The Future of Israel According to Saint Paul
The Future of Israel According to Saint Paul
Bassam Michael Madany
1 May 2023
On Saturday, the 15th of May 1948, the BBC broadcast the news of the birth of The State of Israel. At dawn, Arab armies responded by attacking from the north, the east and the south. The Haganah that was defending the Jewish people in Palestine during the British Mandate, became the IDF (Israeli Defence Force,) that has been guarding the country for the last seventy-five years!
There are two aspects to the subject of the Future of the State of Israel: one is Historical/Political, the other is Biblical as taught by Saint Paul in his Letter to the Romans, Chapters 9-11.
The Historical/Political Background
Prior to the Arab/Islamic conquest of the Holy Land in the middle of the seventh century, most of the people living in Palestine were Christians, with a Jewish minority living alongside. The conquest resulted in the Arab Muslims becoming a majority of the Palestinian population. While most of the Jews lived in the Diaspora for centuries; they maintained a strong yearning for returning to their ancestral land. They expressed that at the Passover celebration with "Next year in Jerusalem!"
During the19th century, Jews were persecuted in Russia and discriminated against in Western Europe. The rise of anti-Semitism became evident at the trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the son of a wealthy Jewish textile manufacturer in France. In 1894, Dreyfus was accused of selling military secrets to the German military attaché. He was arrested on October 15, and on December 22, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He entered the infamous penal colony of Devils Island off the coast of French Guyana, on 13 April 1895.
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) was a Jewish correspondent for the Viennese newspaper Neue Freje Presse in Paris. He covered the Dreyfus trial and became convinced there was no hope for the Jews to achieve complete emancipation in Europe. In 1896, he published “The Jewish State,” and became the father of the Zionist Movement that advocated the establishment of a national home for the Jews. After many debates at World Zionist Congresses, it was decided to establish this home in Palestine.
After Herzl’s death, the leadership of the Zionist Movement was assumed by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, a Polish Jew who was teaching chemistry in England. During WWI, he helped the British Navy by inventing materials to combat German submarines. Eventually, the British Government published the Balfour Declaration, favoring the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine.
At the end of WWI, the British assumed the government of Palestine with a mandate from the League of Nations. For the next thirty years, Britain faced a great opposition from the Palestinian Arabs against the plan. In 1946. The British Government brought the matter to the United Nations Organization. A U.N. Commission of Inquiry studied the matter and proposed a Partition of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Jews accepted the plan, while the Arabs rejected it.
Britain ended its Mandate in Palestine on 14 May 1948. David Ben-Gurion with other Jewish leaders, announced the birth of the State of Israel on 15 May 1948. The response of the Arab states was immediate. Armies of Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Iraq, and Egypt entered Palestine to thwart the Zionist victory. By mid-June 1948, the United Nations Security Council arranged a cease-fire between the warring sides. Major wars between Israel and the Arab states took place in 1956, 1967, and 1973. Eventually, Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat took the initiative of signing a peace treaty with Israel, followed by Jordan.
During the second decade of the 21st century, the United States succeeded in getting several Arab states to an agreement of normalizing their relations with Israel in a document called The Abraham Accords. https://www.state.gov/the-abraham-accords/
The Accords ended the official Arab denial of the right of Israel to exist, However, the Islamic Republic of Iran became a determined foe to Israel. It supplies Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian Hamas organization in Gaza with weapons to harass Israel. While it is impossible to predict the future, the past 75 years give evidence that Israel’s existence may be frequently challenged.
Saint Paul’s Teaching on The Future of Israel in Romans 9 -11
Saint Paul’s Letter to the Church in Rome is as a major work on Christian doctrine. Most likely, it was organized by people who had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost, an event narrated in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. Peter’s sermon was delivered to a vast audience of pilgrims from several parts of the world, including visitors from Rome. Around three thousand believed and were baptized.
While waiting for an occasion to visit Rome, Paul wrote an exposition of the Christian Faith, that he called The Gospel.
The first eight chapters of the Letter act as a Commentary on the Gospel. In chapters 9,10, and 11, Paul focused on the future of Israel. In Chapter 9, Paul listed the privileges the Jews had received as witnesses to God's glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law of Moses, the worship in the temple, and the promises of God. Another privilege Paul listed was that through the line of the patriarchs came Christ, the promised Messiah. In Chapter 10, Paul described his desire and prayer for the people of Israel to be saved through faith in Christ.
In chapter 11, Paul asked if God has rejected His chosen people, Israel. His answer: "By no means!" and points to himself as the first evidence that God has not rejected Israel.
Paul now asserts that Israel's hardening will end when the "fullness" of the Gentiles has come to God through faith in Christ. The "fullness of the Gentiles" means "the complete number.”
The meaning of this verse has been hotly debated by Bible scholars. What does Paul mean, exactly, when he says that all Israel will be saved? Many Bible teachers have concluded that by "all Israel," Paul means the Nation of Israel as a whole.
Chapter 11 ends with a poem, structured as a hymn, expressing Paul’s profound reaction both to God's ways and to His mercy to sinful human beings.
“To God be glory forever. This is both a statement of fact and a prayer for its fulfillment. Glory will flow to God forever, and Paul affirms that is exactly as it should be in the form of a prayer. He ends this section of his letter with a formal amen.”
In the preparation of this article, I have relied on and quoted extensively from the website of https://www.bibleref.com/Romans/9/Romans-9-2.html
I found the material in harmony with my life-long study of this subject, in the writings and the lectures of the following Bible scholars:
John H. Gerstner
Oswald T. Allis
Oswald Thompson Allis (September 9, 1880 – January 12, 1973) was an American Presbyterian theologian and Bible schola. He taught at Princeton Seminary, then left to found and teach at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvnia.
John Murray (14 October 1898 – 8 May 1975) was a Scottish-born Calvinist theologian who taught at Princeton Seminary and then left to help found Westminster Theological Seminary, where he taught for many years. He was ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1937.