Though believers are called the “elect” of God in the New Testament, the concept of election is larger than individual salvation. In Romans 9 through 11, Paul affirms that Israel remains elect—even though he is in anguish over Israel’s condition. Understanding what it means that Israel is, and remains, elect helps us understand Paul’s view of election.
Paul is describes a sequence of events in Romans 9 that involves God’s election, the response of people born into the covenant to election, and the tragedy that comes when God’s people are offended by the one He elects. Paul’s use of Israel’s history reveals how divisive election can be and how serious an issue it is that we understand election and respond to it biblically.
As we look at the Middle East it is difficult not to despair as we see the carnage created by radical Islam, the suffering of the Christians, and the lack of substantial help from the outside word. However, that is not the end of the story, and it is important for us to recognize that the Bible predicts great success for the gospel in the Middle East.
In Luke 21 Jesus predicts that Jerusalem will be trampled by the gentiles until the “times of the gentiles” are fulfilled. This has let to quite a bit of speculation about when this period of time begins and end and the question, “Does the existence of the modern state of Israel indicates that the times of the gentiles have come to an end?” To answer that question, we must look at the phrase in its context.
When Israel rejected YHWH in the wilderness and instead gave her worship and devotion to a golden calf, God warned that He would visit in a future day of punishment and not in that generation. In this sober warning, we also find a promise that reveals the depth of the judgment and of the mercy of God. We must understand the promise that is both a promise of judgment and a promise of mercy to know God.