Should Christians Have A Heart For Israel? | Part 1
Christians should have a heart for Israel because God has a heart for Israel by Rev. Jerry Marcellino with Yochanan Ben Yehuda
This conviction is the foundation of all that will be said from here on out. Hear God the Holy Spirit speak the following words through the apostle Paul, in Romans 9:1-8:
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. Fo r they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children bec ause they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh wh o are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.
If I may crystallize Paul’s words for you in this most instructive passage, I would restate it this way:
God’s covenant promises to Israel have not failed. Why? Because they always and only included physical Jews in the physical aspects of the covenant, and always and only included spiritual Jews in the spiritual aspects of the covenant (Romans 9:6-8). Thus, it is only the physical and at the same time spiritual Jews (i.e. Jewish believers), who are regarded by God as true descendants (i.e. children of the promise) of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Can God be any clearer about this truth than with His words, through Paul, in Romans 11:1-7?
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED THY PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN THINE ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.” But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.” In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. What then? That which Israel is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who wer e chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened...
Once again, we understand that true Israel has always referred to the believing remnant within Israel. Notice the words in Romans:
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 (Note: Though they were rejected as a people, t heir rejection did not include every individual within Israel!) until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved (Remember, it is only those who have been appointed to eternal life who will believe [Acts 13:48 ]); just as it is written, ‘THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB. THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.’ From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Nowhere in all of Scripture can we find any language which indicates that God has forsaken true Israel. Instead, we find that God keeps His covenant to a thousand generations to those within Israel who love Him and keep His commandments (Deut 7:9, see also Rom 2:28-29)
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter ; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”
Note: Let us not forget that Paul is referring to the believing Jew in Romans 2. Such are known by their circumcised hearts and not by their stiff necks. God calls them “the apple of His eye” (Deut 32:10). Elsewhere, they are called by one of their own “Abraham’s true descendants” (Rom 9:6-7). Therefore the Word of God has not failed. Yes, God’s chosen remnant has never bowed its knee to Baal. Thus God’s true people have never been rejected by Him – they have always existed in a remnant status even unto the present day (Rom 11:1-7)! This explains why, at present, “a partial hardening (of the vast majority of Jewish people [Matt 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9] ) has happened to Israel” (Rom 11:25). However, Paul goes on to say that this sad condition will not always be the case. In fact, he tells us that a future salvation of Israel is coming after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Rom 11:25-26).
Obviously that time has not yet come. Therefore, we must prayerfully plead with God for it and wholeheartedly anticipate it. Further, we must learn that the motivation for God’s faithfulness to Israel is because of His abiding affection and unending love for the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). This same truth was a ffirmed by Paul when he stated in Romans 11:28-29:
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
In other words, because God is faithful, we can count on Him to keep His promises to the fathers. For He cannot revoke the gifts and calling of Israel His beloved (Rom 11:28). He has concrete plans to still use them mightily a s a light to the nations (Isa 42:6; 49:6; Rom 11:12,15)! Oh, my fellow believer, should all Christians everywhere have a heart for Israel? Yes! Why? Because God has a heart for Israel (Eph 5:1)! God has neither forsaken nor forgotten her. In speaking of Israel’s latter day glory (that glorious time to come), Isaiah said,
But Zion said, The LORD has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you (Isaiah 49:15).
Oh brethren, God’s heart for Israel has remained unchanged through the ages (Deut 7:7-8a, The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples but because the LORD loved you...). Again, I say, can Paul be any clearer than the following words from Romans 11:1?
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Therefore, to say that God has rejected Israel (“His people”) is to ignore the plain language of Scripture! Why? Because the Apostle Paul has always described true Israel as those native sons of Abraham who were also children of the promise. Some may reply that they know very religious and/or spiritual Jews ( by their definition) who are not believers in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, it is my assertion, and not theirs, which is in full agreement with Paul: There has never been, nor is there at present, neither shall there ever be, such a person as a spiritual Jew who has not trusted in Yeshua HaMashiach (the Hebrew name of Jesus the Messiah) alone for the full atonement for his sins (Rom 9:8). In other words, all truly spiritual Jews know Messiah Jesus! An unsaved spiritual Jew is an impossibility! Oh, may we never forget God’s Covenant People of old (Rom 11:1). Let us ask Him to give them the blessings of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34)! We must plead with God to give us a heart for Israel and its salvation. And may He then move us to love them by our continual prayers, by sharing the Gospel and living jealousy-provoking holy lives (Rom 11:11).
My friend, do you have a heart for Israel?