How can Jesus say Israel is forsaken but still chosen? Is there a future for ethnic Israel in the program of God?
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'" (Luke 13:34-35).
As Jesus marched to Jerusalem to face the cross, He lamented over the spiritual hardness of Jerusalem despite His mission to reach them and draw them into His arms like a mother hen cares for her chicks, summarizing His reaction to their track record of killing God's prophets. Then Jesus speaks a harsh word “Your house is left to you desolate,” which rings of judgment. Several interpretations have been offered for the meaning of 'house,' such as Bultmannn's interpretation as 'the world,' but “a better possibility is that the word refers to the temple” (Marshall, 576), which happened literally with the destruction of the temple in 70AD. Hindsight raises the question as to whether Jesus' words were prophetic in this regard.
Jesus continued His lament by stating that “you will not see me again...” Since 'you' in this statement is singular, it is unlikely the Jesus has shifted His subject from Jerusalem. Thus, Luke's variant (vs. Matthew's) of “the saying surely refers primarily to the abandonment of Jerusalem by God, which results (incidentally) in its becoming prey to its enemies” (Marshall, 576). Literally, this can be seen in the continual state of turmoil and Godless bloodshed at Jerusalem since the time of Christ as the enemies of Judaism, the Romans, razed the temple to the ground and then the subsequent physical occupation of the temple mount. As Jerusalem is a synecdoche for the whole of the Jewish people, it certainly captures the primary reluctance and opposition to Christ that the Jews have maintained for nearly two millennium.
However, Jesus words hang on a single word “until” (which exact connective is disputed amongst textual critics, but it is clear that “the phrase simply means 'until the time when you will say'” (Marshall, 577)). Quoting Psalm 118:26, which is unarguably a Messianic prophecy, Jesus indicates that a time will come when Jerusalem will recognize the Messiah who comes in the name of the Lord. Danker has tried to appeal this quote to the triumphal entry, but such a fulfillment not only seems to conflict with Matthew, but also destroys hope for the God's chosen people. “Hence the ultimate reference must be to the final consummation when the promise of the coming of the Messiah is fulfilled” (Marshall, 577), with the second coming of Jesus. Scholars have questioned whether or not this recognition will afford the Jews a last hope of salvation at the coming of the Messiah or too-little-to-late as judgment. Again the best answer appears to hang on the word “until,” which implies a prior action, or that “you will see me again” after you recognize me as the Messiah who comes in the name of the Lord.” In light of other passages of scripture, such as Romans 11:25-32 which promises salvation to God's chosen people, “desolation is not the final word for the covenant nation” (Howell, 236). Instead, it would seem that before Christ's second advent a great revival will spread throughout the Jews as “Israel [comes] to recognize her Messiah, repent, and joyfully acclaim...” (Howell, 236)1 as they are grafted back into relationship with God.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.