by Jerry Shugart
The Casting Aside of Israel and the "Word of Reconciliation"
In the following verses we can see that the "fall" of national Israel resulted in the "riches of the world" and those "riches" are in regard to the "reconciling of the world." In other words, before the "reconciling of the world" the nation of Israel was cast aside:
"Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles...For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (Ro.11:12,15).
How have sinners throughout the world been reconciled to the Lord? Christians are given the "ministry of reconciliation" to preach the "word of reconciliation":
"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation...and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation...Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor.5:18-20).
On the Day of Pentecost it is evident that national Israel had not yet been cast aside so the following commission given to the Apostles shortly before that day did not include the command to preach the "word of reconciliation" in all the world:
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
The Lord would not give any a commission to preach the "word of reconciliation" until national Israel was cast aside. Therefore we can understand the the "gospel" spoken of in the following verse cannot be in regard to the "word of reconciliation": "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk.16:15).
Stanley D. Toussaint, Senior Professor Emeritus of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, understands that national Israel had not been cast aside on the Day of Pentecost. He makes the following comments on Acts 3:19-21:
"Was Peter saying here that if Israel repented, God's kingdom would have come to earth? This must be answered in the affirmative for several reasons...if Israel as a whole would repent, a second more remote goal, the coming of the kingdom ('times of refreshing' at the second coming of Christ) would be fulfilled" (Walvoord & Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament, p.361).
Alva McClain, the founder and first President of Grace Theological Seminary, also understood that on the Day of Pentecost the Lord was still dealing with national Israel so therefore that nation had not yet been cast aside at that time:
"Israel must meet the spiritual and moral demands which in every age are attached to the enjoyment of the blessings of the Mediatorial Kingdom. Just as in the record of that Kingdom of Old Testament history, and in the predictions of Old Testament prophecy, and in the announcements made by the Baptist and our Lord Himself...so now once more the demand comes to the chosen nation: They must 'repent' and 'turn again' (Acts 3:19, lit.)...Reflecting now upon the total content of Acts 3, it is hard to imagine how words could have made any plainer the historical reality of this reoffer of the King and His Kingdom to the nation of Israel" [emphasis added] (Alva McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom, Chapter 24, pages 404-406).
Dr. McClain wrote that the words "the reconciliation of the world" are in regard to the preaching of the "word of reconciliation": "Israel's rejection of Christ was followed by God reaching out to the world with the message of reconciliation (John 1:11-12; and see 2 Cor. 5:19-21). This verse parallels verse 12 (Israelís fall parallels Israelís casting away; Israelís fullness parallels Israelís being received; and in both verses we see how the world benefits both from Israelís fall and fullness)...During this present age, during Israelís casting away, the world is being reconciled" [emphasis added] (Ibid.).
John A. Witmer also understands that the words "the reconciliation of the world" are in regard to the "word of reconciliation" being preached in the world. He writes the following comments on Romans 11:13-15 in The Bible Knowledge Commentary; An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: "Thus Paul reminded his Gentile readers that Israel's 'rejection' meant 'the reconciliation of the world' in the purpose of God. Because Israel rejected Christ, the gospel was taken to these Gentiles" [emphasis added] (Walvoord & Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament, p.483).
From this we can understand that it was not until national Israel was temporarily cast aside did the "word of receonciliation" go out unto the world: "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (Ro.11:15).
In what way was the casting aside of national Israel a blessing to the world? In order to understand why this is so we must first understand the Lord's purpose in regard to the chosen nation of Israel. Sir Robert Anderson writes that "God took up the Hebrew race that they might be a centre and channel of blessing to the world...When some great French wine-grower appoints an agent in this country, he no longer supplies his wines except through that agent. His object, however, is not to hinder but to facilitate the sale, and to ensure that spurious wines shall not be palmed off upon the public in his name. Akin to this was the purpose with which Israel was called out in blessing. The knowledge of the true God was thus to be maintained on earth" (Anderson, The Silence of God, Chapter 5).
Since national Israel rejected her promised Messiah then she could no longer serve the purpose for which she was chosen of God--to proclaim the knowledge of the true God to the world. Since the Lord's agent would not proclaim to the world the truths concerning the Lord Jesus then it was necessary for Him to fire His agent and appoint someone else to take her place. God would not allow Israel's obstinacy to deprive the rest of the world of receiving the knowledge of the Lord Jesus and the blessings which accompany that knowledge so Paul was converted and made the "apostle of the Gentiles" (Ro.11:13).
Therefore we can know that the "word of reconciliation" was not preached on the Day of Pentecost and it was not proclaimed until Paul was converted and began his ministry to the Gentiles.