Jew and Gentile in the Bible
As we read through the Hebrew Scriptures and pray God’s promises over His people, it’s hard not to wonder about Jews and Gentiles. Are we, the Gentiles, in God’s plan too? When we read and interpret the Bible literally, we can see that there are many promises in Scripture.However, God originally gave most of those promises to the Jews rather than Gentiles. So it is a painful issue: are we, the non-Jews, anywhere in the Bible?
For many centuries, Gentiles were far from the Lord. God not give us the same access to Himself as He gave to the Jewish people. The Lord had not yet revealed Himself to us. This contributes to that sense of being left out.
“…Remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh… were at that time separated from Messiah, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:11-12)
Paul, the author of Ephesians, was not meaning to disparage nor discourage Gentiles by reminding them of the terrible plight of their past alienation. But rather, he was helping them to come into a deeper understanding of the amazing blessings available to them.
Jew and Gentile in God’s Plan
At the beginning, Jews had a means of accessing the Lord. Whereas the Gentiles were not even able to enter His presence. They had neither the law, nor the covenants, nor the prophets to guide them.
The nations were left to either “seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:27) as Rahab, Ruth, and Naaman did, or to choose to remain in their sin and idolatry.
“But now in Messiah Yeshua you who once were far off (Gentiles) have been brought near by the blood of Messiah. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments…that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two.” (Ephesians 2:13-15)
One day the Lord would make His house a place for all nations! This coming reality was prophesied in places like Isaiah 56 and Zechariah 8. In other words, the nations would be able to join themselves to Israel in varying ways in order to draw near to the Lord. Jesus flug open the doors to God’s presence!
Relationship between Jew and Gentile in the Bible
Before we, as Gentile Christians, can step up to our role in the Jews’ restoration, we must understand our relationship with them. In Romans 11, Paul the apostle explains the relationship of Jews and Gentiles as an olive tree.
Israel stands as the enduring root and Gentile believers are ingrafted branches. For the Gentiles to be grafted into God’s family, the Jews had to be blinded for a time. Their blindness is not to their discredit, or something for Gentile Christians to mock, but an occurrence we are indebted to.
Paul put it this way: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in”(Romans 11:25).
He gives a warning to any branches with a prideful spirit saying:
“If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast against those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you” (vv. 17-18).
Roots vs. Branches
Branches who think they can live without roots will die. The idea that we, as the Church, have replaced Israel is arrogant and dangerous for us.
The Church needs Israel and we must approach our relationship with a posture of humility and gratitude. There is a codependence between Jew and gentile.
The Jews’ loss meant riches for us, their transgression meant riches for the world (Romans 11:12). In turn, verse 15 implores us to understand, “what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”
In Romans 11:26 Paul declares “All Israel will be Saved” and quotes prophesy from the Old Testament: “The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (v. 27).
Jew and Gentile: Set for Spiritual Restoration
Jews and gentiles have their own timelines in God’s plan. Paul continues saying,
“Just as you [gentiles] were at one time disobedient to God and have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they [Jews] too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you” (vv. 30-31).
In essence, the Jewish people were struck with a blindness meant to be lifted. Their blindness was not a done deal or even a fully conscious decision on their part. But God’s mysterious way of setting a time for the rest of the world to see and receive Him.
The Greatness for Jew and Gentile from Scripture
The gospel of Jesus the Messiah went out from Jerusalem and circled the world. And it is now coming back to Jerusalem, as God always intended. This is the restoration God invites His followers to join Him in: Jew and gentile together.
As gentile “branches,” God called us to soak up the light of the Messiah and bring Him back to our Jewish roots. They have been an enduring foundation who supports and sustains us. Now we know God called them to recognize Jesus, too.
“What greatness will the full inclusion of God’s people mean for the whole world” (Romans 11:12). To have a love for the things of God, is to have a love for Israel.
Reference: ELSA KOPPEL (firmisrael.org)