Rom. 11:15, “What shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?” Here the same phraseology is employed. Israel are nationally defunct, but they have a future. They are yet to enjoy national existence and favour, which are here predicted. Their restoration and reorganization are to be their life from the dead.
Their future national regeneration is alluded to by St. Peter in Acts 3:19, “Repent,” he says to the Jews, “and turn again that your sins (as a nation) may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who was before proclaimed unto you, even Jesus.” Revised Version. This to our own day the Jews are far from doing. When Moses is read, the veil is still upon their heart. 2 Cor. 2:14. “But when it (i.e., their national heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.” This explains Peter’s “Repent and be converted;” for when the Jewish heart shall turn to the Lord, the times of refreshing, seasons of rest from persecution and national distress shall come from the presence of the Lord.”—Charles Drawbridge.
Thus the term “life” and “death” have frequent reference to Israel’s national existence. To forget this involves much serious misapplication of the Word of God.
An objection—more noticeable for its craft than its cogency—has been urged against our usage in restricting such appeals, warnings, threatenings, and promises to the Jewish nation.
A writer having quoted a passage addressed to God’s ancient people, thus anticipates an objection:
“‘But,’ you may say, ‘this is spoken to the Jews.’ Truly, but to the Jews as sinners.
“‘But does it not refer to their national dispersion, which is called their death’? Possibly—but the principle is far broader; for if God is too merciful willingly to see a nation scattered, how much less can He willingly see a soul perish for ever!”
To this the unanswerable reply is, that Jehovah stood in peculiar relationship to the Jews on the ground of the covenant that He had made with them, and that His unwillingness to visit them with temporal and national calamities affords to ground for determining His intentions concerning sinners and their eternal punishment.
The will of God in relation to the eternal punishment of sin can only be known from His express revelations on the point.
Again, it has been urged that in expostulating with and promising temporal mercy to the Jews, God really tenders grace to all men.
Hence, when He said, “Why will ye die?” He indeed addressed the Jewish nation; but the nation consisted of individuals, and thus, men as men, were entreated not to despise offered grace and perish.
This, again, fails to distinguish things that differ. Every individual Jew was indeed responsible for his personal share in the nation’s wrong-doing; and, by idolatry and godlessness, contributed to bring down judgment on his nation, and calamity on himself and his household. Hence Jews, as individuals, are sometimes exhorted to personal reformation, and assured of God’s good will (See Ezek. 18:21). But God’s mercy in sparing, and His severity in punishing them cannot on fair grounds be cited as identical with His grace to His elect, and His judgment on the ungodly (See note on Amos 4:12, page 215).