar mitzvah, to become a son of the commandment. He kept the Passover, He kept the feasts of Israel. He said to the woman of Samaria, you don't know what you're worshipping. We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
He was a pure Jewish Messiah. It was Paul's hope, however, that because God opened the door to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles were now believing in a Jewish Messiah and believing in Jewish scripture and believing in the fulfillment of Jewish feasts in Christ, that that would bother some of the Jews. Hey, wait a minute. What are you doing worshiping my Messiah? What are you doing reading my scriptures?
And still, to this day, when I meet and talk to Jewish people, and I mention the Old Testament, and I'll quote the Old Testament, they go, oh, you read the Old Testament, wow. And they go, wow, you seem to know it pretty well. And I've had some, many of them say, much better than I do. I don't even know my own scriptures. So it was Paul's hope that's salvation to non-Jewish people in believing all things Jewish about the Messiah and the fulfillment, that would provoke them to jealousy and that would drive them to Christ.
Now that that didn't exactly happen. It happened in some cases, verse 15, "for if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world," again, that door is open to the world. Whosoever will, let him come. Whoever believes in him will not perish. "If their being cast away," and, again, temporarily, not permanently, "is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For if the first fruit is holy, the lump is holy. If the root is holy, so also are the branches."
In Ezekiel chapter 37, which is where we left off last week, and I said to read that in advance. So if you did your homework you're on good ground. In Ezekiel 37, in a vision, Ezekiel was taken to a large valley. And he saw in this massive valley, dry bones, bones of people scattered throughout the valley. And the Lord said to him, son of man, can these bones live? And the prophet said, You know, Lord. It's like, You're asking me? I should be asking you that question. Thou knowest. You know.
So He said, son of man, the Lord said, son of man, prophesy to these dry bones and say that breath is going to come inside of them and they're going to live again. And it was a picture of a resurrection, a national resurrection, because as the skeleton gets in place, and then flesh and muscles and sinew came on this skeleton, it became a mighty army in the vision of Ezekiel chapter 37. God says, that is, so will be the House of Israel, that God will cause the House of Israel to live again, to get strong again, and to regather again.
So when he asked the question, he has that in mind, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? A national restoration and resurrection, that includes salvation in the end of days. I'll show you that as we get further on in our chapter. Verse 17, "And if some of the branches were broken off and you," you Gentiles, "being a wild olive tree were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and the fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you."
The reason that we can never be anti-Semitic is because we owe the Jews too much. We're reading their scriptures. We believe in their Messiah. We are holding on to the covenants God gave to their forefathers. So we can't boast against them. They're the natural branches. We, as he said, will be grafted in. I've always loved a little quip by a man named William Norman Ewer, who said, "How odd of God to choose the Jews." Cute little quip, "How odd of God to choose the Jews." A little rhyme, but he continues, "but not so odd as those who choose the Jewish God but not the Jews." The God that you serve is the God that made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the 12 patriarchs, David, and continues to have a plan through history for His people.
So he says, do not boast against the branches. If you boast, remember you don't support the root, but the root, the Jewish nation, supports you. "You will say then, branches were broken off that I may 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."
Unbelieving Jews were not spared. Apostate Israel was not spared. And so apostate Gentiles, unbelieving Gentiles, would not be spared as well. So just because God has opened up the door of faith to the Gentile, the Gentile still has to believe and come by faith. That's how one is saved, for Jew or Gentile, so we're not to boast.
Now he's giving an analogy that anybody in that part of the world would understand. And if you're a farmer or you have a background in this, you probably understand as well. The olive crop was important, and still is, in the Mediterranean cultures. Countries all around the Mediterranean Sea grow and harvest olives. I've told you before that olive trees can grow to hundreds of years old, in fact thousands of years old in some cases.
And you will see these enormous trees, these wide-trunked tree of an olive. And you go, Oh boy, that's probably got to be 10 - 12 feet in diameter. But when you get close to that old olive tree, you'll also notice that it's alive on the outside, but there's nothing on the inside, that the very center of it is hollowed out. So it's almost like a circle, after a period of time.
