Series: “Little Gems from Our Study of the Book of Revelation”
What point(s) did John, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wish to get across to his initial readers when he distributed the book of Revelation to seven churches in first century Asia Minor? What themes are weaved through the book? In considering these questions, keep in mind that the full title of the book is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Proposal: One of the Holy Spirit’s aims in Revelation is to guide the early church in navigating the transition period from one covenant (the old) to the next (the new), especially as that period was drawing to a close. This period lasted roughly 40 years (30 AD – 70 AD), parallel to the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.
Basis (one of several): The same imagery that was present at the giving of the law, the old covenant, is echoed several times in the book of Revelation (4:5, 8:5, 11:19, and 16:18). This post will highlight these passages and their significance.
Parallel Scripture Passage: “In that He says, ‘a new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13, 1st century AD).
Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai
Just before examining these passages in Revelation, let’s look at Exodus 19, the passage I believe they echo:
In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai. For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain. And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
…Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly (Exodus 19:1-18).
So we see that God reminded them of how He bore the people of Israel “on eagles’ wings”* out of Egypt and to Himself. God was establishing a covenant with them at this time, and He called them to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”** This gathering was marked by thundering and lightning, the sound of a loud trumpet, thick smoke, and the whole mountain quaking greatly.
*Compare to Revelation 12:13-14, where the persecuted woman “was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”
**Compare this with John’s opening greeting to the seven churches, where he says that Jesus “has made us kings and priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6).
Four Passages That Echo Mount Sinai in Revelation
The same cosmic phenomena present at Mount Sinai are seen again in the book of Revelation. Observe the following passages, with some brief notes on their likely significance:
1. Revelation 4:4-5
“Around the throne were 24 thrones, and on the thrones I saw 24 elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
As we noted in our study of Revelation 4, the 24 elders may very well “depict the 12 patriarchs of Israel and the 12 apostles, who represent the redeemed of both covenants now united in Christ.” This seems to be substantiated by the names of the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles found written on the gates and walls of the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:12-14). So it appears that this covenant-establishing imagery takes place in the presence of elders representing both the old and the new covenant ages.
2. Revelation 8:4-6
“And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”
This scene takes place at the opening of the seventh and final seal (Rev. 8:1). An angel with a golden censer offers the prayers of the saints, along with incense, upon the altar before God’s throne (verse 3). We proposed in our study of Rev. 8 that these prayers are linked to the cries of the martyrs for God to avenge their “blood on those who dwell on the earth” – Rev. 6:10 (see this post for a more complete study on this subject). It seems likely that the seal judgments are poured out in response to the prayers of God’s people. Therefore, the covenant-establishing imagery of Mount Sinai appears here because the prayers of the new covenant community were about to result in the old covenant system reaching its demise.
3. Revelation 11:19
“Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.“
Just as the scene we examined in Rev. 8 takes place at the opening of the seventh seal, this scene takes place at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. Loud voices declare, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” The 24 elders are present at this scene (Rev. 11:15-16).
In verse 19 we see probably the most explicit reference connecting the old covenant to the prophecies in the book of Revelation. John sees a vision of God’s temple housing “the ark of His covenant.” In ancient Israel, the ark of the covenant was a centerpiece of the temple and the old covenant. Located in the Most Holy Place, it represented God’s presence: “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel” (Exodus 25:21-22). For further significance, see Numbers 7:89, 10:33-35; Joshua 3:13, 7:6-11; Judges 20:27; II Samuel 6:2; II Kings 19:15; Psalm 28:2, 80:1.
When the dust settles from the barrage of judgments in Revelation, what does heaven shout? “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). This did not suddenly become true because some buildings fell in 70 AD. Remember that Paul told the Corinthian church this was already their reality and that they were “the temple of the living God“ (II Cor. 6:16). The downfall of Israel, Jerusalem, and the temple in 70 AD, however, did remove the far less glorious old covenant system which competed against, and greatly opposed, this reality. It was a stunning and vivid demonstration that God had chosen the glorious new covenant over the inferior old covenant (see Hebrews 8). This was the time for rewarding God’s “servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear [His] name, small and great” (Rev. 11:18).
