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Chapter 3
Lagoons of Love - Left by the Flood

The Tsunami had much to give, and much remains to be given.

Romans 9-11

Paul in Romans 9-10 proceeds to the last, moving to  the results of this flood of the love of God, which reached its high plateau in the language of Romans 5:1-11, its crest and peak in that of Romans 8:30-36.

It is eminently understandable how Paul felt for his own people. Here are the Gentiles the recipients of the centrepiece of divine mercy, told of the singular love of God, in the most
universal of terms, without respect to race or past. Yet Paul himself is of Israel.

Are they then to be dumped ? "Continual heaviness... in my heart" is his reflection concerning his brothers according to the flesh, Israel. One feels the same way about one's own first denomination, even though it ruptured peace, did violence, and in some, lied, slandered or both, broke the deposits of testimony that might have been made in the church with this assault, and concerning my own person, thrust me out with a vehemence from my training, which appeared matched only by that of the continual attacks on the Bible itself, and in the end, on the Lord directly , which came from its seminary.

YET, despite all that, one loves them yet, would be delighted in any good thing which might come, and would wish they might somehow even now be brought back to the light of the word of God. We return to Romans.

So the love of God moves through the apostle Paul to the race, his physical race, the nation of the Jews. Indeed, in Romans 9:3 we learn he could almost wish himself accursed on their behalf, in this way reflecting, though himself a sinner and unable to redeem, the love which in the person of Christ, DID ACTUALLY lead Him to the Cross. It is when one reflects the privilege of the mercy of God, and the obduracy of its rejection by so many, in the light of  the sacred course of Christ to the cross, and all that this entailed (cf. Hebrews 5:7, Luke 22:44), that the crushing character of the culmination begins to reveal itself, in everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2). It applies to one, and to all: both to Jew and to Gentile (as typified in advance in the high priestly party and in Pilate, the Romans governor). It was in that joint company  that HE, the Lord Himself of glory, became a penalty-cancelling curse bearer for those who would avail themselves of this provision.

This then is the background of almost wishing himself accursed for his people, this thrust of uttermost concern in Paul for his people.

Paul moreover reviews the singular blessings which have come to the world from God through Israel. After all, from Israel came the adoption as a nation to show forth the praises of the Lord (Isaiah 43:21). The glory of God they saw in the days of Sinai, and in the escape from Egypt, in word and deed and in the shining presence. The covenants of mercy through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob reached the earth by their means, the law likewise; the authorised service and worship of the great God of glory, this was apportioned to them, this nation, Israel. As far as flesh is concerned, it was through this 12-tribed race, as Revelation 12 reminds us, that Christ came in the incarnation.

 And as to that, it means  the fleshly format for no-one less than He who is over all, God blessed for ever (cf. Philippians 2:1-10) - given through the Jews! This is the message of Romans 9:4-5. There is no slighting in that! The apostle is cardinally aware of these things, and they lend a further heaviness to his contemplation of the plight of his racial people.

The love of God however is not at all without honour, for in Him is no iniquity, no unrighteousness, no none at all (Psalm 92:15, James 1:17). It is NOT a case of a breach of faith by God because there was a breach of faith by Israel (of whom Isaiah also said these things:

"Who is blind but my servant ? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent ?
who is blind as he who is perfect...?"
, and this -

"Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:
that this is a rebellious people, lying children,
children that will not hear the law of the Lord: who say to the seers,

Do not see; and to the prophets,

Do not prophesy to us right things, speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits..."

(Isaiah 30:9-10).

No, says Paul. It is a matter of promise, and all of it is by the medium of faith. Whether you regard Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob indeed, it is one. It is a work of promise to a people of promise, through faith, that makes them blessed in the personal presence of God. In the end, though God will fulfil ALL of His plans to the letter, in terms of blessing, it operates by faith, even if that very faith itself will be brought back to life in the culmination and crisis for Israel when all seems lost, which is yet to come (Romans 11:24-26).