But it still bears fruit. Now the root is intact. So the root is getting nutrients from the soil, producing sap, sending the sap to the branches. Olives are produced. But individual branches within that root system can become unproductive. So, and you'll see it, and it's fascinating to see, all the farmers will cut off the branches, toss them aside, get young, tender olive branches, make a cut in the base branch of the root system, and then take the branch and make a little tip on it, and insert it into the V that is created in the branch and tape it up.
And they'll cover it up, let moisture get to it, and it will produce olives. And you can even take one root system and have several different types of olives, from Kalomata olives in this branch, to another variety, to another. We could have several of them in one tree. So there's a simultaneous benefit. You're keeping the tree going by grafting in new growth, and you're taking new growth and they're benefiting from the root system, that has been there for years and is still very productive in its root system.
So the unproductive branches, according to this analogy, is unbelieving Jewish people, unbelieving Israel, Israel nationally, cut off temporarily, while wild olive branches, you and I, Gentiles, are grafted in. So there's that mutual benefit. We're benefiting from all of the promises God made, all of the predictions, all of the truths, all of the covenants, the scriptures, et cetera, and the Messiah.
So we have been grafted in. There is a simultaneous benefit. So the olive tree is still there. We're grafted in. But understand this. We are grafted in not as a replacement, because you still have the root system. We are grafted in as an addition to the Jewish people, who will be brought in in the last days. Do you follow me?
OK, now in Matthew chapter 21, I'm going to read this to you. And you can turn to these or write these down and look at them later. In Matthew 21, let me read this to you. Jesus gives a parable. He says, "Hear another parable. There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard." Now we're not with olives now, we're with grapes, and set a hedge about it, dug a winepress in it, built a tower, leased it to vine-dressers, went into a far country.
This is Matthew 21, verse 34, "Now when vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the vine-dressers that they might receive its fruit. And the vine-dressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, stoned another. Again, he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did likewise to them. Then, last of all, he sent his son to them, saying, they will respect my son.
"But when the vine-dressers saw the son, they said to themselves, this is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance. And they caught him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes what will he do to those vine-dressers?"
Pretty easy to see the analogy. The prophets came to the Jewish nation. They were beat. They were killed. They were rejected. Finally God said, I'm going to send My Son. But the Bible says He came into His own. His own received Him not. The Son was rejected. They killed Him.
"So what will he do to those vine-dressers, they said to Him? He will destroy those wicked men miserably and lease his vineyard to other vine-dressers, who will render to him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus said to them, did you never read in the scriptures, the stone, which the builders rejected, has become the chief cornerstone? This is the Lord's doing. It is marvelous in our eyes. Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it."
Now, we understand, by looking at Romans 11, what that is. We are wild branches being grafted in, bearing fruits of the root system, which is national Israel. In another analogy, using sheep, not grapes, not olives, Jesus said, other sheep I have, which are not of this fold. Them I must bring in also, that there may be one flock and one shepherd. Now He's speaking at the same thing.
He's going to bring in Gentiles who are not of this fold, not of this flock, not of national Israel. But He's going to bring them in and be their shepherd as well. That's one of the grand points that he has been making in Romans 9, 10, and 11.
Now back to Romans, chapter 11, verse 22, "therefore consider the goodness and severity of God. On those who fell, severity," right, they got lopped off, temporarily. "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."
When you gave your life to Christ, you were given, you were gifted, and you were grafted. You were given salvation, given eternal life. You were gifted by the Holy Spirit, certain abilities and capabilities for the mutual edification of the body of Christ. That's the Holy Spirit. So you were given, you were gifted, but you were also grafted in.
You've been given an inheritance, a heritage of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the patriarchs. That is our heritage as well. "For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches," that is national Israel, "be grafted into their own olive tree. For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery."
I always find it an interesting phrase when Paul tells us that we shouldn't be ignorant of something, because I've discovered that is precisely the area where many of us Christians are so ignorant. Hey, I don't want you to be ignorant about the coming of the Lord. There's a lot of confusion about that. Hey, I don't want you to be ignorant about how this Jew/Gentile thing works. There's a lot of ignorance about this.
So when he says that, it's because it's an area that can be complex and has to be sort of unwound, and examined, and put back together. "So I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery," musterion, a Greek word that means something that was not understood, not put forth in the Old Testament but now has been revealed in the New. That's generally how the word is used.