Several verses earlier, John witnesses an actual earthquake that kills 7000 people in“the city” (Rev. 11:13), already identified in verse 8 as Jerusalem (“the great city…where also our Lord was crucified“). As we noted in our study of Revelation 11, Josephus records one awful night in early 68 AD when “a prodigious storm” took place in Jerusalem, marked by “the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake.” Josephus adds that the Jewish zealots allowed the Idumaeans to come in and help them slaughter some of their fellow Jews who opposed their rebellion against the Romans. Between this slaughter and the earthquake, 8500 people died that night (Josephus, Wars 4:4:5, 4:4:7-4:5:1).
4. Revelation 16:17-21
“Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great. “
Just as the scene we examined in Rev. 8 takes place at the opening of the seventh seal, and the scene in Rev. 11 takes place at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, this scene takes place at the pouring out of the seventh bowl.
John sees the great city, Jerusalem, divided into three parts. As we noted in our study of Revelation 16, this is a flashback to Ezekiel 5:1-12, when the prophet was required to shave his head and divide it into three parts, and was told by God: “This is Jerusalem” (Ezek 5:5). One third of his hair was burned, one third was chopped up by the sword, and the last third was scattered into the wind. This was fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C. at the hands of Babylon, and Josephus records the same tragedies in 70 AD at the hands of Rome (1.1 million Jews killed by the sword or by fire, and all the survivors exiled or sold into slavery). Jerusalem was also divided between 67-70 AD into three warring factions:  the Zealots, led by Eleazar  the Galileans, led by John of Gischala, and  the Idumeans, led by Simon.
Just as an actual deadly earthquake took place as foretold in Rev. 11, actual hail – “about the weight of a talent” (i.e. 75 – 100 pounds) – also fell as foretold in Rev. 16. Josephus wrote of large stones shot from catapults by the Roman armies into the temple complex in Jerusalem, which the watchmen in the city reported as appearing white in the sky:
“Now the stones that were cast were of the weight of a talent, and were carried two furlongs and further. The blow they gave was no way to be sustained, not only by those that stood first in the way, but by those that were beyond them for a great space. As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white color, and could therefore not only be perceived by the great noise it made, but could be seen also before it came by its brightness” (Josephus, Wars 5:6:3).
Josephus also records that the watchmen on the wall, when they saw the stones coming, would shout, “The Son cometh!” After a while the Romans learned to blacken the stones so that they couldn’t as easily be detected, and many more were crushed by these stones. J. Stuart Russell, in his 1878 book titled The Parousia, offers this explanation for the words of the watchmen (p. 482):
“It could not but be well known to the Jews that the great hope and faith of the Christians was the speedy coming of the Son. It was about this very time, according to Hegesippus [110-180 AD], that St. James, the brother of our Lord, publicly testified in the temple that ‘the Son of man was about to come in the clouds of heaven,’ and then sealed his testimony with his blood [in 62 AD]. It seems highly probable that the Jews, in their defiant and desperate blasphemy, when they saw the white mass hurtling though the air, raised the ribald cry, ‘The Son is coming,’ in mockery of the Christian hope of the Parousia.”
In his book, “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary),” Steve Gregg also sees the connection between Mount Sinai and Revelation, as he shares concerning Rev. 4 (p. 88):
“The lightnings, thundering and voices (v. 5) recall Mount Sinai, where God first established His covenant with Israel [Exodus 19:16; cf. Rev. 8:5, 11:19]. Similar phenomena are mentioned here to suggest the end of that covenant and its replacement with another. The writer of Hebrews (citing Hag. 2) likened the overthrow of the first covenant (publicly demonstrated by the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70) to the time of its establishment at Sinai, but the latter would be accompanied by even more fearful phenomena (Heb. 12:18-29).”
