Sunday, 31 August 2014

All Israel Shall be Justified

The same passage of Bible-prophecy which stated that all Israel would be justfied in the Lord, also stated that every knee would bow and every tongue would confess - in the whole wide world (Isaiah 45:14-25)!

The inference was that both were to happen together. A Jew can't be justified for the first time only after the day of Judgment; neither can it benefit the soul of a Gentile to confess God only after his death. That wouldn't be the type of glorying in God of which the passage of prophecy speaks. The promise speaks of this life - not only of the next. The blessing was promised to all - but not evey individual necessarily would receive it. 

So the passage of Bible-prophecy doesn't necessarily necessitate a nationwide salvation of Jews in the future, any more than it necessitates a universal salvation of every Gentile individual. The believers received the promises - which is an outcome also foretold elsewhere in the Prophets.

And the program goes on. All who believe - who confess the Lord - are justified in Him, and shall glory - whether Jew or Gentile.

But how shall they believe if they don't hear? And how shall they hear if someone doesn't preach.

You and I are sent.

Sent with that powerful, saving Gospel which was spoken by John the Baptist, the Lord and by the Apostles, confirmed by the Holy Spirit, witnessed by the books of the Law and the Prophets, promised to the Patriarchs and planned before the foundation of the world. The everlasting Gospel.

The Gospel is the greatest, the final and the only plan which God has to save the lost - be they Jews or Gentiles. 

No Extra-Biblical Authorities

To say that Jesus' prediction about the destruction of the Temple has now been fulfilled, does not require extra-Biblical authority - because the Bible itself gave a timeframe for its fulfilment. But to say tongues, prophecy and knowledge have now ceased, as cessationists do, requires extra-Biblical authority because the Bible gives no timeframe for its fulfilment.

Paul said spiritual gifts will cease. But to say they have already ceased is a determination that can only be made from an extra-Biblical authority. It denies the doctrine of Sola-Scriptura. 

Paul's instructions for the church regarding the gifts of the Spirit all assume that the gifts of the Spirit are present and functioning in the church. To say that these instructions are no longer valid for the present-day Church places the instructions given by post-apostolic writers on an equal or higher level of authority over the present-day Church than the New Testament itself. It would mean we have a second dispensation of the Church. Built on a separate foundation. A third testament. A discontinuation of covenant.

Jesus' predictions about the destruction of the Temple, on the other hand, are different because He gave a timeframe for the fulfilment of that prophecy: it was to happen within that generation. The Book of Daniel also included timeframes - and the destruction of the Temple was a theme of the Book of Daniel. Scripture itself therefore authorises us to say that that prophecy has now been fulfilled. In fact to say it hasn't been fulfilled would be an extra-Biblical assertion to make, seeing the Bible itself gave a timeframe. 

But Paul gave no such timeframe for the passing away of spiritual gifts, or for when that which is perfect shall come. To be true to Paul's statement therefore requires taking the same stance as his - that spiritual gifts shall cease, not that they have ceased - that that which is perfect is to come, not that it has come. 

Cessationism and Reformed Doctrine

The doctrine of cessationism, held by many of the Reformed, is a contradiction of a number of their own Reformed doctrines.

It denies the continuity of the Covenants - for the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, prophecy, faith, healings, miracles and the discerning of spirits are part of the terms of a number of the Biblical covenants.

It also denies Sola Scriptura - for it has no clear basis in Scripture; and it implies that parts of the New Testament instructions are no longer valid for the present-day Church, and relies on extra-Biblical authorities for the up-to-date instructions which supposedly replace the now outdated Biblical instructions. It founds the present-day Church not solely on the foundation of the Apostles, but on the foundation of the so-called fathers of the Reformation. 

Biblical Tongues Wasn't Always Only for Preaching

The Biblical gift of tongues did not always mean that the speaker spoke a language that was understood by his audience, as was the case in Acts 2. Otherwise there would not have been a need for the gift of the interpretation of tongues. 

The gift of the interpretation of tongues was not a natural ability to translate a learned language, but a supernatural ability to interpret an unknown language - otherwise Paul wouldn't have said that a speaker of an unknown tongue may pray that he may interpret.   

Even when no interpreter was present, the tongues which were being spoken in the church at Corinth were nonetheless legitimately given through the Spirit, or else if the tongues were invalid, Paul would not have urged them to pray to interpret what had been spoken, nor would he have said that the speaker of the unknown tongue could continue speaking in the unknown tongue to himself and to God, nor would he have said that the speaker of the unknown tongue edified himself. 

So in Bible-times it often happened that tongues were spoken which were unknown to both the speaker and his audience - and in such cases the tongue itself was not considered to be mere babble nor demonic in origin. "He verily giveth thanks well," said Paul of the speaker of an unknown tongue. 

Paul's only issue with such tongues, if used to address a congregation, was that it was not understood. There was no question that the tongue itself may have been mere babble or that it may have been demonic just because no-one present understood it. There were still a number of valid uses for tongues even when they were unknown: someone else with the gift of interpretation should interpret; the speaker himself could pray that he may interpret; or he can refrain from addressing the congregation in the tongue and instead continue to speak it unobtrusively to himself and to God. 


The Gift of Prophecy and Cessationism

Cessationists claim that the usefulness of the gift of prophecy was withdrawn from the church after the New Testament canon had been written.

But even in Bible-times, the simple gift of prophecy, as it was in use in the Corinthian church for example, was not used to introduce, establish or write New Testament doctrine for the first time. New Testament doctrine was established upon the witness of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb and confirmed by the council at Jerusalem. The simple gift of prophecy only involved speaking-out the same things which the Apostles and elders taught and confirmed.

The person prophesying was speaking under Divine inspiration. The things they were speaking may also have been revealed to them directly by the Spirit. However, the doctrine contained within their utterances would not have been brand new: it would have confirmed what one of the Apostles was already teaching, and what the council at Jerusalem eventually formally seconded.

Paul's Gospel was revealed to him directly - but he submitted it to the Apostles and elders at Jerusalem, who confirmed Paul's doctrine and call.

No doctrine written in the New Testament scriptures is derived solely from a transcript of a prophecy, or an individual's revelation. All writings and doctrines of the New Testament were written and are derived with consensus from the Apostles and elders or their teams. The gift of prophecy was just another way of learning and expressing the Apostles' doctrine. A prophecy wasn't in itself taken as authoritative without first being judged - even in Bible times.  

So there is still a need for the same function of the gift of prophecy today. We can still be edified through individuals, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaking forth things which are revealed to them, things which are an expression of and consistent with New Testament doctrine. 

