Israel and Spiritual Riches for the World
Let’s look at the ways in which Israel is a gift, bringing spiritual riches to the world. First and foremost, God created the Jewish people (the nation of Israel) to bring the good news of the Messiah that the nations might be saved by grace, through faith.
Now, Israel is not the greatest gift that God has given to the world. His greatest gift is Jesus the Messiah. But let’s not forget – – Jesus was a son of Israel, born under the law, a Jew.
In Romans 9:4-5 the apostle Paul gives us a list of spiritual riches that God brought into the world through the nation of Israel and Jesus the Jew.
“…Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
Jesus himself acknowledges that the Jewish people played a key role in God’s salvation plan. Jesus said in John 4:22:
“You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.”
Yes, salvation is from the Jews! Thus, God has been using Israel to bring the greatest riches to the world.
What does the Bible say about spiritual riches and Israel?
Deuteronomy 7:6 says concerning the nation of Israel:
For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.
Then, the Lord speaks in Malachi 3:17 concerning the Jewish people:
“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels…”
The Jewish people are God’s crown jewels. But even more than that, they are family:
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. (Hosea 11:1)
But Israel is not just one of his children. Israel is God’s firstborn. God told Moses to say to Pharaoh: Thus says the Lord: “Israel is My son, My firstborn…” (Exodus 4:22).
Failing to Recognize Israel as a Gift
Unfortunately, most of the world still does not recognize Israel as a source of God’s spiritual riches for the nations.
I could go on and on and talk about how precious the Jewish people are to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But sadly, rather than seeing the Jewish people as a gift, millions if not billions of people around the world still despise them.
There are even great theologians who were guilty of this sin of ingratitude for God’s gift to humanity. Sadly, the great pioneer of reformation, Martin Luther, also falls into this category.
Martin Luther at first was kind to the Jewish people and reached out to them with the Gospel. He hoped that some of the Jews would be persuaded by his evangelistic efforts and come to follow their own Messiah. But frustrated in these efforts, Luther became an antisemite in his latter years.
Near the end of his life, he wrote a pamphlet called: “On the Jews and Their Lies”, which is filled with shockingly blatant antisemitism. But what may be even more shocking is that more than 90% of comments on Amazon, where the pamphlet is available for purchase, agree with Luther’s hateful words!
While there were German Protestants who struggled against the Nazis, many of churches cooperated with Hitler. Arguably, they felt enabled by the words of their beloved theologian.
Gerhard Kittel, a German Lutheran, and author of the classic New Testament Theological Dictionary, published a book explaining how Germany should handle the “Jewish question”. He rejected extermination but said that assimilation of the Jews in his country would corrupt the German race.
Israel had a Great Fall
It is true that for the most part the Jewish people rejected Jesus as their Messiah at His first coming. And because of that, Israel’s ability to be a blessing and bring spiritual riches to the world has been greatly limited, at least for the past nearly 2000 years.
But this is not the end of the story.
Before I explain more, let’s first look at how Paul explains Israel’s fall – a fall through stumbling. Paul spoke about Israel’s stumbling in Romans 9:31-33:
But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
This stumbling over the stumbling stone was predicted in the Old Testament. And in fact, Paul quoted one of those passages in Romans 9. Additionally, Isaiah 53 predicted that Israel would not believe the report about Yeshua.
The story of Israel is tragic. A nation once laden down with God’s blessings, trips and falls. And Israel experiences great loss— losing the great spiritual riches they were called to share with the world. The only redeeming aspect of this story is how the story turns out for the Gentiles.
Was Israel’s Fall – Spiritual Riches to the World?
Paul says in Romans 11:12 that their fall meant riches for the world! Inadvertently, Israel’s fall over Jesus, the stumbling stone, caused their treasure chest to crash to the ground. In result, Israel’s spiritual wealth scattered over all creation.
Before Israel realizes it, millions of gentiles hear about it. Through a very small remnant of Jewish apostles and evangelists the world hears the news, and gentiles flock to the scene of the crash to scoop up the scattered riches.
Do you enjoy spiritual riches? Well, you can thank the Jewish people for that. God’s treasured people are the source of the spiritual riches you possess — primarily through the greatest Israeli export—the Son of a Jewish virgin Miriam (whom you may know as Mary).
