Sixty years ago Israel declared itself an independent
14, 1948). This was defended in a dozen major and minor wars, each of
which could have proved disastrous for the new nation. We do not know
what other wars might be imminent. But it is good to look back to the
astonishing vision for his people that Paul set out in chapters 9, 10,
and 11of the Epistle to the Romans.
"I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has
come upon part
of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so
all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:25-26). What the full number of
other nations means is not clear, but in our own day there has
certainly been a massive planting of churches in many countries of the
This began with Paul's missions in the Roman world. He
result as a reconciliation of other nations. As this occurred many of
his own countrymen were rejecting the good news. When this process is
eventually reversed Paul describes the effect as life from the dead.
"If their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will
their acceptance be but life from the dead" (11:15).
The hardening of Israel is against recognizing Jesus as
Messiah. This is expressed by a confidence in their own righteousness.
"Being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking
to establish their own, they have not submitted to God's
The attempt to set dates for this destiny to be
fulfilled has again
and again proved disastrous. But a gradual change in the Jewish
attitude to Jesus seems to be taking place. If this gained momentum,
this could be evidence that Paul's vision for the Jewish destiny may