"I don't want you to be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening in part," or again, some translations say, 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." So notice verse 25, blindness or hardness in part has happened to Israel. We know that. We've established that. They rejected their Messiah.
God set them aside temporarily. Jesus said, you don't see it. You're blind to it. You're hardened to it. But there's a time frame, "until." Jewish people, generally speaking, there's always a remnant. There's always a blessed exception to the rule. And I love seeing a Jewish person come to faith in Yeshua, Jesus, as Messiah.
But the general rule, Israel nationally, blindness in part has happened unto Israel until, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. The fullness of the Gentiles means the full number of the Gentiles. Most translations that are more modern than this, well, we'll put that in there. Until the complete number of the Gentiles, or the full number of the Gentiles be come in.
So, once again, Israel rejected Jesus as the Messiah. It caused persecution of the early church in Jerusalem. Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was led to the house of a soldier named Cornelius in Caesarea, a Gentile, whose prayers were heard, whose alms had come up before God as a memorial. Peter was on a rooftop, and, around noon, he saw the vision of a sheet being let down from heaven with all sorts of unkosher meats and four footed animals and everything not cool for a Jew to eat. And God said, Peter, rise, kill, and eat.
And Peter, being Peter, said, I'm not going to do what You just said. No way. I'm not going to do it. I'm kosher. I'm Jewish. I've never had anything common or unclean. And God said what I have cleansed, you shall not call common. And He was preparing Peter for what was about to happen.
He said, there's men that are going to be knocking on the door. When they come to the door, don't ask questions. Just go with them. He goes to the house of Cornelius. He says, look, you guys know that I'm a Jew. This is Peter speaking. I can't go into the house of a Gentile. You guys know that, right? It's like unkosher, unclean, uncool. I'm paraphrasing.
But the Lord sent me here. So here I am. What is it you have? What do you want to know? So he said, you know, Peter began then to preach the gospel to him. Cornelius believed, and Cornelius was the first Gentile convert in the church. It created a huge stir in Jerusalem, so that by Acts chapter 15 this council gets together of church leaders. And Peter stands up and says, now you guys know that the Lord chose me to be the guy to open up the door to the Gentiles.
I went to Cornelius. And you know that God chose to make the word of the gospel known to them. You know that. And so they were conferring. What do we do going forward, in terms of laying burdens on Gentile believers who come to have faith in our Messiah? So that's Cornelius. He was the first one. Since then, millions of Gentiles, including, probably, how many of you tonight in this room are non-Jewish, raise your hand. Raise your hand up.
OK, put your hands down. How many of you are Jewish? Raise your hands. OK, there's just a sampling. You don't have to be ashamed, raise it up high, nice and high. So I'm counting one, two, three. See, you guys are the remnant, as far as this chapter is concerned.
But, blindness in part is happening to Israel until the full number of Gentiles be come in. So God has chosen, God knows there's a certain number of non-Jewish people, who, during this age, the church age, are going to come to believe in the Jewish Messiah. And when that number is full, and only He knows it, at that point the day of grace, the age of grace, the church age will be over.
The rapture of the church will take place. And the last period of world history, known as Daniel's 70th week, will take place. In case you don't know about Daniel's 70th week, Israel, as a nation, has always been the prophetic timetable in scripture. Daniel the prophet was given a vision in chapter 9 of that book. And the angel said to Daniel, Daniel, 70 sets of seven, seventy sevens, are determined for your people and for your Holy City, Jerusalem.
From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, until the Messiah the Prince, shall be 483 years. And I've shared with you that great work of Sir Robert Anderson, who computed that from the exact date that was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, to build the wall, to build the streets, was March 14, 445 BC. He counted how many years until Jesus the Messiah, which was April 6, 32 AD, and he found not only was it 483 years, but it was to the exact date 173,880 days after the commandment was given by Artaxerxes until Jesus stepped foot on the Mount of Olives and presented Himself as their Messiah.
No wonder Jesus wept over Jerusalem and said, if only you had known the things that make for your peace in this your day. But they are hidden from your eyes. You didn't know the time of your visitation. You should have known that. That's what Daniel predicted. So 69 of those sevens have been fulfilled, from the time of Artaxerxes to the presentation of Jesus on the Mount of Olives, 483 years.
