Concerning the Jewish People


A parishioner writes;
per many of the old testament prophets’ writings and I will name only two here although there are numerous texts with a similar implication I’ve always had a feeling that Jesus came first to the gentiles then at His glorious appearance to the Jews: in other words he didn’t come to earth as a man for the Jews at all but He came here explicitly to save our people . . . for the gentiles. Then per all the Old Testament texts when He comes back in glory the Jews (Hebrews) will know Him for who He is and whom they pierced. I could give many references in especially Old Testament biblical text but for now I will speak of Isaiah 6:1-13, Amos 7:1-9 of which both seem to implicate that because God (of infinity) knew the Jews were hard hearted came to earth in the form of a man to save the heathen, then later would take in His chosen ones. Am I misreading the scriptures or is there some part of truth in this?

I think that if we take a look at the perspective of St. Paul it will tell us how best to read the prophets. In Romans 1:16 he says the he is not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation, “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Then in Romans 11 he teaches that God has not forever rejected His people but that their stumble has resulted in the gospel going out to the Gentiles. He uses the analogy of some branches being broken off from the vine so that “wild branches” (Gentiles) could be grafted on. From this perspective we can see that the inclusion of the Gentiles in the writings of the prophets was not to declare that salvation was first to the Gentiles but rather that it was not limited to the Jews. Thus in one sense the inclusion of the Gentiles comes as a judgment on Israel, as you said, for their hardheartedness. I believe that is what the prophets are talking about.

But put in a positive way, the Gospel going to the Gentiles also affirms God’s promise to Abraham. In this promise we can see that God never intended for salvation to be limited to Israel. God promised to bless Abraham but He also promised to make Abraham a blessing to the nations (Gen 12). Israel was to be a model for the rest of the world and then through Israel would come the Messiah who would be, as Mary sang, “a light to enlighten to the nations and the glory of thy people Israel.” Israel failed in fulfilling her role but God in His faithfulness kept His side of the Covenant and gave us a Messiah.

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