You can’t read the Old Testament without noticing God’s ever pursuing, covenantal love and relationship with His chosen people, Israel. As Christians, we connect to this love and relationship because we know we have the same thing through a saving faith by grace in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, we see differences between Israel and us when we read about certain geographical and national promises. We know that Israel for the most part was God’s Chosen People set apart as a nation (with some outside examples like Rahab) and that’s why the precluding verses in Romans 11 (v. 1-24) talked about the gentiles being grafted into this covenant and relationship with God.
Today’s verses talks about a later time where everyone in Israel will receive that same covenantal love and relationship with God once again through salvation in Jesus Christ.
Many Christians believe that this is the Jews as an ethnic people who were God’s chosen people but now deny Jesus as the messiah and savior to come (what he means by hardened in these verses). Some believe that they will eventually be grafted in without the saving faith in Jesus, which is straight up wrong because it’s only through Christ that we are saved. Of course that view goes against everything else we’ve read in the book of Romans (and the Bible as a whole). Most believe that this is God keeping His promise to the OT Jews in not only his saving covenant but in land and nation as well. John Piper does a good job explaining this view in this link on dispensationalist (big word there, watch out now) theology.
Many other Christians believe that what the apostle Paul is referring to is a Spiritual Israel which would include all gentiles and Jews, not JUST the Jews as an ethnic people group and certainly not in a geographical and national promise. For all my theology nerds, here’s a great two part article from Sam Storms with this viewpoint known as covenantal theology.
Wherever you fall theologically with the role of ethnic Jews and future salvation it’s very important for:
1. EVERY believer to walk away from today’s Scripture knowing that it’s only through Jesus Christ that anyone can be saved and that every believer has the job to share the Gospel with all people as Paul says in the previous chapter (Romans 10:5-17).
2. Remember that God will always keep His promises made to His people. We may not have always historically agreed with what those promises exactly meant to specific people in a literal or spiritual sense but we must agree that He always keeps His end of the vows when making covenants with His chosen people.
- What promises has God made with you that you need to be reminded that He’ll keep?
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor