Bill Somers

Mount Gilead Ohio, USA May 2007

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

The phrase quoted in our title above comes from The Book of Romans. The them spoken of here are Israel, the Jews, unbelieving Jews.

Romans 11:11-14

111 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.

12 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?

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

I have long had a problem understanding the purpose of provoking them to jealousy. I really can't recall any testimonies of people getting saved because they were provoked to jealousy. Neither does the present state of the church, for the most part, contain anything to make the Jews the least bit jealous.

Most Jews today are atheists! Except for the ultra orthodox, they do not even believe in God, and do not consider the scriptures to be the Word of God. Rather for them, Judaism is a matter of culture and tradition. Even so, there are many being saved these days as the Spirit of God is drawing them to himself. The ultra orthodox have some advantage here as they actually do believe in the God of Israel and study his word believing it is truly divinely inspired. If secular Jews were taught their bible and read it for themselves, we might see many more come to the Lord.

In her article State Of Affairs Rimona Frank discusses their attitude toward the bible, called in Hebrew The Tanach.

Up until sometime in the 19th century, Jews by and large, in all of their places of dispersion, had been practicing (orthodox) Judaism. One fact which may be stated about Judaism's attitude toward the Tanach, is that it is only secondary to the "Oral Law", which is a compilation of commentaries on the Tanach with added rulings, laws, parables and stories that, in turn, are interpreted some more and supplemented by further rabbinical writings. Thus, this massive literary body is revered and taught in religious circles more than the Tanach, this being especially so since the explicit instructions contained therein are also useful vis a vis daily conduct, as well as religious practices. At the same time, these complex directives can exempt one from having to seek YHVH and His Spirit for guidance, and what's more they also demand expertise that only rabbinical authorities can render. This makes the orthodox person dependent on rabbis and teachers more than on the Holy One Blessed Be He. For many centuries this was basically what the Jewish nation relied on, as do religious Jews all over today. The Tanach gets their attention mostly by way of the weekly reading of the Torah portions ("parasha" singular - "parashot" or "parshiot" - plural), and the short passages from the Prophets ("haftara" - singular, "haftarot" - plural), that are read in the synagogue.

So your typical Jew couldn't care less what the Christian Church does or does not do. Yet we are often told that it's the Church's job to provoke the Jews to jealousy. Some have said that the church will not operate in her full apostolic calling till she is able to provoke the Jews to jealous. This seems to point to an end time context, naturally. It may be that only the end time church will be able to succeed in such provoking. Or that when the church comes into her end time anointing, that very fact will be enough to provoke the Jews to jealousy. Let's look at this more closely.

If the Lord's ultimate aim is the salvation of natural Israel, what has jealousy got to do with it. It seems to me that the main issue is spiritual blindness. This is mentioned in the following passage.

Romans 11:25-32

25 For 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.

26 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:

27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.

29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:

31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

This same blindness is seen in 2 Corinthians 3:12-17 where the Lord makes it clear that it has to do with not being able to understand the scriptures.

2 Corinthians 3:12-17

12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:

13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

In Luke we can find a perfect illustration of this blindness in action. Luke 18:31-34

31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.

32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:

33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.

Here the Lord is telling them plainly what is about to happen. They were not able to understand any of it because it was 'hidden from them.' This shows the Jews unable to understand the Word of God. And in this case the blindness was specific to a most crucial event; that Messiah would have to die. 1 Corinthians 1:23

speaks of this blindness as a stumbling block.

I Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

In Luke 24 we see an illustration of blindness being removed, at least for the two men involved, as the Lord reveals to them how the scriptures spoke of him.

Luke 24:25-27

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Here the Lord himself removes the blindness and teaches them the meaning of the scriptures. As long as the blindness remains, the scriptures remain a closed and sealed book.

Now considering Romans 11:11 where it says through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that this blindness came upon the Jews after they rejected the Messiah and had him crucified. However the passage in Luke 18 illustrates blindness upon the Jews before the crucifixion. And the text goes on to make reference to prophecies given much earlier. They are in Psalms 69 and Isaiah 29 among other places.

Psalms 69:21-28

21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

22 Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.

23 Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.

24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.

25 Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.

26 For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.

27 Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness.

28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.

Isaiah 29:10-12

10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.

II And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

There is even a passage from Moses that says the same thing.

Deuteronomy 29:4 Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

This blindness did not come because they rejected the Messiah, it came much earlier. It was there all along to ensure that they would reject the Messiah. We often lament the fact that they rejected the Messiah, but what would have happened if they had accepted him instead?

Briefly they would not have crucified him, and the penalty for sin would not have been paid. There would be no fulfillment of Passover and no salvation for all mankind! So clearly, this is something that had to happen.

In Micah 5 where the birthplace of Jesus is spoken of, the very next verse speaks of their fall. It is saying he will give them up. This will be till the end time, when All Israel will be saved.

Micah 5:2-3

2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.