It is an ongoing function of the Holy Spirit to reveal already-established Gospel-truths to new-comers; to remind mature Christians of aspects of the truth; and to give guidance to specific persons in a specific place at a specific time and in specific circumstances through specifically applied truth. One way the Holy Spirit does so is through the gift of prophecy, through inspired utterance.

True Christianity is not just a matter of intellectually sorting-out one's doctrine: but a living relationship with the Spirit of Christ. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Can Modern Judaism Be Compliant with Moses' Law?

I'm asserting that all of the Old Testament prophecies which foresaw Israel or the nations observing Feasts and bringing sacrifices, were already fulfilled during Old Covenant times and have no place in our future.

I assert this on the basis that:

1. The New Covenant has come, and supersedes the Old Covenant. We don't return to shadows once we have the substance. Gospel-truth is such that those things are not and will never again be needed.

2. It hasn't been possible to keep Moses' Law since AD70, and can never again be possible.  

Moses' Law was a composite system which had to be kept as a whole, or they weren't keeping it at all. It isn't possible to keep it as a whole, therefore it isn't possible to keep it at all.  

It required that worship be done exclusively at the altar in the Temple at Jerusalem with Levites serving as priests - and the priests had to be able to prove their descent from Levi by written genealogy, or else they were not permitted to serve as priests. But in AD70 theTemple was destroyed, Levitical genealogies were lost, and the Jews were deported from the place of worship, Jerusalem.

3. Although Moses' Law made provision for adjusted ways of fulfiling certain aspects of the ceremonial Law for people in mitigating circumstances such as being away traveling, modern Judaism does't have the same authorisation from within Moses' Law itself.

In the first case, an individual may have been distant from Jerusalem, while the worship in Jerusalem itself was still fully compliant with Moses' Law - so at that time a person may have been separated geographically, but not covenantally; but in the second case (in the case of modern Judaism) the rug is completely pulled from under its feet: there is no altar, no Temple in Jerusalem and no fucntioning Levitical priesthood that can over-arch the fact of their physical separation from the holy city. Even if they look in the direction of Jerusalem, they have nothing to look to. 

It wasn't possible for the Jews of the captivity to comply with all of the ceremonial aspects of Moses' Law. However their way of keeping Moses' Law at that time was still authorised in ways which modern Judaism is not. 

Firstly, it was still authorised because the Old Covenant still stood. The Levitical priesthood hadn't been superseded. The priests' unbroken lineage to Levi was still proveable by written genealogy. And Moses' Law itself predicted and made provision for such a scenario.

Secondly, because God Himself had directed Israel into such a situation - and given them instructions regarding that time-period through His Prophets.

And thirdly, because the same Prophets foretold of a restoration back to Moses' complete system. In other words, Moses' Law and the Prophets still over-arched each of the pre-captivity, captivity, and post-captivity times, and covered all three scenarios with its provisions.

But that's not the case with modern Judaism. Moses' Law and the Prophets didn't give such provisions. There were no Prophets sent by God to authorise Judaism's additions, adjustments and subtractions of the Law. No holy Scriptures were written by God's Prophets to legitimise it. 

What then did the Law and the Prophets say about the current time-frame? They witnessed to a righteousness independent of the works of the Law. That righteousness is upon all who believe in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, irrespective of nationality, as the Law and the Prophets also foresaw. And that righteousness is here to stay, without anyone anywhere ever being obliged to keep the ceremonies of Moses' Law again. 

Not even just as a memorial - for the Lord's Table is the memorial which our Lord instituted until He come, and then after He comes we will need no memorial for we shall be with Him.

Not even with a new appreciation - because God made all things new, He didn't just put new sauce on top, it's a whole new pudding.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Abraham's Blessing

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, 
saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed

- Galatians 3:8

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw
it, and was glad 

- John 8:56

Monday, 25 August 2014

Altar Calls, Fire Tunnels, and Congregational Touches of God

I'm excited about sharing point six - something which I think can result in seeing greater moves of God's Spirit in some of our meetings.

Five common ways of ministering the Spirit in a public meeting which many of us are already quite familiar with include:

1. The Word.

The Holy Spirit can fall on a congregation while the Word is being spoken. But a disadvantage is that while the Word is being spoken, some people may not be open to receiving or manifesting the Spirit. Sometimes it wouldn't be appropriate for them to manifest while the Word is being spoken, other times it's entirely appropriate.

2. Music
It can help the ministry of the Spirit tremendously. People feel that they have more permission to yield to the touch of the Spirit while music is being played than they might while the Word is being spoken.

A disadvantage is in knowing what to do once the Spirit starts touching people. The tendency is to keep playing music, or to start playing louder, rather than sensitively assist what the Spirit is doing. If the music dominates too much, people tend to sing along rather than receive something different to the song. It can also stop the move of God from spreading around a room, because if it remains the dominant sound, it stops the sounds of people being touched by God from becoming the dominant sounds, which doesn't help it spread wider in the congregation.

3. Altar calls.

Altar calls and prayer lines are one way to let the touch of God come more directly into focus than it might be during congregational singing.  

There is usually room for those who come forward to remain on the floor and receive a prolonged touch of God.

A possible disadvantage though is that those who don't come forward might become not much more than spectators, especially if the band keeps playing loudly, because it means the congregation doesn't really get to hear and be edified by what God is doing in or through those who have gone forward.

So altar calls are edifying for the individual who goes forward, but the edification doesn't always spread to those beside him or to the congregation as a whole.

4. Encouraging the congregation to break into groups and lay hands on each other.

This is one way to get more people involved in receiving and giving of the Spirit. But it doesn't necessarily facilitate those times when Holy Spirit wants to move like a wave through a whole congregation, or when He wants to manifest through two or three for the whole congregation's edification.

5. Fire tunnels.

Fire tunnels is one way to allow the touch of God to come on almost the entire congregation as a whole. Most people tend to walk fairly quickly through the tunnel - in fire tunnels the majority don't usually seem to receive the type of touch of God where they end-up on the floor and stay there for a significant period of time under the work of the Spirit - most people manage to walk all the way through quite quickly. So an advantage is that a large number of people can be prayed for. 

But a disadvantage can be just that - that most people don't usually seem to stay on the floor under the Spirit for long. If they did, the fire tunnel would no longer be a feasible way to minister to a whole congregation because eventually no-one else would be able walk through the tunnel for all the people already lying on the floor. Not that being on the floor is always a prerequisite for God working in us of course.

