Is Physical Israel Rejected or Restored?

Dear reader,

When supernatural entities (angels, the Spirit of prophecy, Jesus, or God) give a revelation to a final prophet, it is important to test it with the voice in the written word.  In Christian thinking, God's voice in the written word is superior to revelation voices to final prophets.  

Let's look at a case with Israel's role in the end-times.  

In Manhee Lee's book, he writes, "While in the time of the Old Testament, the people of physical Israel that arose from Abraham were God's chosen people, in the time of the New Testament, the people of spiritual Israel that believed in Jesus were God's chosen people.  By refusing to accept Jesus at the first coming, the people of physical Israel disqualified themselves from remaining God's chosen people" (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 12).

In Shinchonji's revealed word, God first creates physical Israel (national Israel), then Spiritual Israel (the Christian church), and then new Spiritual Israel (Shinchonji).  For this model to be accurate, the written word needs to show that God is finished with physical Israel.  According to Shinchonji's revelation, God has fully rejected physical Israel, but does God's voice in the written testimony affirm this?

When Christians let the voice in the written word be the final authority, we discover a secret: God's plan is to fully restore Israel in the end.  This secret is described in one verse in the New Testament.  After thinking about the Jews who had not accepted Jesus as the Christ/Messiah, Paul asks the question, ¨Has God rejected the Jews?¨  The answer in God's Word is no (Rom. 11:1).

"I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel?  Of course not!" (Rom. 11:1, NLT).

"I ask then: Did God reject his people?  By no means!" (Rom. 11:1, NIV).  

Why would Paul say this if physical Israel had rejected the Messiah?  Wasn´t God finished with Israel?

At the end, almost everyone rejected the Messiah - even his close friends abandoned him.  Through Isaiah, God predicted that the Messiah would be rejected.  ¨He was despised and rejected...¨(Is. 53:3).  In Israel's history, they closed their ears to God's Spirit in the prophets (Ac. 7:51).  This is why God spoke of divorcing Israel and punishing her before the Babylonian exile.  However, the prophets before, during, and after the exile also prophesied a final time of God restoring Israel (Ezek. 34, 36, 37, Jer. 30-33, Zech. 8, Is. 11,12, etc.).

Even after Israel rejected the Messiah and were enemies to the Gospel, Paul reveals that Israel will not be hardened forever (Rom. 11:25).  God still loves them because of the patriarchs (Rom. 11:28).  ¨Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn¨ (Rom. 11:28,29, NLT).

Even though Israel was in a state of unbelief, Paul reveals that God's purpose will be revealed in her.  His call for Israel will not be withdrawn.  The Lord Jesus said that the Jews would play a role in his return when he affirmed that they would see him again and bless his return (Lk. 13:35).  Through the prophets, God declared that there would be a final return at the end of time when the Jews would be united under the Messiah and be spiritually renewed (Hos. 3:5, Ez. 34:22-31, Ez. 37:22-24, Rom. 11:26).

"Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king.  They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days" (Hos. 3:5).

As mentioned above, in Rom. 11:1, Paul reminds the readers that God has not rejected physical Israel. They have experienced a hardening for a time (and, there is a remnant in the meantime) until the full number of Gentiles has come in (Rom. 11:25).  "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited.  Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ´The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob" (Rom. 11:25,26).

Paul refers to a future time when God will turn godlessness away from Jacob.  Some people try to spiritualize Israel in this passage (referring to spiritual Jews or Christians), but this does not work.  In Rom. 11:28, Paul says that they are enemies of the Gospel, which referred to national Israel, not Christians or believing Jews.

In Romans 11, God's voice reveals a secret: National Israel has been hardened for a time (11:25), but not forever.  This is true.  Israel has been hardened for a long time.  However, the written testimony explains that God's final restoration of Israel will bring life to the world.  "But if the rest of the world's people were helped so much by Israel's sin and loss, they will be helped even more by their full return.  When Israel rejected God, the rest of the people in the world were able to turn to him.  So when God makes friends with Israel, it will be like bringing the dead back to life" (Rom. 11:12,15, CEV).

This harmonizes with the prophets who spoke of a final restoration of Israel (i.e. spiritual cleansing, unity under the Messiah, peace on earth, Jerusalem's prominence, and a return to the land) after a long exile into the nations (see themes on the restoration period in the minor and major prophets).  God plans to be glorified through Israel in the end.  When the Messiah returns, he will fulfill all the promises of this restoration. The Lord Jesus said that Israel's future kingdom/restoration was in the Father's hands (Ac. 1:6). When Christ returns from heaven, he will fulfill all the words the prophets said about a final restoration (Acts 3:21).

Question: Does Israel mean the "one who overcomes" like Manhee Lee's title of the "one who overcomes"?

No, the meaning of Israel is ¨the one who strives with God.¨ Although Jacob overcame, God did not change his name to ¨one who overcame¨ God, but rather one who strived with God.  This accurately reflects the story of Jacob and the Israelites throughout their history.  They have strived with God's plans and opposed God's messengers.  

Question: Does the Lord Jesus say that the kingdom would be taken away from Israel in Mt. 21:43?

In this parable, Jesus says that the kingdom would be snatched from the leaders (see Mt. 21:45), not that God would reject his people.  Jesus' words came true since the rabbis and Pharisees no longer became the possessors of God's truths.  They became the founders of Orthodox Judaism.  Mt. 21:43 does not teach that God fully rejected Israel since their election and calling are irrevocable (Rom. 11:28,29).  In the end, God prophesies that they will return to him after the full number of Gentiles has come in (Rom. 11:25).

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