Then seeking the Lord, Him whom they had pierced (Zechariah 12;10), they will turn in large numbers. So ALL Israel will be saved, says Paul (Romans 11:26) - and not merely some summation over history, before their enlightenment at the end, a few here and there throughout the ages from Christ to that time (Romans 11:24-26*1).

This is what is to be. It is the consummation which is to come, and not mere summation. It is to that the apostle moves in his thrust by the end of Romans 11.It is that which Israel is moving toward at the present time as option after option is removed, danger upon danger mounts, madness and power proliferate in the Middle East, and violence is allowed to masquerade as holiness, though only man is at its heart for motivation.

Meanwhile, the mercy of God is sovereignly dispensed, predestinatively pronounced and takes effect according to His own mind and thoughts (Romans 9:11-15). It is EMPHATICALLY not a matter of exercise of someone's will, as John says in Ch.1 of his Gospel, his efforts and his sallies. It is God's mercy and it is God who acts. God shows His own mercy in His own way. HOWEVER, He shows it with a patience and a power, with a perseverance and a propulsion which is a wonder. This is the path traced throughout Romans 9.

For how many hundreds of years did He seek the appointed and once anointed people, to bring them back, and in, and on! One has only to read II Chronicles 36:15-20, Hosea 12:10, 13:1, 9-14, Psalm 106 and Micah 7 to see that, before even starting on such passages as Jeremiah 9 and that lachrymose love which moves him, like a Hospital Matron, insisting on sound standards in a slack ward where the patients are at risk, while deeply concerned for the effects of necessary discipline on the nurses.

So in the Gospel, God awaits the time. After He had waited to the right time (Galatians 4:4), precisely the time announced hundreds of years before by Daniel (24-27, see SMR pp. 886ff.), then came the EXECUTIVE, the PERSON and the PROCEDURE for  this gospel; it was then that came the arrival of Jesus Christ, with and for the Gospel foretold indeed by Isaiah (Romans 10:16, 9:33,28). This is the one which is committed to Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 1:5)... But as to Paul, he is not one who has no heart for his own people, whatever their folly! The love of God seems as he speaks to be doing an encircling movement about any listening ears in Israel, even then; and it will do more, as we have just seen in Romans 11. In THE END, DOUBTLESS MANY IN ISRAEL WILL HAVE READ AND EVEN STUDIED THESE VERY THINGS, BEFORE THE SPIRIT OF GRACE AND SUPPLICATION FALLS ON THEM (Zechariah 12:10ff.).

Alas, when He came, though they were entreated, exhorted, impacted as in Isaiah 7 with irony, stung with satire (Isaiah 28-29), moved with tenderness (Jeremiah 9, Hosea 11:1-3, 14), they yet ignored the opportunity, as far as murder is an ignoring; but in the event their eyes were closed and their hearts not open to the day of opportunity (cf. Matthew 13:14-16), a fact at which the Lord Himself lamented (Luke 19:41-444) in His solitary watch over the Jerusalem which was with Him, about to crucify itself also in its folly, as history would show in the multiple crucifixions of Jews wrought by the Romans when they destroyed the city, as Daniel indicated (Daniel 9:24-27), and the predictions of Christ confirmed (Matthew 24:2). Thus He mourned for them before it happened, with the eyes of truth seeing the end, even before it came, weeping over Jerusalem:

"If you had known, even you , especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

"For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation," (Luke 19:42-44).

Before the hardness of stones, however, there was a hardening of the heart. Indeed, the two are explicitly compared in Ezekiel 11, where that prophet depicts the change which will come in New Covenant freshness, in the end, to much of the Jewish people:

"Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statues and keep My judgments and do them, and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads, says the Lord God" - words in parallel with the famous declaration on the New Covenant of Jeremiah in 31:31.

That time however had not come when Christ came, for His rejection was already predicted (Isaiah 49:7, Daniel 9:24-27, Psalm 22 cf. SMR Ch.9), and the ecclesiastical connivances to bring crucifixion to mercy and ruin to remedy, at the physical level, proceeded till Jerusalem itself the city, this also was levelled. Such was the affair of the hardening of the heart, a phenomenon declared also in Moses in these words: " ... your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze and the earth which is under you shall be iron" (Deuteronomy 28:23), as if not only the terrestrial but also the celestial, and not only that but what it symbolised, the heavenly door of grace, would respond to rejection with the necessary removal of what was rejected, in the day of grace, till the time should come for repentance. So it was to be, and so it is.