Another disadvantage is that in a large crowd, fire tunnels might not make optimal use of time. If there are say a thousand people to be prayed for, it could take over an hour for everyone to walk through, yet each person might spend only about two minutes in the tunnel and the rest of the time they might not be much more than spectators, except to sing along with the band. 

It also doesn't necessarily facilitate those times when God wants to minister to the whole congregation spontaneously through two or three people who have been touched.

So imagine if there was a way where a whole congregation can be touched - with very few being mere spectators or just singing along - where everyone can spend the whole time being touched by God - the type of touch where many end up on the floor for a long period of time - and it begins spreading around the whole congregation as everyone hears the sounds and sights of everyone else also being filled with God - and then if God wills, two or three feel free to get up off the floor filled with God and spontaneously begin to minister the Spirit to the rest of the congregation either with tongues, or interpretation, or prophecy, or sharing a vision they've seen, or laying hands on others, resulting in the move of God going to whole new levels in the meeting due to the move of God being the dominant sound and focus in the meeting, with nothing else dominating or hindering (such as music, or preaching, or some other part of the program). From time to time we want to see time allocated in the meetings for this. I'm excited therefore to encourage this next approach...

6. ...Have times when you simply invite the whole congregation to begin to receive, in their seats.

If you hear a few people begin to be touched - let's say you hear a few people begin to laugh in the Spirit - simply encourage the rest of the congregation to receive as well. And then let it roll, for twenty or forty minutes or even an hour or for however long an altar call or fire tunnel would have taken.

Advantages include:

Everyone in the room immediately becomes a candidate to be touched by God, not just those who respond to an altar call; and

Everyone can be under the touch of God for the whole time, not just for the minutes that they're walking through a tunnel.

And it can be that deep touch of God where many people end up on the floor for a long time, without it meaning that they get in the way of others having room on the floor to be touched too.

I've seen the move of God instantly go to another level in a meeting through doing this.

But in doing this, there is something else - something important - which we can also do to help the touch of God spread to the whole congregation. It is something else which, if we do it, it can give the opportunity for the move of God to deepen and to also result in edification for the whole congregation rather than just for the individuals receiving it. And that is to stop the music (or at least quieten it right down). 

The reason this helps so much is because whenever music plays loudly, it tends to dominate the atmosphere of the meeting no matter how God might be touching people, whereas if the music has been stopped (or at least quietened right down) then what dominates the atmosphere of the meeting is the sounds of people being touched by God - and then it spreads like dominos. Somehow it helps others to receive when the dominant sound they can hear is the sound of others being touched. It's because the move of God becomes more of the focus. People get more of an expectancy to receive.

Sometimes even having music playing quietly doesn't help what the Spirit might be wanting to do during such times in a meeting. For example, if music isn't playing, then the mood of the meeting is set by whatever manifestations the Spirit is bringing through whomever He is touching, but if music is being played, even if it's being played softly, then the atmosphere of the meeting is still influenced to some extent by the musician's choice of song, and by the mood of his or her choice of song, even if what the Holy Spirit might be wanting to say or do has a different mood.

Sometimes it's therefore good to stop the music altogether (or at least quieten it right down) and let the move of God dominate the meeting and also the mood.

(A musician usually has the gift of what the Bible calls the ministry of helps, and helps is not at the top of the list of ministry functions which Paul said God has set in the church. That means a musician is meant to help along the other manifestations and functions of the Spirit in a meeting, not to dominate them.)

If not much is happening in the congregation, then we can either lay hands on people, or have the congregation lay hands on each other, or sing some songs or go ahead and preach the Word, as God leads. But much of the time many people all over the congregation will begin to be touched by God. Then once God has finished touching everyone, the music can start up again - and by this time the congregation will really have something to celebrate and to sing about! That's the time in a meeting when it's appropriate for music to be the dominant sound again.

Another reason why it's sometimes good to stop (or at least quieten) the music for a while is because the move of God in a meeting isn't just about personally receiving from the Spirit - sometimes it's also about people ministering to the congregation out of the touch of the Spirit they just received.

After a congregation has been ministered to by God's Spirit, I've often seen it happen that after everyone else has picked themselves up off the floor, two or three people will remain under the Spirit, then they will get up off the floor and spontaneously begin to speak with tongues and interpret, or prophesy, or share a vision, or go around laying hands on people. This takes the meeting to a whole new level. You don't get to experience this if the stage dominates, or through altar calls and fire tunnels.

The move of God in a meeting would be unlikely to deepen to this stage if the music from the stage had been the dominant sound the whole time, because those two or three people might be reluctant to try to lift their voices over the sound of the band. Sometimes the people God chooses to use might not be leaders, or might be people who would not be comfortable asserting themselves over the program of a meeting. So if the stage isn't dominating loudly, then they are more likely to step out and be used by God.

I've seen waves of tears, and then laughter, and then deliverance, and visions and tongues and interpretations and prophecy and discerning of spirits sweep over whole congregations. These waves were able to spread to the whole congregation because the music from the stage wasn't allowed to dominate. In fact the music had stopped altogether because the worship leader herself had fallen under the power of God then eventually the musicians themselves also came under the touch of the Spirit and couldn't play anymore (a video of part of one such meeting can be seen here). But if the musicians hadn't come under such a touch and stopped playing, in that occasion I would have asked them to stop singing and playing anyway, in order to facilitate rather than to create an obstacle for the stronger manifestations which I knew God was wanting to bring into that meeting.

I explain it this way. It's very hard to sing and drink a glass of water at the same time. Singing and music is an entirely different function to receiving from the Spirit of God. And most of the time when a band is playing loudly, the tendency is for the congregation to try to sing along, rather than to be absorbed with receiving the touch that the Holy Spirit might be wanting to bring to them and then through them for the congregation to hear.

Other times the Lord indeed wants to use music to minister to people to the congregation. So of course each occasion is different, so we need to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit wants to do on any given occasion. But I've seen an increase in the manifestations of the Spirit through stopping (or at least quietening the music) and then encouraging the whole congregation to receive in their seats without giving an altar call or doing a fire tunnel. I do think this can help sometimes.

Try it sometime, if you feel led. When you see people beginning to be touched, open it up for the whole congregation, by suspending the music or other aspects of the program, and encourage them all to begin receiving. Watch it spread. Then allow it to deepen to the next level where the congregation as a whole gets to hear and receive some spontaneous ministry through two or three who have also been touched.

Every time I've encouraged people to try this, they reported that exciting things were poured out in their meeting.  I've seen it spill out into the community in revival, affecting homes, schools, universities and places of business. 

