Many believe that Israel has no place in God’s plan of redemption and that the Church is now “Spiritual Israel”. The church is not “Spiritual Israel” and Israel indeed does have a place in God’s plan of redemption. This is a very quick and brief survey on Israel’s place in God’s plan of redemption. It is by no means exhaustive. I encourage you to did into the Scripture for yourself if you wish to go more in depth. You can find the this in Romans Chapters 9-11.
A question that is often raised when talking about God’s redemption of mankind is the fate of Israel. Israel in the Bible was known as God’s chosen people and was at one time the only group of people that were to enter into God’s rest. Now that the Gentile world has access to God, what does that mean for Israel?
Paul opens up Romans 9 by expressing concern for Israel. “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race” (Romans 9:2-3). To suggest that Paul rejects or does not have compassion Israel is absurd. Paul loved his people and was deeply concerned for their salvation! He starts off the chapter by speaking of Israel’s election by God. Israel was God’s elect people chosen by God Himself. For the most part however, Israel rejected their Messiah, Jesus Christ, thus cutting Israel off from the promise of God. “It is not as though God’s Word had failed” (9:6). Paul is quick to assure that God’s promise had not failed, but was actually only applicable Israelites that were faithful to God. The majority of Israel stumbled because they pursued God by works, not by faith. The Gentiles had the faith in God the Israelites did not.
Israel insisted on going after righteousness in their own way rather than choosing to follow the Word of God. Jesus, who was meant to be a solid rock to stand on, became a stumbling stone to Israel due to their unbelief. Israel was not pursing anything wrong. They wanted the righteousness of God Almighty, but they were pursing in the wrong way, by works not faith. Paul describes two ways of righteousness in Romans 10, the righteousness that is by the law and the righteousness that is by faith. The Jews chose righteousness by the law and refused to put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Despite Israel’s failure and unbelief, Paul exclaims that God not reject His people! (Romans 11:2). Paul draws attention to the faithful remnant of Israel during the time of Elijah and goes on to say that there is still a faithful remnant of Israel in the present day. Even though the vast majority of Israel has rejected Jesus, God says there is still a faithful remnant remaining. “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” (Romans 11:17). Paul explains that the unbelieving Jews are broken off branches of God’s plan. Now Gentiles are “grafted” into those places were the unbelieving Jews are broken off and show share the same inheritance that the faithful remnant of Israel does. This again does not mean that God has totally rejected Israel. A portion of Israel will accept Jesus Christ in the future and true Israel will be restored unto God (11:25-29).
A modern day Gentile believer has much to be thankful for based on Paul’s teaching in Romans 9-11. At one time the Gentile was without hope without converting over to Judaism. However due to Israel’s rejection of Christ, God used their offense as an opportunity to extend the message of salvation to the Gentiles as well as the Jews who put their faith in Jesus Christ. As Paul stated in Romans 11, the Gentile believers are now “grafted branches” into God’s plan of redemption where the branches of the unbelieving Jews were broken off (11: 16-24). God will use the Gentiles to lead the people of Israel back to Him (11:11-15). God’s highest purpose is to extend mercy to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike.
May God bless you!