QUESTION: Hello Mr Brenton.
I have also asked Mr Holland's view on the subject. Im generally of the same opinion with you, believing that what God calls Israel in the NT, is not strictly the physical jews or proselytes from other nations. It is a new group of people from various nations called Christians - the ones who accept Jesus. Something that I believe Mr Holland surely agrees. So I wanted to know where he has a different opinion, cause the subject is a little bit complicated and details are important.
But, will ALL of the physical jews be saved? I just read Romans 11 and it seems verses 25 to 27 talk about the literal Jews. Paul says a parable about a trunk where its' physical branches(jews) are cut, new are added(from the nations) and he hopes this may cause jealousy to his breathen so that they will come back to Jehovah.
The problem I have is that earlier he said that God kept a small number(7000)from the Hebrews that will be saved. How then ALL the Hebrews will be saved? What I also dont understand is Paul saying that it was not Jews' fault, but they became blind so that nations will join in along with the Jews, to a new ekklesia made of Christians from various nations. Was it not Jews' fault that they killed Jesus? They said "His blood upon our heads".
Finally, I scrolled down to read other conversations on the subject and I was disappointed to see inappropriate phrases. Although I may disagree with Mr Holland and others in details of the subject, its not good to call their beliefs "idiotic". Mr Russell was of the same opinion, he wrote whole books for the physical Israel. I dont think his books would be characterized in such a way by a Christian Jehovah's Witness.
Have a good day, thank you
ANSWER: Greeting Chris,
Thank you for your question. Sorry for the delay. This topic has proved to be very interesting for me and has taken a lot of my time researching the Bible in order to get a grasp on it. To answer you, I am going to try to paint you a word picture, and I hope I succeed at doing so. Please bear with me as I try to give an overall picture
. (many finer details of this picture will not be covered here) as JWs understand it.
I always try to keep in mind 2 Timothy 3:16
that ALL scripture is important. So, I find I had to go back and look at the early covenants God made in order to understand Romans. It starts with the first prophecy in the Bible. This is a key in understanding all
that is recorded in the Bible Genesis 3:15
God foretold a “seed” that would crush Satan. “And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.”
The covenant with Abraham comes next in producing this promised seed. It was to be an everlasting covenant. The seed that would come from Abraham would be a seed by which all nations would be blessed. (Gen 22:18
). I hope I can show that in its basic spiritual fulfilment, the Seed of Abraham was one perfect man Jesus.
(in this reply I am using the NWT unless otherwise noted)
When the descendants of Jacob (Israel) left Egypt they were a large body of populous tribes. (Exodus 1:5-7; 12:37, 38
) Before Jehovah brought them to Canaan, he made a covenant with them. This came is commonly called “the old covenant” in relation to “the new covenant.” (2 Corinthians 3:14
) By means of the old covenant, Jehovah administered in an illustrative way the fulfilment of his covenant with Abraham.
Jehovah explained to Israel the terms of this covenant: “If
you will strictly obey
my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, then you will certainly become my special property
out of all other peoples, because the whole earth belongs to me. And you yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5, 6
) Jehovah had promised that Abraham’s seed would (1)
become a great nation, (2)
be given victory over their enemies, (3)
inherit the land of Canaan, and(4)
they would be a channel for blessings to the nations. Now he revealed that they themselves could inherit these blessings as his special people, Israel, “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” if they would obey his commands. Did the Israelites agree to enter into this covenant? They answered as one person: “All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do.” Exodus 19:8
The Israelites were given laws regulating worship and civil life. The also built a tabernacle (later, a temple in Jerusalem), had the Levities devoted as a priesthood to render sacred service in the tabernacle. Keeping the covenant meant obeying Jehovah’s laws
and, especially, worshipping only him. The first of the Ten Commandments that were the nucleus of those laws was: “I am Jehovah your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves. You must not have any other gods against my face.”—Exodus 20:2, 3
Were the promises in the Law covenant fulfilled toward Israel? Did Israel become “a holy nation”? As descendants of Adam, the Israelites were sinners. (Romans 5:12
) Still, under the Law, sacrifices were offered to cover their sins. Regarding the sacrifices offered on the annual Atonement Day, Jehovah said: “On this day atonement will be made for you to pronounce you clean. You will be clean from all your sins before Jehovah.” (Leviticus 16:30
) When faithful
, therefore, Israel was a holy nation
, cleansed for Jehovah’s service. But
this clean condition depended
on their obeying
the Law and continually offering sacrifices.
