Welcome back, Bible students! I hope you are enjoying digging into God’s Word as much as I am! Romans 9-11 are chalked full of instruction when it comes to understanding our Jewish roots and rightly relating to our Jewish heritage.
It is my belief that, in order to most fully understand and appreciate our salvation in Jesus, the Messiah, we must understand who the Messiah is (Jew!), and recognize that we (Christians) have a debt we cannot pay. What glorious grace our God has shown to us in offering a way of salvation!
It is important to understand the context. The apostle Paul is speaking to Gentiles, as that is where God directed his ministry. Thus, though he was a Jew, he refers to Jews as “them” in these chapters. In verses 1-4, Paul is expressing his desire that his kinsmen be saved. He references their zeal for God, yet their ignorance of God’s righteousness, leaving them to strive to establish their own righteousness apart from Him.
One of the most bittersweet places I have ever been is the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. Sweet because I have never seen a group of people more fervent in their longing for God. Not all Jews are “practicing” Jews (religiously), but many who are make their way to the Western Wall to pray (sometimes daily). I have seen them with their prayer books, faithfully and fervently reciting the Word of God and seeking His face. They are full of zeal and long to know their God.
It is bitter, however, in that they are “so close, yet so far” from a personal relationship with the Living God. Jesus (Yeshua, in Hebrew) is God, and came in the flesh to dwell among them (John 1:1, 14), yet they knew Him not.and did not receive Him (John 1:10-11). Indeed, they missed the day of His visitation (Luke 19:41-44). However, the bitter will one day become sweet when they see their Messiah and all Israel is saved! (Romans 11:26…but that is for tomorrow’s lesson!)
Thus, I can only imagine Paul’s agony as he longed for his people to cease their striving and simply receive the righteousness of God that is offered. Yes, Jesus Christ is the end of the law (verse 4), and law of Moses is fulfilled in Him.
Now, focus on verses 9-13. Salvation is so simple…no matter if you are Jew or Gentile! God’s Word says we simply must believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and we will be saved! (BTW, if you are reading this and have not believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (or if you’re not sure), do it! Not only is this your “ticket to heaven,” but it also opens up the opportunity to experience peace with God while here on this earth! Click here to learn more.)
Now hit the “wow” button…read verses 12-13 once again. Friends, there is no distinction (spiritually) between Jews and Gentiles! In other words, the Jewish Messiah who brought salvation to the Jews, also offers it from the Jews to the Gentiles (John 4:22)! ALL who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved…Jews and Gentiles! Christians, that is the best news ever! Without the Jews, we would have no salvation!
Believers, verses 14-17 describe our call! How can anyone (Jew or Gentile) believe if they have not heard? We must tell them! We are the “beautiful feet” that bring good news…the Gospel of Salvation…to all who will hear! Will we be found faithful when our Lord returns?
Paul closes chapter 10 by turning his focus squarely on his fellow kinsmen, the Jews. He is setting us up for chapter 11, so follow closely, then come back again tomorrow as we put those pieces together.
In verse 18, Paul confirms that the Jews have indeed heard. In fact, their own voices have gone out to all the earth! Huh…? They have heard the Gospel and their voices have gone out, yet somehow they have “missed it” when it comes to the Messiah? Yes! Remember, Genesis 12:3 tells us that all the families of the earth will be blessed through Abraham and his descendents! They have blessed us throughout history, though they themselves have been blinded to the truth!
In their lack of understanding, they become jealous (verse 19)! (We’ll learn in Romans 11 that that will ultimately play in their favor! Come back tomorrow as we study Romans 11.) Then, in verse 20 Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah:
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
Oh dear friends, that is you and I! He has made Himself known to those of us who did not seek Him and did not ask for Him. He revealed Himself to us and, at some point in time, we (Christians) received Him as Savior! Glorious! The Jewish Messiah made Himself known to us! But not without responsibility!
Romans 11 will lay out that responsibility, but take special note of how Paul closes Romans 10:
But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
To be continued…