What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did? The others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” And David says, “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.” Again, I ask, “Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgressions, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be, but life from the dead? (Romans 11:7-15)
My husband recently began a new job in Marianna, FL. On Palm Sunday we decided to try the traditional Methodist church to hear the music that comforted us as children. We both needed uplifting due to the recent death of our beloved dog, Heidi. It was not just the music that consoled us but the memories of traditions and love. The Jewish culture embraces many traditions. Boys prepare their whole childhood for their bar mitzvahs at age 13 and girls for their bat mitzvahs at age 12. At this time, they are able to open and read from the sacred scrolls in their synagogues. It is a great honor celebrated by huge feasts like a modern-day wedding. It is difficult to surrender these traditions and Old Testament celebrations such as Purim, Tu Bishvat, Sefirah, Shavuot, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Passover, Chanukah, and others for the New Testament celebrations of Christmas and Easter. Their table, or altar of traditions, became a stumbling block for them because change is challenging.
Many Jewish lives have not been converted to Christianity because of the stumbling block of different New Testament practices and a spirit of stupor. “God gave them eyes so they could not see and ears so they could not hear, to this very day.” Now, Paul asks the climatic question: “Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? The answer is: “Not at all!” It was God’s plan all along for salvation to come to Gentiles first (Thank you, God!) to make Israel envious of the lives of peace we are able to live because we have Jesus.
Paul asks another question, rhetorical because he gives the answer within the question, “What will their acceptance be, but life from the dead?” In other words, Israel’s acceptance by God will result in Israel’s resurrection. God will keep his promise to Israel as stated in Ezekiel 36:27-29a. “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness.” God has to save all of Israel (Jacob’s descendants) to be trustworthy.
So how do we reconcile God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with the words of Jesus in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”? Most descendants of Jacob have died without believing in Jesus.
Look at 2 Corinthians 5:1b (NLV) “Our body is like a house we live in here on earth. When it is destroyed, we know that God has another body for us in heaven. This body will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 5:1b) NLV. Only our earthly bodies die; our spirits remain alive to receive our heavenly bodies. Then, we will meet Christ face to face on Judgment Day. 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 (NLV) states: “For all of us must stand before Christ when He says who is guilty or not guilty. Each one will receive pay for what (s)he has done. (S)He will be paid for the good or the bad done while (s)he lived in this (earthly) body. (2 Corinthians 5:10-11) NLV
Since one cannot have an encounter with Jesus and be unchanged, perhaps the people who have not had their darkest secrets forgiven will fall on their knees and cry in Jesus’ presence, “Jesus, I was wrong. You are my Savior. Forgive me!” Perhaps our loving God will give them another chance.
Most Jewish people don’t believe in Jesus now because it was God’s plan to give them a spirit of stupor and a stumbling block, but at their Judgment, Jewish people will know their Savior, and their backs will no longer be bent in slavery to fear and unrest.