"Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved..." (Romans 11:25-26)
This is the second in a series on whether the End is near. Last week I gave my own "State of the Union" observations in Is This The End? It was the most difficult blog I ever wrote, and I ended up getting pretty sick...maybe the anxiety, I don't know. Anyway, I want to shift gears and discuss eschatology proper (study of end times). Specifically, as per the text above, I want to ask whether the predictions regarding the Jews and the End times have been fulfilled.
We have to be careful for what I call the "Red Sky Syndrome", which Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for. At night and in the morning they could look at the sky and give a fairly accurate prediction for that days weather. However, when it came to something infinitely more significant, they missed all the prophetic signs which pointed to Him as their Jewish Messiah. Similarly, Jesus and the apostles gave us specific signs we should look for as indicators of His Second Coming. In agreement with the consensus of church history, I personally do not distinguish between the Rapture and the Second Coming. Why are we caught up in the air then? As when ancients went out of the the city gates of Rome to escort their victors home (back into the city) in celebration, I believe that God wants ALL of His children who will reign with Him to meet Him enroute to His final triumph. If you disagree (and most of you probably do), then that is cool. The Second Coming of Jesus is the visible return when all enemies will be vanquished!
Are we in the Last Days--yes and maybe. Since the First Coming of Jesus we have been in the Last Days, but if we mean the time right before the Second Coming, then I THINK we may be. Jesus and the apostles tell us to not miss the signs of His imminent return. Vigilance and diligence, is what we are called to. If we look at the list of sins that will be prevalent, then we can't help but note that they have been pervasive in every generation. So, my thinking is that there will be--due in part to advanced technology--an INTENSIFICATION of these sins, as we discussed last time.
It is noteworthy that the bloodiest century from a military perspective was the twentieth century And unprecedented natural disasters have occurred..I mentioned last week that abortion on demand is the most wicked and depraved activity ever practiced in the history of humanity.That most Christians have a dismissive attitude toward this monstrous evil is another factor that I think is significant. A blinding or moral paralysis seems to have descended upon us...a spirit of deception.
The sign I want to focus on is the prediction of a revival amongst the Jews prior to Jesus' return. In the text above in Romans 11:,25-26.This text has been hotly contested regarding it's interpretation, but I think the meaning is patently clear. Paul does distinguish between Gentiles and ethnic Israel/Jews. The glory of the "mystery" that Paul is revealing is that "All Israel will be saved" prior to Jesus return.The term "all Israel" does not mean each and every Jew alive will be converted. For example, after the Super Bowl it was said, "All Seattle was in the streets celebrating." That clearly does not mean each and every person living in Seattle.....just a whole lot of them. That is the sense of what the text in Rom.11 means--a mighty revival will occur within the Jewish community. Where though? Just in Israel or worldwide?.It would seem the latter makes more sense.
Is that happening? And what of the Jews retaining control of Jerusalem for the first time since 70 AD? There is no doubt that God is saving Jews today in a marvelous way. However, I personally do not see the kind of conversion indicated in Rom 11. Again, this does not refer to EVERY living Jew being saved, but a mighty work. I did some research on this topic, and I must confess that I don't see it....not.yet. And I may be wrong! There is no doubt that more Jews are coming to Christ these days, but the reality is that the vast majority of ethnic Jews are still unbelievers. Or am I wrong?
Some point to the at least partial control of Jerusalem in 1967 as significant. Surely it is since that is the first time that has occurred since 70 AD.. However, upon reflection, I do not know how this bears testimony to any end times predictions. Surely, it has no bearing on their conversion we spoke of. I know that many, since the influence of dispensationalism, have envisioned a literal Temple with animal sacrifices.And the taking of Jerusalem would be step in that direction. But I find odious the notion that converted Jews would even want to sacrifice animals in light of Christ's work on the cross. It seems contrary to all the book of Hebrews discusses at length.This is taking us far afield into debates regarding the Millennium and so on. Suffice it to say that I personally envision a more comprehensive work of revival and salvation within the Jewish community before this sign is fulfilled. But honestly, I dunno....
Let us end this section as Paul did, as he contemplated the future conversion of the Jews...."For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?" For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:34-36)