Looking At Romans 11 Through The Lens Of History and Prophecy.
“7) What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8) just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day.” 9) And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, And a stumbling block and a retribution to them. 10) Let their eyes be darkened to see not, And bend their backs forever.” 11) I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.” Romans‬ ‭11:7-11‬
Reading the story of Israel in the Old Testament defies explanation. No more had Joshua and the elders that served under him passed away and Israel abandoned God. (See Judges 2:10-11) It was not a slow decline or mere drifting into moral decline, it was an abandonment of God while embracing pagan gods.
Even after the reign of David and the revival of his day, the same drift started again. Eventually the temple that Solomon built was forsaken and even filled with idols and the practice of spiritism and the occult. They again turned to embrace other gods as told in the books of 1 & 2 Kings. God did not abandon His people, they abandoned Him. But He always had a faithful remnant through every generation.
After the rebuilding of the temple under Nehemiah and Ezra, another problem developed. The revival and zeal for God they led was quickly replaced by legalism and empty creeds and rituals. Judaism became cold, calloused and indifferent. A zeal for God was replaced by rules, regulations and a religious political system of institutional repression and control. They again abandoned God.
That was the spiritual and moral climate that John the Baptist and Jesus Himself were born into and came to change, but for the most part, it rejected both of them. But the Gospel was being widely proclaimed and the Holy Spirit was about to be given.
In Romans chapter 11, Paul is tackling the phenomenon of the Gentiles turning to Jesus in mass during his day while for the most part intuitional Judaism back in Palestine remained indifferent. Nevertheless, the Jewish church in Jerusalem was growing, but it was under immense persecution from the Sanhedrin and Jewish religious leaders that crucified Jesus.
The irony is that prior to his conversion, Paul was previously the leader of this persecution. His life story is a testimony of how much God yearns for the Jewish people how He can reach them despite their blind, cold, rebellious and indifferent hearts. It can happen very quickly.
I have no idea of the timing Paul had in mind for the return of Israel to God as he penned Romans 11 through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but I doubt it encompassed the past 2,000 years of church history. I would argue that we are still living in Romans 11, and the full mystery of the return of Israel to the Messiah is about to be fulfilled as the end time approaches.
We are about to witness the wild olive branches being cut off and the natural olive branch being grafted back into the tree. Look around, many former Gentile Christian nations are quickly abandoning God and becoming hostile to Israel. The United States and Western Europe are foremost in this trend. The new remnant might become Gentile Christians as Romans 11 unfolds before our very eyes. Stay true to God in the days ahead.
I know this is not a standard interpretation of Romans 11 and that I am painting with a very broad brush, but it matches church history and the past 2,000 years. It also helps us understand current events. These are indeed exciting days with many prophecies unfolding before our very eyes in the Middle East and around the world.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global