It’s Not Over Yet Romans 11:25–36
How God’s redemptive plan for Israel affirms the security of the church
“Can you believe the Jews want to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem?” the pastor scoffed from the pulpit. “Isn’t that ridiculous?” Then he proceeded to mock the Jewish people for failing to understand that Jesus was the final sacrifice for sin and declared that God was finished with them.
I’d like to think the man who delivered that message many years ago would preach it differently today because he not only failed to understand the prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel, which speak of a third Temple, but he also missed the point of Romans 9—11, which reinforces his security in Christ based on Israel’s security with God.
Unfortunately, many people do not understand what the Bible teaches about Israel. God loves the Jewish people; and, according to Romans 11:25–36, His redemptive plan for them is not over yet.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion [estimation], that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (v. 25).
Like the majority of Gentiles today, the Jewish people do not comprehend the fullness of the gospel of grace. The prophet Isaiah predicted this condition:
Go, and tell this people: “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.” Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed (Isa. 6:9–10).
Rather than mock the spiritually blind, Christians should let their lights shine to “provoke them to jealousy [emulation]” (Rom. 11:11).
Paul cautioned believers not to be “wise in your own opinion” (v. 25). In other words, believers are not to think they are better than Israel simply because God has saved them. Israel’s temporary blindness has led to their salvation. Someday, when “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (v. 25)—when the church is complete—the Lord will reach out to His ancient people; and “all Israel will be saved” (v. 26).
Verse 25 addresses the culmination of the future Tribulation, when the Messiah returns to Earth to deliver Israel physically and spiritually from the forces of the Antichrist. The passage ties together Zechariah 13:8–9 and Revelation 7:2–4:
“And it shall come to pass in all the land,” says the Lᴏʀᴅ, “that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lᴏʀᴅ is my God’” (Zech. 13:8–9).
The Revelation passage explains that, amid all the turmoil and divine judgments ravaging the earth during the Tribulation, 144,000 Jewish men from “all the tribes of the children of Israel” will be supernaturally “sealed” (Rev. 7:4)—12,000 from each tribe (vv. 5–8). These men are God’s guarantee that Israel will survive. Satan will do all he can to annihilate the nation for good, but he will not prevail. Not a single tribe of Jacob will be lost.
At the end of this mayhem, after a major portion of the earth and its population have been destroyed, “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” (Rom. 11:26–27). Here Paul referenced the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah:
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” says the Lᴏʀᴅ (Isa. 59:20).
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lᴏʀᴅ, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke….But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lᴏʀᴅ: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jer. 31:31–33, emphasis added).
Although the majority of Jewish people have failed so far to recognize their Messiah, God loves them nevertheless: “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:28–29).
God sovereignly chose Abraham’s physical descendants through Jacob (Gen. 28:13–14; Ps. 105:7–12), promising them land, seed, and blessing; and that calling is “irrevocable.”
According to Bible commentator John Witmer, for God to bring the gospel to Gentiles, “He had to deal with Israel corporately as enemies. But in relation to God’s choice (election) of Abraham and His covenant with him and the patriarchs, Israel is beloved.”1
Of course, prior to being born again by God’s grace, we all were disobedient and enemies of God (Rom. 11:31–32). “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (5:10). Furthermore, we were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).
However, instead of criticizing those who have not yet responded to the gospel, we should rejoice in all the Lord has done and has promised to do. In awe of such a magnificent God who always keeps His promises, Paul declared,
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen (Rom. 11:33–36).
These verses form a beautiful benediction to chapters 9—11. God will never forsake His people Israel, which should give Christians confidence that He will never forsake us either. As Paul wrote in Romans 8, nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39).
Had God not given us Romans 9—11, we might find it difficult to trust in His promises, thinking, If He reneged on His promises to Israel, why would He also not renege on His promises to us?
These chapters teach that God is always faithful. He will never abandon Israel, nor will He abandon His church. Based on these chapters alone, we can count on Him and trust Him fully.
- John A. Witmer, “Romans,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983), 486.