MYSTERY OF ISRAEL'S HARDENING
Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans in 11:25, "For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in..."
John explained it similarly in the twelfth chapter of his gospel, "Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 'Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?' Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 'He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.'”(Jn12:37-40 ESV)
Likewise, Jesus quoted Isaiah to his inner circle, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that 'they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.'”(Mk4:11b-12 ESV)
As hard as it is for us to understand, Jesus explicitly said He spoke in parables to ensure others would not understand, would not repent, and would not be forgiven (Mk4:12). We think the first century would have been a great time for Israel to have experienced revival, accepted Jesus as the Messiah, and returned to privileged standing with God. God instead ordained that Israel would be hardened from the year King Uzziah (Isa 6:1,10) until "the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." (Rom 11:25; Luk 21:24)
Since God hardened Israel from national repentance, and since Jesus purposely hid His kingship saying Israel's leaders "must" reject Him (Lk9:20-22), we might conclude that God predestined Israel to reject the Kingship of Jesus. Paul clarified the hardening of Israel as having a time limit "until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in"(Rom11:25).
At first pass, God's hardening brings us discomfort, questioning whether a God who hardens can still be the God of love. Suffice it to say we are not the first to consider the question. Some believers gladly accept God's sovereignty to harden whom He chooses according to His divine right. Other believers resolve this hardening by saying God would only predestine people to be part of hardened Israel whom He knew in advance would never accept Him. I have no interest in choosing sides in that debate in this article, but I submit their approaches for the consideration of readers who are concerned by God's explicitly stated hardening of Israel.
As Romans 11:25 clarified, not all of Israel has been hardened: "a partial hardening has happened to Israel..." Descendents of Jacob believe in King Jesus every year, just not the majority of Israel. As Isaiah 10:22 prophesied, a remnant of Israel believed in King Jesus. Paul specifically points to that remnant in Romans 9:27 and 11:5.
HARDENED FOR YOU
Romans 11:28 further clarified, "from the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake." The gospel is the kingship of Jesus. So Romans 11:28 states "from the standpoint of" the kingship of Jesus, "they are enemies" which is to say that anyone who denies a king's true authority makes himself a rebel-enemy of the king. Further, Romans 11:28 says the Israelites "are enemies for your sake." The Israelites were hardened to reject His kingship for your sake. Israel's rejection of Jesus sent Him to the cross, to death, and to the proving of His kingship by rising from death. For your sake, Israel was hardened to reject Jesus. For your sake, Israel was hardened to hand Jesus over to Pilate for execution. For your sake, Israel was hardened so Jesus could purchase mankind's justification, could defeat mankind's sin, could defeat death, could defeat Satan, could rise from the dead, and could send the Holy Spirit by Whom we are born of God to see and enter this Kingdom.
If Jesus has never before been your King, please understand His kingship is the message of the Bible, and the proof of His kingship is this; He rose from the dead, never to die again. His disciples did not tell the world they believed He rose from the dead. They told the world they saw Him, heard Him, and touched Him after He rose from the dead. They did not die for their beliefs; they died for their eyewitness testimony.
To reject the kingship of Jesus requires believing the impossible: that the eyewitnesses of His resurrection were liars who would all willingly die for something they knew was a hoax. If you believe their testimony that Jesus rose from death as King, please be baptized into the authority of His name.
more insight on this mystery of Israel's hardening or the promised
salvation of Israel**,
see Romans chapter eleven.
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*Some may consider John 3:16-18 to be the exception when viewed in the context of Psalm 2. In John 3:16-18, Jesus does help Nicodemas view the Messiah (Psalm 2's Son of God) as a gift to Gentiles rather than a curse. Even on this occasion though, Jesus still did not tell Nicodemas He was the promised King of Psalm 2.
**Romans 11:26 in ESV includes the words, "all Israel will be saved." The phrase is interpreted in different ways by various Christians, so let the reader pray and discern.
"Jesus, SuperSecret King" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net February 11th, 2013. All rights are reserved. Scripture quotations are from NASB except where otherwise noted. NASB quotes permitted by the Lockman Foundation at www.lockman.org