Did Israel become “a kingdom of priests”? Right from the start, it was a kingdom, with Jehovah as heavenly King. (Isaiah 33:22
) Further, the Law covenant included provisions for a human kingship, so that later Jehovah was represented by kings ruling in Jerusalem. (Deuteronomy 17:14-18
) But was
Israel a kingdom of <i.>priests</i>? Well, it had a priesthood rendering sacred service at the tabernacle. The tabernacle (later, the temple) was the centre of pure worship for Israelites and also for non-Israelites. And the nation was the sole channel of revealed truth to mankind. (2 Chronicles 6:32, 33; Romans 3:1, 2
) All faithful Israelites, not just Levitical priests, were Jehovah’s “witnesses.” Israel was Jehovah’s “servant,” formed to ‘recount his praise.’ (Isaiah 43:10, 21
) Many humble foreigners saw Jehovah’s power in behalf of his people and were attracted to pure worship. They became proselytes. (Joshua 2:9-13
) But only one tribe
actually served as anointed priests
) How, though, would the nations bless themselves through Israel, Abraham’s seed? Israel was Jehovah’s special people, his representative among the nations. Shortly before Israel marched into Canaan, Moses said: “Be glad, you nations, with his people.” (Deuteronomy 32:43
) Many foreigners responded. “A vast mixed company” had already followed Israel out of Egypt, witnessed Jehovah’s power in the wilderness, and heard Moses’ invitation to rejoice. (Exodus 12:37, 38
) Later, the Moabitess Ruth married the Israelite Boaz and became an ancestress of the Messiah. (Ruth 4:13-22
) The Kenite Jehonadab and his descendants and the Ethiopian Ebed-melech distinguished themselves by adherence to right principles when many natural Israelites were unfaithful. (2 Kings 10:15-17; Jeremiah 35:1-19; 38:7-13
) Under the Persian Empire, many foreigners became proselytes and fought with Israel against her enemies. Esther 8:17
Still, in order to receive the complete fulfilment of God’s promise, God’s special nation had to be faithful. It was not. True, there were Israelites of outstanding faith. (Hebrews 11:32–12:1
) Nevertheless, on many occasions the nation turned to pagan gods, hoping for material benefits. (Jeremiah 34:8-16; 44:15-18
) Individuals misapplied the Law or just ignored it. (Nehemiah 5:1-5; Isaiah 59:2-8; Malachi 1:12-14
) After Solomon’s death, Israel became divided into a northern and a southern kingdom. When the northern kingdom proved utterly rebellious, Jehovah announced: “Because the knowledge is what you yourself have rejected, I shall also reject you from serving as a priest to me.” (Hosea 4:6
) The southern kingdom was also severely punished because of its proving false to the covenant. (Jeremiah 5:29-31
) When the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, Jehovah likewise rejected them. (Acts 3:13-15; Romans 9:31–10:4
) Finally, Jehovah made a new arrangement to administer the complete fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant.Romans 3:20.
That new arrangement was the new covenant. Jehovah had foretold this when he said: “‘Look! There are days coming,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I will conclude with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant’ . . . ‘This is the covenant that I shall conclude with the house of Israel after those days,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘I will put my law within them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people.’”Jeremiah 31:31-33
This is the new covenant that Jesus referred to on Nisan 14, 33 C.E. On that occasion, he revealed that the promised covenant was about to be concluded between his disciples and Jehovah
, with Jesus as mediator. (1 Corinthians 11:25; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:24
) Through this new covenant, Jehovah’s promise to Abraham was to have a more glorious and lasting fulfilment, the bringing forth of the seed mentioned in Genesis 3:15
This would be a spiritual fulfilment.
