The Fulness of God’s Program with Israel
When God separated Abraham unto Himself, He covenanted with him and his seed to make of them a “great nation” through which all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:1‑3) The further detailing of God’s plan and purpose with the people of Israel spelled out how that with them as that “great nation” the kingdom of God would be established and ruling on this earth. God Himself would reign as “King of kings and Lord of lords” on and over this earth in Jerusalem, and His nation Israel, as the ‘head of the nations’, would be His “kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Israel as such would administer God’s righteous rule on this earth and provide, therefore, for the blessing of the world. These wonderful realities of God’s plan and purpose with the nation of Israel are brought together in a number of prophetic passages which look forward to their fulfillment. For example…
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:2-3)
“He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” (Isa. 27:6)
“But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves…
And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed…
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” (Isa.61:6‑11)
As the Gospel accounts testify, when the Lord Jesus Christ was here the good news was heralded to Israel that the time for the fulfillment of God’s purpose with them was “at hand.” The time had come for God’s covenanted purpose with His people to be brought to pass. Their promised, prophesied, and long‑awaited possession of God’s kingdom was “at hand.”
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14‑15)
In connection with this, the Gospels testify how that the Lord performed the ‘signs of the kingdom’ throughout His ministry. He commissioned 12 apostles to likewise preach the “gospel of the kingdom.” And also after the Lord’s return to heaven, as the opening chapters of the book of Acts relate, the 12 through the Holy Spirit’s ministry testified to Israel in no uncertain terms that their “last days” had arrived and, therefore, the fulfillment of God’s program with them was “at hand.”
ISRAEL’S PROGRAM SUSPENDED
Though the Gospels and the opening chapters of Acts clearly show how that God’s program with Israel was ready to be brought to its fulfillment at that time, it is evident both from the rest of the book of Acts and from history itself that Israel’s kingdom of God has not been established. Instead, as Acts 9 records, the Lord Jesus Christ did something which was completely unanticipated and not prophesied. He reappeared from heaven and raised up a brand new apostle ‑‑ the apostle Paul.
To Paul God revealed how that He was suspending His program and dealings with His nation Israel, and that He was bringing in a new dispensation, or program ‑‑ a dispensation of His grace for the Gentiles. As Paul teaches us in his epistles, this new dispensation is in accordance with the “mystery of Christ.” The secret purpose God has in Christ which He “kept hid in Himself” in “ages and generations past,” but has now revealed. (e.g. Rom. 16:25‑27; Eph. 2:11‑3:12; Col.1:25‑27)
God’s program today is NOT the working out and fulfilling of His covenants and promises with the nation Israel. But rather, in accordance with the “mystery of Christ,” God is forming “one new man,” a “new creation,” the church the body of Christ, for the accomplishment of His now‑revealed‑purpose regarding the heavenly places.
ISRAEL’S PROGRAM WILL BE RESUMED
In view of the suspension of God’s dealings with Israel, the epistle to the Hebrews tells them how that though the Lord Jesus came proclaiming their kingdom and the subjection of the world to Him as their King, they “see NOT YET all things put under him.” (Heb. 2:8) In saying “NOT YET” the apostle recognizes that God has NOT cancelled His program and dealings with Israel. But, again, He has suspended those dealings so that “NOT YET” has their kingdom been established. But it will be, for God will yet resume and fulfill His program with His nation.
In Romans 11 the apostle Paul sets forth in detail the doctrine about the resumption of God’s program with Israel. As he points out God has NOT “cast away His people” at all. He isn’t done with Israel by any means. But rather, He has “blinded” them and has in the mean time turned to us Gentiles. But this “blindness” is not fatal to His purpose with them. Nor has their “fall” put them in a position from which God cannot retrieve them. But rather, He will yet receive them, and they will yet possess the “fulness” of God’s program and dealings with them.
God’s setting aside of His program with Israel is only a temporary thing. As Paul declares in verse 25….
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
With this being the case, once God has concluded this present dispensation with us Gentiles, then He will resume His program and dealings with Israel. Consequently, Paul goes on to say….
“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.” (vs. 26‑27)
Israel’s “fulness” IS yet to come. What God has promised to do with her, and what remains in His prophetic program with her will come to pass. For God’s program with Israel is founded upon His inviolate word to her, and His oath‑bound covenants with her. As Paul declares again concerning them….