Steve Gregg also shares David Chilton’s comparison of Revelation 19:1-6 with Revelation 11:15-19 (which we have already examined). Chilton indicates that very similar subject matter is established “in the two passages which represent the closing visions of the two major sections of the book” (p. 440):
1. loud voices…in heaven (11:15; 19:1);
2. the declaration of the commencement of the reign of God (11:15, 17; 19:1, 6);
3. the twenty-four elders fall on their faces and worship (11:16; 19:4);
4. the avenging of the blood of His servants is announced (11:18; 18:24; 19:2);
5. reference to God’s servants…who fear Him, small and great (11:18; 19:5);
6. loud noises, including thunderings (11:19; 19:6).
Check out the first two posts in this mini-series:
1. Revelation 6 and Luke 23: Hide Us From the Wrath of the Lamb
2. The Avenging of Righteous Blood (Deuteronomy, Matthew, and Revelation)
32 thoughts on “Echoes of Mount Sinai in the Book of Revelation”
Hebrews 8:13 follows Hebrews 8:8-12 which is a quote from Jeremiah, who was addressing the Jewish people of his day with a promise from their God. The chapter in Jeremiah is 31 which is where we find the context of these verses that the writer of HEBREWS and the recipients of HEBREWS would have been very aware of …Jeremiah 31:31-40 There are specific promises here about the people and the land that have yet to be fulfilled, specific towers and gates are mentioned and to spiritualize it all away and steal it from the chosen people is a travesty.
Every single Jew from the time of Christ onward, who has believed in Him, has lived in the blessings of the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah. So has every non-Jew who has trusted in Christ. Was not the gospel preached “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”? God is not a tribal God. The New Testament couldn’t be more clear that the way of salvation has been opened to all nations, peoples, tribes, and tongues.
The seed of Israel has not ceased from being a nation before God (Jeremiah 31:36). Jesus is that seed (Galatians 3), Jesus is Israel, and Jesus has granted His people – Jews and non-Jews – that nation status. We who are in Christ are a holy nation (I Peter 2:9-10), and we are God’s chosen people walking in light and not in darkness (as are all unbelievers, including Jewish unbelievers). God also has not “cast off all the seed of Israel” (Jer. 31:37), even if you consider that seed to be Jewish. Have there not been Jewish believers in every generation since Christ?
The inclusion of Hebrews 8:13 was a very small percentage of this post. Do you have any thoughts on why the imagery of Mount Sinai is repeated multiple times in the book of Revelation? If you don’t, that’s OK.
A tiny remnant is not the fulfillment of the promise made to an entire nation. (Isa 4:3; 60:21; Jer 31:34; Ezek 39:22, 28-29), that is where we differ.
The similarity of Moses to Revelation is because it is the same God, whose presence was at the mercy seat, it did not just “represent God’s presence” it was the presence of God meeting them there. The presence of 24 elders the naming of the gates after the tribes, I don’t know how much more clear God could be that He will keep the promises to the nation that He chose AND to the church.
Chuck, I observe that Paul, in Romans 9, quoted from Isaiah 10:22-23 to say that only a remnant of Israel would be saved:
“Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth’” (Romans 9:27-28).
God’s promises to the house of Israel are not unfulfilled. They’re fulfilled in Jesus, who is true Israel. And we are God’s house, His temple. Therefore, we who are in Christ are the house of Israel:
“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ… Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:11-22).
The church IS the nation that God has chosen. There is no separate nation, belonging to God and heirs of any spiritual promises, outside of the church.
Romans chapters 9-11 are one unbroken section of teaching, so you can’t break off some verses in Romans 9 and ignore verses in Romans 11 where Paul brings the teaching to a climax. The church is a brought in to the promises of Israel, but they are still the promises of Israel too. That is the part that you are not seeing. I gave scriptures that speak of this national promise, and of course Romans 11 speaks of it too. I would not make a big deal of this, but it is critical to a true understanding of the times of the end, and the day of the Lord. The section you quote from Ephesians is a beautiful promise to the church but did you notice that “covenants of promise” to Israel are not spoken of as being void, but we are simply added into them. Paul speaks of us being “grafted in.” That is the part that you are not getting. Your God is too small.
