Provoke the Jews to Jealousy

By C. Eldon McNabb

I frequently hear it said that, at the end of the age, there is to be a restoration of Israel back to God. It is stated with much certainty, with a strong implication that it is an obvious Bible truth which needs little explanation. The popular consensus seems to be that the event will occur after the Christians have been gloriously resurrected or changed, and taken to Heaven. Furthermore, most Christians seem to believe that this "catching away" could occur at any moment.

It all sounds so wonderful! Jesus comes, takes the Christians "home," and somehow the existing Jewish population of the Earth decides to believe. Of course, this creates some major difficulties with the Biblical promises to those who have believed on Jesus and been born again. That is particularly true of 1 Thess. 4. There doesn't seem to be any exceptions to "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with (the resurrected saints) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." Does that mean all who believe, or do some Christians get left here to preach to "Jacob"? How can the two witnesses be killed if they have been changed to immortality? Is it possible to be born again after Jesus has left the right hand of the mercy seat in Heaven, gone off and gotten married, and begun to judge the nations; pouring out the wrath of God upon the wicked? Or is Hebrews 9:28 right in saying that when Jesus returns He will not be concerning Himself with sin nor salvation?

When confronted with such a dilemma, my spirit yearns for the simple truth of the Word of God. Perhaps you have read the words of the Apostle Paul, where he said, "I fear, lest by any means, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).

In dealing with the subject of "Jacob" being "grafted in again to their own olive tree" (Rom. 11:17-33), Paul said "I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Rom. 11:25-26). Apparently this is not a simple subject. It is indeed a mystery, but God is, even now, revealing that mystery to "His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph. 3:1-7).

In his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul devoted chapters 9 through 11 to this vital subject. In Romans 10:11-21, he said, "There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? - But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, - But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."

This passage readily reveals to us some important facts. He begins here by showing us that the glory of God would be manifested, over time, in both the Jews and the Gentiles. He went on to show that the Jews in His day had indeed been given the opportunity to receive that glory, and that a remnant of them had received it indeed (Rom. 2:4-12). In 70 A.D., God removed His glory from the Jews, and poured out upon them His indignation and wrath. He broke them off and grafted in the Gentile Christians. It should, therefore, be easy for us to see that, in order for God to graft them in again, it will be necessary for Him to break off some unbelieving Gentile "Christians." Accordingly, what happened to Israel in the first century A.D. will, yea must, happen to Christianity here at the end of the Age of Grace, because there are thousands of Christians today who are "the people of God" in name only.

In the passage above, Paul cited Moses' prophecy in Deut. 32:16-21, saying, "They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation."

This verse is written in a general way, and we might not have easily understood how it would all work out, except that Paul continued on in Rom. 11:11-15, saying, "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them." Paul went about his mission of reaching the Gentiles with the gospel, having confidence that his efforts would ultimately succeed to the benefit of his fellow Israelis.

From these words, we can readily see that a wonderful thing occurred to the benefit of the Gentiles of the world as a result of the disobedience of the people of Israel. God extended mercy to the Gentiles. What a blessing! But that blessing was not without purpose in the overall plan of God. There were two ends of the Mercy Seat which Moses made, and a cherub on either end (Ex. 37:7-8). God raised up the Apostle Paul, on that end to extend mercy to the Gentiles with the express purpose of raising up a Gentile Apostle, at this end of the Age of Grace, to extend mercy again to the remnant of Israel just before the return of Jesus Christ (Rom. 11:28-33).

In verses 30-33, Paul said, "As ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"

Some say that Jesus can come at any moment. But having read these words from the New Testament, we can see that our work for God, the reason for His magnanimous offer of mercy to us, is not yet done. The Deliverer must yet come out of Zion which, in Hebrews 12:22,23, is clearly defined as representing the Church. That Jewish Zion is no longer in existence. However, in Isaiah 52:8-10, we are assured that the Lord shall "bring again Zion," and there shall once again be great joy in the city "which God shall choose to put His name there."

Today I am looking for dedicated men and women who love God, and are willing to commit themselves to the rebuilding of Zion, the city of God, the house of God, so we can fulfill Ezekiel 43:10 by showing that house to the house of Israel, extending unto them an opportunity to find their way back into the good graces of the God of mercy and grace.

It is high time for us to wake out of our sleep, come together in the unity of the faith, and finish this great work which the Apostle Paul began so many years ago. When we have a house to show to the house of Israel, then we can see the fulfillment of Romans 11:26 come to pass, being fulfilled by the man who God has chosen stepping forward to "turn ungodliness from Jacob."

Do you want Jesus to come? Then let us come together and finish the work. Glory to the most high God!