So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
If you read through the Old Testament Law, it’s not hard to see why things go bad for Israel. The Law was and is still completely impossible for us to follow. Jesus had to come and keep it perfectly because Israel never could and we never will.
This truth could make God seem like a poor planner or a cruel master. He’s a poor planner if He didn’t think through the possibility that Israel may not be able to measure up to His impossible standard. And He’s a cruel Master if he knew that Israel would never measure up, but laid down the Law anyway.
The Apostle Paul helps us see that God is not a poor planner or a cruel master. The passage above is from Romans 11, part of a larger conversation about the nature of God saving people for Himself. The big reveal here is that God had a purpose behind Israel failing to live up to His glorious standard that was good for us, and good for them.
If Israel had collectively kept the Law perfectly, there would have been no reason for God to save anyone. Therefore, we Gentiles, would have never received the gift of salvation through Jesus, because Jesus would never have come.
But Israel stumbled, as Paul says. That’s putting it lightly. They botched things up big time. So much so that there was no doubt about the fact that God would need to bail them out, but not before God went elsewhere looking for people to follow His Son. So God sent the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles and Gentiles started coming to know Jesus. They were “grafted” into the olive tree, becoming children of Abraham through faith in God’s great promise.
But look at what Paul says next. If it’s good news that the Gentiles are now included among God’s people, how much better will it be when Israel returns to their God.
Now I don’t know what you think about the end times and what happens to Israel. People think lots of things. Honestly, I doesn’t really matter.
What Paul is saying is that when the people of Israel return to the God who called them out of Egypt, it is a glorious thing. Both Gentiles coming to Jesus and Israel returning to Jesus only happens through God’s saving work in Jesus. The point is that people coming to meet Jesus is good news for everyone and if we’re not rejoicing in that simple and miraculous fact, then we’re doing it wrong.