We see that word therefore in verse 3 above. This is telling us that God planed for Messiah to come forth out of Bethlehem. And that he would become the ruler of Israel. Therefore he had to give them up to spiritual blindness, or the plan would not work. But it is also saying that he gives them up, not permanently, but only till such and such a time.

So it's not quite correct to say that Israel's acceptance of Jesus as her Messiah depends on her being provoked to jealousy by a predominantly gentile church.

Israel's acceptance of Jesus as her Messiah will come with the removing of the blindness, and that will come after the fulness of the Gentiles be come in [whatever that might mean].

We see this removing of the blindness prophesied in Zechariah 12.

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Removing the blindness causes all Israel to be saved. Provoking them to jealousy is an other matter. If you look at Romans 11:14, the word emulation is used. In the original Greek, the word is the same as that translated jealousy in verse 11. It can also be translated rivalry. Here it is again.

Romans 11:11-14

11 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.

12 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?

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

Now it seems to be saying here that salvation is come to the Gentiles to provoke them [Israel] to jealousy that he might save some of them. Removing the blindness has the effect of saving all of them, as mentioned in verses 25 and 26.

Now consider that the fall of Israel, which is the spiritual blindness, is to bring salvation to the Gentiles. This as we see is something that had to happen, and it's mentioned way back in Deuteronomy. It had to happen because it's purpose is to fulfill the Covenant the Lord made with Abraham in Genesis 12.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Genesis 12:1-3

We tend to focus on the part of the promise that Israel will have the land. The very land that is being fought over in the middle east these days. Joshua and the children of Israel entered the Promised Land by crossing over Jordan. Jordan speaks of death. God's people will enter into the Kingdom of God by means of death to self. This should be our clue that the Promised Land is no less than the Kingdom of God. So in the promise made to Abraham, possessing the land, though important is only secondary. The most important part here is the very last clause: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. This is the promise that Salvation would come to the Gentiles. But not just the Gentiles but all nations, including Israel.

This promise, is the promise of a new covenant and is called the gospel in Galatians 3:8

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. Galatians 3:8

Now look at Romans 11:27 and 28.

For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. Romans 11:27-28

Note that the words Covenant and Gospel are both used here.

Also consider that the salvation here spoken of is that which is ready to be revealed in the last days as mentioned in Peter.

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5

And compare the language in Romans 11:11 with 11:14. one says Salvation provokes and the other says I provoke. And who is the chief Apostle to the Gentiles save the Lord himself? If we have an end time context here, then it can't be strictly referring to Paul. He is just the scribe here. We are reading the words of Jesus. He will provoke some and He will save some, at the first. Then in the end, all Israel will be saved.

To back up the idea that we have an end time context here, let's look at the opening passage of Romans.

Romans 1:1-8

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our

Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Note that the gospel is mentioned in verse one and that verse two tells us that the gospel is part of the promise to the fathers. That is the covenant. We can saw this spelled out in Galatians 3:8 quoted above.

Then in verse 5 it mentions obedience. That is obedience to the faith among all nations, which include, according to verse 6 those whom this letter is addressed to, the called of Jesus Christ. Verse 7 says they are beloved by God and called to be saints. In verse 8 we see that their faith is spoke of through all the world. So we are looking at a people from the nations [Gentiles] who are obedient to the faith and have a world wide reputation for that faith.

So who are these 'Romans'? In other words who does this description given in Romans fit. Is it the early church, today's church or the end time church? If you answer the early church, that is only because they are a type of the end time church. Today's church seems to fit the description of the foolish Galatians. If you answer the end time church, you are starting to catch on. Certain passages of Romans only make sense when applied to the end time church. This means that they are still waiting to be fulfilled in the end times. So these Romans are Gentiles to whom Salvation has come. Jesus is Yeshua in Hebrew and Yeshua means Salvation!

The Revelation of Jesus Christ is the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. It can be seen in another form in Hosea 6.

Hosea 6:1-3

1 'Come, and let us return unto the LORD; for He hath torn, and He will heal us, He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.

2 After two days will He revive us, on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence.

3 And let us know, eagerly strive to know the LORD, His going forth is sure as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth.'

Looking back to Romans 11:11 when it says salvation is come to the Gentiles, there is a double meaning. In the historical sense, it means that salvation is made possible for the Gentiles, through the fall of the Jews. This is because they rejected their Messiah and had him killed. This was God's intention all along.

In the end time sense, it means that Salvation, in the person of the Lord has actually come to the Gentiles in the form of the latter rain which is the last days outpouring of the spirit. Now this will be an event so awesome and great that it will provoke some them to jealousy and many of these will be saved. One reason is that it will be clear that the promise made to Abraham, the blessing of Psalm 133, is being poured out on the Gentiles! And that the Lord's covenant is being fulfilled for the Gentiles, not the Jews. Then they may well say:

'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.' Jeremiah 8:20

Yet the ultimate end of this all is still the removal of the blindness for the whole house of Israel.

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! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. Romans 11:32-36

Once the blindness is removed, Israel will be able to see and to truly behold:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. Psalms 133:1-3

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