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Alex's Blog - August 18, 2009 - The Restoration of the Jews (Part 4)
By Alex Dodson
The conversion of the Jews to Christ is an event that is yet to take place. Though there are small pockets of Jews who have turned to Christ, the vast majority of the Jewish people remain in unbelief. Yet, we believe this unbelief will not last forever. A time will come when the Jews as a whole will turn to Christ. John Murray in his commentary on Romans in discussing Romans 11:11-12 writes, "Thus there awaits the Gentiles, in their distinctive identity as such, gospel blessing far surpassing anything experienced during the period of Israel's apostasy, and this unprecedented enrichment will be occasioned by the conversion of Israel on a scale commensurate with that of their earlier disobedience." (p. 79, Vol. 2) The conversion of the Jews will bring blessing to all both Jew and Gentile. We await this great event and we pray toward it. As we continue to look at scripture, we see some additional Old Testament and New Testament evidence pointing to a future conversion of the Jews.
Other Old Testament Prophecies concerning the Conversion of the Jews
Besides the passages in Ezekiel noted in my earlier blog, there are other Old Testament passages that seem to point to a conversion of the Jewish people in the future. Though they are rejected for a time, the rejection is not total. The Lord will bring them back to Himself. That's the gist of passages such as Deuteronomy 4:27-31 - "The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in the later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath."
Another Old Testament prophet foresees a day when the people of Israel (Jews) will acknowledge the Messiah (David who was a type of Christ). This time will come in future days. Hosea 3:4-5 says, "For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days."
Zechariah also points to a day when the people of Israel, the Jews, will mourn over their rejection of Jesus, the Messiah. At that time, they will accept Him. Read this amazing prophecy in Zechariah 12:10; 13:1 - "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn sonů..On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity." This points to a time beyond the first restoration of the Jews under Ezra and Nehemiah. It seems clearly to point to a time beyond the cross, a time when they will mourn over the one they had pierced.
New Testament Prophecies concerning the Conversion of the Jews
There are two texts in the gospels that hint at a conversion of the Jews in the future. Matthew 23:38-39 says, "Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" This passage seems to be saying that the Jews will be judged for their unbelief which they were in 70 AD. It also seems to indicate that one day they will acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Another passage of interest is Luke 21:24 which says, "They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." Here, we have an indication that there will be a time when the Gentiles are brought into the church while the Jews for the most part are excluded. Yet, that time will end (the time when the church is made up almost exclusively of Gentiles) and the inference is that the Jews again would be brought back into the people of God. This is taking this passage in a more spiritual sense and history has shown us that the church has been mostly a Gentile church after 70AD and years following.
Another passage that may hint to a future conversion of the Jews is Acts 1:6-7 - "So when they met together, they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority." It could be that they just meant the time when the Jews would overthrow the Roman domination of them. Yet, Jesus did not say that they were wrong in asking the question. He hints that there was a future time to come when Israel would be restored to the Kingdom of God. However, this may not have been in the minds of the disciples when they asked the question. Jesus, of course, knew that Israel would be restored in the future.
An additional passage is found in 2 Corinthians 3:15-16 - "But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart of the Jewish nation) shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away." (KJV) For the time being the Jews as a whole are blind to the gospel but one day they will believe and turn to the Lord. This seems to be what Paul may be pointing to here.
Taking all these passages from the New Testament, we have at least a hint of a future conversion of the Jews. However, the passage in Romans 11 is much clearer and in much more detail. It is the main passage in the New Testament that points to the future conversion of the Jews. It is to this scripture passage that we will turn in our next blog.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version unless indicated otherwise.
Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MIchigan, 1965.