Continuing through Romans, chapter 10, Paul is getting back to his discussion of Israel. What exactly is their problem. He gets back to asking a series of questions.
But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
The first question is; did they not hear the message? The obvious answer is, “Yes!” The apostle quotes a verse from Psalms talking about a voice heard throughout the earth. What is this voice?
It’s found in the context of Psalm 19.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
This Psalm is talking about the voice of the heavens. The entire earth has heard about God through the testimony of the universe. This is how Paul started his discussion in this book. He talked about the entire world seeing the witness of God’s glory.
…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
This brings us back to the verse in Romans, chapter 10, above. Paul makes it clear that the universe isn’t just a passive witness. He literally says that their rhema – their revelation of God – has gone out to the ends of the earth.
So, Israel heard God’s message to them. Was there another problem?
Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”
Maybe they didn’t understand the message they heard. No, that’s not it. Compared to Israel, the Gentile world has no understanding. But that’s the point. God is trying to do two things through the opening of salvation to the gentiles.
First, it says that the Lord wants to make them envious. That word means to stimulate alongside. God was trying to start a spiritual rivalry between Israel and the church.
Now, because of God’s great mercy, Gentiles are pursuing the God of Israel. By bowing their knees to Christ, they’re receiving the blessings of Abraham. This all happened because we’ve learned the lessons of righteousness by faith.
God is trying to provoke Israel to pursue Him in this same way. He wants them to turn in faith to Jesus Christ in order to restore their place in the kingdom of God.
The second thing that the Lord is doing…He wants to make them angry. Remember, anger is not a bad thing. It can be a strong motivating force to get us to do what we need to do. God is trying to work this in Israel.
The problem is that, throughout the centuries, the church has been short-circuiting God’s plan. Instead of seeking to restore Jews into God’s salvation, we’ve shown ridicule, anger, and prejudice against them.
In many instances so-called “Christians” have pushed Israel away from God’s grace. Because of the history of violence against them, many Jews will not even look into who Jesus really was.
The heart of Paul, and the Lord, is to see Israel restored to right relationship with God. Gentile believers need to understand that God still loves Israel and wants them saved. We need to be a part of God’s restorative work.
Question: What’s your view of the Gentile-Jew relationship?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi