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How to Exit Planet Earth

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 11:25–32

God’s plan for Jews and Gentiles, for believers and unbelievers, is clearly set forth for us in Scripture. So, too, is His “exit strategy,” the divinely established means of reaching a new, eternal home once we leave this world behind.


The term “exit strategy” is used today for a country’s plan to remove their military personnel from another country. I have heard “exit strategy” used in relation to businesses that go up for sale—it is the plan for how to get the most out of the sale as the business makes its exit from the marketplace. Even in our Bibles, the name of the book of Exodus comes from the Greek word for “exit”—it is all about Israel exiting the land of Egypt.

Some time ago a physicist used this phrase in an article. It struck me as bizarre, but people today are certainly thinking about this kind of exit strategy. Here is what he wrote:

The latest data from space satellites are unmistakable; the universe will eventually die . . . Billions of years from now, the stars will have exhausted their nuclear fuel, the oceans will freeze, the sky will become totally dark. Is all intelligent life on earth doomed to die when the universe perishes? But there is still one possible exit strategy [for us]; to leave the universe itself. Do the laws of physics allow for the creation of wormholes connecting our universe to a younger universe? . . . Can a gateway be built to connect our universe with another? For intelligent life, there is no choice. Either we leave for [another] universe, or we die in the old one.[1]

Although this author pins his hopes on the wrong exit strategy, he has the right idea. The universe as we know it today, is not going to be around forever.

In 2 Peter 3 we read of a future judgment of the universe:

The heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (verses 12-13)

This current universe is indeed temporary, but God will create a new one for His followers.

Now as we sail today back into Romans chapter 11, the apostle Paul brings his discussion on the nation of Israel to a close. He gives us some more insight into how this all fits into God’s exit strategy for His people. Let me point out three aspects to God’s plan.

First, for the Gentiles, there is an ongoing gathering. Paul writes in verse 25, “I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers.” This word “mystery” (mustērion) refers to the plan of God that is impossible for us to discover apart from God’s revelation—the Bible.[2]

In other words, you cannot figure this out on your own. So, what is the mystery? Paul continues here in verse 25: “A partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Paul is referring to the completion of the church as more and more Gentiles are added by faith in Christ.

This “fullness of the Gentiles,” that is, the completion of the bride of Christ—largely a Gentile bride—is going to bring about the rapture of the church. And then, beloved, the focus of prophecy will once again turn to the regathering of Israel.

The New Testament also refers to the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). The “times of the Gentiles” and “the fullness of the Gentiles” are two different things.

The “times of the Gentiles” refers to the period that began with Gentile rule through Nebuchadnezzar back in Babylon. It continues up until the return of Christ as He establishes His kingdom, following the tribulation. So, the “times of the Gentiles” refers to political domination by Gentile world leaders.

But the phrase here, “the fullness of the Gentiles,” refers to this church age or dispensation; it began with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the creation of the church. Peter says back in Acts 15:14 that this dispensation is the time when “God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.”[3] So, whereas the “times of the Gentiles” refers to political domination, the “fullness of the Gentiles” refers to spiritual deliverance—the redemption of Gentiles.

Paul makes it very clear here in verse 25 that the hardening—the unbelief—of Israel will last “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” In other words, when the church is completed and raptured to the Father’s house, the focus returns to the nation of Israel.

Now there are a lot of things happening in this little white space between verses 25 and 26 of Romans 11. Between these two verses is the rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4), the rise of Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2), the tribulation period (Daniel 12) and the ministry of Jewish evangelists who turn a remnant of Israel to faith in Jesus Christ, their Messiah (Revelation 14).

So, in review, the hardening of Israel to the gospel will remain until the church is completed and the New Testament saints are raptured to heaven. And by the way, how is that for an exit strategy for the church?

For the Gentiles in general, the strategy of God is an ongoing gathering of believers from among them—and that is still happening today.

Second, for the Jewish people, the strategy of God is a soon-coming kingdom. This kingdom is going to last a thousand years Revelation 20 tells us; it will be established by Christ the King when He returns. But before that kingdom comes, Paul writes here in Romans 11:26, “All Israel will be saved.” Many Jewish people will trust in Christ during the tribulation period and await their soon-returning Messiah and King.

The promises and prophecies of Scripture will be fulfilled. Beloved, the church has not replaced Israel. Israel will have their promised land, their promised throne, their promised temple, and their promised King.

Third, for the world in general, God’s strategy is an open invitation (verses 28-32).

You will find the word mercy four times in these next few verses:

For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. (verses 30-32)

I would summarize Romans 11 with these three statements. Number 1: The aim of God is unstoppable. Number 2: The assurances from God are irrevocable. And number 3: Our appointment with God is inescapable.

Every living human being of all time will have his appointment with God. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

For the believer it will be the judgment seat of Christ, where the Christian’s life will be rewarded. But another judgment, the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20, is where the unbeliever will be condemned by God. It will be forever too late to believe.

But for now—while the church is still incomplete—there is hope for you, even if you have not yet received Christ. Don’t wait. Accept today the invitation from the Lord to be saved by faith in Him alone. Who knows? You may be the last person added to the church.

Earlier I read the question asked by a desperately concerned physicist who wondered if we could somehow leave this universe for another. Well, in a manner of speaking, the answer is yes. Jesus Christ promised in John 14:3, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Jesus is the exit strategy that will take you to heaven. Make sure He is your Savior today.

[1] Michio Kaku, “Huddled up with LISA,” The Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2005,

[2] Fritz Rienecker, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, ed. Cleon L. Rogers Jr. (Regency, 1980), 374.

[3] John Phillips, Exploring Romans (Moody Press, 1969), 175.

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