This passage reveals the central fact in Bible Prophecy, concerning the years approaching the Lord’s Return. That the Jewish People will collectively embrace Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
God’s Plan For Israel
(k) The Fall and Restoration of Israel
Finally, after much exposition and expressions of passion concerning Israel, Paul comes now to his purpose and vision. If these chapters concern Israel past, present and future (as indeed they do) then these verses come to the heart of the matter. Israel currently suffers the effects of their fall but there is coming a bright day when they will be restored. This is God’s plan for Israel.
1: The Fall – v7-10
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
We now begin to understand Paul’s intention as he dealt with the subject of election in the 9th chapter. In v7 there is a clear distinction between the Jews who were elect and those who were blinded.
Judicial Blinding – Paul teaches that the blindness of Israel was a judgement inflicted by God’s direct action.
V8 – He draws from 3 Old Testament texts to prove his assertion (Deut. 29:4, Is 6:9-13, 29:10). The true significance of this text is that it was recorded as being already fulfilled in the days of Christ and the Apostles (Mat 13:14, John 12:40 and Acts 28:26-27). In principle we are taught that God has a right to remove the grace of the Gospel from an unbelieving people.
Lost Blessings – v9 ,10 – The Old Testament text here is Psalm 69:22-23. V20 of the Psalm clearly shows that Christ is the one in view. The Jews, however, rejected Jesus as their Messiah and they lost the benefits that could have been theirs. The table represents a feast of good things but because of their unbelief this very table became the occasion for their judgement. Where such blessings are squandered, how terrible the darkness.
2: The Fruit v11
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.
This verse helps us to understand why God blinded Israel. He did not do this in order that they might be lost forever as a nation. This is the force of the word fall.
Rather he did this for two reasons:
a That salvation might come upon the Gentiles.
b To provoke the Jews to jealousy. He does this through the evangelism of the Gentiles among the Jews. The day, however, has not arrived when the Jews collectively seek Christ, although they have come as individuals. The Church, however, should regard the Jews as an important mission field.
3: The Fullness v12-15
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. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
The question asked in v12 suggests a fact, in my opinion this is the central fact of Bible prophecy in the years approaching Christ’s return. The fallen Jew will be restored in a national sense, there will be a fullness of Israel. This allows the force of Paul’s question to sink in all the more powerfully. His logic is undeniable. If the fall of Israel brought riches to the world, then surely there will be greater blessings through the restoration of Israel.
V13-14 are an interlude where Paul stresses the importance of evangelising the Jews and bringing these arguments to their attention. Again we sense his great passion for his people.
V15 brings him back to his subject where he likens the blessing which the world will receive from the fullness of Israel to the resurrection. In essence he is stating that there will be new life for the world as a consequence of God receiving his ancient people once again.
Notice carefully that he has not mentioned the Second Coming. These blessings will come to the world prior to our Lord’s return.
What are these blessings? They must be a furtherance of the Gospel’s power throughout the world. If the fall of the Jews brought the Gospel to the Gentiles then the fullness will increase the Church of Christ universally. If the fall of the Jews brought reconciliation between God and the Gentiles then the receiving of the Jews must bring more new life to the nations of the world. The idea of new life or resurrection is a common metaphor for conversion in the Scriptures (Ephesians 2:1, John 5:24). Practically Paul is here prophesying a future day when the Jews will be converted en mass to Christ and this will be the catalyst for revival amongst God’s people through the world followed by conversions on an unprecedented scale. Therefore when Christ returns he will find a glorious Church, not a defeated body.