Thanks for letting me share my view, even though it is the polar opposite of yours.
Nah, I don’t think our views are the polar opposites of one another. Over the last few months, we’ve agreed on some things, taken somewhat different views on others, and flat-out disagreed on others. I don’t at all resent you being here and engaging me in dialogue. It’s a good exercise, and I imagine we could sit down over coffee (or something else) and enjoy a good conversation as brothers in Christ. I did just that a few years ago with someone (from the church I grew up in) who has the most Christian Zionist website I’ve ever seen, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. If some people browsed his site, and then browsed mine, they’d probably think that couldn’t happen.
Having said that, though, I do think the “Your God is too small” remark was a bit low. I’m sure you probably mean “my view of God” is too small, but what you said suggests that we serve two different Gods. And your point, however you meant it, isn’t true anyway, except in the sense that all of us could grow in our awe, respect, and fear of God, and our ability to see how magnificent He is.
Yes, we’re grafted in to the root, and are branches of that olive tree (Romans 11), but that root is Jesus, not national Israel. The Jews were also branches, and the majority were cut off. Any Jew who calls upon Jesus can connect as a branch. And some have. There has never been a time in church history when there weren’t Jews, as branches, on that olive tree. The invitation is open, but not just to Jews.
Paul says that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, nor are they all Abraham’s children.” Only those of faith are called children of Abraham. “God, having foreseen that the Gentiles would be justified by faith, preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In your seed all the nations will be blessed.’” Christ is the Seed who blesses the nations. Paul states in Ephesians that we are blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He has made known to us the mystery of His will, and we have been raised up and seated with Him in heavenly places. Having believed, we are marked in Him with a Seal, the promised Holy Spirit. That is the Gospel that God preached to Abraham. Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, even though at that time Abraham didn’t understand that that righteousness was made possible by the death of Jesus. This is the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith. And it is only those who are of faith who are children of Abraham and Israel’s descendants.
The entire nation of Israel left Egypt, but only a remnant entered the Promised Land. The entire nation of Israel went into captivity into Babylon, but only a remnant returned. Paul tells us that even now there is a remnant of those whom God foreknew, chosen by grace. All others are cut off, and the only way they can be grafted back into their Olive Tree is by faith in the Promised Seed. Gentiles are grafted, not into the entire nation, but into the believing remnant of Israel.
I believe that God will soon save a remnant of the nation in a Latter Rain Pentecost, thereby vindicating Himself and showing Himself to be faithful even when we are faithless, but those who are saved will be part of the Church. All so all Israel (made up of Jew and Gentile, “one new man,”) will be saved. The partial hardening of Israel will continue until the fulness of the Gentile has come in. This also means that a remnant is being saved by grace until that time. “And so all Israel will be saved as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is to them My Covenant, when I take away their sins.’” Jesus came out of Zion to turn godlessness away from Jacob through the New Covenant. All Israel is being saved now and will continue to be until Jesus returns to judge Mystery Babylon, the apostate Harlot Church. Those things that happened to Israel and types and warnings for us upon whom the culmination of the ages has come.
Jesus said we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its saltiness, it becomes good for nothing except to be trampled upon by men. In Revelation 11 John is told to measure the Temple, but to leave out the outer court, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will trample the Holy City for 1260 days. This is not a prophecy about the trampling of the Jewish Temple that occurred in 70 AD. The Holy City mentioned here is the Bride, the New Jerusalem, same Holy City that descends out of Heaven after she has been made ready. Both preterists (those who believe the trampling occurred in 70 AD) and futurist (those who believe this refers to the trampling of a future rebuilt Temple) are most likely wrong. Scripture interprets Scripture. And Revelation is about the Church, not earthly Israel.