But the angel said 70 sevens. 483 years is 69 of those sevens. There is still a final seven year period, a seven year period we call the tribulation. The first half is more mild. The middle part is the abomination of desolation. The last three and a half years is the great tribulation period. That seven year period is Daniel's 70th week, when the full number of Gentiles is come in, that is when non-Jewish people, the full number that only God knows, come to faith in Christ.
When that number is hit, the rapture happens. The church age is over. God again then turns to deal with Israel, in restoring Israel to her God through the tribulation period, so that by the end of the tribulation period, Israel, those alive, will come to faith in Jesus. They'll come to faith. They'll come to believe in Jesus, as a nation, set aside temporarily, restored, regathered in the end times.
So blindness has happened to Israel, hardening in part has happened to Israel, till the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so, verse 26, look at this, all Israel will be saved. 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. Now this phrase, all Israel, is not used diachronically, meaning all Jews of all time saved. It is used here synchronically, that is, all of the Jews alive at that period of time, the end of times.
During that time, that 70th week of Daniel, the seven year period of the tribulation, we know that 144,000 Jewish evangelists, sealed by God, will be witnessing, not only to the nation, but to the world. We know that God will send two witnesses to Jerusalem, I believe Moses and Elijah, who will perform great wonders. Many of the hearts of the people will come back, will believe that Jesus is the Messiah during that time.
And I want you to hear about the turning back in Zechariah chapter 12. Now I'm reading Zechariah chapter 12, verse 9, "It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the House of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me whom they have pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for his own son and grieve for him as one grieves for a first born. In that day, there will be a great mourning in Jerusalem like the mourning at Haddad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo, and the land shall mourn every family," et cetera.
And then it goes on to talk about their salvation. Now think back to when Jesus stood in the temple, in Matthew 23, and said, you will not see Me here again, until you cry, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. When will that day be? As predicted by Zechariah chapter 12, when there is a mourning, a sudden recognition, we've blown it. He is the Messiah. He is the pierced one. He is the one we rejected. And they will turn to Him.
And so, at that time, all those surviving of Israel will be saved, all of them. God will restore His people. God will fulfill His promise to the Jewish nation, after that period of time. By the way, a little clue, in Jeremiah chapter 30 and 31, it talks about the future time of tribulation, but it goes under a different moniker. It's called the time of Jacob's trouble. The time of Jacob's trouble, Jacob is another name for Israel.
The Jewish people will experience great trouble. I commend to you the last part of the Book of Daniel, chapter 12, talks about great trouble that will happen to the Jewish nation during a tribulation period, especially to the Jewish people. It'll be a great time of testing, great time of trouble. But the end result is that all the Jews at that time will be saved. The deliverer will come out of Zion. He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.
So the blindness is lifted. Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. Boy, I am barely going to finish chapter 11. I'm glad I camped on just one. "Concerning the gospel, they," the Jewish people, "are enemies for your sake. But concerning the election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers, for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable." Now let me unpack that a little bit.
Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. Rejecting Jesus, turning away from their Messiah, thereby becoming your enemies, they were the enemies of so many of those believers in the New Testament book of Acts. As hard as that was, it was a benefit and a blessing because it opened the door of faith to them. So, concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake.
Concerning election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. The temporary blindness benefits us, but God has made a promise to the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. And part of the covenant that God promised Abraham is called the Abrahamic covenant. God promised Israel the land that is Israel today. It's a land promise.
It's also known in Deuteronomy, it's called the Palestinian covenant, or that land was given to the progeny of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the 12 tribes, "For the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet now you have 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. O the depths of the riches of both the wisdom and the knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out."
There's a great story about a Prussian King named Frederick the Great, who doubted scripture and said to his court chaplain, well, show me some proof. What can you, what can you show me that proves the inspiration of the Bible? And the chaplain looked at his King and he said, Your Majesty, I can sum it up in one word, the Jew. The Jew, Your Majesty. It's the Jew. The survival of the Jews, the promise God made to the Jews. That's what Paul would offer here, the Jew, God's elected, selected, protected group of people. "For," verse 34, "who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has become His counselor." I can answer that. You have.
