In the New Testament we find that Yeshua and the Apostle Paul instructs that the gospel is to be taken first to the Jewish people and then to the nations.
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Mat 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and charged them, saying, Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans:
Mat 10:6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Acts 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted the things which were spoken by Paul, and blasphemed.
Act 13:46 And Paul and Barnabas spake out boldly, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken to you. Seeing ye thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
There are many reasons for the Jewish people to be first in priority. I will list several for consideration. First, it was the Hebrews who were the chosen and elect people of God. (Deuteronomy 14:2). Second, they were Yeshua's own people group, He was Jewish Himself. We find the third reason when Yeshua addressed the Samaritan woman telling her that “salvation is of the Jews”. (John 4:22) Fourth, it is the Jewish people that we have to thank for the preservation and revelation of the Word of God. Without them we would not have the Holy Scriptures. The Apostle Paul confirms this in Romans 3:1-2. We need always to be thankful that they were good guardians of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings of what Christians call the Old Testament.
Unfortunately, this message that was to go to “the Jew first” has gotten lost throughout the ages. Instead, the vast majority of Christians for the better part of 2000 years have turned to anti-Semitism. Jews have been slaughtered and/or driven from their homes and communities and from the numerous nations where they once flourished. Most of the time all of this has been done in the name of Jesus. They have been called Christ killers for centuries. Is it any wonder that they, as a people group, have failed to recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah? Would you recognize a man as Messiah whose followers have slaughtered your loved ones by the millions? We as Christians have missed the mark in reaching the Jewish people with the good news of their Jewish Messiah.
In Romans, Paul writes about the natural branches being broken off and the wild branches being grafted in. The part that we fail to remember is that he also speaks about their return. He states that their return will “be life from the dead”. The question is, “life from the dead” for whom? For all of us in Messiah, Jew and Gentile. The Bible states that Yeshua will not return until HIS PEOPLE, THE JEWS, cry out, Baruch Haba B'Shem YHVH, Blessed is He who comes in The Name of YHVH! Paul also speaks about a remnant of the Jewish people who will indeed see Yeshua as their Messiah, but the nation as a whole will be blinded, until the FULLNESS OF THE NATIONS have come in. Today, in fact, there are many, many Messianic Jews in the world, but they are only a remnant of the nation as a whole.
This term “fullness of the nations” is a mysterious term to say the least. It is related to the “wild olive tree” that was grafted into the “cultivated olive tree” or the “natural olive tree”. In Genesis we read that Jacob blessed Joseph and his children, Ephraim and Manasseh, and told them that they would become “a multitude of nations”. Jacob continues and states that Joseph's descendants will be “a fruitful bough by a well, His branches run over the wall”. (Genesis 48:17-20 and Genesis 49:22) Joseph, through his son Ephraim, received the firstborn blessing. He received a double portion from Jacob. The descendants of Joseph spread around the world. His descendants also became the largest tribe in the Northern Kingdom, The House of Israel. As quoted in the scripture above, Yeshua told His disciples to go to the Lost sheep of the House of Israel. Yeshua Himself said that He came for the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
The House of Israel went into bondage because of rebellion against God and He drove them from their land by the Assyrians. They have never returned as a large people group to the land of Israel, like the Jews did when they returned from Babylon. (See Books of Ezra, Haggai,and Nehemiah)
The Book of Hosea and Amos explain to us about the state of the House of Israel. They became a people who were “afar off” and a people who “had no mercy” and a people who were “not my people”, and a people who were "scattered". Hosea also states several different times that the House of Israel will be “wanderers among the nations.” Although individuals from the House of Israel could choose to obey and accept YHVH, the nation as a whole was blinded because of sin.
So, what am I trying to say in all of this? I am of the belief from the Old and New Testaments that the vast majority of Christians today are of the House of Israel. The Book of Peter does a good job of explaining this in I Peter 2:9-10 (quoting from Hosea) It is explained elsewhere as well. Yeshua Himself said “other sheep I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring” (John 10:16). He also said that He would leave the 99 and go and find the one lost sheep. In order for a sheep to be lost, it must have first been found. He also said that those that were not sick did not need a physician, only the sick need a physician. Judah didn't need a Doctor, but Ephraim did! Ephraim was blinded and lost until the coming of Yeshua who would now seek to find her and who would instruct His followers to "fish" for her.
I am about to get to my point about the salvation of the Jews (those who do not yet see Yeshua as their Messiah), but there is so much foundation that needs to be laid here. It is difficult to teach on such a delicate subject as I will approach without much more foundation than I can lay here.
Ephraim's (The House of Israel) eyes as a nation had been blinded and they had been cast away and divorced by YHVH. However, in His great mercy He remembered them and sent His redeemer, Yeshua, to come and save them. Hence, the “multitude of nations”, the “lost sheep” must be found by Him. When this happens, and the time of the nations is completed, then Yeshua will return and restore all of Israel, once again. It is at that time that Israel, the House of Judah, will have their eyes opened by YHVH.
It goes without saying that when God blinds someones eyes, then that person couldn't see even if they wanted. Why was Judah's eyes blinded as a nation? Because of their sin. But have they been cast away? The Apostle Paul says “God forbid”. (Romans 11:1) So, how does God deal with a group of people, His chosen people, whose eyes have been blinded? Well, we know that many of them have come to believe and accept Yeshua as their Messiah and they have forgiveness of their sins by His blood sacrifice, but what about Israel as a nation? Have they been doomed to eternal punishment just because they haven't accepted their Messiah and His blood atonement? Was all of the people of Ephraim doomed to eternal punishment for thousands of years while they had been “afar off”? Not if they repented and turned from their sins.
In the year 2000 my husband and I were granted the privilege of visiting Israel. As we stood by the Wailing Wall at Sabbath and watched the Jewish worshipers coming to pray and place their prayers in the wall, emotions began to well inside of us. I told my husband that it was sad that they couldn't have salvation because they didn't accept Yeshua as their Messiah. They didn't accept His atoning work for salvation. It didn't seem fair to me. We believed in the same God, loved the same God, prayed to the same God. My husband immediately reprimanded me and told me that I couldn't see inside the heart of a man and that I didn't know if they had salvation or not. Well, that of course commenced into an argument about Yeshua being the only door, the only way to salvation. How could they have salvation without the shedding of His blood? Right?