Today's post highlights the salvation of Israel, a step on the way to the salvation of the world.
There are many references to this event in the Old Testament, like Psalm 130 : 8 and Psalm 103 : 2 - 3, together with King David's confidence of his expectation to be "dwelling in the house of the Lord for ever" in Psalm 23.
In the New Testament, the most descriptive mention of this event is in Romans 11, just after Paul illustrates God's faith community using his wonderful Olive Tree allegory.
He tells us that although Israel has stumbled, she will not be rejected, nor has she fallen beyond recovery.
In fact, God has used her stumbling to bring salvation to the Gentile, the non-Jewish, nations in order to make Israel envious or jealous.
Paul then says ...
"Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way, all Israel will be saved."So Israel will be saved after the full number of Gentiles has come in.
Come in to what?
The context of Romans 11 is the Body of Christ, the disciples or followers of Jesus, part of God's faith community that is illustrated by an olive tree.
So when the Body of Christ is complete, then all Israel will be saved.
(Paul is not talking here about the salvation of the world at the end of time, at the consummation of the ages.
He is talking about the Body of Christ, the Church, the believers who are chosen as a first group, before the kingdom ages begin, for life and administration responsibilities in those coming ages.)
And we are living in the era or age when the Body of Christ is being filled; so at the end of this age, when this filling is completed, all Israel will be saved.
Looking at the world situation, and the Middle East in particular, it is difficult to imagine how this event might happen.
I certainly don't know *how* it will happen: all I know is that it will - because God's Word has declared it. And even that is a strain for many people.
Let me illustrate.
Suppose a mother says to her child, "You will be in bed by 7.30 pm.".
The child starts thinking, "How does she know that? There's no way that's going to happen. I still haven't finished my homework, I haven't fed the dog yet, or cleaned my teeth."
So how does mother know?
She knows because she has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.
So how does God know that all Israel will be saved?
He knows because he has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.
We have a role to play in completing the Body of Christ. That's one of the reasons we have been called, chosen early, before the rest of the world who will come to God later.
One aspect of that role is sharing the good news that God loves us and does not count our sins against us - because Jesus has already died for the sins of the world.
When we share God's good news, others who have been chosen to complete the Body of Christ will hear it, be given the faith to believe it, be drawn to Christ and added to his Body - in the same way we were.
Each time that happens the Body of Christ will get that bit nearer to completion and Israel's salvation will be that bit nearer too.
When all Israel are saved, the next part of God's plan for his creation, the kingdom ages, will commence with the Olive Tree having administration responsibilities that we are currently in training for.