The hardening of the heart, as in II Thessalonians 2:9-10, is a pathological consequence of a pathological rejection of the way of mercy. It is constantly experimentally visible, as it were, as God reveals His thoughts concerning Israel from 1000-586 B.C. in the prophets, and even after that date; and IN PRINCIPLE, it is seen, indeed read,  in Thessalonians 2:9-10, where it is explicitly  a RESULT of not receiving the truth.

In fact, says the apostle, "WHAT IF ... " (Romans 9:22), What if God "ENDURED WITH MUCH LONGSUFFERING" those whose end was destruction! That is a procedural fact of another depth. It is all planned, foreknown and predestined, not available for the artful meddling of sinful man, but it is FULFILLING at all times the PRINCIPLE that God would not have any to perish, but that He would have them rather come to a knowledge of the truth, as shown in I Timothy 2. Meanwhile, in the strategic wonder of the Gospel, the Gentiles inherit what Israel rejected (cf. Romans 11:17,31), and Paul quotes Hosea, to the effect that where the people who should serve God had been 'not my people', in their disciplined rejection through unbelief, in the end, it is MY PEOPLE which will be the name; and as Paul shows from Isaiah in Romans 10:20, the Gentiles would, as specifically predicted,  swell that number.

Indeed, a people (Gentiles) who had not sought Him would be found of Him, while those of Israel who had rejected the present God would find the meaning of such hardening, before in the sweep of the final mercies, a last contingent in a major movement in Israel itself, would consummate the quota, complete the fishing and bring them back. Romans 11:15-16,23-26 here relates closely to Ezekiel 38-30, Zechariah 12:10ff., where it is all seen in concrete detail.

While all this vast beauty of the love of God, moving on like range after range of mountains, stretching as far as eye can reach, is exposed, there is still the present for the apostle. The catastrophe of the contemporary seen is before his eyes. The spiritual slump, the betrayal of the Lord was a national phenomenon, and while its disastrous physical consequences were surely to come, not only in the destruction of the city but in that long period of wandering amid mockery in the world which was forecast in the Old Testament (Leviticus 26, Ezekiel 36:15 and see SMR refs. below), it was the tragedy of the spirit, misled and misaligned, which was the essential and enduring horror which so moved Paul's heart and pity.

All this also has come to pass, to the point of notoriety: it is not hidden. The world is awakened with it, and put to bed with it; and the Middle East continues in its turmoil and militant thrashings and crashings, to draw attention to this restored nation and to all it has suffered, amid its victories and all that God has done for it, even though it has not as such yet returned to the crucified Messiah, or repented; and this also precisely as predicted. (Cf. SMR pp. 511, 761, 778, Appendix A; Zechariah 12-14.)

We in our generation have seen the amazing features of divine prophecy in the return of Israel to its land, in its wars, in the disproportion of the small Jewish people to the vast armies and peoples surrounding them, in the division of Jerusalem into two, and in the protection of this people in situ, upon their predicted and ultimate return, before the final effort to destroy them which is to come (see for detail SMR Ch.9). Yet the SPIRITUAL CONDITION of this people is just as we saw in BIBLICAL WORKMAN 1, in studying Jeremiah, with reference to the two-stage restoration shown in Ezekiel 37.

It is still the first predicted stage. In terms of the valley of dry bones depiction of Ezekiel 37, it is still a matter of bones assembled but no breath; of the first separate act of the prophet, effected at command during his vision. The breath has yet to be commanded, the spirit of supplication and grace spoken of in Zechariah 12. Thus, there has come in prophetic order, the return to the land but not to the One whom they pierced, as Zechariah specified.  FIRST to come was the physical-geographic, and THEN by separate action of divine power, the spiritual, to life. The first has come. The second is yet to be, so that the poignancy and the need for Israel is as great as ever, though their geographical restoration is a delight for so persecuted and pruned a people, according to the divinely stated intention.