I think the mistake people make is believing their own view of prophecy is the only correct one. If we all have the Holy Spirit and He teaches us “all things,” then I would tend to believe that we all have part of the truth. Partial preterism, historicism, and futurism are all true. He is the God who was, who is and is to come. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, and that testimony is given to all of us
p.s. I suspect that none of us really have any idea what the end of the age will be like. We may all be off the mark.
toddot Romans 9-11 is the place to go to find the relationship between the ‘church’ and the unbelieving Jew. You are looking in the right place and may God enlighten and give revelation to your understanding. The section starts with Paul’s apostolic, God inspired, heart burdened down for his unbelieving kinsmen. This distinction between the ‘church’ and the unbelieving Jew is carried all the way through this section of scripture, including chapter 11 and when He states “all Israel will be saved” (11:26) you can not then flip it to mean something that it did not mean in verse 11:25. If “Israel” meant the unbelieving Jew who has experienced a partial hardening in the previous verses, then that is who Paul is talking about in verse 26 period. That is my point, and I would like you to respond to that one, clear point if you would?
The “your God is too small” comment was over the top, I apologize, I appreciate this chance to exchange views and you are very gracious.
In Romans 11:24 the olive tree is spoken of as “their” olive tree.
Verses 25-27 seem very clear as Paul speaks of a prophecy from Isaiah, and its future, fantastic, fulfillment.
Verse 28-32 go on from there to proclaim that it is this disobedient people upon whom the mercy of God will return and not one word that falls from His mouth will return void. This hardened, people, enemies of the gospel, will be turned, changed brought into their calling by the amazing, powerful, mercy and grace of God.
Thank you, Chuck. I accept your apology.
Yes, I think that verse 24 speaks of “their own olive tree” because of for hundreds of years God’s chosen dwelling place on earth was in Jerusalem and in Zion (Israel), primarily among the Jewish people.
I agree with many interpreters of the past, and some from the present as well, who affirm that Isaiah’s prophecy, quoted in Romans 11:26-27, was fulfilled in Jesus’ FIRST coming. He came from Zion (a reference to His lineage), as a Deliverer (from sin, through salvation and His work on the cross), and He established a new covenant which takes away sins (Matthew 26:28).
God’s mercy and grace is absolutely extended to the Jewish people, and a remnant has been receiving that promise for the last 2000 years.
A remnant is not good enough. The promise of God is to a nation and the children of that nation. It is amazing, it is huge, it is beyond our ability to picture. It is a never before in the history of the world event, and it is promised by God. (Isa 4:3; 60:21; Jer 24:6,7; 31:34; 32:40; Ezek 39:22, 28-29; Isa 44:3; 45:25; 54:13; 59:21; 61:9; 65:9, 23; Ezek 39:22) Only the righteousness of Jesus could accomplish this and that is the source. The true teaching does not exalt a nation, it exalts the God of grace and mercy who sovereignly chooses to pour out extravagant forgiveness and love. None of this takes away from the cross of Christ on the contrary it magnifies it.
[…] One of my Facebook friends, Maurice Perry, has also been blogging for the last three months. Maurice believes that the book of Revelation is about the Biblical covenants, and the transition from the old covenant to the new covenant. I believe the same (see “Echoes of Mount Sinai in the Book of Revelation”). […]
Paul is talking about Old Covenant Israel in chapters 9-11. Israel as a nation ceases to exist after 70 AD. Paul sees his mission to the Gentiles as ending with the completion of the book of Acts. He had reached Rome with the gospel and had preached to the Jew first and then the gentile. In verse 26 Paul uses a qualifier “all Israel” the qualifier creates a theological and hermeneutic distinction. Israel after the inclusion of the gentiles has become a “mixed tree” as to race. The old covenant is coming to an end and the new covenant is entering it’s “not yet” phase after the destruction of Temple, priesthood, and all the types and shadows of the old covenant. The promises about the 10 tribes and the 2 tribes have been fulfilled, the inclusion of the gentiles, fulfilled a time for Israel to repent during the great tribulation fulfilled. We are now in the new covenant all types and shadows gone. Galatians 3:16 the heir is Christ and his followers.
So just to be clear “Israel” in Romans 11:25 is a completely different thing from the verse 26 “Israel” because of the addition of the word “all”?
