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.