Let me know what happens!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Are Jews God's Chosen People?

Yes - and so now are Gentiles.

Gentiles were once sinners without Moses' Law, but Jews were entrusted with God's spoken words.

They were adopted.

They saw the glory of God.

They were given the Old Covenant, Moses' Law and the Levitical services.

They were custodians of the promises, including the promise of the New Covenant.

They physically descended from the fathers of our faith.

Christ came from them, as far as His body goes.

All of the first preachers of the Gospel, and the authors of all of the books of the New Testament were Jews.

But the Law had the effect of confirming that Jews had the same moral state as the Gentiles: condemned sinners. Therefore a righteousness which would be independent of the works of the Law, was prophesied.

The Prophets saw that many Jews would not believe and would therefore fail to experience the promised righteousness and blessings when it came. They also saw that many believing Gentiles would experience the blessings, along with believing Jews.

Therefore while the Law placed Jews on the same moral level as the Gentiles: as sinners - the Gospel now elevates all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, to the same privileges. 

That is what Abraham foresaw - He saw Jesus' day - and was glad. God preached the Gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, "In your seed (which was Christ) all families of the earth will be blessed (justified)". The Prophets also foresaw the blessings of the Gospel. 

God has never revoked anything that He ever made available to the Jews. But neither is He withholding anything from Gentiles who believe. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, as far as blessing, callings and gifts go. God is calling and chooses all who believe in His Son Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile - without discrimination. 

This doesn't mean God has revoked His choice of the Jews: everything He ever promised them is still available to any of them who will believe. It just means that God is now offering exactly the same things to all Gentiles who believe.

Many are called but few are chosen. God's chosen people now are believers everywhere, whether Jew or Gentile - and that's the way He always planned it to be since before Jacob ever became Israel.

The Gospel is Everything

I think that most Bible-prophecies concerning Israel already found their direct historical fulfilment long ago.

I think that the blessings being experienced by Israelis in modern times have been possible because fulfilled Bible-prophecies have never been revoked - but I don't think it was necessary in order to fulfil Bible-prophecies as if the prophecies had not already been fulfilled.

But here's what I want to say in this Post. Even if Bible-prophecies are only now beginning to be fulfilled, still their fulfilment will not involve anything that is contrary to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The fulfilment of prophecy can only be in accordance with the doctrine of the Apostles.

In other words, prophecies concerning blessing can be fulfilled only by means of the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It can't involve the obligation to resume Old Covenant feasts and sacrifices. Not by anyone. Anywhere. Ever. That's Gospel truth.

Some say then that the modern and future blessing of Israel is unfolding unconditionally, fulfilling prophecy. But if the prophesied blessing is only now beginning to happen and is to unfold more in future unconditionally, then the situation in which Israel has found itself over the past nearly two thousand years up until 1948 must also have been without a cause. Why would God have allowed such a situation if it was without a cause?  The promise stood unconditionally, but experiencing it did depend on some things.

So no matter which way you apply Bible-prophecy to modern Israel, the Gospel explains everything and is everything. There will never be a higher program for Israel or for anyone than the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The Gospel is Not a Theological Attack on Modern Israel

It isn't anti-Semitic to say Bible-prophecies and Promises regarding Israel have largely already been fulfilled. It isn't a theological attack on Israel. Rather it authenticates modern Israelis' claims for blessing.

Imagine if you were promised a house long ago by your parents, and some time later your parents fulfilled their promise and gave you a house. And then after enjoying your house for some time, for one reason or another you were later driven off your property.  Then after some years you again make a claim for your property. To assist you with your claim, I take you to the titles office and show you the document of title, and it shows the house is still in your name. It has been in your name ever since your parents fulfilled their promise and gave you the house in the first place. By reminding you that your parents' promise was fulfilled long ago, I'm not attacking your current claim for the house. It would be the very opposite! It would authenticate your claim, since the title was never revoked. 

Similarly, saying Bible-prophecies and Promises regarding Israel were largely already fulfilled, is not an attack against modern Jews' claims to the Promises - it authenticates their claims. Because having been fulfilled, the Promises were never revoked.

If you then present the document of title and use it to make a successful claim for your property, the success of your claim wouldn't mean your parents' promise had finally been fulfilled at last for the first time. Rather, the success of your claim would have been possible precisely because it is a legal fact that your parents' promise had literally already been fulfilled long ago and had never been voided.

Similarly, when a modern Jew begins experiencing the promises which potentially were already theirs, his experience of the promises doesn't mean the particular Bible-prophecies are finally seeing their direct historical fulfilment in his generation. Rather, it's something that is possible because Bible-prophecies and promises spoken on their behalf were subsequently largely already fulfilled quite some time ago, and had never been revoked. 

Promises and prophecies can never be revoked, but they can be rediscovered, re-applied and re-asserted. But re-applying a fulfilled promise is not the same as saying the promise is now being fulfilled as if it hadn't been already. Applying the ramifications of fulfilled prophecy is not the same as saying the prophecy is finally now being fulfilled at last. Just like presenting a document of title doesn't mean that title had not already been conferred.

What difference does it make? Does it matter whether we define the recent and future blessings experienced by Israelis as a rediscovery of their inherent potential based on fulfilled Prophecy and fulfilled promises, rather than seeing current events in Israel as the direct historical fulfilment of Bible-prophecy?

The distinction is important because the way we see it affects our focus on Jesus and on the message of the cross. The way we see it either establishes or destroys the Gospel-truth that no-one (neither Gentile nor Jew) is obligated to observe the carrying-out of Old Covenant Feasts and sacrifices in order to please God. How we see it either reinforces or weakens the Christian assertion that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. It either clarifies or obscures the only pathway to blessing and to salvation, for Israel and the nations alike.

The prophecies were spoke while Israel and Judah were still in captivity in Babylon and in the nations. The prophecies predicted Israel's return to their land to resume Mosaic sacrifices. The enemies of Israel were to meet their end. People would travel to Jerusalem even from the nations to keep the Feast. And in that historical context, Messiah was to come bringing salvation to Israel.  

If such prophecies are yet to be fulfilled in the future, then the ramification is that Old Covenant Feasts and sacrifices must again be observed by Israel and the nations in order to please God. It also weakens the Christian claim that the Messiah has already come. And it obscures the pathway to blessing and salvation, both for Israel and the nations, by introducing a mixture of Old Covenant requirements with the Gospel of grace.

But if the prophecies have already found their historical fulfilment, then it puts the focus clearly on Jesus and on the message of the cross, with no obligation to resume the observance of the Old Covenant Feasts and sacrifices, now or in the future. It defends the Gospel as the pathway to blessing, for Israel and the nations alike.

Israel was indeed restored to their land from Babylon and the nations. Their enemy nations eventually met their demise. Sacrifices were resumed. The Bible shows people travelling to Jerusalem out of all nations to keep the Feast. And in that historical context, Messiah came bringing salvation, as prophesied. Believing Jews experienced the promised salvation, and Gentiles also experienced it, in accordance with the exact scenario which had been promised and prophesied.

So what does the fact of fulfilled prophecy mean for Jews today? What can we expect in modern Israel's future if the promises have already come? Since promises and prophecies have been fulfilled on Israel's behalf and have never been revoked, Jews can still claim the blessing today. They can receive the promises through the one pathway which God set for the promises to be received, which is through faith in Jesus.

God answers faith. God answers prayer. He responds to faith in Jesus. There isn't one pathway for Gentiles, and another pathway for Jews. The cross is the sole fount of blessing, for all nations.

Many Gentiles are experiencing the prophesied blessing, through faith. Jews can still experience it too, through the same door of faith, seeing the promises were spoken first to them.

Prayer and faith has been exercised on behalf of the modern State of Israel, by non-Jews as well as by Jews. It was possible for non-Jews to pray for the restoration of the nation of Israel, which happened in 1948, not because the modern restoration of Israel was necessary in order to directly fulfil Bible-prophecies, but because the prophecies, having already been fulfilled, had never been revoked, and the New Covenant authorises Gentiles as well as Jews to pray and ask for anything in Jesus' Name and to receive it if they ask in faith.

That's what we saw happen in 1948. What we saw was not the first-time direct historical fulfilment of many of the Bible's prophecies. Nevertheless fulfilled prophecies authorised what was possible in 1948, and set the foundation for what will be possible in Israel's future, through faith in Jesus. A blessing which had been lost through unbelief, could now be recovered through faith. 

Obviously not all prophecies have been fulfilled, such as the second coming, the resurrection and the visible coming of God's kingdom. Perhaps there are some other Bible-prophecies about Israel too which have not yet had their fulfilment in history. But only the born-again shall enter the kingdom of God, whether Jew or Gentile, seeing no-one could be justified through Moses' Law. By the grace of God all who believe in Jesus can enter in.

That's the Gospel! The good news. That's what Abraham and the Patriarchs foresaw. It's what the Prophets told about. Jesus. The cross. The Gospel. Salvation. The nations of the Jews and Gentiles alike being blessed, and ultimately entering the Kingdom.

What we are seeing happen in Israel and the nations is the outworking and application of fulfilled promises and prophecies. We have seen the effects of unbelief and now we are seeing the effects of faith. We'll continue to see it, and ultimately we'll see it at His coming when unbelief and faith both will receive their just and final desert or reward.

The Lord's Table Rules Out Passover-Observance and Millennial Sacrifices

The Lord Himself instituted the manner in which He and His death should be REMEMBERED, and that is:

...through THE LORD'S TABLE (not through animal sacrifices as any sort of memorial, as some say must be done again during a future Millennium)...

...And we are welcomed to do so AS OFT AS YE DRINK IT (unlike the Old Covenant Feast of the Passover, which it supersedes, and which had been strictly observed only on set dates once a year).

Therefore the Lord's table is not the Old Covenant Feast of the Passover only celebrated with a new appreciation. It's a new and distinct institution which supersedes the Old entirely.

And neither the Lord nor the Apostles mentioned any other institution for remembering Him, aside from the Lord's table - neither by Israel nor the Church, neither in Jerusalem nor elsewhere, neither now nor at any time in the future.

And the Lord's table is to be THE institution for remembering Him and showing forth His death - all the way up UNTIL HE COMES. And then once He comes we shall no longer need any external observance to help us remember Him, for we shall be with Him and we shall see Him as He is, forever.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Potential in the Gospel

Last night I attended a CFaN event. We were shown video of huge crowds in their African crusades. Evangelist Bonnke was heard to quote the hymn:

All hail the power of Jesus' Name
Let angels prostrate fall
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown Him Lord of all

Good friends of mine returned from a crusade in Papua New Guinea last week, where they also witnessed large crowds.

I thought, This is what Abraham was promised!

"In thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed".

Paul interpreted this as God preaching the Gospel ahead of time to Abraham.

Jesus also said that Abraham saw His day and was glad.

In the Law it was written that: Unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

The Gospel is what the Prophets were speaking about.

I realised last night that one reason many have come up with futuristic, Israel-based, Old-Covenant style, utopian Millennial ideas, is not because the grandiose terms of the Old Testament promises and prophets are such that they could not be fulfilled by the Gospel, but more because many have not seen or considered the extent of what is happening through the Gospel or of what can potentially happen through the Gospel.

Even in New Testament times, it says of Jerusalem, "you see how many thousands of them there are which believe". A multitude believed. And all Asia heard the Word. The apostles were described as having turned the world upside down.

Yes, Abraham's promise, and the forecasts of the Prophets, have been fulfilled by the Gospel.

So if the words of the Prophets sound more grandiose that what you are seeing achieved by the Gospel, instead of relegating their vision to some future dispensation, start to expect a realisation of the potential that exists in the Gospel as the Prophets described it.

Sure, not all have believed, and not all will believe. But even that is a scenario which the Prophets foresaw. A remnant of believers would inherit the promises. 

The Gospel fulfils the promises and the Prophets. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Apostles' interpretation of Old Testament Promises and Prophecies

According to the Apostles' doctrine, Abraham's blessing hadn't failed, nor has it been postponed - but believing Jews inherited it, and so do believing Gentiles. The exact outcome that was foreseen by the Prophets.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Major Source of Trouble

One of the quickest ways to get into trouble with God, is to harbour unforgiveness towards somebody. 

The Gospel in the Old Testament

The Gospel isn't merely a parenthesis inserted temporarily before God gets back to His prophesied Kingdom-plan for Israel. The Gospel is God's Kingdom-plan for Israel - and the Gentiles are included in it on the same basis as believing Israelites are, just as prophesied. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Elam and God's Throne

In the prophecy about Elam, it says God will establish his throne there.

Those who take the prophecy as future, say this refers to the Millennium.

But if so, where is God's throne really going to be during the Millennium - in Iran, or in Jerusalem? It can't literally be in both places.

Most people haven't even thought about the prophecy about Elam, let alone considered some of these dilemmas.

And almost all the prophecies which are popularly thought to be about the Millennium have similar dilemmas.