Why in Revelation 21:12 is this done away with, old, passed over, forgotten, left desolate people mentioned by their 12 tribes names in the New Jerusalem? My view which still has them with the Lord yet to fulfill more of their destiny in the 1,000 year reign, and still has them as the chosen covenantal people can accept them having such a prominent place in the New Jerusalem. I am wondering how your view sees this happening to a people who God is finished with.
Yes, but it is clearly more than an addition as I said, it is a distinction and a qualifier, and echos back to Romans 9 and the beginning of Paul’s argument. When I read 11:26 I immediately think back to 9:6 because of the “all.” In 9:6 it is clearly being used to make a distinction. (My professor John Frame said constantly to us in class theology is all about making proper distinctions and recognizing biblical parallels.)
The “all” in both cases are the saved of Israel, the righteous remnant that is harvested and resurrected at 70AD. (Daniel 12, Matthew 13, and 24) Paul does need some language to discuss and distinguish those “true Israelites indeed” from those were “who could be raised from stones” to use John the Baptist’s language.
Paul, is quite aware of the prophecy of Jesus that the temple will be destroyed within the generation of the Matthew 24 audience. He knows a biblical generation is 40 years. That time clock was clicking and Paul when writing Romans knew it. He knew wrath was coming for Jerusalem and the Old Covenant types and shadows.
I cannot look at 9:6 the “not all Israel” and then put it as meaning the same thing as “all Israel” in 11:26. The revelation that Paul is giving in Romans 9-11 is a progressive unfolding of how God will be faithful to bring about the “New Covenant promise” of Jeremiah 31:34 “they shall all know me”. He is distraught that the whole nation is not saved, and is seeing that the remnant who have come to know the Lord are a down payment and a sign that when the time of them having a “spirit of stupor” 11:8 is over they will all be saved. Even the end of verse 26 which mentions removing ungodliness from Jacob, makes it clear that God is talking about physical Israel. So IMO in 9:6 Paul’s concern is since the whole nation does not know God, the word spoken to them has failed, but the remnant that God has preserved gives him hope to keep looking into the word of God for how God will use the believing Jew and Gentile to make the nation of Israel jealous. The warnings to “not be arrogant” are repeated because when we see them in the state of having their “eyes darkened” 11:10 and their being made to “stumble” 11:11 The majority are rejected, but Paul looks forward to the day when the entire nation will be accepted, as did Jeremiah and Ezekiel 35:25-29 and Hosea 3:5.
The prophets proclaimed that God would save all, Paul is just going through the scenario that shows the beauty of the remnant and the “not my people” nation that the Sovereign God uses to bring about the ultimate fulfillment of His promise. He makes a promise He keeps it, He is faithful and true.
The arrogance that Paul is talking about can be seen in the PreTribulation theory, that claims the Church is superior, that she is the Bride of Christ, and all the Old Testament saints, Abraham, Sarah, Daniel, Ruth, Job, all all the rest who were martyred for their faith (Hebrews 11) are merely guests at the Wedding or friends of the Bridegroom. How can this be when the walls and the gates of the Holy City are the apostles and Prophets, all Israelites?
Gentiles are grafted in to the believing remnant of Israel, and together they are “all Israel.” Those hardened in unbelief are not Israel, They are cut off, and the only way that they can be grafted back into the Tree is by faith, making them part of the Body of Christ. No one can be saved apart from being baptised into the death of Christ.
If you don’t see it, you don’t see it….
True enough, and for my last word on this topic, here is why I don’t “see it.” If I say, “As of right now ‘all my family” is not saved but I do have a spiritual father and brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are all in kingdom of God right now.” And later in our conversation I have shared specific promises that the sovereign God has made, and the ways I can see him working and I say, “One day ‘all my family’ will be saved.” it is clear as a bell to me that the earlier in our conversation I used ‘all my family’ with a negative qualifier of “not”, but now based on my strong faith and the revelation that God has given me about their future destiny, I remove that qualifier and praise His glorious faithfulness and power in saving “all my family.” That is a reason for me to break out in extravagant, ecstatic praise which is what Paul is about to do in the last verses of chapter 11! So IMO it fits in the context of Romans 9-11 perfectly. Thanks for hearing me out, you may have the last word if you so desire.