This greater spiritual fulfilment was not obvious before Jesus’ time. We have the explanation of its fulfilment in God’s Word. Paul writes: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed
. It says, not: ‘And to seeds
,’ as in the case of many such, but as in the case of one
: ‘And to your seed,’ who is Christ
.” Galatians 3:16.
Jesus is the primary seed of Abraham
Shortly before his death, Jesus told his followers that his shed blood was the “blood of the [new] covenant.” ( Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20
) Ten days after he ascended to heaven, the new covenant was seen to be in operation when holy spirit was poured out on about 120 disciples gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem. ( Acts 1:15; 2:1-4
) The bringing of these 120 disciples into the new covenant showed that the “former” covenant, the Law covenant, was now obsolete. Hebrews 8:13
Was the old covenant a failure? Not at all. True, since it was now replaced, fleshly Israel was no longer God’s special people. ( Matthew 23:38
) But that was because of Israel’s disobedience and rejection of Jehovah’s Anointed One. ( Exodus 19:5; Acts 2:22, 23
) Before the Law was replaced, however, it accomplished much. For centuries, it provided a way of approach to God and protection from false religion. It contained fore gleams of the new covenant and, with its repeated sacrifices, demonstrated man’s desperate need of redemption from sin and death. Indeed, the Law was a “tutor leading to Christ.” ( Galatians 3:19, 24; Romans 3:20; 4:15; 5:12; Hebrews 10:1, 2
) However, it was through the new covenant that the blessing promised to Abraham would be realised in full.
Jesus is the Seed of Abraham, and through Him the nations receive a blessing far superior to anything possible for fleshly Israel. Indeed, the first nation to receive this blessing was Israel itself. Soon after Pentecost 33 C.E., the apostle Peter said to a group of Jews: “You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God covenanted with your forefathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ To you first God, after raising up his Servant, sent him forth to bless you by turning each one away from your wicked deeds.” Acts 3:25, 26
The blessing was extended to Samaritans and then to Gentiles. (Acts 8:14-17; 10:34-48
) Sometime between 50 and 52 C.E., Paul wrote to Christians in Galatia in Asia Minor: “The Scripture, seeing in advance that God would declare people of the nations
righteous due to faith, declared the good news beforehand to Abraham, namely: ‘By means of you all the nations will be blessed.’ Consequently those who adhere to faith are being blessed together with faithful Abraham
.” (Galatians 3:8, 9; Genesis 12:3
) Although many Christians in Galatia were “people of the nations,” they were blessed through Jesus because of their faith. In what way?
Paul told the Galatian Christians, of whatever background: “If you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed
, heirs with reference to a promise.” ( Galatians 3:29
) For those Galatians, the blessing through Abraham’s Seed included their being participants in the new covenant and also being coheirs with Jesus, associates with Jesus in the seed of Abraham. We do not know the population of ancient Israel. We know only that it came to be “like the grains of sand that are by the sea for multitude.” ( 1 Kings 4:20
) We do, however, know the final number of Jesus’ associates in the spiritual seed—144,000. ( Revelation 7:4; 14:1
) Those 144,000 come out of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” of mankind and share in administering to yet others the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. Revelation 5:9
Now when it comes to Romans 11, we are talking about a “spiritual Israel” and a “figurative” olive tree. The trunk of this olive tree we understand to be the seed of Genesis 3:15
and the seed by which all nations would be blessed as promised to Abraham.
