This is the seventh in a series of articles that discusses Israel’s expectation for the tribulation as outlined in the introductory article. Recall that these expectations are derived from the writings by Jewish scribes and commentators during the Late Second Temple Period.
We’ll continue to view the next two expectations(1) with the understanding that they are derived from a period prior to Jesus of Nazareth delivering his gospel of the kingdom of God. Though derived from this earlier period, they point to the work of the Lamb of God for Israel(2) and Judah(3) and the world:
11. The tribulation is tied to the ingathering and/or conversion of the Gentiles.
12. The tribulation has some kind of atoning or redemptive function.
In previous articles we’ve touched lightly on the depth of the apostle Paul’s understanding of the relationship between Israel and the Gentiles. Paul was one of the first to take the gospel of the kingdom of God to the Gentiles. The revelation given to him, a Pharisee in regards to his knowledge of the law, provided the basis for his understanding of the continued work that God was doing in Israel (Philippians 3:4-11). A work, that at that time, would expand to include the Gentiles of the world.
Those Who Were Not a People
Paul understood the work that God started in Israel as a continuation of the covenant of faith established with Abraham (Genesis 17:3-10,19). This very covenant was the basis for the covenant with Israel at Sinai. Israel would become the participants in God’s promise to Abraham to bless the nations (Genesis 20:17-18). What wasn’t apparent to Abraham and his descendants was the means by which God would achieve this great feat.
Moses was given a glimpse of the way in which the Lord would achieve this. He will turn their disobedience and unbelief into an opportunity to reveal himself as their One, True God. Though they will depart from him, he will not forget his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 32:15-18 – Israel forgot the Rock that bore them
15 But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked;
you grew fat, stout, and sleek;
then he forsook God who made him
and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
16 They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
with abominations they provoked him to anger.
17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded.
18 You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,
and you forgot the God who gave you birth.
Though they were called to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:4-6), Israel instead followed the ways of the Gentile nations, worshipping gods of wood and stone (Judges 2:11-23; 2 Kings 17:1-21; Jeremiah 7).
Deuteronomy 32:19-22 – they provoked him with other gods, he’ll provoke them with those who are not a people.
19 “The Lord saw it and spurned them,
because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.
20 And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them;
I will see what their end will be,
for they are a perverse generation,
children in whom is no faithfulness.
21 They have made me jealous with what is no god;
they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
22 For a fire is kindled by my anger,
and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
The calling of the Gentiles would come about by the disobedience of Israel and Judah. They preferred gods who were not God, so He would prefer people who were not a people. The Apostle Paul clarifies this relationship between their disobedience and God’s call to the Gentiles.
- Israel is not rejected by God (vs 1-2)
- It is through their stumbling that the way was made for the Gentiles. Israel’s fall was not to complete destruction. Their trespass leads to riches for the world. If their failure leads to riches for others, how much more will their inclusion mean? It will mean life from death. (vs 11-15)
- A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles is completed. Yet God will make a new covenant with them and take away their sin – just as he has done for the faithful in Israel (vs 2b-7) and the Gentiles he has called and chosen. This is the mystery Paul refers to.
- Israel as a whole, aside from the faithful remnant, find themselves enemies of the gospel of Yeshua the Christ. (vs 28-31)
- Yet even this God has accounted for, in that – God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. (vs 32)
Ultimately, God will use the calamity Israel and Judah brought upon themselves as a means to reveal the futility of their false gods and the faithfulness of their One, True God.
35 Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
36 For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.
37 Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge,
38 who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you;
let them be your protection!
39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
As “the parent in the room,” God knows that the time will come when they will seek these gods of wood and stone, silver and gold, but they will find no real protection in them. It is under this distress that both Israel and Judah will finally see the futility of trusting in these false gods. When they realize their powerlessness to save themselves, then they will turn to the God who made them, and the Lord will have compassion on his people.
28 As regards the gospel, they [Israel] are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they [Israel] are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you [Gentiles] were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their [Israel’s] disobedience, 31 so they [Israel] too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you [Gentiles] they also may now receive mercy.
Every true Christian knows well that their place in our Lord and Christ came about by the grace of God and not by their own righteousness. We all dwelt in disobedience before we were called out of this world and into the light and truth of Jesus Christ. This is the very same grace God will use to return the disobedient in Israel and Judah to the olive tree from which they’ve been temporarily cut off (Romans 11:17-18,23-27).
In fact, this is the same grace that will be revealed to the whole world when Yeshua’s righteous judgment is revealed.
32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Interested in the scope, origin, purpose, and fulfillment of the Mystery of God? Discover more.
Christ’s own message was one leading to the unity of faith; those faithful within the Sinai covenant together with those faithful in the new covenant. His message of the kingdom of God was proclaimed first to Israel and Judah throughout Samaria and Judea. Only after that was completed did his disciples carry the same gospel of the kingdom out to the Gentile nations.
Those of the Sinai covenant who called him Lord were right in that he is Lord over all and in all. And though the mystery was hidden from Israel and from the world at that time, it was God’s will that they, being elected and chosen, would be partakers of the mystery in Christ – though unknowingly.
Both Paul and Luke clarify Christ’s teaching that God will continue to harvest his firstfruits from those called of Israel, Judah, and the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Romans 11:25-27; Luke 21:20-24). Each of these are being called to be kings and priests in a new kingdom (1 Peter 2:9-10), an everlasting and glorious kingdom (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; Romans 8:16-17,29-30), a kingdom built on the obedience of faith and on the faithfulness of one Gentile called out of the world – Abraham.
