“A partial hardening has come to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in”

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The question is often asked “has God rejected the Jews (the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) because they have rejected Jesus as the Messiah?” In this Note, I will look at Romans 11, especially the phrase “A partial hardening has come to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in”.

The Apostle Paul has much to say about whether God has rejected the Jews and speaks directly to Gentiles specifically in this regard in Romans 11:14–25. Speaking about the unbelief of much of physical Israel Paul exhorts the Gentile Christians not to brag (:18), not to be arrogant (:20), not to be conceited (:25) and not to be unaware (:25) of God’s plans of redemption.

Those are pretty powerful words – words that often get overlooked today. Paul elaborates what he means:

Speaking to Gentiles he tells them not to brag that the Jews “were broken off and you Gentiles, even though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree”.  The cultivated olive tree is Israel and is referred to again in Mark 12 in the Parable of the Tenants (Israel is the vineyard and God is the Vineyard-keeper). While the Gentiles have salvation while much of physical Israel does not, Paul reminds them that they are not “better” than the Jews for it. He exhorts them not to brag and reminds them that they “do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you”.

Paul exhorts the Gentiles “do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches [the Jews], He will not spare you either” and exhorts them to “remain in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”

Paul then goes on to say “if they [the Jews] do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, because God has the power to graft them in again. For if you [Gentiles] were cut off from your native wild olive and against nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree [Jews], how much more will these—the natural branches [unbelieving Jews]—be grafted into their own olive tree [Israel]?”

He then exhorts the Gentiles to “not be conceited” and that they should “not be unaware of this mystery: A partial hardening has come to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.

“Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. In view of the fact that I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if I can somehow make my own people [the Jews] jealous and save some of them.  For if their rejection brings reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

Now if the firstfruits offered up are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Now if some of the branches were broken off [the Jews] and you [Gentiles], though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree [i.e. the commonwealth of Israel], do not brag that you are better than those [Jewish] branches. But if you do brag—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you.

Then you will say, “Branches [Jewish] were broken off so that I, [a Gentile] might be grafted in.”  True enough; they were broken off by unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches [the Jews], He will not spare you either.

Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you [as Gentiles] —if you remain in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

And even if they [the Jews], do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, because God has the power to graft them in again.

For if you [Gentiles] were cut off from your native wild olive and against nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree [Jews], how much more will these—the natural branches [unbelieving Jews]—be grafted into their own olive tree [Israel]?

So that you will not be conceited, brothers, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery:

partial hardening has come to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.

~ Romans 11:14–25

partial hardening has come to Israel for a time and for a purpose; and that is, “until the full number of the Gentiles has come in”.

It should be humbling, not reason for bragging or arrogance that the Jews partial hardening is for the Gentile’s salvation.

Another question that often comes up is “what does the Old Testament have to say about the Jews eventual recognition of their Messiah?” Zechariah 12 speaks of this quite clearly!

“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of David [the Jews] and the residents of Jerusalem and they will look upon Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly for Him as one weeps for a firstborn.”

~ Zechariah 12:10

Literally; they will look upon Me, Elohim their God whom they have pierced and mourn for Him, my Son.

The Jews will have their eyes opened and they will look upon Jesus whom we have pierced and mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child.

People will often say “oh, the Jews broke the Covenant with God therefore God is no longer obligated to them”.  Yes, we broke the Covenant but two things ought not to be overlooked.  The Covenant God made with the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob in which He promised them to be a people and to have a very specific land is described as an everlasting covenant and the land as their eternal possession (Genesis 17:7-8).


“I will keep My covenant between Me and you, and your future offspring throughout their generations, as an everlasting covenant to be your God and the God of your offspring after you.   And to you and your future offspring I will give the land where you are residing—all the land of Canaan—as an eternal possession, and I will be their God.”

~ Genesis 17:7-8


While the covenant God made with the Jews is an everlasting covenant and the land eternally belongs to the Jews, God was also very clear what would happen if the Jews did not obey His commands and broke the covenant.  He would scatter them from the land;

“I will reject you. I will reduce your cities to ruins and devastate your sanctuaries. I will not smell the pleasing aroma of your sacrifices. I also will devastate the land, so that your enemies who come to live there will be appalled by it. But I will scatter you among the nations, and I will draw a sword to chase after you. So your land will become desolate, and your cities will become ruins.”

~Leviticus 26: 30-33

The Jews breaking their covenant with God would result in God scattering them from the land in exile and true to His Word, He exiled the Jews from the Land twice.

While God did say He would scatter us for our disobedience, He also said He would gather us again.

When all these things happen to you—the blessings and curses I have set before you—and you come to your senses while you are in all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and all your soul by doing everything I am giving you today,  then He will restore your fortunes,[b] have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. Even if your exiles are at the ends of the earth, He will gather you and bring you back from there. The Lord your God will bring you into the land your fathers possessed, and you will take possession of it. He will cause you to prosper and multiply you more than He did your fathers.

~ Deuteronomy 30:1-5

God has always acted on behalf of the “faithful remnant”; even when the Jewish people as a nation were in apostasy.  That is still the case; but that is a topic for a future blog.


