THE JEWS’ TWO-FOLD REJECTION OF MESSIAH

Jesus weeps over Jerusalem

41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke19:41-44NASB]

I make the point in my book that Old Testament prophecy has been subverted, i.e. the establishment of God’s Kingdom on Earth is not to be fulfilled in the current age under the inspiration and leadership of the Jewish people (cf. Zech8:22-23; Mt8:11-12). But what in particular has not been understood is that this is a result of a two-stage rejection by the Jews of their Messiah, the first during His lifetime  to which the above passage is referring, the second pertaining to the Jewish leaders’ response to the apostles’ teaching after Jesus had been resurrected and had ascended to heaven.

Whilst many ordinary Jews welcomed Jesus to their city with palm leaves their leaders were indignant and already plotting His downfall. This was the first rejection culminating in the crucifixion and as Jesus stated it put paid to the hope that the coming of the Messiah would bring an end to Israel’s political and military problems. The promise of peace and security for Jerusalem, evident in much prophecy including the recent angelic annunciations concerning the birth of John and Jesus, would not be secured by Jesus in His earthly lifetime, indeed worse was to come for Israel in about a generation’s time as Jesus had warned in His Olivet sermon. However, this is not what resulted in the rejection of the Jewish nation as sole inheritors of the Kingdom that Paul refers to in Romans 11 and Ephesians 3. Such is affirmed in Acts where the apostle indicates that even after Pentecost it was still the Jewish people’s “day of visitation” and they were still not appreciating it. Paul had warned certain Jews at Antioch:

Be careful! – or what the prophets say will happen to you: “Cast your eyes around you mockers; be amazed and perish!  For I am doing something in your own days that you would never believe if you were told of it” {Acts13:40-41]

The warning was about what will or might happen to the Jewish nation, not what already had happened. Their day of visitation did not end when they crucified Christ. That event that Jesus referred to as His other baptism had been both divinely planned and prophesied; what was shortly to occur was undoubtedly planned or foreknown by God and also hinted at in some of Jesus’ parables but it had not been foretold within the Old Testament. It concerned the establishment of an international messianic community, a plan hidden in God the Father even from earlier prophets. For the Jewish leaders had refused to acknowledge that the resurrection and the miraculous signs were the vindication of Jesus’ earlier claims. They still rejected His Messiahship even now that He had been raised to the highest heavens and empowered His disciples to work miracles in His name. The featured passage from Luke 19 affirms that the Jews had already forfeited the prospect of political peace and security through their rejection of Jesus in His lifetime, but something even more radical was at stake: Kingdom inheritance. For as Paul goes on to warn:

We had to proclaim the word of God to you (Jews) first, but since you have rejected it since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, here and now we turn to the Gentiles [Acts13:46-47].

As I go on to explain in my book this was not matter of sequence or protocol – that commonly held view subverts Paul’s teaching in Rom 11 where he writes –

“Look, what I am saying is this: Was this stumbling to lead to the Jews’ final downfall? Out of the question! On the contrary, their failure has brought salvation for the Gentiles, in order to stir them to envy. And if their downfall brings great riches to the world, and their loss has brought great riches to the Gentiles – how much more will their restoration bring!” (Rom11:11-12)

And later in the same chapter:

“For you (Gentiles) were once disobedient towards God but you have now obtained mercy as a result of (the Jew’s) disobedience” (v30)

When Jesus and Paul are taken at their word in this context, the providential implications are wondrous and profound – explored in depth in The Little Book of Providence (free PDF HERE)