The “all your family” you are talking about is still alive and is able to be saved someday. What Patrick is saying is that there is now only one single generation out of the millions and millions of Israelites that have lived. That one generation can hardly be called “all Israel.” Even if every single Israelite today becomes saved, it is not all Israel being saved. “All Israel” MUST refer to all Israelites saved from all generations. In other words, the remnant chosen by grace.
Very simple logic.
But you are only talking about one generation. There have been at least 40 generations since the destruction of Jerusalem. This is what I don’t understand…how does the salvation of one last generation…lets call it 41 equate to “all Israel” being saved? This makes absolutely no sense to me. The text using your definition of Israel would require in my opinion the salvation of all 41 generations–but because faith was not a part of the 1-40 generations salvation then they would have to be saved using some different kind of salvation formula. That’s the rub and that’s is my problem trying to understand the point that your trying to make. Perhaps if I knew what system of theology/eschatology you are coming from I could understand.
I would say the generation that is alive at the close of the tribulation and “sees” the physical return of Jesus in the Second Coming, is the “all Israel” that is saved, but I would have no problem with the sovereign God, calling forth such a travail from the “church” that a “resurrection of dry bones would take place” and every generation of Israel would be alive to “see Him whom they have pierced” I know one thing it is a whole lot more people than the small number standing around the cross that day, that was a down payment a partial fulfillment and none of them is recorded as acknowleding Christ (except one thief). Zechariah 12-14 talks about a national turning and national repentance, neither of which has yet taken place, so this is one of many prophecies yet to reach its ultimate fulfillment under the power of a God who relentlessly pursues His chosen people. It is a great offense to the natural mind and I understand why so many stumble at this point. Peace.
The tame Olive Tree is made up of the beliving remnant chosen by grace, along with grafted in believing Gentiles. This is the Church, made “one new man” in Christ.
Have you ever noticed that those branches that have been cut off can be regrafted in if they do not persist in unbelief? But where are they regrafted? Into the very same tame Olive Tree that Gentiles are grafted into…the CHURCH, Jew and Gentile made “one new man.”
The “all Israel” that Paul is talking about is not distinct and separate from the Church, but rather become part of it. Dipensationalism is a false doctrine. NO ONE is ever saved apart from being in Christ, being part of His Body, the Church. The ONLY way to be save from the wrath of God is to be baptised into His death. When Jesus died on the cross, every single person who has been, is, or will be saved, was in Him by faith. That is why “God, foreseeing that He would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying ‘In your Seed, all the nations will be blessed.'” Jesus is that Seed, and the book of Ephesians, as well as others, tells how we are blessed in Him. The New Covenant was made with Israel and Judah. We become sharers in the Promise by being grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel.
When the Redeemer comes out of Zion to turn godlessness away from Jacob, the fulness of the Gentiles will come in (not seven years prior), and all Israel (made up of the 144,000 and the great multitude, will be saved.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say the entire nation of Israel is saved. “Though they be as the sands on the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.”
Both the fulness of the Gentiles and the end of the partial hardening will occur “when the Redeemer comes out of Zion.” Jesus is building His Church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and it will only be complete at His Second Coming, when the Bride has made herself ready. The Bride is not the New Testament Church, but the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which has the names of the twelve tribes written on the gates and the names of the twelve apostles written on the walls. It is all of God’s people from the beginning who have been saved by faith. Read Hebrews 11. YOU have come to Mount Zion ALONG WITH Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets and a host of others who believed.
“And all these, having gained approval for their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something BETTER for us (as explained by the book of Hebrews), so that they WOULD NOT BE MADE PERFECT APART FROM US?
