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Hardening!

How are the Jews hardened?

Some say the Jews are finished. Paul doesn’t and God certainly doesn’t. He is willing and able to re-graft the Jews, the natural branches, into the olive tree, the place of blessing and salvation.

After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!” (Romans 11:24)

Paul summarises his warning to the Gentiles who have been added to the tree in the place of Jews. He reminds them of their grace and favour and that the Jews, the natural branches, could be re-grafted as a much better fit into the olive tree.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” (Verse 25)

It’s all a mystery, at the end of the day. Although none may know the mind of God, He wants us to appreciate the outworkings of this mystery. Again it’s a warning to the Gentiles, to stop them getting puffed-up and conceited. There is something very deep and mystical going on here. The Jews, through their persistent unbelief as a race, have suffered the same fate as the Pharaoh at the time of Moses, as well as many others in Biblical history. They have experienced a hardening.  God has allowed their hearts to harden, in their rejection of Jesus as Messiah and the result of this is to allow those wild olive branches, the Gentiles, a place in the olive tree of blessing. The Jews, as a whole (not all of them, as I and many others can personally testify) have rejected Messiah and it has allowed the Gentiles in. It’s an awesome fact, but it is true and what is often ignored is that a time is going to come when the full number of Gentiles has come in and then God’s favour is going to swing back to the Jews. And when that happens … well, read on …

“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.” (Verse 26)

This verse has been discussed and debated by the theological giants, so I won’t enter that particular arena except to say that, to some degree, God is going to soften those hard hearts and the light of the gospel is going to shine in places that have been closed to it for many generations.

And when that happens, the World is going to be transformed. Paul speaks of it earlier in that same chapter, just before his warning to the Gentiles. He is talking to them about the Jews here:

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. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fulness bring! I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Verses 11 – 15)

I will let the above passage speak for itself. It is a further evidence of the future role for the Jewish people in God’s plan, indeed, their future speaks of a glorious future for the whole World.

And can you imagine it? Look back at the list of Jewish movers and shakers in an earlier article. Can you imagine what blessings could flow to the world from the coming to faith of such as Steven Spielberg, Will Self, Jonathan Sacks or Alan Sugar. Nothing less than life from the dead, as it says ...

For the next article in this series, click here.

For the previous article in this series, click here.

You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.

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