How profound is the patience of God, as is also His depth of wisdom, as Paul exclaims in review of these things in Romans 11:33 (cf. II Peter 3:9)!

In Paul's time,  Israel, for their rebellion against the Lord, was being brought into the bond of the covenant precisely as God had specified it to them in the beginning. Soon were they to experience that destruction of Jerusalem which Christ had predicted - with Daniel (9:24-27 - and cf. SMR pp.886ff.). Moses indeed also  predicted,  indicating exactly what would happen to Israel in its history, in cumulative stages, additive anguish ending in exile and persecution, coming in terms of progressive discipline (Leviticus 26). Then Israel was, as now, in very bad case. Yet the reason was not merely general. It was highly specific, and the apostle Paul proceeds to itemise it.

"But Israel which followed after the law or righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why ? Because they did not seek it by faith" - from Romans 9:31-32.

They stumbled at the PREDICTED stumbling stone, just as Isaiah 28:16 indicated; and so Paul quotes in Romans 9:32-33.

Their zeal is indicated by Paul to be an ignorant, a misplaced, a misled and a vain one. Not knowing the spiritual reality of the righteousness of God, they seek in His name to do an ignorant, an evil and a presumptuous thing: "to establish their OWN righteousness" (Romans 10:3) which Isaiah, their own prophet, had in advance proclaimed, as "filthy rags"  (Isaiah 64:6). In this way, for all their religious ZEAL, they did not 'SUBMIT' themselves "to the righteousness of God" (10:3), which is as it always has been, obtainable only by FAITH, a faith which moves as the Lord moves, and receives what He offers, not some carnal substitute of human presumption which ignores its very basics! (cf. Isaiah 61:10, 53:1).

Such is the message of the apostle, in love, in concern, in yearning, and in clarity; and we have seen how it is applicable even in our far nearer approach to the end.

So the lagoons of love lie around, the indications, clarifications, the thirst-quenching realities; and the waters  are in the wells of salvation yet, from which Israel could still draw up the blessed waters,  as Isaiah proclaimed (12:1-3, cf. John 4:14, 7:37), for no money, freely (Isaiah 55:1-2).

The onrush from the first stage of Ezekiel's prediction for the nation's physical return, is long completed; the missionary outreach to the last is still in process, now as in Paul's day (Romans 10:9-16), and as Isaiah foresaw (Isaiah 66:19, 65:13-15 cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 17), and those feet have a derivative beauty which carry it (cf. SMR pp. 582ff.).This is in nothing altered, whether they be Jewish or Gentilic, so long as they carry it. The nation is in recess as an ornament of faith, but the faith is not in recess.

Yet the mercy is to be taken as it is given*2. God will not be dictated to concerning the nature of His mercy, His message, the government of His gospel; but for all that, as in the case of ultra-pure chemicals, it is NOT that HE is hard, but that the truth is brilliant and pure, and can have no pollution whatsoever. The truth is long declared, now consummated in the personal appearance of the Messiah, in its expression for the history of this earth; it is not hidden in some celestial recess, some terrestrial hole, it is not a picking for philosophers or a province for pundits, but the expression of God Himself, now as before (Romans 10:6-8, Deuteronomy 30:6-20, 18:15-18, 32:43, Isaiah 9:1-7, 11:1-10), is not only categorical, it is quintessentialised, it is personal and profound in its uttermost reaches, in this, that Christ according to the scriptures has now been manifested, and in being manifested, has manifested His own Father (John 1:1-14, 5:19-23, 8:19,58,37,40). Now is the issue stark, now is the necessity sublime but inescapable: "That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" - Romans 10:9.

