Romans 11:26 – When Will All Israel Be Saved? See Zechariah 12
Posted by Job on March 11, 2011
Romans 11:26-27 reads “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Now John Calvin, despite his being right on so many other matters, erred when he claimed that this passage refers to spiritual Israel, the church. This cannot be the case, because Sha’ul the Benjamite Jew (more commonly known as Saul, or Paul) had already made the distinction between Israel and the church, between natural Israel and spiritual Israel, earlier in Romans (such as Romans 2:28-29 and Romans 9:3-4), and furthermore declares himself to be a member of both natural and spiritual Israel. Also, “when I shall take away their sins” cannot in any sense refer to the church, because Paul is referring to a prophecy that is as yet unfulfilled with respect to national Israel. For we all know that spiritual Israel, the church, has already had its sins taken away.
So, Romans 11:26-27 refers not to the past/present church, but a future event when national Israel is saved and joins spiritual Israel; when natural Israel becomes a member of both groups just like Paul and the other apostles. John Calvin was unable to acknowledge the plain meaning of that text because of his theological bias; the covenant theology framework that refuses to acknowledge a distinction between Israel and the church, claims that Israel was the church of the Old Testament, and that (among other things) where infant circumcision was the covenantal inclusion ritual of the Old Testament church, infant baptism is the covenantal inclusion sacrament of the New Testament church.
So, allowing Romans 11:26-27 to stand as written, when will this event happen? When will Israel’s national salvation occur? The hint occurs in Revelation 1:7, which reads “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” That text points directly to Zechariah 12:10, which reads “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Now the spirit of grace and supplications (see Romans 8:26-27) is the Holy Spirit. The One who sents the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete (see John 14:16-26), is Jesus Christ. So, Jesus Christ is the “me” whom “they” have pierced, and “they” in this specific context are the Jews, who bear the national responsibility for killing Jesus Christ through the actions of their religious and political leaders in the time of Jesus Christ, Caiaphas the high priest and the Sanhedrin.
So, when this prophecy is fulfilled, the same Holy Spirit that currently indwells the church, spiritual Israel, will also indwell the Jews, natural Israel. And if this prophecy is to be interpreted literally, this will not be the result of individual conversion by way of preaching the gospel as happens with the church, be its members (Messianic?) Jewish or Gentile, but instead an act of national salvation akin to God’s delivering Israel from Egypt and making the covenant with the Jewish nation at Sinai as recorded in Exodus. (It is obvious – to me anyway – that this precludes any notion of “free will salvation.” Just as Israel had no choice in the matter at Sinai, but instead God imposed the Sinai terms on His vassal nation as its Suzerain Lord) they will have no choice to choose or reject Jesus Christ when He comes to fulfill Romans 11:26-27 with respect to the Jewish nation.
And when will this event happen? As Zechariah 12 is obviously linked to Revelation, which deals with the fate of the church (and please recall my position that there will be no “pretribulation rapture”, or even if there is one, it will be a partial one that will leave the vast majority of the church to endure the great tribulation), Israel and the world, this event will happen at some point during the great tribulation. More specifically, as Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 1:7 obviously describe the second advent of Jesus Christ, the best Biblical evidence (again, according to my opinion) is that this blessed event will occur at the time described in Revelation 19:11-21, which is Jesus Christ returning from heaven with His saints and angels to defeat the armies of the beast (or anti-Christ) and – according to those of us with premillennialist leanings – set up His 1000 year kingdom.
It is impossible to claim that Zechariah 12:10, or more accurately the much longer prophecy block that includes much of Zechariah 12-14, has been fulfilled already. It cannot refer to the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem or the Babylonian destruction of the same, as those had already occurred when Zechariah – who lived in the time of King Darius – wrote his book. It also cannot refer to 70 A.D., because of Zechariah 12:7-8, which reads “The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify [themselves] against Judah. In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David [shall be] as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.” The fact that God did not defend Jerusalem in 70 A.D precludes any preterist interpretations of Zechariah 12:10, particularly since preterism holds that Jesus Christ came to punish the Jews in 70 A.D., not to fight and overcome their enemies for them.
Still more evidence? Zechariah 12:2-3 reads “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah [and] against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” This is a reference to how during the endtimes, the Gentile nations will attempt to destroy Israel and Jerusalem. It will be at that time that Jesus Christ makes His return. Where will this return be? The Mount of Olives according to Zechariah 14:1-4. “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, [and there shall be] a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”
Before you stumble at “and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity” and consider that this may refer to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians or some other event, please recall Revelation 13:7, which speaks of the beast “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Now the Jews at this point are not “the saints”, but it is rather logical to conclude from that verse that the evil forces will inflict no small damage against Jerusalem and its inhabitants before Jesus Christ comes to save them, just as many Christians will perish at the hands of the anti-Christ before the days of the great tribulation are cut short for the elect’s sake (see Mark 13:20 and Matthew 24:22). Further, please recall that Romans 11:28 refers to the Jewish nation as being God’s elect also, thus Jesus Christ will return to ensure that some of both natural and spiritual Israel will survive the great tribulation. From these passages, it appears that natural and spiritual Israel will be combined into one elect church at the second advent of Jesus Christ.
Finally, consider Zechariah 14:6-9. “And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the light shall not be clear, [nor] dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, [that] at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, [that] living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Does this not correlate strongly to the description of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22? Revelation 21:23 reads “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.” Revelation 22:5 also says “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:2 reads “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Zechariah 14:11 reads “And [men] shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.” Revelation 21:4? “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
It is simply inexcusable to ignore all this evidence unless one relies on a symbolic interpretation of not only Revelation, but the prophetic Old Testament material of Zechariah and elsewhere, not to mention New Testament prophecy outside of Revelation such as the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24-25, Luke 21 and Mark 13). The reason for such interpretation is the commitment to a theological construct that demands it (with the covenant theologian John Calvin mentioned at the beginning of this piece being an example). The fact that these texts have regrettably abused by many premillennial dispensationalists provides no justification for denying their plain meaning and application. At the very least, in order to be consistent, one must adopt a symbolic or “spiritual” interpretation of such Messianic prophecy texts as Isaiah 7:14 (yes, almah does mean “virgin” in that verse and not “young woman”, otherwise almah would not have been translated as parthenos, which can only mean “virgin”, in the Septuagint by Jewish scholars who lived over a hundred years before Jesus Christ!) and Isaiah 9:6.
Though the date of Israel’s national salvation will be the second advent of Jesus Christ, the question is the date of your salvation. This is so even if you are Jewish, for A) we do not know the day or the hour of Jesus Christ’s second advent and B) tomorrow is promised to no man. The Bible is clear: whether one is Jewish or Gentile, salvation is of the Lord, and there is only one Name by which men will be saved, and that Name is Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, with the common English transliteration being Jesus Christ. If you have not already been saved through Jesus Christ, I urge and entreat you to make your time of salvation right now.