Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! (Psalm 53:6a).
I once saw this portion of scripture on a caption on a social media site. In response one commenter wrote the following: “The help will come from God…. seems the President of the US has turned his back on Israel.”
This comment is very indicative of the ideology that many Western Christians have embraced regarding Israel. It is an ideology which advocates that salvation for Israel is something that has not yet come. On the contrary, the New Testament reveals that salvation has indeed ALREADY come to Israel.
For example, consider the following declarations from the New Testament about the salvation of Israel which has come through Jesus Christ.
In Luke 1:68-70, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied by the Holy Spirit these words about Jesus:
“Blessed be the Lord God of ISRAEL; for he hath VISITED and REDEEMED HIS PEOPLE, and hath raised up an HORN OF SALVATION for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began…”
Zacharias also prophesied to John the Baptist (only 8 days old) saying, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby THE DAYSPRING FROM ON HIGH HATH VISITED US” (Luke 1:76-78).
Notice three things here:
- John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for the Lord. This was also prophesied by Isaiah the prophet and is recorded in Matthew and Mark.
- John was sent to give the people of Israel the knowledge of salvation. In John 1:31, John the Baptist says that he was sent to reveal the Messiah to Israel.
- Zacharias prophesied that God had visited His people according to His promises and John the Baptist was the forerunner who would make this glorious announcement (see Luke 1:68-80 in its entirety).
In Luke 2 we read of Simeon, who lived in Jerusalem. He was just and devout man. The Bible says he was waiting for THE CONSOLATION OF ISRAEL. The Holy Spirit was upon him and revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah (Luke 2:25-26).
When he came by the Spirit to the temple at the time of the dedication of Jesus by Joseph and Mary, he took Jesus up in his arms, and praised God saying, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to thy word: FOR MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THY SALVATION” (Luke 2:28-30).
We also read of men like Zacchaeus, of whom Jesus said, “This day is SALVATION come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham (Luke 9:19).
Consider also the words of the apostle Peter from Acts 10.
THE WORD GOD SENT TO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:). THAT WORD, I say, ye know, which was PUBLISHED throughout ALL JUDAEA, and BEGAN FROM GALILEE, AFTER THE BAPTISM WHICH JOHN PREACHED; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both IN THE LAND OF THE JEWS, AND IN JERUSALEM; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us TO PREACH UNTO THE PEOPLE, and TO TESTIFY THAT IT IS HE WHICH WAS ORDAINED OF GOD to be the Judge of quick and dead. TO HIM GIVE ALL THE PROPHETS WITNESS, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins (Acts 10:38-43).
In Acts 13 Paul says, “Men and brethren, CHILDREN OF THE STOCK OF ABRAHAM, and whosoever among you feareth God, TO YOU IS THE WORD OF THIS SALVATION SENT.”
According to the New Testament gospel, Israel’s salvation is not about the political well being of the modern State of Israel. Instead, it is about redemption from sin and death through Jesus Christ. Rather than holding firm to the Biblical gospel concerning Israel’s salvation, the influence of Zionism as brought about a redefinition of salvation for Israel which is, at its core, political rather than spiritual.
The Psalmist prayed that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion, and it has! His name is Jesus, He is the Savior, and He was preached first to the Jews. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts reveal the gospel of Jesus Christ as the announcement of salvation to the people of Israel.
“Tell ye the daughter of Zion, ‘BEHOLD THY KING COMETH UNTO THEE…” (Matthew 21:5, John 12:15).
At the heart of the redefinition of Israel’s salvation is a new narrative which is contrary to the gospel revealed in the New Testament. This new narrative has “ethnic Israel” being saved when the Jews are back in the land, with a rebuilt the temple, and animal sacrifices.
Yet, the Bible reveals that these were judged because Israel (not the remnant) rejected the prophets and the righteous men whom God had sent to them. Their rejection of Jesus, the Son of God, was catastrophic in that it brought about the permanent end to the Jewish national status as the chosen nation.
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! BEHOLD, YOUR HOUSE IS LEFT UNTO YOU DESOLATE. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23:34- 39).
Jesus also told them, “the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). The Kingdom of God is no longer revealed through the physical nation of Israel, and their priesthood, and their temple, and their city. Instead it is revealed through Christ and those who belong to Him, both from among the Jews and the Gentiles.
The new narrative which redefines salvation for Israel by making it political is contrary to the New Testament’s declaration of how the people of Israel are saved. This new narrative is based on – proof texting – Bible verses such as Romans 11:26 which speak of all Israel being saved.
However, there is nothing within the context of Romans 9-11 which supports the ideology that Paul is speaking of a future nationalistic salvation in the last days wherein Israel will be superior to all other nations.
Paul never says all ethnic Israel would be saved; rather, he tells us that only a remnant from among the Jews would be saved. Paul quotes from the Old Testament book of Isaiah and says the following:
Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, A REMNANT SHALL BE SAVED (Romans 9:27).
Throughout the narrative of the story of Israel, God was faithful to those who were faithful to Him, but those who rebelled against Him, He judged. In both the Old and New Testaments, those who trusted God were delivered and those who did not perished.
Israel’s salvation doesn’t mean all Jews will eventually be saved. Instead, it means that salvation has come through Jesus Christ and all who look to Him for deliverance will be saved. Jesus is the promised deliverer who has come out of Zion.
In Romans 11:26, the words “all Israel shall be saved” are qualified by the following statement, which says, “AS IT IS WRITTEN, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob…”
In Acts 3, the apostle Peter declared to the Jews, “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, IN TURNING AWAY EVERY ONE OF YOU FROM HIS INIQUITIES” (Acts 3;26).
The turning of ungodliness from Jacob (Israel) came through Jesus and it is not something still yet to come.
To correctly interpret the meaning of “all Israel shall be saved,” that which has been expounded upon about the deliverer coming out of Zion has to be in view. Nowhere in Romans is 9-11 does Paul ever imply that Israel’s deliverer is still yet to come. According to the text “all Israel will be saved” when the deliverer comes out of Zion and turns ungodliness from Jacob (Israel).
Who then is Israel?
According to the flow of thought in Romans 9-11, there is Israel (the remnant) and Israel in unbelief (the rest). Those who are the remnant are referred to by Paul as the children of God according to the promise. Those who are in unbelief are those who are not truly Israel.
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. FOR THEY ARE NOT ALL ISRAEL, WHICH ARE OF ISRAEL: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, THESE ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed (Romans 9:6-8).
Throughout Romans 9-11, Paul carefully explains the distinction between those who are truly Israel according the promise and those who are Israel after the flesh.
This is evident all throughout the narrative of scripture. For instance, Jesus referred to Zacchaeus as a son of Abraham, and therefore salvation came to his house (Luke 9:19). On the other hand, Jesus referred to those Jews opposing Him in John 8 as children of the devil. Jesus told those Jews who opposed Him that they would die in their sins if they did not repent and believe in Him (see John 8-10).
Those who are Israel according to the promise are those who embrace the promise, those who are Israel after the flesh stumble over the promise.
As it is written, Behold, I lay IN ZION a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed (Romans 9:33).
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded (1 Peter 2:6).
Throughout Romans 9-11, Paul reveals that the true Israel within Israel are those who are of faith. These are they who are the true election according to grace. These, along with the Gentiles who are grafted in with them, are the, “all Israel who shall be saved.”