I am going to continue with this idea of how we should understand the Jewish ‘No’ and the ‘Yes’ of the fledgling Christian faith. This effects our approach to how God works with creation and particular when he has a relationship with a people.
“If the Jewish ‘no’ to Jesus’ messiahship is due to ‘inability’, as Buber said, and not to unwillingness ir ill-will, then there is no reason for Christians to deplore this ‘no’ or to make it a reproach. Israel’s ‘no’ is not the same as the ‘no’ of the non-believers, which is to be found everywhere. It is a special ‘no’ and must be respected as such. In his chapters, Romans 9-11, Paul saw God’s will in Israel’s ‘no’. It is not because it says ‘no’ that Israel’s heart has been hardened. It is because God hardened its heart that it cannot do anything but say ‘no’. Hardness of heart is not the same thing as rejection, and has nothing whatsoever to do with a moral judgment. To harden the heart is a historically provisional act on God’s part, not an eschatologically final one. It is an act performed for a particular purpose, as the story of Moses and Pharoah shows.”
This next part for me is very important, and I am thankful to Moltmann for giving a perspective which addresses this exact issue when Paul writes to the Gentile and Jewish Christians in Rome. There are questions being continually raised about God and whether he keeps his promises no matter how long ago they were made. These people will have relatives and people they know and love who reject Jesus. They are concerned that God has rejected the Jew, they are concerned because they are now considering that God could also reject them.
This whole question has lingered ever since and raises it’s ugly head in the form of hatred and anti-semitism. The Jew has regularly been considered the people responsible for the death of Jesus, pograms have been carried out, and today we have an increasing fascist ideology returning in many countries due to widespread poverty. We have a climate very similar to the early days of Nazi Germany where extreme right-wing groups are finding a voice which is not only being heard but listened to. Add these circumstances to the current situation in Gaza where the Israeli government and army are brutally and to excess being violent by disproportionately bombing locations in retaliation, only helps the fascist voice even more.
“We therefore have to ask: what is the purpose? Why does God impose on the whole of Israel an ‘inability’ to say the ‘yes’ of faith to Jesus? The answer: in order that the gospel may pass from Israel to the Gentiles, and that ‘the last’ may be first. ‘Blindness has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of Gentiles come in'(Rom 11:25). Without Israel’s ‘no’, the Christian church would have remained a messianic revival movement with Judaism itself. But because the Jewish ‘no’, the Christian community had a surprising experience. It discovered that te Spirit of God comes upon Gentiles so that they are seized by faith in Christ directly without becoming Jewish first of all. The mission to the Gentiles which Paul himself began is an indirect fruit of the Jewish ‘no’. Paul emphasises this to the Christian congregation in Rome, which was made up of both Jew and Christians: ‘As regards the gospel they ar enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers’ (11:28). It is therefore perfectly correct to say that ‘We shall only put anti-semitism behind us when we succeed theologically in making something positive out of the Jewish ‘”no” to Jesus Christ’. The ‘something positive’ is the mission to the Gentiles, out of which the church emerged. It is not just a matter of extracting something positive out of something negative – a ‘making the best’ of what is really in itself bad. According to Paul, it is God’s will which manifested in the Jewish inability to accept the gospel of Christ. That is why Paul, the Jewish Christian, can certainly deplore the Jewish ‘no’, and grieve over his own people (9:2-5), yet at the same time he can also praise the divine ‘yes’ which manifests itself out of the ‘no’: ‘Their failure means riches for the world’ (11:12), ‘their rejection is the world’s reconciliation’ (11:15).”
God is not capable of rejecting his chosen people the Jew, if he did he would also be rejection his own election and as a consequence having to choose another people. Israel’s promises still belong to them, they have not been transferred to Christianity. That means that Israel will always remain part of divine history.
Moltmann states further:
“Just because the gospel has come to the Gentiles as a result of the Jewish ‘no’, it will return – indeed it must return – to Israel. ‘The first shall be last.’ Israel is ‘the last’ towards which everything else draws.”