Here then is the height of spiritual perversity, that a person, using the tender profferings of mercy, should use the spiritual status in view in this religious "setting" to set about "establishing" his "own righteousness". It is as if a baby set about establishing the participation he/she had in "securing birth" or establishing post-natal care. It is as if a student should seek to establish how he trained his teacher. It is that a sinner disdains the fount of mercy by obliterating the mercy itself, in favour of the trappings, or even set about worshipping them, or compounding them and then worshipping them, relativising them instead of seeing the consummation of all meaning in Him whom they represented, pre-figured, pictured, who then surpassed them, being Himself the object of their instruction, and the key to their significance (Hebrews Chs. 4, 8-10)..

Jew or indeed Gentile is not here for self-proclamation, far less in religious sufficiency, proficiency or pride. Do not indeed Gentiles often make their own parallel to this error: that they dispense with God and then go about to establish their own righteousness, or allow some god to stick around and go about to establish their own righteousness, or precisely as did Israel, set about constructing suitable gods to enable their self-expression (Deuteronomy 32:16-17, Acts 17:18-21), setting at nought that which is neither in heaven to be found, nor under the earth to be exhumed by psychiatry or the black arts of confused philosophy (Colossians 2:8), like a child who divorces his/her parents in a very ecstasy of self-assertion, self-affirmation; but this 'child' , it is offspring of the creation of God, and what may be said of it ?

When the Gentiles so conduct themselves

Then it is an imagination of the uttermost conceit! It is founded on the fabric of fancy, promulgated with the folly of the one whose breath is yet in his nostrils (Isaiah 2:22), whose grandeur is his poverty, whose assurance is his dissembling and whose aspirations are his downfall.

God is not available for reconstruction, or even construction. He is. His mercy is as always, profound. His sacrificial substitutionary service pictured, now performed in Christ, is as utterly adequate and nobly beautiful as ever; and now that it is no longer seen merely in picture and prophet, but in the ache of history, where man criminally sought to the uttermost to crush his own mercy, it is not changed. It has rather exposed the superficial squalor of man's heart, and the more tenderly, as Christ expressed it in crying, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing!" (Luke 23:34), is it now  available. It changes not (Galatians 1:6-9); God changes not (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 90); and the destinies change not (Matthew 25). "Take heed," He says, "how you hear!" (Luke 8:18).

It is still true that WHOSOEVER shall call on NAME of the Lord will be saved, and that the Lord would have all men to be saved; as it is, quite equally, that it is HE who has foreknown His own, and nothing either dupes or misleads Him! It is more impossible than that water should become gold in a moment, by simple natural processes, than that anyone who with all his/her heart seeks the Lord, Jew or Gentile, should not find Him, seeking Him where He is to be found (Isaiah 55:6-7).

HE TURNS AWAY NONE who come in His name, calling upon it! What more does a person  
want ? That He should confuse you long enough for you deceitfully to exploit His mercy by coming "in" where there is no final perishing (John 10:27-28, 10:9), without your heart ? God in His Being, and heaven in its beauty are proof against that, and since He is a Spirit, who knows all, it is not only wonderful, enabling heaven indeed that this is so, but inconceivable that it should be otherwise.

If the Jews had the advantage of prophetic insight and foresight, so their rejection of the very pith of mercy in Christ was shown in advance in both folly and consequence, yet the Gentiles also have NOT ONLY the advantage of the clear call of the Gospel in terms not dissimilar (cf. Hebrews 2:1ff., 12:18-28, Galatians 3:1-3, II Timothy 3:1-5), even including the warning of the seething population of false prophets which were to, and do infect the peoples in these last days. They ALSO have the advantage of SEEING the case of the Jews, to whom that same one and only God has one and only one Gospel, the consummation of the life of faith which was always required, with the centre of it the Messiah who from the first (see Barbs, Arrows and Balms17) has been indicated, pronounced, then detailed and demonstrated.*3

For both the love remains, the means are the same and the call has come. It is neither manipulable, negotiable nor attenuable. It is all or nothing. Love is like that. It is never satisfied with the mellow substitutes of sentiment; it is a case of utter devotion or entirely contemptible lukewarmness. If such is the case with man made in the image of God, it is praeternaturally the case with God Himself, whose love in action shows the purity of the devotion, the singleness of the vision and the reliability of the reality.

