And So All Israel Will Be Saved
Paul hastens to the end of this section. The question throughout has been: What about the Jews, the people of the covenant, those for whom Christ especially came? How are we to understand their rejection of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the prophecies that answers all their longings? Paul has made it clear that God has not cast off His ancient people. Oh, make no mistake: any Jew who dies without faith in Christ stands condemned on judgment day. There is only one way to salvation and that is through Christ Jesus who is that way (John 14:6). On that point we must stand firm. So when Paul speaks of God’s not having cast aside the Jews, he speaks of them as a corporate body, as Israel.
But now Paul finally answers the question with which he began and must have received by revelation (though the prophets spoke of the same), and that answer is: There will be a great ingathering of the Jews in the last days, after “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in,” which must be just before our Lord’s return. In light of the entire letter, we must understand the fullness of the Gentiles to be those elect ones. Similarly we must understand “all Israel” to be those elect of Israel as well; not every man, woman, and child. For it is to the doctrine of election that Paul returns to explain what God is doing with Israel: Yes, they are enemies of the gospel while the Gentiles come in, but they are still beloved of God “as regards election.” God ordained it so that Jew and Gentile would come into the kingdom at different times. The Gentiles were once Godless pagans while Israel carried about themselves God’s law; then the Gentiles answered the gospel call while the Jews rejected it. But the day is coming when the Jews will answer that call as well, after the Gentiles come in. So the Gentiles who were once disobedient have now received mercy, and that, Paul adds, “because of [Israel’s] disobedience.” But as they are now disobedient as we once were, they too shall receive the same mercy, “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all.” And that’s a good thing.
At this point, Paul just stops to worship God and stand in awe of His wisdom and knowledge: “How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways.” God didn’t ask our opinion about these matters; he didn’t consult us, for “who has been His counselor?” We have no right to question why God does things as He does, why His plan is so mysterious. All we can do is marvel at the mystery. I’m glad I can’t figure God out; I couldn’t worship Him if I could. In the meantime, pray for the salvation of the Jews.