In order to make the prophecy fit their futurist presupposition, I guess they would have to argue that it doesn't literally mean God's throne will be established in Iran - because they claim His literal throne will be in Jerusalem - so they would take it that it's only the EVIDENCE of God's rule that will be seen in Iran, not His literal throne.

They would have to take it non-literally, in order to make it fit their model of Christ visibly reigning from a throne in Jerusalem. And yet they insist that they are always strictly literal!

The non-literal sense in which they would have to take it could just as well describe Old Testament events. The evidence of God's rule was indeed seen in the judgment of Elam.

We do sometimes see God's throne referred to in a non-literal, non-visible sense in the Bible. The Psalms are full of it. And the Bible says Solomon sat upon the throne of the Lord, etc.

So if someone was to say the prophecy is already fulfilled, that would not be a case of saying the part about Elam's judgment is fulfilled while arbitrarily and inconsistently saying that the part about God's throne being established is still future.

Rather, it would be a case of saying that God's throne was established over the affairs of nations during Old Covenant times, in a non-literal, non-visible sense - just as the futurists claim it will happen in a non-literal, non-visible sense in Iran during the Millennium.

It requires just as much if not more symbolising of the prophecy to place it in the Millennium as it does to see it as fulfilled.

I'm not dogmatic about anything to do with the future, except that I don't believe God will be expecting anyone anywhere ever to get circumcised and to travel to Jerusalem annually to offer blood sacrifices and to keep the Feast, or else be cursed. Not even in a purely memorial or commemorative sense. Plus, I assert that it's necessary to see at least those parts of the prophecies as fulfilled, in order to be able to prove that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled at least parts of the Messianic prophecies which occur in those contexts. Therefore I see those parts of the prophecies, at least, as fulfilled. Those are my only real assertions at this stage.

I can't get enough of discussing the meaning of God's holy Scriptures, so I'm always delighted to meet someone else who's willing to do so.

The Value of Fulfilled Pophecy

Imagine your neighbour opens his window and opens fire on your house with an M-16.

You call the police. They tell you that they're sending a squad car around, and if the neighbour is found to be offending, he'll be arrested - and if found guilty, he'll do time. 

So you wait tensely. While waiting, you scribble down in your diary what the police said.

How absurd would it be if thousands of years later, after your neighbour is dead and gone, his house long-since demolished, after other houses have also been built and later demolished on the same block - and then someone discovers your ancient-diary, and concludes that the police are about to arrest someone in the vicinity. 

But people are doing this all the time with Bible-prophecy. They mistake fulfilled prophecy for unfulfilled prophecy. As a result they come up with some strange ideas about what's meant to happen in modern times, but of course most of their predictions flop.

Distinguishing between fulfilled and unfulfilled prophecy doesn't mean the fulfilled prophecy has no relevance to us. Fulfilled prophecy tells us a lot about God and His character - by it we know Jesus was the Messiah - and it helps us position ourselves accurately on the time-line of God's purposes. 

Elam v Iran in Bible Prophecy

Many take the Bible's prophecies about Elam to mean modern Iran.

Elam was a province which existed by that name, at the time the prophecies were given. The most apparent meaning that springs to my mind therefore is that the prophecies most likely referred to that Elam which was known by that very name at the time when the prophecies were spoken.

There are other indicators too:

For example, the prophecies mention Elam falling by the sword. Swords are not the likely weapons of warfare today, but they were, in Elam, at the time of the prophecies.

Then it mentions that all the slain were uncircumcised. Uncircumcision was an issue during Old Covenant times, but it's not something God would care to point-out in modern times. So it sounds to me like the prophecy must have been fulfilled in Old Covenant times when uncircumcision was still a pertinent issue.

The inhabitants of Elam were almost certainly uncircumcised, whereas modern Iranians are most likely circumcised. That detail of the prophecy could easily have been fulfilled in Elam's time.  But for the prophecy to mean Iran, it would require that Iranians first stop the practice of circumcising, which is unlikely, being a Muslim country.

Also the prophecy states that after the fall of Elam, there won't be a single nation on earth where their people do not go into exile. Then later God will restore Elam again. So if Elam means modern Iran, then it requires that after Iran stops circumcising, and then their boys grow up to be men, and then they attack Israel, after that they must be destroyed by sword, then we must see Iranians scattered all over the world, and then we must see Iran restored again. All before the second coming! That's a very different scenario to popular end-times time-line forecasts.

Alternatively we could allegorise so many details in the prophecy - all except the geographical location - to try to make it fit more easily with modern Iran. But we'd have to allegorise it so extensively, to the point that the prophecy could be made to fit almost anyone's end-times presuppositions.

To think that the prophecy literally meant the Elam of Jeremiah's, Ezekiel's and Daniel's times seems to me therefore to be the more obvious meaning.

Or is there a precedent in the Bible which demonstrates that allegorising a prophecy to that extent is a valid way of interpreting Prophecy?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

House Churches

There's nothing wrong with meeting in a house instead of in a special-purpose building.

Of course it's good to aim for a friendly, intimate, family atmosphere.

It's good to aim to give as many people as possible the opportunity to speak or serve in some way in a meeting.

But it is also Biblical to recognise and ordain ministers.

It's Biblical for ordained ministers to rule over a congregation.

It's isn't Biblical for a group to deny the expression of the authority that is invested in the ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, along with other functions.

The Church in persecuted countries met in homes because they weren't allowed to meet publicly - not because they were doing away with an ordained leadership.  The house-churches in such countries still have a recognised leadership.

We should aim to correct what is lacking without throwing out what is needed and beneficial. 

Explanatory Notes on Romans 11

1 I say then,

In view of what Paul had just finished explaining, Paul now asks a rhetorical question.

(In chapters 1-8, Paul had shown that both Jews and Gentiles were in need of salvation, and he showed that salvation was by grace through faith, regardless of ethnicity, and without the works of the Law.

Then in chapters 9-10 he answered the objection that the Gospel-message implied that the Bible-prophecies regarding Israel had somehow failed. Paul showed from the Scriptures that the prophecies hadn't failed, but the Prophets foresaw the exact outcome which the Roman believers were observing: the outcome that only believers were experiencing the promised-salvation, including Gentiles, while most of Israel were not).

Now Paul asks rhetorically...

Hath God cast away his people? 

Be it as it may that Prophecy has been fulfilled, has God nevertheless closed the door to salvation against the Jews? some may have wondered. 

God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Paul answers that the Gospel-message does not imply that God had shut the door to salvation against the Jews. Paul himself was an example of God still being willing to save Jews, seeing he himself also was a Jew.

