To start at the beginning of this study on Romans Chapter 10, please click here
English Standard Version
18 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.”
19 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.”
20 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.”
21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary.” people.”
Paul, who grew up deeply studying the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament, is quoting from Psalms 19 in verse 18 of Romans chapter 10. Here is chapter 19:
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
The basic premise is obvious enough, that God and his very nature and qualities are seen in His handiwork all over the earth. And that God’s laws are meant as a means of living holy, and that we should invite God to search us and uncover any unknown sins in our lives so that we may stay in line with God.
It’s not enough for us to just accept Christ as the ultimate sacrifice and redeemer over our intimacy with God, because then if we continue willfully sinning then we abuse God’s grace and dishonor Jesus’ sacrifice. That doesn’t mean we won’t mess up, but it also doesn’t mean we live in sin patterns on purpose.
Then in verse 19 he quotes Deuteronomy 32:
“”The Lord saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness. They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” Deuteronomy 32:19-21 ESV
This passage is preceded in that chapter by a string of indictments of the nation of Israel. Basically, God was pointing out their infidelity to Him alone and their proclivity to wander into the idolatry of their neighboring cultures. So He was warning the Jews that they had been shown and given so much but still had rejected His law. And as such Paul was alluding to the present, and past, rejection of the Jews of the work of Jesus. Paul continues to point out that the salvation was also for the Gentiles by quoting Isaiah 65:
“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices;” Isaiah 65:1-2 ESV
So even in the Old Testament we see God growing weary of the rejection of His people and so He proclaims that He will be available for the Gentiles. This was written by Isaiah around 700 years before Jesus. And so we see God preparing the nation of Israel for His acceptance of the Gentiles as well as any Jews who would follow Jesus.
So, in review. God chose the nation of Israel to be his own. Israel rejects Him time after time, and the sacrificial system of atonement is onerous and temporary and became legalistic and repetitive. Jesus was sent as a Jew to save the Jews first but God has been setting the precedent that He would also save the Gentiles as well long before Paul’s journeys and conversions of so many Gentiles.
So why would Paul take the time to seemingly tack this on to the end of such a climactic passage as what we discussed yesterday and the day before? What purpose do these words serve? I think we need to circle back around to the reason Paul was writing this letter to the church in Rome to begin with. Rome was the capital of the empire. Around the time that this letter was written there were about 1,000,000 people living in under 10 sq miles. Of them the vast majority were Gentiles of course, but there was a notable population of about 50,000 Jews or around 5%. So therefore it is quite obvious that the church in Rome was more than likely to be made up of some converted Jews (believed to be participants in the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost) while the rest would be converted to Christianity from atheism, or more than likely paganism of the Greek and Roman gods. Paul was reaching out across the aisle, he was calling for a non-partisan inclusion of all believers, regardless of what their heritage or previous religious practices. And I think the same could be said for us today. We don’t share Christ with some folks out of fear of rejection, sometimes it’s because we are afraid of what people might think of us. Other times it’s our own prejudices or judgments of people. And then there are those times where we are not living like a redeemed sinner but more like just a sinner and we are concerned that we have ruined or otherwise tarnished our witness by our actions and/or words. I’d like to leave you with this today, God is bigger than your mistakes. He is larger than your fears. He is more faithful than your whims. And God is less concerned about your self esteem and your social status than He is about your glory.
In what ways have you let yourself down as God’s witness?
Why are your reasons for not sharing Christ?
Who have you judged or deemed as not a likely candidate to receive Jesus as savior? Why?