"For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won't imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra'el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness;" Romans11:25
Golgotha (maybe ?) - hill of the skull - Jerusalem
Here are some thoughts.
Before we look at the role of Jewish religious leaders and Yeshua's parable about the vineyard, let us remember that, down through Church History, men have been guilty of stealing the Christian Church away from Christ (Yeshua the Messiah), to whom it rightly belongs.
Church History has left a long and bloody trail of evil practiced against the Jews, in the name of Jesus.
Anti-Semitism shaped much Christian teaching and became Replacement Theology
When so many atrocities such as the Crusades, the Inquisitions, Expulsions, Pogroms and the Holocaust were responsible for so many Jewish deaths at the hand of "Christian" nations, is it any surprise that Jewish people fail to see our Christian Jesus as their Messiah?
Is it surprising that they are resistant to the efforts of those they perceive as Gentile Christian Missionaries?
Think what impression is given to Jews, who worship the one true God, by the many Christian churches and gift shops in the "Holy Land" with all their iconography and veneration of Mary, mother of Jesus.
Does this look any different from all the pagan family deities that led Israel astray in the times of the "Old Testament"? Don't all the religious figures suggest idolatry?
Starting at the time of Jesus / Yeshua
. . . . , for the Judeans had already agreed that anyone who acknowledged Yeshua as the Messiah would be banned from the synagogue. John 9:22
After the resurrection of Yeshua
. . . some of the guards went into the city and reported to the head cohanim everything that had happened. Then they met with the elders; and after discussing the matter, they gave the soldiers a sizeable sum of money and said to them, "Tell people, 'His talmidim came during the night and stole his body while we were sleeping.' Matthew 28:11
The Jewish Religious Leaders conspired to suppress the truth and keep it from the people, thus polarizing the divide between those who believed and those who might have been hesitating.
Remember the parable of the vineyard that Yeshua told against the religious leaders.
"Now listen to another parable. There was a farmer who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower; then he rented it to tenants and left.
When harvest-time came, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the crop.
But the tenants seized his servants — this one they beat up, that one they killed, another they stoned. So he sent some other servants, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. Finally, he sent them his son, saying, 'My son they will respect.'
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance!' So they grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" They answered him, "He will viciously destroy those vicious men and rent out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him his share of the crop when it's due." Matthew 21:33
And verse 45, - As the head cohanim and the P'rushim listened to his stories, they saw that he was speaking about them.
The religious leaders were the wicked tenants in the parable, seeking control of the vineyard (God's Israel) for themselves.
Are Jewish teachers hardening Jews and closing their minds against Christianity and the New Testament, with accusations that they are anti-Semitic? - Bible upsets Jews?
Reading the story of the Exodus carefully, you will notice that Pharoh hardened his heart after the first few plagues, but thereafter God hardened his heart.
The Jews, as God's chosen nation, divided between those who believed the witness of the apostles that Yeshua had been raised from the dead and was the Messiah, and those who rejected the witness of the apostles.
Is it unreasonable to suggest that the religious leaders had been hardening their hearts since the coming of John the Baptist (Immerser), and from the resurrection of Yeshua onwards God hardened their hearts for his divine purpose?
For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won't imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra'el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness;" Romans11:25
For the whole picture, you need to study Paul's letter to the church in Rome. Wildolive now has a series of podcasts studying the whole letter of Paul to the church in Rome, following the thread of Paul's concern about the church's attitude to Jews.
From this time onwards, and after the destruction of the Temple and its sacrificial system, the leaders had to rebuild Judaism to manage without the Torah ordinances but also without the Messiah to whom the Torah was pointing. One might feel that they were developing a legalistic way of using the Torah to maintain their righteousness before God. But God detests self righteousness.
All of us are like someone unclean, all our righteous deeds like menstrual rags; we wither, all of us, like leaves; and our misdeeds blow us away like the wind. Isaiah 64:6 (64:5)
Rabbinic Judaism also places great importance on the Oral Torah and other sources that are the opinions of learned men; another source of conflict with Yeshua, who said (Mark 7:7)
'Their worship of me is useless, because they teach man-made rules as if they were doctrines.'
The leaders set about opposing Jews who would believe Yeshua to be their messiah, in every way that they could. In the synagogue, the rabbis added an extra prayer to the "Shemoneh Esrei" (eighteen) putting a curse on those who follow the teacher Yeshua from Natzeret.
Remember also that in some (many?) Jewish communities, leaving Judaism to become a Christian or Messianic Jew is so serious that families will hold a funeral for the one who has left the faith, and they are thenceforth regarded as having died. (See towards the end of "Fiddler on the Roof", when Tevya's daughter Hava marries a Christian)
Much of what Jews and Christians have done suits the purposes of Satan very well. He has taken steps to snuff out Messianic Jewish faith through history. There was a large Messianic revival in Eastern Europe before World War II, but it was extinguished in the Holocaust
Consider the above comments about "stoniness to a degree" and it becomes apparent that God has been working out a purpose through all of this. Read Sha'ul's letter to the Romans, especially chapters 9 to 11 to see that God used the rejection of Yeshua by the Jewish leaders to send the Gospel out to the Gentiles. Notice also that this stoniness is only UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
We Gentile believers in Jesus / Yeshua should not be angry with the Jews for their reluctance, as Martin Luther did. He allowed himself to become violently anti-Semitic to the end of his life, and his words produced a root of great evil that grew into the Holocaust of Nazi Germany. May we pray that God will increasingly take away this stoniness from both Jews and the Church.
God is doing amazing things to undo the evils of two millennia, softening Jewish hearts, softening Christian hearts to repent for the past, and building a Messianic Jewish people. He promised at the end of the book of the prophet Micah . . .
Look, I will send to you Eliyahu the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible Day of Adonai. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers; otherwise I will come and strike the land with complete destruction."
(The fathers are seen to be the Jews and the Children, the Gentile Christians)
We are surely approaching the time when the "Fullness of the Gentiles" will have come in; when God will remove the "stoniness to a degree" that came upon the Jews for our benefit, and "All Israel shall be saved." - "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Romans 11
For if their casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting him mean? It will be life from the dead! Romans 11:15
Note - translating this verse as "if their casting aside means..." is both wrong and misleading. Paul / Sha'ul is not saying that God cast the Jews aside, but that the Jews cast Yeshua aside. This mistranslation is another plank in the platform of replacement theology.
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