Session 11

Key to revival

In the New Testament book of Romans, there is a promise of a great revival to come. We live at a time when we may expect an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What is the key?

Next: Session 12 ... Why Israel matters »

Session 11 ... transcript

Key to revival

Romans chapter 11, verse 12, points to a revival that is coming. Before we look at that, let’s examine the context of the words of the verse.

In Romans chapter 11, the apostle Paul is speaking to Gentile believers … to non-Jews who had come to faith in Jesus (Romans 11:13). Paul writes as a Jewish believer in Jesus.

At the start of chapter 9 of Romans, Paul says that he has "great sorrow and unceasing grief" for his fellow Israelites … Jews who have not yet come to know Jesus.

At the start of chapter 10, Paul again cries out for the salvation of Israel.

At the start of chapter 11, Paul says that God's promises to Israel haven't failed, because he himself is an Israelite. God has a "remnant" of people of faith among the Jews.

Then, in verse 11 of Romans 11, Paul says: "Did they …" (that's the unbelieving majority of Israel) … "Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?" "No!" he says. Emphatically "No!" What it means is that God hasn't finished with Israel.

Now comes the key verse that interests us. Romans 11 verse 12: "If their transgression means riches for the world, and their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fulfilment bring!"

Israel’s stumble, their transgression, of not believing in Jesus, opened a way for the Gospel to come to us non-Jews. We were blessed. We were made rich … spiritually. But, when unbelieving Israel turns to Jesus, it's going to bring greater riches. Wow! Something powerful, spiritually, is going to be poured out from above, when the remnant of Jews come to faith in their Messiah.

Some background … Jesus was a Jew. Jesus was the promised Messiah of Israel. The first disciples of Jesus, and the apostles and writers of the New Testament, were all Jews. The first church ... those who came to faith on the Day of Pentecost … were all Jews.

Thousands more Jews came to believe in Jesus in the years that followed. But they were a small minority of all Israel. The majority of Jews hardened their hearts and refused to believe in Jesus.

Those of Israel who did believe in Jesus remained Jews. The apostle Paul called unbelieving Jews his "brethren" … his "kinsmen, according to the flesh, who are Israelites" (Romans 9:3-4). Paul said that he too was "an Israelite" (Romans 11:1). When Paul became a Christian, he didn’t stop being a Jew. And Paul’s strong desire was to see all Jews come to faith in Jesus.

In Acts chapter 10, we read about a Roman centurion, Cornelius, and his family, who were the first Gentiles to get saved. When Peter returned to Jerusalem and reported to the church (to the Jewish believers in Jesus) that God had given the Holy Spirit to non-Jews, they were amazed (Acts 11:15-18).

Slowly, more and more Gentiles came to believe in Jesus. It took several years and got to the point where there were more non-Jewish believers in Jesus than Jewish believers in Jesus. This is the background of Paul's letter to the Romans.

Paul wrote: “God's promises haven't failed because God has a remnant of Israel who believe in Jesus ...” But, God hasn't finished with Israel. Unbelieving Israel (the majority of all Jews), were set aside for a period … so that God could bring in a people for Himself from among the non-Jews. We non-Jews had been "without God and without hope in the world" (Ephesians 2:12). We received a huge blessing when unbelieving Israel was set aside. But, God says, "greater riches" are going to come to everyone when the unbelieving remnant of Israel finally turns to God … in faith in Jesus. It will be life for the church, as we know church today. And it’s needed.

So much of church, of a now almost entirely Gentile enterprise, is taken up with tradition and rituals. In many cases, it’s institutional formality. It's dry religion. What’s needed is a move of the Holy Spirit. And, it's coming.

Think about this: In the 1880's Jews started to return to the land of Israel. They were driven out of eastern Europe by persecutions. There were waves of Jewish migration to the land through the early 1900's.

In 1948 the state of Israel was declared and hundreds of thousands more Jews returned to the Promised Land. Today, one out of every three Jews in the world is back in the land of Israel.

An astonishing transformation has taken place. Israel has a strong economy, powerful military and much of the desert has been turned into a garden. Ruined cities have been rebuilt. The Bible said these things would happen.

Exactly in line with the physical regathering of the Jews, and the physical restoration of the land, God has poured out physical and material blessings in the world. Think what a different world we live in today. Think how life has changed in the last 140 years. Life today is completely different to life as it was for thousands of years. Think about air travel, automobiles, computers, communications, anaesthetics, housing … It's amazing.

Is it a coincidence that our physical and material lives have changed so much for the better, exactly in line with God's physical dealings with the Jewish people?

Maybe you can sense what is coming, as God takes up His spiritual dealings with Israel. Every time the Gospel is preached to Jews … every time a Jew comes to faith in Jesus … it releases spiritual blessings into the world and into the church. It's a key to the end-time harvest, and a key to the last days outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

What I am saying is not understood by certain Christian denominations. They teach that God has finished with the Jews … that the church is now Israel … a new Israel … a spiritual Israel … (which makes no sense of Romans chapter 11 verse 12). We need to understand the Bible on this topic. Go now to the next session: “Why Israel matters.”