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The Mystery of Israel Pt. 3

  So, after looking at God’s choice to have a people who would be ‘princes’ with Him (cf. Israel), we see God giving them everything a decent human being could need to remain faithful until the promise of the coming of the Day of the Lord.  From the temple, the law, the miracles, and the covenants they were truly entrusted with everything you could have asked for to complete such a task. 
  Finally, in the fullness of time, another thing was given to them – a stumbling block.  The crucified Messiah is the great offense to the nation as a whole because at the heart of the cross is the accusation that ‘you still couldn’t do it’.  The coming of Jesus was a great stumbling block since for centuries these Jews affirmed themselves as special and more holy than the nations around them.

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” (Rom 3:9-12 NASB)

  The feasts, the law, the temple, and the oracles of the prophets became the definition of righteousness to the nation of Israel.  Thus, their election and this stewardship defined them as righteous in their own eyes.  The revelation of the cross was a revelation of the utter depravity of the heart of man – both Jew and Gentile.  What God saw prior to the flood was still the condition even of the most devout Jew.

5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen 6:5 NASB) 

  This perverse righteousness came to a most dramatic confrontation with the coming of Jesus.  The righteousness of God was embodied in the cross, and the only means by which Jew or Gentile will ever be counted as righteous is by faith in the cross of Jesus.  Assuming that their election implied that the age to come would be defined by their own nature and character, the rejected the true revelation of the nature and character which will define the age to come.  The cross was the revelation of the glory of God and His heart.  Without the acknowledgment of the righteousness of God in the cross, and a corresponding repentance from allegiance and conformity to any other way of life, no man can be a part of the coming Kingdom and renewal of all things.  
  So, while the Jewish community generally held to the Biblical hope for the future – i.e. a restored earth under the Jerusalem-based Messianic leadership in the age to come – they missed the only acceptable means of righteousness required to participate in the Kingdom and resurrection.  
  So now we come to Paul’s argument in the book of Romans.  To be certain, His plans for the Jewish people remain unchanged.  

1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!… 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Rom 11:1, 29 NASB)

  Now then, with a more sober view of the argument that Paul is addressing, how then do we interpret current events in the Middle East?  What else does the Bible tell us about what will happen with Israel?  Has the original message of the prophets to Israel changed?  The Mystery of Israel Pt. 4 will address these questions and hopefully a few more challenging ones as well.