First the natural Jews were invited to join Jesus (the primary seed of Abraham) as “spiritual Israel” (the full seed), but because the nation as a whole did not keep Gods laws and rejected Jesus, God turned his attention to a new nation. God did not need natural Jews to be children of Abraham. We are told at Matt 3: 9
“and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘As a father we have Abraham.’ For I say to YOU that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”
God was to have a new nation producing fine fruit Matt. 21:43
“This is why I say to YOU, The kingdom of God will be taken from YOU and be given to a nation producing its fruits”
There was a new definition of a Jew Rom 2:28
“For he is not a Jew
who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision
that which is on the outside upon the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and [his] circumcision is that of the heart
by spirit, and not by a written code. The praise of that one comes, not from men, but from God.”
In Romans 11:25
Paul tells us this is a sacred secret that the nation of Israel are ignorant about, that to make up the new nation the numbers are made up from the Gentiles “For I do not want YOU, brothers, to be ignorant of this sacred secret, in order for YOU not to be discreet in your own eyes: that a dulling of sensibilities has happened in part to Israel until the full number of people of the nations has come in”,
highlights that because of Gods mercy he would allow any of natural Israel that accepted Jesus (“ if they do not remain in their lack of faith) to be grafted onto the “olive tree” (Jesus) . 22 See, therefore, God’s kindness and severity. Toward those who fell there is severity, but toward you there is God’s kindness, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise, you also will be lopped off. 23 They also, if they do not remain in their lack of faith, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree that is wild by nature and were grafted contrary to nature into the garden olive tree, how much rather will these who are natural be grafted into their own olive tree!
Yes all Israel will be saved, the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16)
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QUESTION: Thank you for your detailed answer. Very good, ok about the first.
About the second, what I still cant understand is how Paul says its not their fault, but it was God's plan so that non-Jews will enter in the new ekklesia of spiritual Israel. Does this mean that Jehovah caused the Jews to sin and murder Jesus, so that everything would be fullfilled? Didnt Jews have free will? I have also seen the same thing with the Pharaoh that was hostile to Moses. We read that it was God the one who hardened Pharaoh's heart.
Are there instances where Jehovah can take control of His creatures and cancel their free will, so that His plans may be fullfilled? And, are these people innocent in such circumstances since it was not their decision?
Have a good day.
Greetings again Chris.
Thank you for your serious questions, again I hope I can provide you with a scriptural response that will answer your enquiry
First there are 3 things that need to be considered about Gods ability to for see things and or actions of nations and individuals
God’s ability to foreknow and foreordain is clearly stated in the Bible. Jehovah himself sets forth as proof of his God-ship this ability to foreknow and foreordain events of salvation and deliverance, as well as acts of judgement and punishment, and then to bring such events to fulfilment. His chosen people are witnesses of these facts. (Isa 44:6-9; 48:3-8
) Such divine foreknowledge and fore-ordination form the basis for all true prophecy. (Isa 42:9; Jer 50:45; Am 3:7, 8
) God challenges the nations opposing his people to furnish proof of the god-ship they claim for their mighty ones and their idol-gods, calling on them to do so by foretelling similar acts of salvation or judgement and then bringing them to pass. Their impotence in this respect demonstrates their idols to be ‘mere wind and unreality.’—Isa 41:1-10, 21-29; 43:9-15; 45:20, 21
A second factor to be considered is the free moral agency of God’s intelligent creatures. The Scriptures show that God extends to such creatures the privilege and responsibility of free choice, of exercising free moral agency (De 30:19, 20; Jos 24:15
), thereby making them accountable for their acts. (Ge 2:16, 17; 3:11-19; Ro 14:10-12; Heb 4:13
) They are thus not mere automatons, or robots. Man could not truly have been created in “God’s image” if he were not a free moral agent. (Ge 1:26, 27
) Logically, there should be no conflict between God’s foreknowledge (as well as his foreordaining) and the free moral agency of his intelligent creatures.