The love of God in Romans 4-8, with its postscript of beauty in longing which continues yet, and in providing in the future for Israel yet more: it  is like glades in a forest, always real, with a heart of peace, protesting as when the winds blow, but ultimately still as in the heart of the forest, where there is the break of wind and the sylvan quietness. Such is the way  of those who have found in Christ, the way to "be still and know that I am God"; for He is  not found in the imagination  but in the incarnation; not in storming the citadels of heaven with heavy works (cf. Matthew 7:21-22), as if Christ's irony about the treatment of John the Baptist meant a change of policy and not a rebuke: but in receiving the Son of God, and together with Him, His word (John 1:12-14, 14:21-23), for His mouth, despite Calvary is NOT detachable!





Romans 11:15-36

The justly famous figure of the olive tree is fruitful, like the original, and filled with oil of understanding.

Paul first of all makes the point: Israel is like an olive tree. Natural enough in such a land, where the exceedingly health-giving oil and the refreshing shade is significant and habitual over the years. It grew to become highminded; it lost its sense of proportion, it became too much an object to itself, and in terms of the imagery, Israel became bogously self-sufficient, adjourning faith. They excluded their own Messiah, and in so excluding Him, they denied to God faith, as they had indeed in so many episodes, faithfully reported in Kings and Chronicles, in Isaiah and in Jeremiah and other prophets, earlier. This was the crowning test, but alas, they crowned it with their own hands with thorns! THAT, it is not faith.

Hence they were cut off, pruned out. The Gentile branch, imported to the scene, was grafted in. IT is warned not to become highminded or haughty (11:20), seeing what befell, and what are the principles relative to - Israel. This new branch too, like the old, can be cut out: that is, anything bogus, and adjourning faith in the form of Gentile churches, this can be removed as simply as was the literal, political, theocratic nation of Israel, taken from the site of spiritual blessing: cut off from the tree.

All this is found in Romans 11: 16-22.

Then comes a new element. Just as the Gentile addition itself can be pruned away in parallel to the Jewish situation and pruning, so the Jewish branch can be RESTORED - grafted in again, in the imagery used (Romans 11:23). GOD IS ABLE to do this, the apostle declares.

He is ABLE, but will He ? This is a natural thought resulting from exposure of the situation so far described in terms of this imagery by the apostle. FIRST (v.24), Paul develops the site in terms of the situation so far. IF the branch of Israel through lack of faith could be taken out and a WILD branch grafted in, from the hitherto alien Gentiles (en bloc, as it were, those who believe seen as one branch, though internationally dispersed, the body of Christ); then HOW MUCH MORE READILY can the ORIGINAL BRANCH be brought back, and grafted in again, WHERE IT FORMERLY ACTUALLY BELONGED!

That is his first point. It is eminently NATURAL for such an operation to happen...

Next, Paul reveals a mystery (Romans 11:25). For the time being, Israel the nation is blind, he declares. It, this blindness, is not pervasive of all the race, but it is a national situation. It is "in part" in that sense. This has a time sequence in the predestinative, foreknowing and disposing wisdom and will of God. This blindness awaits a development, which of course is sui generis, and also utterly apt and wise and just, in the counsel of God, who knows how precisely to weave all things together for His purpose (Ephesians 1:11; and it is applied to His saints personally in Romans 8:28).

That coming development on which the blindness waits ? It is called "THE FULNESS OF THE GENTILES" (Romans 11:25). That of course relates to such surveying scriptures as Daniel Chapters 7 and 2, and means that there is an ordering for the whole Gentile world system; and it has its day, just as the Jews have nationally have theirs before it: and that new day of the Gentiles, it too will ... close! THEN is their "fulness" - that is, the uttermost fulfilment of their time and season, set so that "haply they might feel after Him and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us" (Acts 17:26-27), in this nation or people, or in that. The day of opportunity, the appointed time will be past (cf. II Corinthians 6:1-2). The fulness will be over.

So it is that Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, in this Corinthians passage exhorts the people in Corinth, "For He says, 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." That word from Isaiah 49:8 is one referring to the Messiah, whose task as constituting the New Covenant is made timely as the Lord moves to all the peoples. It is to be international, and "kings" are to come to the brightness of His glory (cf. Isaiah 60:3, 52:13, Psalm 2:10-12, and cf. SMR Ch.9).