2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.

God didn't closed the door to salvation against the Jews - that ancient nation which God brought to existence for His own purpose.

 Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,

3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal

5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Just like there were a number of righteous people in Israel in the days of Elias despite the overall backslidden state of the nation at that time, so today many in Israel were in fact experiencing the promised-salvation - those who received it by grace through faith - despite the fact that many were not experiencing it.

Today - Paul was discussing present-day realities faced by the Roman church, not exclusively future realities.

6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Those Jews who were not experiencing the promised-salvation had failed to experience it not because God wasn't willing for Jews to experience it, but because they insisted on achieving the salvation through Moses' Law rather than receiving it through the grace of Jesus Christ.

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

Israel by-and-large was failing to experience the promised-salvation, but the elect - those who believed through grace - were experiencing it - and the rest were blinded.

8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

Israel experienced the following consequence of their unbelief: spiritual slumber, blindness and deafness.

9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:

As a recompence - that is, as a consequence of - not as a cause of - their unbelief.

10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

A state of affairs that was the result of their unbelief.

11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall?

They tripped, but they can get up again - by believing.

The consequences of their unbelief was not an irretrievable situation. He hadn't shut the door to salvation against them. 

God forbid:

The Gospel-message never means that Jews can't be saved.

but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

The fact that it was then predominantly Gentiles who were getting saved rather than Jews, far from meaning that God was finished with Jews, was actually a situation which God was intent on using in order to win as many of those Jews back as possible.

12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

The fact that the world was experiencing salvation showed that the fall and reducing of the Jews was not indicative that God had diminished any of His willingness to save.

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

In this chapter Paul was describing a process that existed in his own day, in the Roman church's own day, an objective of his own ministry - rather than describing something which is exclusively for some future time.

Some of them: Paul's expectation was not literally a nationwide salvation, but some of them.

15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

The casting away, the fall, and the diminishing of the Jews did not cause the reconciling, riches and salvation of the Gentiles - the Gentiles experienced those things despite it. Therefore since such wonderful good has come despite such bad, it shows that God's plans even for the Jews have not lost any of their intrinsic goodness. Any Jew could yet experience His goodness, like life from the dead.

16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

The issue was a misunderstanding of God's attitude towards the salvation of Israelis.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

Only due to unbelief.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Continuing in His goodness - continuing in faith - was the only basis for the sustained experience of God's promises.

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

Any Jewish individual could still experience the promised-salvation, through faith in Jesus.

24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

It was still entirely appropriate, fitting and natural for Jewish people to become believers in Jesus.

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Desiring unity in the mixed Jewish and Gentile congregation in the church at Rome, and desiring no misconceptions about his Gospel-message, Paul now explains a truth which was an already-present reality, as a guard against conceitedness.

The already-current state of affairs in Israel, as they were seeing it, was due not to any notion of God no longer being interested in saving Jews, but due only to the fact that many of the Jews had become spiritually blind as a consequence of their unbelief. At the same time many Jews who believed through grace were experiencing the promised-salvation. And meanwhile many Gentiles were also experiencing the salvation.

26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

The sense is probably: and so (that is, in this manner, or according to this scheme of things - not, and then, as if to point to some future moment in history) all Israel shall be saved (potentially).

Proof that Paul was describing an already-present reality rather than forecasting a future event, he goes on to quotes a prophecy which was fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus, not at the second coming. The deliverer, and the turning-away from ungodliness came to Zion through Jesus, through the Gospel.

Paul was not necessarily here predicting a special future event in Israel - rather, he was saying that the current scenario (the fact that God was saving Jews who believed, along with Gentiles, despite others being hardened in unbelief) fulfilled the heart of God as revealed in the Old Testament prophecy.

27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

The covenant was fulfilled through the coming of Jesus - through the Gospel - it hasn't been postponed. It's just that although potentially everyone's sins were taken away, still only the believers experienced it.

The Lamb of God took away the sins of the whole world, but only believers experience it.

The Prophet stated that in the Lord would all Israel be justified, and would glory. It didn't mean literally every Jewish person would be saved. Even if an entire generation of Jews gets saved in the last days, it still can't be said that literally all Israel had been justified seeing centuries and centuries of Jews lived and died without ever experiencing justification, due to their unbelief.

To Timothy Paul wrote that Jesus is the Saviour of all men - especially of those who believe. Potentially of all - but experientially only in those who believe.

There may or may not come a nationwide salvation of Israel in future - but it's not required in order to fulfil the quoted prophecies.

And if it does happen, it will not involve a return to Moses' system of Feasts and sacrifices - for those things were only a shadow - and God isn't interested in anyone reverting back to the Old Covenant ever, not that the real substance has already come.

Therefore any Bible-prophecy which mentions a restored Mosaic system of worship, we know must have already found its fulfilment in Israel at a time when the Old Covenant still stood.

28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.

Jews are still beloved, even in God's eyes, because of the purpose which God foresaw for the ancient nation - even though many of them were opposing the Gospel in the first century.

29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Paul's message of salvation by faith - and the observed consequences in Israel of that timedid not mean that God has revoked any of His goodwill towards Jews.

30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:

31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 

God has always actively sought to use the situation in order to win Jews back, of which Paul was an example.

32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

He categorized them all - not caused them all - to be in the same category of unbelief. He did this because everyone's salvation could be based on mercy alone - and never on ethnicity nor on Law-keeping.

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counseller?

35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

God has never stopped being interested in saving Jews, nor stopped having goodwill towards their nation. What we are seeing is the consequence either of faith or of unbelief.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Thoughts on Romans 11

