Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Manner of Israel's Salvation

Paul could have meant that literally all Israelis will be saved in future - but I wouldn't say it's 'clear', like some say that it is. 

In any case, even if literally all modern Israeli citizens do get saved - which would be great! - it can only be through faith in Jesus, not through modern Judaism. So, that's what our focus should be - on the Gospel, not modern Judaism.

But notice this: Paul did not say, "...and 'then' all Israel will be saved" (as some are misquoting it) - rather, he said, "...and 'so' [not, 'and then'] all Israel will be saved."

One version is: "...and 'in this way' all Israel will be saved".

So, Paul was likely describing an already-functioning scheme, not necessarily forecasting a future historical sequence. Style, not sequence.

This is possibly indicated when he then immediately linked his "all Israel will be saved" statement with two quotes from the Old Testament - both of which have already been fulfilled, or else neither Paul nor anyone yet has ever been saved! 

In making that link to prophecies which had already been fulfilled, he evidently wasn't intending that his statement be understood as a pronouncement of his own future-prediction - rather, he was explaining the manner in which the Old Testament's predictions were seeing their fulfilment, through the Gospel, even in Paul's own time. Remember, in this whole passage he was addressing a first-century issue.

When he said "even so then at this present time also there is a remnant", he wasn't contrasting "this present time" with a still-future time, like some mistakenly assert - rather, he was contrasting "this present time" with Elias' time, when God had reserved to himself seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. 

Just as a remnant were preserved in Elias' time, so a remnant of Jews were being saved now "in this present time" - and in that same manner, according to that same scenario, the OT prophecies about "all Israel" being saved were seeing their fulfilment - "in this present time" - that is, in this time of the preaching of the Gospel, in this time of the New Covenant.

And we are still in "this present time". Paul could not have known "this present time" would last a couple of thousand years and counting. As far as the early Church knew, Jesus could have returned in their lifetimes. One thing they knew for sure: "this present time" is to last right up until Jesus comes - right up until "the end". They had no such concept as a different and future Dispensation, prior to the Lord's return. 

To say the Old Testament's prophecies about all Israel being saved are still future, requires returning to Levitical-style worship in future, taking the passages literally - complete with sacrifices for atonement. And this is the reason I'm willing to take issue about this - because it conflicts with New Testament truths. It takes some of our focus off Jesus and His saving-Gospel, and puts it onto modern Judaism. It's not even possible logistically to return to the Law-worship.

Paul's explanation was better: that the prophecies were already seeing their fulfilment, through the Gospel - in this manner, even though not everyone believes it.

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