15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
In This Way All Israel Will Be Saved
Just as the Lamb of God succeeded in redeeming a faithful remnant in Judah, Israel, and among the Gentiles, there remains somewhat of a mystery as to how God will achieve what was declared by Paul – in this way all Israel will be saved.
To unravel this mystery, we must look back to the prophets Zechariah and Joel. The prophet Zecharaiah speaks about a future correction and removal of idolatry from the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In the preceding chapter he identifies the basis and underlying purpose for the Lord’s judgment, so let’s begin there.
- He is the Lord, creator of heavens and earth
- He formed man and the spirit of man within him
- He will make Jerusalem a means of correction for all the nations
- It will also be for Judah’s correction
- All will be hurt who lift their hands against Jerusalem
- In one strike the Lord will bring correction for all and redemption for some
- The focus is Jerusalem
- The nations gathered against her are used for her correction and redemption
- Then the Lord will intervene for his people and fight against those nations
- On that day the Lord will stand on the Mount of Olives and it will split in two
- Then the Lord will come and all his holy ones will be with him
- Yet many of these nations will survive to come up and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (14:16).
At the time this correction occurs, it is just prior to the Lord’s arrival on earth at the Mount of Olives. His attention has turned to intervening for Jerusalem and his people (Isaiah 31:4-9), and he will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:5), for the time of the Gentiles is now completed (Revelation 10:5-7). This intervention by the Lord on the part of Jerusalem and Judah is to answer their recognition that the Lord is our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6). This begins the transition of disobedient Israel and Judah into the obedience of faith and a new covenant.
Joel 2:1-11 – introduces the Day of the Lord and the army of the Lord. This is part of Jerusalem’s and Judah’s correction as well as for the world as a whole.
Joel 2:12-17 – the Lord’s call to repentance. Yet the Lord knows that when Christ is manifested together with his saints, which occurs at his appearance in the sky, many Jews will hear his call to repentance and return to the Lord and accept his righteousness.
Joel 2:18-27 – the Lord has mercy on his people. It is then that the Lord will respond to them as he responded previously to the Gentiles that heard his call; he will pour out mercy on them.
Joel 2:28-32 – the Lord will make a new covenant with them (Israel). The whole purpose of this process is to lead them into obedience to Christ and into the new covenant he offers. This new covenant will lead them ultimately to eternal life.
Though Israel and Judah were put to shame and brought upon themselves correction from the Lord, he will call his people to return to him and he will show them his faithfulness; mercy and grace as they’ve never seen before. Now the time has come to unite his people and return them to their own land.
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, 8 and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.
Zechariah 8:11-17, 20-23
- Peace and abundance is what these people will possess
- No longer will you (Israel) be a curse and a byword among the nations
- You shall be a blessing to the nations
- Though I have corrected you, so also will I bless you and bring goodness to you
- Yet I still require goodness from you:
- Speak truth
- Render sound judgment
- Make peace
- Do not love false oaths
- Or devise evil against another
- The inhabitants of the cities will seek the favor of the Lord
- Great will be your prominence (Israel and Judah) among the nations. They will say to you, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
12 He will raise a signal for the nations
and will assemble the banished of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth.
. . .
16 And there will be a highway from Assyria
for the remnant that remains of his people,
as there was for Israel
when they came up from the land of Egypt.
A greater exodus and a new covenant are planned for Israel and Judah.
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
At that time, not only will Christ the King gather them from the nations where they were dispersed, he will gather them from the grave. Their resurrection will be to flesh and blood, as described in Ezekiel 37. It will come when the Lord himself reigns on earth, and they will receive the covenant and the Holy Spirit then just as we have received it now. The path to the covenant for them will be the same path that we have walked – in obedience to Christ, their righteousness (Romans 10:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6), and ultimately into eternal life. All that the Lord will do for them will not be for their own sake, but for the sake of his name among the nations.
Ezekiel 37: 24-28
24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
The correction and subsequent redemption of all Israel is a testimony to the Lord’s faithfulness. He will remove the shame of Israel and Judah not for their sake, but for the sake of his name among the nations of the world – so that the nations will know the source of the mercy and grace being lavished upon Israel and Judah. God intends to be the God of all the nations, not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). (1 Corinthians 15:20-26)
There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.
To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, for the descendants of Israel and Judah, and for the world, read my recent book –
The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View
At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.
- The election of God is not limited to Gentiles in this age only. It started with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and continues today. (Psalm 132:13-18; Galatians 3)
- The work of Jesus Christ and the will of God unites the faithful of the first covenant with the faithful of the new covenant. (Ephesians 2; 3; Romans 5; 8; 9; 10; 11)
- Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord. (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
- God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
- A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
- Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
- All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
- The divinity and supremacy of the Son of God – the creator and finisher of all things. He alone is given authority to judge in righteousness according to the will of God (Fourth Gospel 1:1-5; Psalm 96:10-13; Isaiah 11:1-5; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 5; 19:11-16)
- Dr. Michael S Heiser’s – The Naked Bible Podcast, Number 101: Jesus, the Exile, and the Tribulation and blog post: https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/podcast/naked-bible-101-jesus-the-exile-and-the-tribulation/
- When I refer to Israel, like the authors of Scripture, I’m referring to the descendants of Jacob (renamed Israel). This does not fit the description of the modern nation of Israel, which consists of people from many assorted nationalities. In the near future, God will call to himself, for a specific purpose, descendants from all twelve tribes as part of his kingdom-building process (Romans 9:4-5; 11; Revelation 7:4-8).
- The modern reference to Jews is often understood to represent the entirety of the people of God, but in fact represents only one of the twelve original tribes of Israel, Judah. Even here, the reference is to a single tribe, but in the time of Christ it consisted of individuals from other tribes, like Benjamin (Acts 13:21).
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