Did Israel Not Understand?—Romans 10:19-21

"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." 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." But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people" (Romans 10:19-21)

Understanding the message of Christ is the next step after hearing it. So Paul's logical question concerning Israel was; did they not understand this message? Israel was given the law and had the prophets and patriarchs as their guide. Israel had understanding of these things and lived daily by them. However they were so indoctrinated by the letter of the law they missed the fact that this was a type or shadow of Jesus ( Hebrews 10:1 ). (Meaning that the law only resembled the foreshadowed Messiah.)

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in Matthew for this very thing, he said, "you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: " 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' " ( Matthew 15:6-9 ). When we only have head knowledge about God then we take what he said and become legalistic about it. Israel was so wrapped up in their doctrine of the law that they made the word of God of no effect in their lives and in the lives of those around them.

Because they nullified the word of God by the letter of the law rather than the intent of the law and worshipped other Gods, Moses prophesied that God would make them angry by nations that did not have understanding. "They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding" ( Deuteronomy 32:21 ). People who are not instructed in religion and grow up having no preconceived notions about God will accept the gospel message with gladness. It is far easier to comprehend and accept at face value when religion isn't in the way telling you, you must participate in your redemption. The biggest lie we believe is that we must do something to be right with God, instead of accepting the fact that Jesus already did something.

Isaiah foretold this. He saw that Gentiles would come to Jesus and accept the gospel message and Israel would reject it. "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.' "All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations" ( Isaiah 65:1-2 ). The difference between the two is that the Gentiles know they will never be good enough for God on their own, but Israel has not understood this yet. All they see is the literal letter of the law and not the embodiment of law which is Jesus who fulfilled the letter. . Patiently God waits and calls for them to understand his message. Jesus is the promised Messiah who gives us the righteousness of the Law by grace .

This has implications for us today. We can start out through faith in Jesus only to be yoked once again to the rules (or "law"). It is important to understand the truth of Jesus and what he did for you as a basis of how to live. We have died to the law through faith in Christ so we are free to live by the Spirit. Paul said in Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" ( Galatians 2:20-21 ). If we go back to religion, to the rules and doctrines of men, after we accept this marvelous grace then Christ died for nothing.  We can nullify the word of God in our hearts by living according to man's rules and regulations. What a harsh reality.

This is why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to live by, to protect us from going back to the old way. We do not need the law because we have a perfect guide living inside us directing and steering us in the way of God. He has written himself upon our hearts so that we do not have to live by the letter, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (II Corinthians 3:6). Paul has written extensively throughout the New Testament, that living by the Spirit will not gratify the flesh. But, in living by the Spirit we will experience the freedom which Christ purchased for us and God desires us to have,  for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" ( II Corinthians 3:17 ).

Today, it is my prayer that you are free. Free from religion, free from the law, free from the doctrines of men and free to live for Jesus. I pray that you will understand this freedom and shake off everything that keeps you in chains. You were called to walk in this glorious liberty in Christ, may you understand this calling and fulfill it according to his riches and grace, amen.

Creations Testifies About Jesus—Romans 10:18

"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" (Romans 10:18)

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.

Faith Comes By Hearing the Word of God—Romans 10:17

"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17)

 We all have faith in something, but what our faith is in depends on what or who we're listening to. If we listen to the world then chances are we have faith in the world's system. We will let it dictate our thoughts, our actions and even our bodies. However, if we depend on the word of God and what he has spoken to determine our present reality then we operate in an entirely different realm, the realm of victorious faith.

 Hebrews 11:6 says, "without faith it is impossible to please God..." so on this basis we can deduct that faith is what pleases God. The verse goes on to say, "because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him ( Hebrews 11:6 ). Believing in Jesus takes faith. In today's passage Paul tells us that faith comes through hearing the Word of God. Paul is talking about saving faith. The message of Christ is the only thing that can produces this type of faith. We must hear it, receive it, believe it and lastly confess it. This is "the word of faith we are proclaiming: if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved ( Romans 10:8, Romans 10:9 ). This marvelous miracle happens when you humbly receive the word of God planted in you that has the power to save you ( James 1:21 ).

The Word of God is a faith builder. The more you hear it, the more encouraged in your faith you become. The word of God is likened unto a seed that is sown into our hearts. If we receive and cultivate the soil in which it is planted, the seed will yield proportionally to what was sown ( Matthew 13:23, Mark 4:14-20, Luke 8:11-15 ). This is the law of harvest, what is reaped is not a 1:1 ratio of seed to fruit. One seed will bear much fruit if the conditions are right. And the fruit will contain more seed regenerating itself. In the same way, the word of God planted in your heart will bring its abundance into your life proportionally to what has been sown. And the fruit of these blessings will regenerate into the lives of others.