A third factor that must be considered, one sometimes overlooked, is that of God’s moral standards and qualities, including his justice, honesty, impartiality, love, mercy, and kindness. Any understanding of God’s use of the powers of foreknowledge and fore-ordination must therefore harmonise with not only some of these factors but with all of them. Clearly, whatever God foreknows must inevitably come to pass, so that God is able to call “things that are not as though they were.”—Ro 4:17
At times God would test an individual (or nation) by causing or allowing certain circumstances or events, or by making such ones to hear his inspired messages, the result
being that they are obliged to exercise their free choice to make a decision
and thus reveal a definite heart attitude
, that Jehovah could read. (Pr 15:11; 1Pe 1:6, 7; Heb 4:12, 13
) According to the way the individuals responded, God could mold them in the course that they have selected
of their own volition. (1Ch 28:9; Ps 33:13-15; 139:1-4, 23, 24
) Thus, “the heart of earthling man” first inclines toward a certain way before Jehovah does the directing of the steps of such a one. (Pr 16:9; Ps 51:10
) Under testing, one’s heart condition can become fixed, either hardened in unrighteousness and rebellion or made firm in unbreakable devotion to Jehovah God and the doing of his will. (Job 2:3-10; Jer 18:11, 12; Ro 2:4-11; Heb 3:7-10, 12-15
) Having reached such a point of his own choice, the end result of the individual’s course can now be foreknown and foretold with no injustice and no violation of man’s free moral agency.—Compare Job 34:10-12
Lets illustrate the above with the case is that of the unresponsive Pharaoh of the Exodus. Jehovah foreknew that Pharaoh would refuse permission for the Israelites to leave “except by a strong hand” (Ex 3:19, 20
), and he foreordained the plague resulting in the death of the firstborn. (Ex 4:22, 23
) The apostle Paul’s discussion of God’s dealings with Pharaoh is often incorrectly understood to mean that God arbitrarily hardens the heart of individuals according to his foreordained purpose, without regard for the individual’s prior inclination, or heart attitude. (Ro 9:14-18
) Likewise, according to many translations, God advised Moses that he would “harden [Pharaoh’s] heart.” (Ex 4:21
; compare Ex 9:12; 10:1, 27
.) However, some translations render the Hebrew account to read that Jehovah “let [Pharaoh’s] heart wax bold” (Ro); “let [Pharaoh’s] heart become obstinate.” (NW) In support of such rendering, the appendix to Rotherham’s translation shows that in Hebrew the occasion or permission of an event is often presented as if it were the cause of the event, and that “even positive commands are occasionally to be accepted as meaning no more than permission.” Thus at Exodus 1:17
the original Hebrew text literally says that the midwives “caused the male children to live,” whereas in reality they permitted them to live by refraining from putting them to death. After quoting Hebrew scholars M. M. Kalisch, H. F. W. Gesenius, and B. Davies in support, Rotherham states that the Hebrew sense of the texts involving Pharaoh is that “God permitted Pharaoh to harden his own heart—spared him—gave him the opportunity, the occasion, of working out the wickedness that was in him. That is all.”—The Emphasised Bible, appendix, p. 919; compare Isa 10:5-7
Corroborating this understanding is the fact that the record definitely shows that Pharaoh himself “hardened his heart
.” (Ex 8:15, 32
, KJ; “made his heart unresponsive,” NWT) He thus exercised his own will and followed his own stubborn inclination
, the results of which inclination Jehovah accurately foresaw and predicted. The repeated opportunities given him by Jehovah obliged Pharaoh to make decisions, and in doing so he became hardened in his attitude. (Compare Ec 8:11, 12
.) As the apostle Paul shows by quoting Exodus 9:16, Jehovah allowed the matter to develop in this way to the full length of ten plagues in order to make manifest his own power and cause his name to be made known earth wide.—Ro 9:17, 18
Over the centuries of dealing with the nation of Israel, Jehovah knew what sort of response he would get when he sent his son Jesus to minister to them and to die as a ransom. Jehovah was able to plan ahead for the failure of the Jews.