The Church, both Jew and Gentile will reign with Christ over “all those who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem,” and they will go up year after year to worship the King and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
One the things that is confusing regarding the Dispensational belief that God has two peoples, and that during the Millennium, God the Father will be married to Israel, and the Church will be married to Christ. God was betrothed to Israel at Mount Sinai, but because of unfaithfulness God divorced her. But He promised that he would return to her, bring her back to Himself. But I see only one New Covenant in the Bible, made with Judah and Israel. If there were two Brides, one would think that there would be two covenants, or two brides mentioned in the book of Revelation. There is only one, the New Jerusalem.
“And I John, saw the Holy City — New Jerusalem — coming down from God out of Heaven, made ready as a Bride for her Husband; and I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, ‘ Lo, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will Tabernacle with them, and they shall be His peoples, adn God Himself shall be with them — their God,’ and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and the death shall not be any more, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain, because the first things did go away.’
“And He who is sitting on the throne said, ‘Lo, I make all things new; and He said to me, ‘Write, because the things are true and steadfast,’ And He said to me, ‘It has been done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and End; I, to him who is thirsty, will give the fountain of the water of life freely; he who is overcoming shall inherit all things, and I will be to him — a God, and he shall be to Me — the son…’
And there came unto me one of the seven, messengers, who have the seven vials that are full of the seven last plagues, and he spoke to me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the Bride of the Lamb — the Wife;’
and he carried me away in the Spirit to a Mountain great and high, and did show me the great city, the Holy Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, having the glory of God, and her Light is like a stone most precious, as a jasper stone, clear as crytal…
And a sanctuary I did not see in it, for the Lord Hod, the Almighty, is its Sanctuary, and the Lamb, and the City has no need of the sun, nor of the moon, that they may shine in it; for the glory of God did lightnen it, and the Lamp of it is the Lamb; and the nations of the saved in its light shall walk, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it, and its shall not at all be shut by day, for the night shall not be there; and they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it; and there may not at all enter into it any thing that defining and doing abomination, and a lie, but — those written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb.”
toddott I don’t know you, and this interaction is not helping much, but I need to pray for you and pray specifically that you can see that your very first sentence is not backed up by a simple clear reading of the passage in Romans. “The tame Olive Tree is made up of the believing remnant chosen by grace, along with grafted in believing Gentiles. This is the Church, made “one new man” in Christ.” Paul clearly connects the cultivated olive tree to historic, natural, Israel in Romans 11 verse 14, they are his “fellow countrymen”, in vs. 15 they are rejected with a looking forward to an acceptance which is life from the dead, in vs. 16 they are the ‘first piece of dough’ and the root. Unbelief causes branches to be cut off in verses 17-20. Natural unbelieving Israel is the natural branches that were not spared in vs. 21. Verse 25 is nearing the end of his brilliant revelation of the relationship between the Church and the unbelieving Israel. The partial hardening that has happened to natural unbelieving Israel is only UNTIL (an extremely important word in scripture, please, please, look at it as it is used by Isaiah and many of the prophets) the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and once that happens God comes all the way back around and answers Paul’s apostolic cry from Romans 9:1-4, verse 26 reveals the heart and the character of the faithful mercy of God keep His covenant with physical, Israel. Verse 29-32 explain why and reveal that this is truly all about God’s mercy! That is my prayer for you and for all who read this that you would KNOW His mercy. The revelation of His mercy causes Paul to enter into the ecstatic praise of Romans 11:33-36, and it causes me to do that to!
Chuck, not the natural mind, rather it is a mind totally given over to a Christological hermeneutic. Where you read Israel, I read Christ. You seem to miss my entire point…a 41st generation is not “all Israel” by any stretch of the imagination.
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Though I haven’t examined it in any detail, I have a feeling that the 24 elders have to do with the priesthood. We read about the 24 grandchildren of Aaron in 1Ch 24:4. These took turns as the priests. See also: Exo 28:39-41
Some of the issues with the 12 tribes of Israel is:
#1 Dan is missing in Rev 7. (Levi replaces Dan?!)
#2 Joseph replaces Ephraim?! Joseph was never a tribe with land allocated to it.
Those were some random thoughts.
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Thank you, brother Tomsan. I wasn’t aware that Aaron had 24 grandchildren. I’ll have to consider that in light of the issues you mentioned.
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