Planting the word of God into your heart is so important. Peter said, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" ( II Peter 1:3-4 ). Through Christ we have great and precious promises but these come through the knowledge of him who has called us. If we don't know what these promises are then we will never escape the corruption in the world. Paul told Timothy, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" ( II Timothy 3:16-17 ). The word of God equips us for this life. It is the breath of God and it is everything we need to live. Jesus said, the words I speak to you are life ( John 6:63 ). Above all else, we need the word of God planted in our hearts otherwise we will not grow in faith, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God ( Romans 10:17 ).

Are you listening to the world as your basis for living? Or, are you listening to God? Faith comes by hearing and if you are only hearing the negativity of the news then that's the faith you will have. If you're only taking in the chaos on the television, set then you will have disorder in your life. The seed determines the crop not the soil. If you don't like what's growing in your garden, then plant something else. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" ( Galatians 5:22-23 ). These fruits come by planting the word of God in your heart and letting it grow.

Reading the Bible and hearing the Word is a wonderful adventure. It is my prayer that you take these seeds of life and starting planting them. Meditate on today's verse until God makes it alive in your heart.  When you do you will see your crops grow, first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head then you will know that the harvest has come ( Mark 4:28-29 ). May you be blessed in abundance, amen!

Who Has Believed Our Message?—Romans 10:16

"But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" (Romans 10:16)

What a disheartening thing to know that not everyone will accept Christ Jesus as Lord. Eventually they will confess this with their mouths ( Philippians 2:11 ) but the timeframe to accept this gospel message is while we are in the world. Christ came to redeem the world, although he knew, not everyone would accept him. John said, "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God ( John 1:11-13 ). Jesus came first to the nation of Israel and proclaimed peace between them and God. However they received him not.

Paul says the same thing in today's passage, "not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" ( Romans 10:16 ). Isaiah foretold that the Israelites would reject Jesus. Paul is quoting from Isaiah 53, which is a passage about Jesus. This is one of the most powerful chapters in the entire Old Testament. It foretold everything Jesus would suffer on the cross. Isaiah starts out this beautiful word with saying, "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?  He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  ( Isaiah 53:1-3 ). Christ knew that his own people would reject him and esteem him not. Yet he still came to redeem them, what a marvelous thing.

Why did the Israelites reject Jesus? For us we can look back through the Old Testament with Jesus as our filter and identify every passage that was spoken about him. We can even read these passages out loud to others without telling them where they were found and the listener can tell you that it is talking about Christ, often the assumption is that the passage is actually the New Testament. However, the Israelites read these same passages but looked for something entirely different than what Christ turned out to be. They were looking for a warrior king and not a servant. When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, that Word fell on deaf ears, fulfilling what Isaiah prophesied about them. " 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." ( Isaiah 6:9-10 ).

Jesus spoke about the same truth in the parable of the sower of the seed. There are four kinds of soil and depending on the condition of the soil is whether or not the seed grows and bears fruit. Jesus spoke this parable to this nation and when the disciples asked him what was meant by it, he quoted this passage in Isaiah. He spoke to them in parables because of the condition of their heart which kept them blind and deaf to these amazing truths. If their heart would have been ready to hear it, he would have turned and healed them.

Israel in this case was the first kind of soil. The farmer went out to sow seed but it fell upon the path and the birds ate it up quickly. When Jesus told this parable to the disciples he explained... "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved" ( Luke 8:11-12, Mark 4:13-18 ). Jesus told in Matthew's version the reason the seed is quickly stolen, "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path" ( Matthew 13:18-19 ). Now the condition of the soil made it easy for the seed to be eaten up by the birds, because the soil fell upon a path. A worn path is hard and compacted. In many cases it is impenetrable by something like a seed. For a seed to germinate it has to get down into the soil. But when it falls upon hard ground germination is not possible. The seed can be easily eaten because it is lying upon the surface.

Jesus said the seed was the word of God and Satan comes to steal it. If we don't understand the word and the word falls upon deaf ears and the condition of the heart is impenetrable than stealing the word takes no effort.  In this case, Israel was the first kind of soil. They were expecting a Messiah that was entirely different than Jesus, so their notions blinded them to the truth of God's word. Like Isaiah said, their hearts are calloused, their ears dull and their eyes are closed ( Isaiah 6:10 ). As Jesus spoke to them, Satan walked right behind him and picked up the seeds of eternal life that he spoke. They allowed him to steal the word of God that had the power to save them because they had not prepared their hearts to receive it.

