Restoration for Israel

Will Israel experience a revival or restoration prior to Jesus' return?

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The answer to the question, will Israel experience a revival or restoration to God somehow before Christ returns really turns on one's exegesis primarily of Romans chapter 11 verses 25 to 27, and most people in the Reformed tradition say that all Israel being saved refers to all believers, that Israel is being used typologically, but after all, Romans 2, the apostle insists that the real circumcision is circumcision of the heart, and who is a real Jew, but it's the one who really does know God rather than the person who happens to have Abraham's genes. And so, if you follow that track all the way through to Romans 11, you might well come out with a conclusion that Romans 11 does not encourage you to think that there's some great movement of the people of God—historically covenantally, the Jews, before the end finally comes.

But I'm inclined to side with John Murray in this regard in his commentary on Romans, because in the same chapter in verses 12 and 15—so, twice, in order to set us up for verse 25 to 27—we're told if the turning away, if the falling away, if the turning aside, if the rejection of the Jews has brought great blessing to Gentiles, the gospel was rejected by many first century Jews in the synagogues, and so Paul and others moved out into the larger Gentile world, which meant that far, far more Gentiles were converted. If that's the case, then, the apostle asks rhetorically, how much more blessing will come when the Israelites are actually brought in. And so, it sounds as if there's a kind of pendulum swing one way or the other, and I think it's very difficult to take Israel in that context to refer to all the people of God in some sort of typological sense because there is a contrast between Gentiles and Israel. So, within that framework, chapter 11 verses 25 to 27, all Israel will be saved, looks like some kind of large swing toward the end that precipitates a time of great blessing and outreach, not only amongst Israel but also amongst Gentiles. And I don't see any reason why that should not also be associated with a time of suffering and opposition and persecution too. In other words, how these things all play out, I really don't know, but I'm inclined to think—I won't be dogmatic about it—but I'm inclined to think that there is a time for great blessing for Israel qua race still to come as they're brought in in large numbers to the gospel of Christ.

Answer by Dr. D.A. Carson

D.A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, and Co-founder of The Gospel Coalition