If faith comes from hearing the message of Christ, it only makes sense to ask the question whether or not Israel heard the message. Paul said not all of Israel has accepted the good news nor believed in it ( Romans 10:16 ). Was that because they hadn't heard the message of Christ?
In today's passage Paul stresses that they had in fact heard the message, he said, "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." The voice he is talking about is that of nature. It is bearing God's message and is proclaiming throughout the entire universe His existence. Romans 1 says, "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" ( Romans 1:19, Romans 1:20 ). Nature testifies to the evidence of God, but does it testify to Jesus and the message that Israel was supposed to hear? Paul said it did.
Jesus was responsible for Creation. John said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" ( John 1:1-3 ). Jesus was the one who made everything so the heaves declare the glory of God because of Jesus. The skies proclaim the work of his hands ( Psalms 19:1 ). We cannot look at the majesty of the world around us and deny the fact of Jesus. Hebrews says, "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word" ( Hebrews 1:1-3 ). Jesus is the exact representation of God, but was made manifest to us. He made the entire universe and holds everything together by his powerful word. If we know God then we have evidence of Jesus. We have heard this message proclaimed and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
So what about Israel, why did they not understand this message? They didn't understand it because they didn't know God in the first place. Jesus said in John 14, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" ( John 14:9 ). So in the same way, if they knew the Father, they would have recognized the Son. Nathanael was proof of this. "When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." ( John 1:47 ). Jesus recognized Nathanael and said here is a true descendant of Jacob according to the promise. What made him that way? It was because his heart was right with God. He knew God and it was evident in his lifestyle. In other words it was more than rules and regulations with Nathanael. So when he saw Jesus he said, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel" ( John 1:49 ). He recognized him as the Messiah because God revealed it to him. This happened because his heart was right with God in the first place and he knew God. Remember, Jesus is the exact representation of the Father ( Hebrews 1:3 ). So the Israelites didn't receive the message of Jesus even though creation testified to him, on the basis of not knowing nor understanding God. They rejected God and followed the letter of the Law instead of the author of the Law.
This has implications for us today. We can miss heaven by eighteen inches. If what we know only remains in our head and doesn't penetrate into our heart then our entire life is in vain. Everything around us testifies to Jesus and understanding that he came from the Father to give us life and to bring us into relationship with him is too awesome to understand intellectually. We must understand this in faith and allow that to change our entire life. Faith comes by hearing and recognizing the message of Jesus.
Today I am so thankful for Jesus. I am thankful that he is the difference in my life. I am thankful that I can know and understand the Father through the Holy Spirit whom he's given me. Today, may you mix this message of grace with faith and be forever changed, amen.