Romans 11 was Paul's answer to a specific question or issue. In order to understand his answer, it helps to be clear about what the question was. Like, if you hear me answer the phone and I say to someone on the other end, "No, the red one goes there...Yep, and the black one goes there," it makes all the difference in the world if you're mistaken about what question I was actually answering. Red and black could be about jumper leads, or it could be about tomato sauce and pepper. So you won't know what my answer really meant if you're not clear what the question was. You could completely misapply the intent of my statements! It's the same with Romans. All the way through the Epistle to the Romans, Paul both explains a truth, and then he mentions a misconception or question about that truth, and deals with it. For example, after explaining that salvation is by faith without the works of the Law, he then mentions and deals with the question or misconception that the Gospel somehow implied that a person could continue in sin that grace may abound. He answered that the Spirit of God actually empowers us to live right. Next, he dealt with the question or misconception that the Gospel means God's promises to Israel had failed. The promises hadn't failed, he answered - they were being experienced fully by those who believed. Now, in chapter 11, he deals with the question or misconception that the Gospel meant God was completely over with Jewish people. Paul wasn't in chapter 11 introducing a new teaching - such as predestination; nor was he saying that God has a special way of saving Israel in future aside from through the Gospel. He was addressing the misconception that God pretty-much just wasn't into saving Jews anymore at all. Everything in chapter 11 is meant to be understood as an answer to that issue - nothing else. Paul's answer was as follows: that God, rather than being completely and forever finished with any Jewish individuals, was still more than willing to save any Jew, all they had to do was start believing. Paul himself was an example of this possibility, being Jewish himself, and having been converted from unbelief to faith. Paul explained that although the entire nation of the Jews had not believed and been saved, still many had believed and been saved. It was just that the rest of them had tripped and fallen (due to their unbelief) - but it didn't mean a Jew couldn't get up again, he said. The fact that the Gospel was going into all the earth despite the Jews' fall, was not evidence that God wasn't into saving Jews anymore. Rather, God was using that situation to hopefully win back some of the unbelieving Jews - by provoking them to spiritual hunger when they see Gentiles being saved and blessed. It was just that they'd become blind and hard. (Some people use those terms to assert the Calvinistic ideas of predestination. But if you read the wording of these verses carefully, and look at their source-texts which Paul was quoting from in the Old Testament, it's clear that the blindness and hardness which had prevented many Jews from getting saved, came as a consequence of their unbelief - not as the cause of it. Plus the rest of the chapter shows that the situation was rectifiable in anyone's life simply by believing, which is opposite to the Calvinistic idea.) All the way though the chapter Paul talks about the possibility of Jews still being saved. Now's here is an important observation: Paul deals with this subject (the subject of Jews being saved, and about the mechanism by which it could happen) in terms of it being a present-possibility in his own time - in the Roman church's own time - and at any time. He wasn't introducing the idea that there is coming a different, special way, exclusively in a future time, by which all Jews will be saved. He was discussing first-century possibilities. Realities which were to exist throughout the entire Gospel-era. Jews can still be saved if they believe. We know Paul was discussing something that was already a possibility in his own time rather than something that's been postponed until the future - because Paul explained that he was trying to achieve the desired outcome in the lives of as many Jews as possible by means of his own ministry, which was in the first century (verses 13,14). Paul explained that it was only fitting and natural that a Jew could still be saved, if he believed. His objective was to prevent Gentile Christians from being proud and conceited and from misconceiving the Gospel. Any Jew could still be saved. The congregation at Rome was made up of a mixture of Jews and Gentiles. Paul didn't want them boasting one over the other. He wanted unity, and a proper understanding of his Gospel-message. In order to procure this proper understanding and unity, Paul explained that although lots of Jews hadn't been saved, it wasn't because God's prophecies had failed nor because God was finished with Jews - it was simply because many of them had become spiritually blind as a consequence of their unbelief, and at the same time all those who believed were being saved. Meanwhile lots of Gentiles were getting saved - which also fulfilled prophecy. Paul explained that this is how it was foreseen, and this is how it was (verse 25). Now we come to this statement: "And so [not, and then] all Israel will be saved..." (verse 26). In other words, "And this is how Jews can still be saved..." I don't think it necessarily means there will come a day when there won't be any unsaved left in Israel - because Paul was addressing a first-century issue in chapter 11, not introducing new teaching. And also because Jesus spoke about persecutions from Jews in Israel right up until His coming: He certainly didn't seem to portray a picture of nationwide salvation at the time of His coming. Also, it can hardly be said that all Israel got justified, if just one generation of Jews - the final generation - get justified, while centuries of Jews were lost. Yet the Prophet said, "All Israel will be justified, and shall glory..." What does it mean? If it does mean a nationwide salvation, it can happen only through the Gospel, not through a revived Judaism or any other scheme. God isn't interested in anyone reverting back to the shadow (sacrifices, feasts etc) now that the substance is here. Therefore any prophecy which mentions a restoration of those Mosaic practices, must have been already fulfilled in Israel at a time when the Old Covenant was still in force. This truth in itself adjusts many popular ideas about the nature of Israel's future and about the so-called Millennium. God isn't planning on reverting back to the Old Covenant - anywhere, ever. So I think it most likely means this: the Old Testament Prophets prophesied that salvation would come to all Israel. All Israel would be justified. In what sense? Salvation and justification did come to all Israel - but only the believers received it - which was an outcome which the same Prophets had also foreseen for Israel. So "all Israel" didn't literally mean all Israel would be saved and justified. It just meant many of them would be saved and it meant it would be offered to all potentially. We see the word "all" used in this way regarding salvation elsewhere in Scripture too. Like I Tim.4:10 says Jesus is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe. He is the Saviour - potentially of all, but not literally of all - only experientially of those who believe. So Paul is explaining that God hadn't shut the door to salvation to Jews, rather Jews could be saved by believing, in accordance with his promise of procuring salvation potentially for all Jews. Then Paul says that things were turning out that way - happening according to that scheme - in fulfilment of...then he quoted "There shall come out of Sion the deliverer" which was actually a prophecy about Christ's first coming, it doesn't await His future, second coming. The promise of the deliverer, and the taking away of ungodliness and sin, and the new covenant (verses 26,27) were all fulfilled for Israel's sake, by the first coming of Christ - by the Gospel. It wasn't postponed until the future second coming. It's just that only believers experienced it. And Gentiles also experienced it. If Paul was making an end-times prediction by saying "all Israel will be saved", he wouldn't have quoted a prophecy which was about the first coming of Christ. Then Paul summarises his whole answer by saying that Jews and Gentiles alike can each be saved according to his Gospel - according to the scheme of things he'd just presented. In modern Israel we see evidence that God still wishes for the best for Israel. He still is into saving Jews. It could get better and better! Maybe we will see a nationwide salvation. I don't know. But I don't think a nationwide salvation of every individual is required in order to fulfil bible- prophecy. And I certainly don't think Jews can be saved after the second coming after they've seen Jesus, because salvation is by faith alone, and faith that is already seen is no more faith. I also don't believe God will expect Jews or anyone to revert back to Old Covenant feasts and sacrifices at anytime in the future. It's not required in order to fulfil prophecy. Paul's objective in the Epistle was to present his Gospel-message, and while doing so, he also dealt with certain misconceptions about his message. His overall message was basically this: that both Jews and Gentiles were in need of salvation, and the promised-salvation can be experienced by grace through faith, without the works of the Law, and regardless of ethnicity.