For an introduction to this series, click here.
July 13, 2007
Paul continues his discussion of Israel, stating that they have tried to develop their own righteousness based on the law instead of developing their faith in God. He says they have missed the truth that was always there in their own Old Testament scriptures: that man can never become righteous by the works of the law, but only by faith: "But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, 'Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" (10:8-13)
Notice all the Old Testament quotes in that passage. It is important to remember that the Old Testament was the only written scriptures the church had, other than the epistles which were coming out and being passed around from church to church. So Paul and Peter and all the great preachers of the early church had to use the Old Testament to prove that Christ was the Messiah.
The last section has to do with the lack of faith among the Jews: "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for 'Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.' But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, 'I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.' Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, 'I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.' But of Israel he says, 'All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.'" (10:17-21, ESV)
Even the Old Testament foresaw a day in which Jews and Gentiles would be treated equally, and this is something the Jews had not at that time and still have not come to grips with. Paul is mostly writing about the Jews of his day. Some of the specific statements may or may not be true today, but the general principle still applies. Paul says earlier in Romans that the Jews were blessed, because of their long history as God's people. But they were stuck in their thinking, and could not conceive of God expanding His reach, even though their own scriptures, especially in the prophets, foresee such a time. And therefore God passed them by. But He is not through with them yet. That is the point of Chapter 11.