Although the nation of Israel had shared in cutting off the Messiah in death at the half of the ‘seventieth week of years’ (from 29 to 36 C.E.), yet Jehovah God continued showing them favor for the latter half of that seventieth week of years out of regard for his covenant with Abraham, whose fleshly descendants the nation of Israel was. (Daniel 9:24-27) So the opportunity to become Abraham’s spiritual “seed” continued to be offered first to them to the end of the seventieth week.
A MYSTERY UNLOCKED GENERATIONS LATER
17. How many Jews had faith like that of Abraham and took advantage of the ‘seventieth week of years’ of divine favor to them?
17 Not all fleshly descendants of Abraham had the faith that he had and that resulted in his being called righteous and the “friend” of God even before he was circumcised in the flesh. (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:9-12; James 2:21-23) So not many of the natural Jews took advantage of the ‘seventieth week of years’ during which the Abrahamic covenant was ‘kept in force’ in behalf of the fleshly descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Daniel 9:27) Only a small remnant did so. The latest figure for those Jews at Jerusalem who accepted the Messiah Jesus before the end of the ‘seventieth week of years’ in 36 C.E. was given as about five thousand.—Acts 4:4.
18. How many did God purpose to have of the spiritual Israelites, and so what questions arose at the end of the ‘seventieth week’?
18 God had foreordained a number far larger than that for his “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” that was to be produced by the new covenant. The exact number that he purposed to have he did not reveal till after Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 C.E. and toward the end of the first century. Then to the aged surviving apostle John he revealed the purposed chosen number of spiritual Israelites to be 144,000. (Revelation 7:4-8; 14:1-3) When the ‘seventieth week’ ended in the autumn of 36 C.E., the number of Jews who had accepted Jesus as Messiah and who had been baptized with holy spirit was evidently far less than 144,000. What then? Had God’s purpose failed? Or, what surprising step would he now take toward not letting his “eternal purpose” in Christ fail?
19. What revelation did God now make regarding the body of baptized believers under the Messiah Jesus as Head?
19 Down till the autumn of 36 C.E. the congregation of the baptized followers of the Messiah Jesus consisted exclusively of natural Jews, circumcised Samaritans and others who had become circumcised proselytes of the Jewish faith. (Acts 2:10; 8:1 through 9:30; 11:19) The rest of mankind were unbelievers, “without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise,” having “no hope” and being “without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:11, 12) Now came a revelation: The body of believers under the Messiah Jesus as their Head was no longer to be exclusively of persons drawn from the Jewish race and Jewish proselytes. Henceforth there were to be taken into the body of Messianists uncircumcised believers, persons just as uncircumcised as Abraham was when God called him and then made the covenant with him and justified him to friendship with God because of faith. So, too, these accepted non-Jews had faith.
20. (a) So what was no longer to stand as a barrier between Jew and non-Jew? (b) So to whom did God now turn favorable attention?
20 In the middle of the ‘seventieth week’ in 33 C.E., God had abolished the Mosaic Law covenant and had inaugurated the better “new covenant” with spiritual Israel. So the old Law covenant should no longer stand as a barrier between Jew and Gentile. So, moving down a cleared path, as stated in Ephesians 2:13-18, Jehovah God turned his attention favorably to the uncircumcised Gentile nations in order “to take out of them a people for his name.”—Acts 15:14; Amos 9:11, 12, Greek Septuagint Version.
21. To whom did God then send his angel, and what did this one do?
21 At the end of the seventieth week of years, Jehovah God sent his angel, to whom? To an uncircumcised Gentile at the capital city of the Roman governor over the province of Judea.