This is the fulness of the Gentiles, and when that comes, then the blindness of Israel in this characteristic, historical and formal style, ends. It lasts only "UNTIL" this Gentile event. And SO will all Israel be saved...

It is then, with if you like to change the imagery, the second innings, that of the Gentiles is past, just as the Jewish first innings is likewise over: it is then that the Jewish blindness, in part, the national one, will terminate. Then no more will the Jewish situation be identifiable in a highly specialised, and indeed historic way with the REJECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AS LORD AND SAVIOUR. No! for then will come to pass that word, "For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead" - (11:15). Not "would" but "will" - for, to pursue 11:25 to v. 26, "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness form Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins" , proclaims Paul in terms of Isaiah 59:20-21.

And so ? SO this: "And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written ..." Then he proceeds to the quotation from Isaiah just given. It is IN THIS WAY that that consummation is to be wrought of which the apostle has twice spoken, in vv. 15 and 25. The blindness, the obscuration of vision which has been the blight of Israel, this is to last to an assigned time, as specified in the preposition "until" -v. 25. There is a terminus, and this is then signified. "And SO all Israel will be saved". The events preceding the "so" specify what is to be the medium of this result, and these ? they are an epochally LIMITED blindness to terminate at the precise moment APPOINTED, so that ALL Israel will be saved.

Paul then in confirmation and corroboration continues, signally that this complex war plan? In that it is a war on Satan; or game plan, in that it is playing with the follies of man, like trout-fishing playing with the shrewdness of the fish: call it what you will, it is complex, it is strategic, it has a beginning, a middle and a foreseen end. In view of this, Paul exclaims in praise,

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"

But God has spoken, and it is written, and as it is written*3, so it comes to pass. Unsubjectible to revision, not prone to failure, the word of the Lord from the wisdom of God, is given, commands and comes to pass with a depth of wonder, an immaculate majesty and a transcendent power.

Thus does he sew it up, as with triple fig leaves, or better, olive leaves in unison and blending. The tissue resulting is strong, it is clear and it is sufficient. THIS is what God will do; this is how WONDERFUL it is in wisdom and knowledge, this is how it is equal and applies to both segments, Jew and Gentile in fascinating complexity, and marvellous unity. THIS, he declares, is what is to be.

It is BY the time of the Gentiles finishing completely in their primacy parade, as it were, and BY the grafting back in of the Jew in from the void and the abyss of darkness on the brink of the very end of the Age, that we gain this CONSEQUENCE, that ALL Israel will be saved: AND SO ... it will be.

Now to our point in this Chapter 3, it is an expression of love indomitable as well as restrained, patient and watchful as well as pure, wise as well as longsuffering, triumphant as well as sacrificial. That, it is the nature of the love of God.

Isaiah 65:13-15 is still operative, and remains so, for the Lord will bring back ANY people, yes even including the Jews, to this ONE Christ, to this ONE and ONLY New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) centred in Christ (Isaiah 53:1-12), and there is no other (Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Psalm 2!, Acts 4:11-12, Galatians 1:6-9, II Corinthians 11:1-10).


Then in unity will BOTH branches abide in the solemn and quiet beauty of one tree, neither exalted, both in unison. As the tree ALWAYS was significant - after all, it was GOD who planted it and as to His ways, they do not change (Habakkuk 3:6, Malachi 3:6), a fact sadly forgotten by many misled dispensationalists who only too quickly forsake what is not fulfilled in the covenant of God, whether in covenantal provisions for children or for the unity which is to follow the opening of the eyes nationally more characteristically, of Israel. There is no more liberty to change the tree than to alter the word of God. It is the word of God which plants the tree, and the word continues to the jot and tittle, NOT misinterpreted as by the Pharisees (Romans 4 and 10), but in its own native sense.

(See on the olive tree and its entailments further, in Questions and Answers 11, at pp. 126 and 143. )