You don't know His mind, but you've become His counselor, right? Have you ever said, God, I don't know why You would do that. I think you should have done this, Lord. Now, Lord, a smart move for you to make would be this. You've offered God your counsel. You've thought God has made a mistake in certain cases in your life. But because God operates on such a different ability, with His cognizance, you know, who has known the mind of the Lord? No, no, David said in Psalm 139, such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high. I cannot attain it. So we're dealing with God. Who has known the mind of the Lord? No one, except Him, who has become His counselor. The answer should be no one. 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.
In closing, if you were to study Jewish history, and you should. If you study Jewish history and you don't believe in miracles, you are not a realist. If you look at Israel nationally and you discover what other nation after 400 years of slavery, after 2,000 years of dispersion, after two total destructions, after multiple deportations, after tribal divisions, and a Holocaust, not only survived but came back into a land that they had not inhabited for 2,000 years. What other nation comes even close to that? Back to that 1911 prediction, or that little quip in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Yeah, you know, the odds of that language ever being revived are about as remote as Israel ever getting their land back again. Fact check, they got their land back, and they speak Hebrew in it.
So Paul said, has God set aside Israel? No, and I'm proof. I'm one but there are others. Now, we are just a remnant. But we won't always be a remnant. In the end, at the end of days, God will save the nation of Israel. And so it says, all Israel will be saved. It all really comes down to choice for us. God has His plan. Paul said God is sovereign. But in terms of us interacting with God, we have a choice to make, Jew or Gentile. Jew or Gentile, we can be part of the covenant or not. We can say yes to Him or not. We can enjoy the eternal blessings or not. You remember that last, I think it was the last, Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Was that the last of those films? That wasn't? OK, what was? The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
OK, that's right, Crystal Skull. That has nothing to do with my Bible study. I don't know why I'm asking it, except to say, at the end of the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade one, which is where they are looking for the grail of Christ, right? The grail is protected by one of the Temple Knights in a cave in somewhere, but it's actually in Petra, Jordan, where it's filmed. And you know how, do you remember the film? You remember when Indiana Jones comes in, and then the Nazi's there? And there's all these different chalices, and the Knight says to both the Nazi and Indiana Jones, choose wisely, because as the real grail has the power to give life the false grail has the power to take life from you, remember that? So the Nazi picks this golden chalice and drinks water out of it and he disintegrates.
And I love it because the old Knight turns to Indiana Jones and says, he chose poorly, after he was disintegrated. So Indiana Jones looks through all of the cups and sees this old clay one and he goes, that looks like the cup of a carpenter. And he drinks from it. It's the right one. And the Knight says, you chose wisely. I don't want to make light of it, but too many people, when it comes to the things of God, we would say, they chose poorly. But if you come to the Jewish Messiah given to the Jewish nation, but offered to anyone who will believe, you choose wisely. And even though Israel is presently in unbelief, one day they will not.
One day they will mourn. One day they will acknowledge. One day they will see. One day they will believe, and all Israel will be saved, and so God still has a future plan for Israel. And all you have to do is read the rest of the Bible, because not only will 144,000 believe, not only will two witnesses share the gospel, but in the millennial kingdom Jesus will rule and reign from Mount Zion in Jerusalem, in the new heaven and the new earth. After that there's new Jerusalem and there's 12 gates with the names of the 12 tribes. So God still is working with, into the future, the plan he announced to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has not set them aside. Enough said, we're done with this section, we'll get into the practical section next time.
Father, thank You, that we have been able to slow down and understand the plan, that You have, for Jew and non-Jew. And tonight we realize most of us in this room are wild olive branches that have been grafted in to the root system, that includes the prophets, the promises, the Messiah, the scriptures, all of the benefits, all of the nourishment, all of the sap, that came through the Jewish people. We are enjoying the benefits of that tonight. Lord, we pray that by our lives, by our witness, that Jewish people that live in our communities, our neighborhoods would be curious, interested, and even provoked to jealousy, that we love their nation, we love their Messiah, we love their scriptures, and they too, that their eyes would be open. In Jesus' name, Amen.