Sorrow and Unceasing Anguish in Heart—Romans 9:1-3
"I speak the truth in Christ-I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit- I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race" (Romans 9:1-3)
What an amazing thing to have a heart for the lost. Paul had the most revelation of his peers and just wrote an amazing account of grace in the first eight chapters of Romans. Then as chapter nine begins he reveal his heart for the lost children of Israel. His sorrow at their dismissal of Jesus was unbearable to him, for he maintained a close and intimate walk with the Lord. Knowing God so well and the depth of his love for mankind, he was broken hearted by those who wanted to remain under the law wrapped up in religion, instead of having this relationship with God.
He writes to us that his consciences confirms in the Holy Spirit his anguish at their obstinacy. The Holy Spirit was bearing witness with his spirit this fact. Not only is this so but it prompted and enlightened him to this truth of how their denial of the Messiah brought the Lord increasing sorrow. Peter said, God is "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" ( II Peter 3:9 ). His hearts desire is for us to chose him seeing how he has chosen us. For Israel, the chosen race of God, this rejection was doubly painful.
Paul went onto say, "For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race..." ( Romans 9:3 ). As a shepherd and leader called to minister the gospel, his grief at their rejection must have cut deep. It is the same intense revelation that caused Moses to say something similar on Israel's behalf. "But now, please forgive their sin-but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written" ( Exodus 32:32 ). They both knew the intensity of God's love and couldn't bear for their people not to experience it as well. Jesus was driven by this same desire to save His people. So he had come to died in their behalf so the entire would could be reconciled to him and blessed through them as a nation. The Holy Spirit revealed to Paul how this rejection grieved the Lord as well.
No doubt that Paul's desire to see his brothers and sisters come to the Lord sparked an interest among the Jews. Although he was the apostle to the gentiles, he said in Romans 11, "...Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" ( Romans 11:13-15 ). What a marvelous perspective to have, he knew that the Jews rejection of Jesus blessed the entire world because Salvation first came to the Jew and then overflowed to the Gentiles. So if their rejection meant blessings for the world, what will their acceptance bring?
Today, like Paul I have a heart for the lost. It is my prayer that the world know Jesus in a personal way. No longer through ritual and religion, but tossing that aside to really know him in a life changing way. Today, my spirit bears witness with the Holy Spirit to his incredible love for mankind. May you also understand how he loves you and how you were set apart to bless the world through Jesus, Amen.
Original article published January 1, 2010.