Hearing, Yet Not Believing.
So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. – Romans 10:17 NLT
As a Jew, Paul had a special love for the people of Israel. He knew that God held a special place in His heart for them and desired greatly that they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And that’s why Paul was so insistent that they hear the Good News. He knew that the only way the people of Israel could be made right with God was through placing their faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. They had to believe the testimony regarding Jesus Christ and His claim to be the Son of God, their long-awaited Messiah, and the Savior of the world. In other words, they had to express faith in Jesus Christ, just as the Gentiles did. But many of the Jews in Paul’s day had failed to accept the Good News about Jesus Christ. They had refused to believe. So was it a matter of them not having heard the message? Had they not been given ample opportunity to hear the Good News? Paul answers his own question and exclaims, “Yes, they have!” He then quotes Psalm 19:4. “The message has gone throughout the earth, and the words to all the world” (Psalm 19:4 NLT). By the time Paul was writing his letter to the Romans, he and others had spread the message regarding Jesus Christ throughout the known world. The Gospel had spread rapidly ever since the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Converted Jews and Gentiles had returned to their own towns and cities, ready to share the testimony regarding Christ to their own communities. Christianity had spread rapidly, which is one of the reasons that Paul, in his pre-conversion life, had been hired full-time by the Jewish religious leaders to track down and persecute Christians every where he could find them.
Paul is not saying that the message of salvation had been spread to every area of the globe, and that every individual had been given the opportunity to hear about Jesus and accept God’s offer of salvation. But he is saying that the Jews were without excuse. They had heard. They had been given the promises regarding the coming Messiah in their own Scriptures. They had read the writings of the prophets regarding the Anointed One. And they were familiar with the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah and the teachings of the early Christians regarding the new requirement of faith as the means to be made right with God. They could not plead ignorance. Paul even claims that the very fact that Gentiles were coming to faith in Christ was an attempt by God to make the people of Israel jealous and open their eyes. Again, he turns to the Hebrew Scriptures and quotes Deuteronomy 32:21. “I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation.I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles.” As in the day of Moses, God was going to bless non-Jews in an attempt to awaken the people of Israel to their own rebellion and God’s hand of cursing upon them. Ever since Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the launch of the Church at Pentecost, the hand of God’s blessing could be seen upon the Gentiles as more and more of them accepted Christ as their Savior. And yet, the majority of the Jews continued to refuse Him as their Savior. They were not acting out of ignorance, but outright rebellion. Again, Paul turns to the Hebrew Scriptures in the writing of the prophet Isaiah. “All day long I opened my arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious” (Isaiah 65:2 NLT). God had been faithfully calling the people of Israel to Himself. Paul had been aggressively preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Jewish community everywhere he went. But they remained disobedient and rebellious. As a result, God had temporarily rejected His people. He had taken His blessings to the Gentiles. But that rejection was not to be permanent. Chapter 11 will unpack God’s gracious, merciful plan for the people of Israel. He is not done with them. In spite of their rejection and rebellion of Him, He will extend mercy and grace. He will keep every promise He has made to them. In fact, there were some Jews coming to faith in Christ, even in Paul’s day. There was a remnant who were accepting Christ as their Messiah and Savior. But the day is coming when God will turn His favor back on the people of Israel and He will restore their hearts to Himself. The requirement will still be the same. They will still have to accept Jesus as their Savior. They will still have to give up any and all attempts at self-righteousness and rely on the righteousness that Jesus provides on their behalf. But they will return and God will restore them. Because He is a faithful God.
Father, it always encourages me to be reminded of just how faithful You are. In spite of all that the people of Israel have done to You and how often they have rejected Your love and mercy, You continue to hold to Your promises regarding them. You fully intend to keep the covenant You made with them. Because You are faithful. You are the promise-keeping God. You do what You say. You fulfill what You promise. Never let me forget that. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men