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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 5

All Israel

I can just hear someone saying, “But I thought Paul said that all Israel would be saved? Doesn’t that indicate a restoration and national salvation for the Jews?” He did and it doesn’t!

The verse so often referred to is Romans 11:26 where Paul said, “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.”

Never, ever forget, when you read the scriptures, the key point established in Romans, chapters 9-11: “They are not all Israel which are of Israel.” The central questions to ask concerning Romans 11:26 are: to whom does “all Israel” refer? how are they saved? and when are they saved?

The “who” should be obvious. Paul didn’t spend three chapters establishing the truth that from a spiritual standpoint, so far as God’s purposes were concerned, “Israel” referred to the remnant only to dismiss that truth in one sweeping statement! Remember that in Romans 9:27 he said, “... a remnant shall be saved.”

Romans 11 begins with the question, “Hath God cast away his people?” This is a natural question that might arise in the mind of one who thought of all Jews as God’s people.

Paul began his answer by pointing, not to some future time of blessing, postponed by the Jews’ rejection of Christ, but to himself as being a Jew. He tells us the significance of that statement in verse 2: “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.”

To further explain what he meant by that, he used the time of Elijah as an example. At that time God told Elijah, “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Who were those God “foreknew” in Elijah’s day? the whole nation? Of course not! It was the remnant of seven thousand.

Using that as an example, Paul continues in verse 5, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”

Verse 7 says, “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Here, Paul is speaking of “Israel” in a natural sense. He is referring back to what he had said in Romans 9:31-32 about Israel’s failure to attain righteousness because they sought it through law and not by faith.

Despite the general failure of the nation, Paul said, “the election hath obtained it.” What of the rest? “... the rest were blinded.” Does this not make it clear who Paul meant when he later says “all Israel.” Only “his people which he foreknew” were indeed “Israel.”

Verses 11 and 12 say, “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 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?”

Paul’s Hope for the Jews

The Gentiles had great spiritual riches made available to them through the spiritual fall of the Jews. Then Paul says, “... how much more their fulness?” Is Paul talking about all the Jews being saved? In verse 14 he describes the hope that his ministry to the Gentiles might provoke Jews to also embrace Christ, that his ministry “might save some of them.” Perfect consistency! Paul’s expectation was that God would continue to save a remnant from among the Jews.

He then likens the spiritual heritage of Abraham to an olive tree. The Jews, though they were, naturally speaking, branches, had through unbelief been cut off. The Gentiles, though they were from “a wild olive,” were grafted into this olive tree, partaking of its life.

Speaking again of the Jews in verse 23, Paul says, “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.” Is this not plain? Jews can be saved today through faith in Christ just as Gentiles can.

That is why Paul continues in verse 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.”

Remember Jesus’ words about the “other sheep” that he must bring? What this verse is saying is that during the entire process of calling his sheep from among the Gentiles (“the fulness of the Gentiles”) there would continue to be “blindness in part” among the Jews. Why in part? Because not all Jews remain blind! Just as was the case in Paul’s day, God has continued right down to our day to call out and save a remnant of Jews.

Paul is just further shedding light on his statement in 11:2 that “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” He was faithful to the 7000 in Elijah’s day; He was faithful to Paul and others in the first century; He has continued to be faithful to the Jewish remnant to this present day.

Verse 26 immediately follows this! It cannot be separated from it as though Paul were suddenly talking about something else. The verse begins, “And so all Israel shall be saved ....” The word “so” connects the statement with all that precedes it. It makes the statement a conclusion and refers to the manner of salvation and not the time. The expression “all Israel” means all of the remnant and conveys a great promise that God in his faithfulness will not lose one of them!

The “Deliverer” did come out of Sion: his name is Jesus!

The reason this verse is understood differently by some is because their minds have been programmed to believe that all natural Jews are still God’s chosen people and that they have a glorious future after God finishes the “church age.” When they read, “And so all Israel shall be saved,” it gets turned around in their minds to read, “And then all Israel shall be saved,” as though verse 26 refers to a future time after “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

Of course, Mr. Scofield is very “helpful” here! Lest you miss it he even inserted a subheading between verses 25 and 26. The subheading reads, “Israel is yet to be saved nationally.” Preachers and Bible students needn’t dig any further! Mr. Scofield has explained it all! No need to pray and seek God — just consult the subheadings and notes when you don’t understand something! Remember: Scofield’s subheadings and notes are NOT part of the Bible!

The calling out and saving of the Jewish remnant over the centuries is an expression of God’s love for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (verse 28). “God hath concluded them all” — or “shut them all up together” — “in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all.” Verse 32. This is the same “all” — all of the remnant. Their salvation is by grace through faith just as it is with Gentiles. Jew and Gentile stand upon the same ground!

No Difference

That is why Paul said in Romans 10:12-13, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

That is why he also said in Galatians 3:26-29, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Is there to be a future time when the Lord will suddenly again make a difference? Will every last natural Jew of a single generation suddenly be saved? What a strange idea! How out of harmony with the rest of scripture where everywhere we see a small remnant saved! What about all of the Jews who have died in unbelief?

When “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in,” history will be over! Wake up! The time is near!

As the Lord reached out beyond the Jewish remnant and Gentiles were more and more being saved, some of the Jews, particularly those who had been Pharisees, found it difficult to leave their traditions behind. A controversy arose in Acts 15 when some of them began preaching that Gentile believers had to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved.

Paul and Barnabus had “no small dissension and disputation” with them (15:2), so the question was taken to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders. After “much disputing,” Peter, as the one first chosen by God to preach to Gentiles, gave his testimony on the issue:

“And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” Acts 15:8-11.

Barnabus and Paul then recounted their ministry among the Gentiles, including “miracles and wonders” God had done through them.

The Tabernacle of David

James then spoke up, confirming what Peter had said about God visiting the Gentiles, “to take out of them a people for his name.” In verses 15-17 he quotes from the prophets: “And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”

I am drawing attention to this passage for a reason: Scofield’s notes on it begin with the following statement: “Dispensationally, this is the most important passage in the N.T. It gives the divine purpose for this age, and for the beginning of the next.” Does it?

This is a perfect example of how “religious glasses” can cause someone to twist the meaning of scripture. In Scofield’s mind, when James said, “after this” he meant after the church age. He thought of the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David as a future restoration of the Jews. Is that what James meant?

James was quoting the prophets to support what he had said. To make his quotation apply to the distant future makes it totally irrelevant to the discussion they were having! He was talking about Gentiles being saved right then! He said, “... to this agree the words of the prophets ....” How else can we understand his quotation of the prophets except that he was applying their words to that day?

The “after this” refers to a time that was yet future to the prophets, not to James. James was saying that what God was doing right then was the fulfillment. “After this” was then! The establishment of the church was the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David, David’s tabernacle being a type of what was to come through Christ.

The result of this rebuilding was the outreach to the residue of the Gentiles — exactly what the council was discussing! I have a lot more confidence in James’ interpretation of the prophets than I have in Scofield’s! James’ interpretation was inspired of God. Where did Scofield’s come from?

The interpretation by James is in perfect harmony with Peter’s words in I Peter 1:10-12. The message of the prophets centered in “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”

Blindness Today

Their words were never meant to be unraveled and understood by study. They contain much symbolic and obscure language, their meaning hidden to all but those to whom God chooses to reveal it.

Multitudes of would-be Bible scholars today spend hours at a time poring over obscure Old Testament prophecies trying with natural understanding to relate them to current events. The ink is hardly dry on today’s headlines before the religious teachers are jumping up and down with excitement about the latest “fulfillment” of prophecy.

Frequently someone will announce to anyone who will listen that they’ve studied the prophets and “cracked the code.” They’ve figured out when Christ would return or when the tribulation would begin, etc., etc. One by one their folly is exposed yet others follow in their wake!

Let a “red heifer” be born in Israel and the religious world is all “abuzz” with excitement about the “prophetic significance.” All this is more like a “red herring,” a diversion, a false scent engineered by Lucifer to occupy and misdirect people’s attention away from truth. Religion today is as blind concerning Christ’s second coming as the Jews were concerning his first. Satan is the author of this blindness.

Notice some things in James’ reference to the tabernacle of David. The purpose of this rebuilt tabernacle was not a political and military empire of some sort although that seems to be what many theologians teach! Rather, it is spiritual in nature, raised up “that the residue of men might seek after the Lord.”

When David became king, his priorities were spiritual. He had a great desire to restore the ark, the symbol of God’s presence and His covenant, to its proper place at the center of Israel’s spiritual life. His first attempt failed because David and his advisors devised their own plan and didn’t do things according to the spiritual order God had established (I Chronicles 15:13). (Is this not a picture of much of the religious effort undertaken in our day?)

On the second attempt, when David saw to it that things were done God’s way, they succeeded, bringing the ark with much music and rejoicing to Jerusalem. David had previously conquered a fortress in Jerusalem known as Zion (I Chronicles 11:5). Zion became known as the city of David and served as his capitol. There he had prepared a tent to house the ark.

However, David didn’t just stick the ark in the tent and forget about it! He went to great lengths to establish a very detailed order of worship that was to be carried out before the ark. God had put into his heart a great desire that praise and worship should continually arise to the Lord. To that end the Levites were organized and assigned different parts of this spiritual service. Many were assigned, according to their skills, to play certain musical instruments!

The book of the Psalms embodies the worship David established. It expressed not only praise and worship but all of the great truths that were contained in the spiritual heritage of Abraham and Moses. Thus was a beacon of truth set up that, for a little while, gave light and knowledge to Israel.

Ultimately Jesus, David’s Son (Acts 2:25-31), came and established a beacon that through the gospel would reach to the ends of the earth.

The Residue of Men

Notice also in what James quoted the explanation of who the “residue of men” actually were: “... all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called ....” Again, this is specific! The Gospel, although it is God’s witness to all nations, was not directed to all Gentiles in an absolute sense, but to those Gentiles “upon whom my name is called.”

Thus we see the exact same principle involved: a remnant of Jews, a remnant of Gentiles. This agrees perfectly with Jesus’ words in John 10:16, “... other sheep I have ....” Truly, there is but one fold and one Shepherd! I refuse to contradict my Lord by proclaiming a separate destiny for natural Jews.

Mount Zion

It should not surprise us that Hebrews 12:22-24, written to believing Jews, says, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

If these Jews to whom this was written were “come” to mount Sion (from the Greek spelling of “Zion”), then they weren’t there to begin with! Prophetically, “Zion” has nothing to do with natural Jews, but rather refers to what Christ has established (typified by David’s fortress), a spiritual stronghold, a refuge for sinners, a kingdom that will never pass away. He captured it once and for all at the cross. It is a fortress that Satan will never conquer!

Its citizens are the “firstborn” ones, “which are written in heaven.” Even as a firstborn in biblical times was his father’s heir, so are God’s firstborn ones His heirs, “joint-heirs with Christ”! Rom. 8:17.

Although “the daughter of Zion” was once “as a besieged city” (Isaiah 1:8), the Redeemer has come to Zion (Isaiah 59:20). He reigns there today, finishing the work his Father has given him to do.

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