The Temporal Blindness of Israel

Monday, January 16, 2012

“And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a midst and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:11 KJV).

God formed Israel so He could utilize them in a kingdom to send His salvation to the Gentiles (non-Jews). When God sent Israel’s Messiah-King, Jesus, the Jews demanded His crucifixion. Even after Jesus was resurrected, they still rejected Him: Israel refused the apostles’ ministry (technically, the Holy Spirit’s ministry) in the early Acts period. Until all of Israel was saved, her kingdom could not be established, keeping the Gentiles from receiving salvation. But God had a plan to circumvent this rebellion!

Today’s Scripture is the Apostle Paul’s first recorded miracle—the physical blinding of Elymas. Why did Paul do this? According to verses 6-8, a lost Gentile, Sergius Paulus, sought to hear God’s Word from Paul, but Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, attempted to prevent this Gentile from hearing God’s Word and trusting Christ.

Verses 9 and 10 read: “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him [Elymas], and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”

Elymas symbolizes lost national Israel that prevents Gentiles from hearing God’s Word. Paul writes, “the Jews…[forbid] us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway…” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

As Paul begins his apostolic journeys, God signifies, through the blinding of Elymas, that He will temporarily spiritually blind Israel and send salvation to the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry, without Israel (Romans 11:11-13). In our dispensation, Israel is “[blinded]…until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). When our dispensation ends (the rapture), God will return to Israel (Romans 11:26-29). Just as Elymas was blinded “for a season”—not eternally—Israel is temporarily blinded. God is not finished with Israel.