[For more on God scattering the Jews twice for their disobedience please read: www.jewishrootsofchristianity.ca/return-of-the-jews-to-the-land-of-israel-both-times/]


When two people make a covenant, usually both parties ‘sign’ the agreement.  In Old Testament times, when a covenant was made between two people, both parties would split animals in half and walk between the cut halves and by doing so saying ‘if I break this covenant then what happens to these animals happen to me”.  This is where the term ‘cutting an agreement’ comes from.  Of importance, when God ratified the Covenant with Abraham He was the only One to pass between the two halves of the sacrifice, meaning He alone will pay the penalty if it is broken.

Furthermore, knowing that we would break the Covenant, God promises in the Old Testament that He will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah not like the covenant which He made with our fathers in the day He took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of EgyptHis covenant which they broke, although He was a husband to them, declared the LORD.” (Jeremiah 33:31-33)

The New Covenant is made with the Jewish people in the Old Testament!!

Listen to the words of Jeremiah;

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of EgyptMy covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people”

~ Jeremiah 31: 31-33

Hebrews 8 clearly states that Jesus is the mediator of this New Covenant.

Bringing this full circle back to Paul, has God rejected the Jews because they have rejected the Messiah? No. In the same manner as the covenant God ‘cut’ with Abraham by along passing between the halves of cut animals, Jesus alone ratified the New Covenant.

Speaking to Gentile Christians in Romans 11: 1-7

“I ask, then, has God rejected His people?Absolutely not*!

The term in Greek is “me genoito” the strongest negative in the Greek, however as a Jew and a Pharisee, Paul may have been alluding to an equivalent term in Judaism “ha lilla!”, which you can read about here: http://www.jewishrootsofchristianity.ca/paul-mean-may-never/

For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin

[i.e. a Jew and proof God has not rejected the Jews!]

God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.

Or don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he pleads with God against Israel?

Lord, they have killed Your prophets

and torn down Your altars.

I am the only one left,

and they are trying to take my life!

But what was God’s reply to him?

I have left 7,000 men for Myself who have not bowed down to Baal.

In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.

Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.

What then?

Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened, as it is written

[Deut 29:4, Is 29:10, Ps 69:22-23].

Yes, the Jewish people’s partial hardening was spoken of beforehand and specifically noted to be temporary “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”.

“Has God done away with the Old Testament?”

We know from Hebrews 8:13 that the Old Covenant is “old and aging and about to disappear”(:13) but not yet. For Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-19 that “none of the Law would pass away until it is all fulfilled” which it has not happened yet, for He still has to bring His ancient people back as He said He would.  My people have yet “to look on Him whom we have pierced and mourn from Him as one mourns for an only son” (Zechariah 12:10).

Soon and very soon…

Why did God allow this partial hardening to happen to the Jews?  Romans 9:23 says specifically that it was to allow the Gentiles to come to faith (i.e. until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled). God has done as He said He would;

“to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory on us, the ones He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.

~Romans 9:23

…which He spoke of beforehand in Hosea when He said He would call Not My People, My People [the Gentiles] and she who is Unloved, Beloved [see Hos 2:23, Hos 1:10].

Our partial hardening is so that “those who were not a people [Gentiles] could become His people”.

He is still gathering the Gentiles, but there will come a day “when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” and the eyes of my people will be opened and “they will look on Me who they have pierced and mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son”.

That day will come because God is faithful to His word, to accomplish everything He speaks.

God spoke of beforehand in Deut 32:21 and affirmed it again through Paul in Romans 10:19, that He would make the Jews jealous “by those who are not a nation” (i.e. the Gentiles, a people who are “Not My People” cf Romans 9:23);

 “I will make you jealous

of those who are not a nation;

I will make you angry by a nation

that lacks understanding”

~Romans 10:19

Paul says in Romans 10:20, it was prophesied beforehand (Isaiah 65:1) that He would be found by those not looking for Him [the Gentiles].

“And Isaiah says boldly:

I was found

by those who were not looking for Me;

I revealed Myself

to those who were not asking for Me”.

~Romans 10:20

Bringing this back to the very beginning, it is in this context, that Paul addresses the future salvation of Israel in Romans 11:1-25;

I ask, then, has God rejected His people? Absolutely not!.

For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.

God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.

Or don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he pleads with God against Israel?

Lord, they have killed Your prophets

and torn down Your altars.

I am the only one left,

and they are trying to take my life!

But what was God’s reply to him?

I have left 7,000 men for Myself who have not bowed down to Baal.

In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.

What then?

Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened, as it is written.

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. In view of the fact that I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if I can somehow make my own people [the Jews] jealous and save some of them.

For if their rejection brings reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

Now if the firstfruits offered up are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Now if some of the branches were broken off [the Jews] and you [Gentiles], though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, do not brag that you are better than those [Jewish] branches. But if you do brag—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you.

Then you will say, “Branches [Jewish] were broken off so that I, [a Gentile] might be grafted in.”  True enough; they were broken off by unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches [the Jews], He will not spare you either.

Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you [as Gentiles] —if you remain in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

And even they, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, because God has the power to graft them in again.

For if you [Gentiles] were cut off from your native wild olive and against nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree [Jews], how much more will these—the natural branches [unbelieving Jews]—be grafted into their own olive tree [Israel]?

So that you will not be conceited, brothers, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery:

partial hardening has come to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 


 

 

 

One thought on ““A partial hardening has come to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in””

  1. Excellent ,I would have included Eph. 2 about being far away from promises but brought near and the two becoming one broken down wall. The play that they do (we did in Australia 45 times talks about God marrying Israel , Israel rejecting God’s word and promise ,God going to Gentiles and drawing His first love back(Narrated with all scriptures ) awesome and moving.

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