In typical human fashion, those of us who are not born Jewish tend to forget about Israel when we think about God’s plan of redemption. This is perpetuated by the belief that the Church has replaced Israel (Covenant Theology). However, the Biblical authors are adamant that this is not the case. As we dig into some of what they said, we will be reminded of some glorious truths about salvation.
Perhaps the fullest, most direct passage in the New Testament about this issue is Romans 11. True, some parts are puzzling, but here are a few key verses.
“I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew/”vv. 1, 2a
“But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. In as much then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow country men and save some of them.”vv. 13, 14
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved.”vv. 25, 26a (italics mine)
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”v. 29
There are many other verses in the chapter that echo this truth, but these are a good sampling. God will not turn His back on Israel, and He has promised a future revival of that nation—a promise made a long time before the apostle Paul.
Embedded in a listing of prophecies against Babylon, the Lord spoke some glorious promises for His people through the prophet Jeremiah. One in particular really jumped out at me the other day as I was studying the passage. Here are the verses:
“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am going to punish the king of Babylon and his land, just as I punished the king of Assyria. And I will bring Israel back to his pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan, and his desire will be satisfied in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead. In those days and at that time,’ declares the Lord, ‘search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.’”Jeremiah 50:18-20
That last verse especially is what I want to focus on. Read again what God says about their sin.
“Search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found.”v. 20
Amazing. There is no record of sins to be discovered. No matter how hard people may look, they won’t be able to find it. Yet what is so significant is the “why” behind this, the reason no record is uncovered.
That reason is simple: God said He would “pardon” them (v. 20). Because they are humans, Israel will still sin until they receive their glorified bodies. But because of the forgiveness of the Lord, that record of wrongs can’t be found.
We all love the Psalms, and there are some beautiful verses that drive this home. Psalm 130:3-4 says, “If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”
And how could we forget these words of David:
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”Psalm 102:10-12
Notice the reoccurring theme: the record of sin is gone because of the Lord’s forgiveness. Even though we have the Spirit, we still sin because of our fleshly nature. We still “fall short” (Romans 3:23). Yet because of God’s abundant mercy, we have a hope, we have a future, we have salvation. Praise the Lord!
This offer is given to all, both Jews and Gentiles. We have not pushed Israel out, but rather, are included alongside them in God’s plan of redemption. That plan is a plan of full forgiveness. When He said we are forgiven, we are exactly that—forgiven. Our sins are erased, we are cleansed. We are pronounced righteous in God’s sight. Again, this has nothing to do with our works, but rests entirely upon His abundant grace.
As I was reading that prophecy in Jeremiah, this truth stood out so vividly. The completeness of God’s pardoning grace is so amazing. We often forget that this same merciful God is the Lord of the Old Testament. Over and over again, verses like these appear and show that God offers forgiveness to those who will turn to Him. Not a lessening of the sentence, but a complete acquittal. And then He goes even farther and promises that the charges won’t even be able to be found. This is true forgiveness. His mercy is truly amazing, and we must praise Him for this gift.