The following letter serves as the backdrop for this essay:
We are living in frightening but still exciting times. A time for the need of much prayer, heart wrenching intercessory prayer. We need men of prayer, men of discernment, men of wisdom, men with a burning zeal for God and His people, men of valor.
What are your thoughts on how the church needs to prepare for the times ahead?
I just looked up Romans 11. There is so much there. I see an attitude of humility the church should have towards the Jewish people. We are only grafted in. Do we, the church, look on Israel with love? It seems some do, some don't. What's the bigger picture? I really don't know. I remember our former pastor use to say " if you don't love Israel , then you’re not saved".
It's interesting that I am currently teaching Sunday School on Elijah, where Elijah tells God he is the only one left, but God tells him He has seven that haven't bowed to Baal. (Romans 11:3) Do we the church think we are the only spiritual ones left? Is Jesus saying, "it's not about you?". I"d like to hear more of your thoughts on the church's role.
My Dear Sister,
I would to God the entire Church would have the wisdom to ask this all-important question in the spirit of, "What must we do.........?" Quite often, we don't receive the right answers because we don't ask the right questions. I think you know me well enough to know that whatever my Scriptural views and world outlook, they are based upon many years of careful Biblical inquiry, through a painstaking process of continued testing and refinement. In no way, does that automatically lead me to presume correctness in my Biblical understanding, as one "looking through a glass darkly." It merely expresses a seriousness and diligence in approach.
As to the issue at hand, you are quite right about the wealth of insight which can be found in Rom. 11. It is certainly an excellent springboard from which to delve deeper into the fuller purposes of God. Frankly, I would rather spend the rest of my days sharing this message with the Church which, I trust, God has cultivated in my heart over the years. For the sake of time and space, I will purposely omit the majority of Scriptural references and commentary I would ordinarily use to support these views. Of course, I would be more than happy to supply you, or anyone else, with those references and expand upon each point if requested. Additionally, each point made, though brief, is probably worth at least several typewritten pages and about an hour's worth of verbal teaching per point.
To begin with, Paul stated that he magnified his ministry to the Gentiles in order that the Jews would be provoked to a spiritual jealousy (Rom. 11:14). The Church being all she was called to be is not an end in itself, but a means to an end towards fulfilling her ministry and obligation to provoking the Jews to a godly jealousy, and in doing so, making herself ready for her Bridegroom, even "hastening the day....." as referred to in II Peter 3:12.
As part of this process, the Church must return to a "simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." She must learn to travel light, so to speak. She must return to her original God-given, Biblical structure of leadership and corporate function. It must be Christ-centered, meaning, He must have preeminence, and not just in lip service. She must become less reliant on man and things. She must prepare to be able to, not only adapt, but even flourish, amidst loss and devastation. The Church must reject the popular notion of, "Hey, we can be just as good as the world!" The Church was never called to be "just as good as the world." She was called to be something, someone, totally different from this world, driven by a totally different life source. In fact, it, or rather, she, was literally called to reflect something out of this world. We must remember, Israel's failings had much to do with her wanting to be "like the other nations."
As to Israel, there is much to be gleaned from the well-known account of Jesus and His dear friend, Lazarus. Our natural love would have rushed to Lazarus' side in order to save him from further suffering and death. God's love does not simply look to the present, but also, and more importantly, to the future, to bring about a desired result, consistent with His eternal purposes, "for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen, are eternal." There are times when the thing you love most and hold the most dear must be allowed to enter the crucible in order that, and that is always the operative term, "in order that..." God is always after something, His desired end result, for the personal, corporate, and eternal good. It will bring glory to God through the conformity to His Son which is unreachable apart from the Cross.
Lazarus had to endure suffering and death prior to experiencing resurrection life. "Jesus wept." He was not insensitive nor indifferent. Contrary, to human nature, he literally loved Lazarus to the point of death. Why? Because, God was after something, far beyond the natural, the temporary. Therefore, with our spiritual eyes, we can see Lazarus as a type of Israel. We then may begin to get a glimpse of how God intends to deal with Israel "in order that" He may ultimately restore her unto Himself. Joseph, another type of Christ, was sold into slavery "in order that..." a mighty nation would be born. The natural human response of, "Surely, this shall never happen to you," though well intended, often does not serve the purpose of God. There are countless other Biblical examples to reinforce this point. However, make no mistake, the Abrahamic Covenant of those who would bless or curse Israel is a perpetual spiritual principle which has never changed.
Another holocaust is on the horizon. The Jews will once again be subjected to a persecution of demonic proportions, but neither will the Church be spared from a similar fate. Though the vast majority of Jews reside in other nations, there will yet be another dispersion of Jews from the Land of Israel. They will be brought to a place where they will no longer be able to have confidence in their natural abilities ("make the arm of flesh their strength"). They will be brought to a place of utter human despair and hopelessness. God will not establish an unrepentant people to take permanent inheritance and possession of His Land. God's preconditions for this fulfillment is consistent from Genesis onward. You bear the image of God, you possess the Land. You lose the image of God, you lose possession of the Land. Acquire the image of God, you are restored to possession of the Land. And, yes, there are many Scriptural examples to bear this out.
Many will ask, "What about Israel becoming a nation after the Holocaust of World War II?" As a people, what came out from Europe to help establish the nation of Israel was essentially a people who were broke, but not broken in the Scriptural-spiritual sense. This is the true definition of repentance, "a true godly sorrow," apart from which can never lead to true salvation. We must not confuse worldly sorrow with godly sorrow. Pumping our fists in the air while declaring "never again," by our own devices does not express the godly repentance spoken of in Scripture. Not until they are ready to declare, "our strength is dried up," will God be able to truly deliver them by "His might and power."
Revelation 12 is only one example of the Church's and Israel's ultimate destinies being intertwined. In the "end of days," as the Roman centurion was converted through revelation of who Christ truly was as He subjected Himself to the Cross, so to, will the Jews (Israel who is truly Israel) be converted (circumcised in heart) as they see the Church manifest Christ through their willful subjection to the Cross. Many will manifest Christ through the bearing of their Cross leading to salvation of the Jews, many at the expense of their own lives. This is where the analogy of Corrie Ten-Boom-type ministry enters in. The true Church, who has made Herself ready, "in simplicity and purity by their devotion to Christ," will be dispersed throughout the world. They will be as a God-made net intended to catch fish of a Jewish sort. And, it will be a net leading to spiritual deliverance. The Biblically mandated Gentiles' debt to the Jews, will finally be PAID IN FULL. Then, and only then, will the Jews, who have been circumcised in heart as well as flesh, be restored to the Land for all time. This is consistent with God's ways, from Genesis to Revelation. To say the least, this is certainly not consistent with the ways of men......but, then again, isn't that what led to Jesus' rebuke of Peter? May it not be said of us!