I believe that the first 2000 years of the history of Israel, up to the birth of Jesus Christ, were essentially years in which God was dealing with His chosen people. He intervened in their lives, He led them, loved them and disciplined them. He spoke through Moses and the prophets, He established kingdoms and He gave the Jewish people the Word of God. The history of Israel, its past, present and future was made manifest. He promised a Messiah and He promised to establish His kingdom in the promised land.
I believe the Messiah did come as promised and that the subsequent 2000 year period has been a period without the sort of Divine Revelation previously provided to the nation of Israel. Why would God have done this? Read on.
Isaiah 6:10 (NKJ)
10 “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.”
This verse has long puzzled many readers, Jew and Gentile alike. Why did God tell Isaiah to speak these things? First, any thoughtful response covers more ground that I can cover here. The entire Bible provides answers. But there is one particular answer that I want to quote because it seems to be the simplest explanation. It is an explanation of hope. It’s an explanation of how God first scattered His people; then said that He plans to gather them and restore the Kingdom to them. But He sustained them “as a nation” without a king, without prophets, and without a Temple in Jerusalem. Listen.
Romans 11:7-10, 25-29 (NKJ)
7 Just as it is written: “God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.
8 “And David says: “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a recompense to them.
9 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, and bow down their back always.
10 “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles…
25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Here the Apostle Paul has quoted David in a letter to the Romans and a quote from Isaiah makes the point that “in part” Israel’s blindness has happened “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”. But do not miss the other key points in verses 26 and 27. “All Israel will be saved… The Deliverer will come out of Zion… and take away their sins”. Verse 29 says “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”. When God made promises to Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph and many others about His love for His people, He also promised to keep those promises. He said the Messiah would redeem them.
Deuteronomy 18:18 (NKJ)
18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.
What prophet? Notice the capitalization of Prophet, His, He and Him. This is a reference to our Lord. Moses was told by God that a Prophet would be raised up, from among the brethren. Listen to the prophecy of Isaiah.
Isaiah 11:1 (NKJ)
“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
The expected Prophet from among the brethren, from Jesse, from the tribe of Judah, the father of David, is the lineage from which the Messiah was to come. And He did, and here in the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks and the recorder, John, quotes Isaiah.
John 12:36-41 (NKJ)
36 “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,
38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.”
41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
Here, the physician, Luke, who accompanied the apostles during the years in which the Messiah was with them, quotes Paul, the apostle, who was formerly a Jewish Pharisee.
Acts 28:25-29 (NKJ)
25 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,
26 “saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see, and not perceive;
27 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” ‘
28 “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”
29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.
I do not know how the Word of God can be more clear. Israel has been “on hold”, in terms of their understanding and for one specific reason and perhaps many corollary reasons. That “reason” was to allow the Gentiles access to the God of Israel. The blindness and the hardness of heart refer specifically to the Messiah and the gospel message.
The fact that the Jews have remained “a people” this past 2000 years, even in dispersion, is a miracle that distinguishes them from any other nation. God has not forgotten His people nor has His Arm been shortened that He can not heal and restore His chosen people. The Jewish nation is at the very center of God’s plan and every prophecy concerning the Jews will be fulfilled.
These past 2000 years are often referred to as the “Church Age”. The New Testament, the Gospel, the chronology of the early church, the letters and the Revelation of John, all were given to the Gentiles by the grace of God, who sent His only begotten Son, as promised, that those who believe on Him might have eternal life.
There are many signs that we are quickly moving toward the Kingdom Age, a time of joyous reunion for Israel and for the souls of the faithful. Listen to the circumstances:
Revelation 20:1-6 (NKJ)
(Satan bound 1000 Years)
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
4 The Saints Reign with Christ 1000 Years And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.