Paul has made it abundantly clear up to this point that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are still in his fourth main point that is dealing with his assertion that God has always been faithful in His dealings with Israel, but Israel has for the most part, not accepted God’s grace through Christ. In these verses, Paul makes his case that they have no excuse for their failure to believe.
10:14-15 make the point that in order for someone to respond in faith, they must first hear the message about Jesus Christ. Verses 16-18 make the point that Israel has in fact heard the message of Jesus Christ, and has not accepted it.
Now it gets really interesting because Paul is going to tell us why they would not believe:
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.” (10:19)
He begins by quoting from Deut. 32: the Gentiles have heard and believed the message: Horror! Apparently there were many among the Jews of those days who were not going to do anything Gentiles were doing; their prejudice was getting in the way.
And Isaiah boldly says,
“I was found by those who did not seek me;
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” (10:20)
Isaiah 62 brings the point home; the Jews didn’t want grace, so God went to the Gentiles: an insult to their pride.
But concerning Israel he says,
“All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people.” (10:21)
Isaiah again; it would seem that the rejection of grace was nothing new for Israel, for they had been all too eager to turn their backs on God throughout their history God had stretched out His hand to them time and time again with the same result. You might recall that God was stretching out His hands when He sent Isaiah to warn them centuries before, at the time these verses were first written down. Did they receive Isaiah’s message?
No they didn’t; if memory serves, didn’t they saw him in half to silence the message God was sending?
God has always been faithful to Israel; He was never the problem, for it was always the people who were the problem.
Before were let ourselves feel superior to anyone, let’s stop and remind ourselves that we Christians have not always been the shining beacons of godly love that we are supposed to be. I might just add that our stubbornness and disobedience has been just as inexcusable (probably more so in fact) than that of the Jews. Rather than smirking, maybe we should also take these warnings to heart lest we put the Gospel to shame in the eyes of those around us.
When we get back together, we will see what Paul has to say about the salvation of the true Israel.