After such a tragic fall, the question now could be asked: Is Israel still a gift of God to the world? Or is Israel insolvent and no longer able to share her spiritual riches with an impoverished world?
A Glorious Comeback
If there is one thing we should remember about Israel’s fall, it’s that it is not permanent. The Bible says that Israel will make a glorious comeback. Paul wrote:
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
F.F. Bruce said, “the Jews are eternally the object of God’s electing love because his promises, once made to the patriarchs, can never be revoked.”
But hasn’t Israel already had her chance? Through stubborn unbelief has Israel not forfeited her privileged position? Does Israel even deserve to enjoy again the rich blessings of God?
I challenge the person who asks those questions with these; Do YOU deserve the blessings of God? Did you EARN the spiritual riches of your salvation? How quickly we forget the words from Ephesians and Romans:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace… (Romans 11:5-6)
Don’t expect Israel to become a perfect nation before she gets any favors from God. He still saves by grace only!
Greater Spiritual Riches for the World Thanks to Israel
And what will happen when God lifts the veil from the Scriptures and reveals Yeshua? Israel will get back on its feet. Their stumbling stone will become their cornerstone. And if you think they were God’s gift to mankind before, it will be amazing how much blessing the Jewish people will bring to all the families of the earth through their recovery!
Paul says in Romans 11:12:
Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
And now, read this verse again in the New Living Translation:
Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.
If the Jewish people have impacted and influenced the world without faith in Jesus as Messiah, how much more will their spiritual comeback make the world a better place.
Spiritual Riches, Revival and Harvest
Three verses later, Paul adds:
For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Rom 11:15)
John Calvin wrote concerning the “resurrection of the dead”:
[T]o be dead sometimes means of religious declension… The phrase is evidently figurative and signifies (…) the coming to life of those in a condition resembling that of death. The restoration of the Jews unto God’s favor will occasion the revival and spread of true religion through the whole Gentile world.
John Wesley said that Romans 11:15 referred to “overflowing life to the world”. In turn, Charles Hodge concluded that Paul was referring to “a great spiritual movement”. James Dunn says that “not only the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles was mediated through Israel, but the final act of salvation is also mediated through Israel.”
If this is true, it should excite every believer who is longing for the return of the Lord. For Israel will be a key player in bringing the gospel of the kingdom to all the nations before the end comes (Matthew 24:14).
The thought that Israel is about to get off the bench and return to the field to help the team should give us reason to celebrate. Israel is yet to share great spiritual riches with the world!
Indeed, there are many such Evangelicals who recognize and rejoice that the Jewish people remain strategic in God’s redemptive plan for the nations.
Salvation for Nations that Come to Jerusalem
Scott McKnight, in his survey of Old Testament teachings on missions, comes to some fascinating conclusions, including the following:
Israel failed in its mission as “light of the nations,” but the Messiah would fulfill this role, create a new kingdom people, and send them as his witnesses to the nations. The day would come when Gentiles from all nations would worship the Lord and be included in his kingdom people. Zion is depicted as the center point to which the nations flow.
We can see a confirmation of that in the Book of Zechariah:
And it shall come to pass that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing. (Zechariah 8:13)
Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you”.’ (Zechariah 8:22-23)
How do we acknowledge the spiritual riches Israel brings to the world?
Firstly, we can show gratitude to the Jewish people for the spiritual riches they have given and the even greater riches they will soon share with the world.
Salvation is from the Jews! If somebody gave you a bar of gold for free, would you say thank you? If your 7-year-old daughter came home from school with a picture she painted, would you thank your daughter?
I think we all would. And this is exactly what the apostle Paul said we should do:
For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. (Romans 15:27)
Secondly, it is our obligation to pray for the peace of the Jewish people. King David pleaded that all would pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122).
And last but not least, share the good news with Jewish people. That is the biggest gift of all. And if Israel brought spiritual riches to the world, we ought to let them know what treasures we received.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
All Israel Will Be Saved: Free PDF Download
The New Testament says that all Israel will be saved. How is that possible and what certainty do we have that it will come to pass?
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