What a discouraging thing this must have been. But this stands as a warning for us. Paul said in the very next verse of Romans 10 that "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" ( Romans 10:17 ). This is how faith comes, by hearing the gospel and believing and receiving it. This message comes from Christ and just like the hard condition of the heart blocked the words of life, the fourth kind of soil received it with gladness and produced an abundant crop. "But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown" ( Matthew 13:23, Mark 4:20, Luke 8:15 ). The seed is the seed, but the condition of the soil determines the abundance of the crop or even whether it sprouts at all.

This is a good word for us today; we can prepare our hearts to receive the Word of God. It is my prayer that you keep your heart soft and pliable before the Lord ready to receive his word. Be the fourth kind of cultivated soil and receive this word with gladness. Let this seed penetrate and germinate in your heart yielding much eternal fruit, amen.

Beautiful Are the Feet of Those Who Bring Good News—Romans 10:14-15

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:14-15)

The good news is not just good news, its great news. The nuance of the Greek for the word gospel literally means that this news is 'almost too good to be true'. In our world when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. But this is not the case with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This news is true and incredible. And Paul reminds us that beautiful are the feet of those who bring this good news and announce it to the world.

Throughout the book of Romans, Paul refers to the gospel as his gospel. This is because this revelation came directly to him by Jesus. He said in Galatians, "I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ" ( Galatians 1:11-12 ). Paul wrote so extensively about the gift of God's grace offered to mankind through the person of Jesus Christ that he claimed this gospel as his own. He lived and breathed this message because it was the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes ( Romans 1:16 ). Paul was set apart, called and ordained to be a minister of the gospel by the will of God. This is an amazing thing when you realize that before his conversion he literally hunted and killed Christians. He considered himself the chief of sinners but after he experienced God's incredible grace and mercy he knew that this good news wasn't too good to be true, that is why he said "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" ( Romans 10:13 ).

In today's passage Paul is reminding us that this news has to be passed on and received before its power is released. People cannot look to Jesus for eternal life if they don't believe in him. They can't believe in him unless they have heard about him and they can't hear about him unless someone tells them. People need to be sent before anyone can call upon the name of the Lord and find salvation. This may seem like a quandary but to use a baseball metaphor; the bases are loaded. God has sent messengers of the gospel forth to preach the good news throughout the entire world. We merely have to step up to the plate and start swinging.

The first thing to consider is that this gospel message originated with God. John said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" ( John 3:16-17 ). God sent his Son Jesus to save the world. This is the good news for which Paul was in chains. God initiated and provided the means whereby we can be reconciled to him. Sin stood in the way, but God sent Jesus to bridge the gap. Paul said in Corinthians, "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation" ( II Corinthians 5:18-19 ). God was the one speaking peace over the world through the blood of Christ. He sent Jesus to save the world. His feet were beautiful!

Secondly, after Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and was raised again to life to secure our justification before God, he then turned around and sent us to spread this message of reconciliation. We call this the great commission. "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." ( Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-18 ). He won back all the authority and power that was transferred to Satan in the fall, and look what he did, He gave it back to us. He commissioned us to be the beautiful feet that preached the good news around the world. 

What an remarkable thing this is. God has entrusted us with the words of life. We have the power over death through the blood of Jesus and we have been equipped and assigned to share this wonderful news with the world. Paul said, this news was "the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" ( Romans 1:16 ). We are entrusted with an tremendous thing. God trusts and believes in us to fulfill this great commission. Isaiah said, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" ( Isaiah 52:7 ). What an incredible thing to share with those around us. God's peace towards mankind, his love for us, his gift of grace and his overwhelming mercy. We have the words that bring life and Jesus has placed His faith in us to share it. Paul said, "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" ( Romans 10:17 ). The Messiah of reconciliation came from the very lips of Christ himself. God was not holding mankind's sins against them and He came to bring us peace with God. It's almost too good to be true but the fact remains that it is true and God calls our feet beautiful because he has sent us to proclaim this message.

Like Paul, I know that this gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. I am a minister of this good news and I will proclaim it for the rest of my days. May you understand your calling in this wonderful plan of salvation. May you share the hope to which you were called. May your feet be beautiful, amen!