“…..as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (vs. 28‑29)
God hasn’t changed His mind about Israel in the least. He doesn’t wish to take back what He has promised them, or give His purpose with them to someone else. But on the contrary, His election of them in accordance with His purpose as covenanted with “the fathers” stands firm. For it is founded upon the integrity of His own character and actions, and is hence irrevocable.
Though it will not be until after this present dispensation of Gentile grace is concluded that God will resume and fulfill His program with Israel, it is exciting to think about some of the things this world will experience when the “kingdom of God” is established on it in Israel. Consider, for example, the following….
— God’s will will be done on this earth. The course of this world will be charted by God, and the nations of this world will follow His ways and His paths. As Isaiah 2:3 says…
“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
The Lord’s name will be hallowed in this earth at that time, and the nations of this world will actually seek the Lord in that day.
— As Isaiah also goes on to say, wars on this earth will cease.
“And he (the Lord) shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isa. 2:4)
Wars among the nations of this world will be a thing of the past when God fulfills His program with Israel. Not only will Israel itself have peace with the Prince of Peace dwelling in it, but “peace on earth, good will toward men” will be a reality through the effects of the Lord’s dominion over this earth.
— Perfectly righteous rule will be established on this earth, while lawlessness and contrariness to God’s ways will not be tolerated.
“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:6‑7)
“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfullness the girdle of his reins.” (Isa. 11:4‑5)
No wonder when the kingdom was “at hand” the Lord said to his disciples, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” They truly will “be filled,” because perfectly righteous rule will reign on this earth when the kingdom of God is established on it.
— The influence of Satan and his plan of evil will be nullified when God fulfills His program with Israel. Satan himself will be imprisoned in the bottomless pit, just as is described in Revelation 20:1‑3a.
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled:”
In connection with Satan’s imprisonment will be the nullifying of the course which he had charted for this world, and the removal of its blinding influence. As Isaiah says….
“And he (the LORD) will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.” (Isa. 25:7)
— The fulfillment of God’s purpose with His nation Israel on this earth will also bring great physical changes into effect. The land of Israel especially, but also the world as a whole will undergo a multitude of changes. Of particular note will be the removal of the judgmental curse upon the earth itself, which effects plant and animal life. In connection with this, as Isaiah describes God’s righteous rule on this earth, He also declares that….
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:6‑9)
These are just a few of the glorious things which pertain to the fulfillment of God’s plan and purpose with Israel.
Unfortunately, though, the foregoing prophecies, along with a host of others, cause a problem for many. Because they fail to acknowledge the great dispensational change which God has ushered in with the raising up of the apostle Paul and the revealing of the “mystery of Christ,” they cannot account for why these things have not yet come to pass. Answers are proposed which range from saying that the prophesies obviously cannot be taken literally; to saying that the church today is failing to bring them to pass, just as Israel failed to do before. In fact, many today are being told to ‘return to the law and the prophets’ so as to ‘bring in the kingdom.’ They are told that God has taken His covenants and promises made to Israel in the past, and He has transferred them to the church. The only reason why the “kingdom of God” has not been established, it is said, is because Christians have failed to truly realize this, and, hence, to function as the ‘spiritual Israelites’ that they are.
Though ideas such as these are popular, they are clearly NOT what God teaches us to think in Romans 11 and other places. None of these prophesies have been fulfilled yet because God has temporarily suspended His program and dealings with Israel to whom He promised them. None of these prophesies is being brought to pass today, nor are any even supposed to be fulfilled in this present dispensation. The church the body of Christ is NOT replacing Israel in God’s plan and purpose, and is therefore NOT an ‘assume‑er’ or fulfiller of God’s covenants and promises to Israel.
Again, as Paul firmly declares in Romans 11: 28‑29,…
“…..as touching the election, they (Israel) are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
Israel’s “fulness” is as true a thing and as sure a thing as anything God has ever purposed and promised. But in accordance with the “mystery of Christ,” God has temporarily suspended His program with Israel, and her “fulness,” therefore, is being held in abeyance. Only when this present dispensation is concluded, will God resume and fulfill His purpose with Israel on this earth.
“…..blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Rom. 11:25)
– K.R. Blades