Romans 10:21



Sunday, 29 September 2013

But to Israel he says:
“All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people.” Romans 10:21

Paul closes chapter 10 with a quote from Isaiah 65:2. “But” shows the contrast to the preceding verse –

“I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”

This is the “no-nation” to whom the Lord was made manifest; the gentile people who weren’t even a part of the covenant community. In contrast to them Israel is now highlighted. God had “stretched out” His hands “all day long” to them. They had His laws, the temple, the covenant care and protection, and the history which they could look back on as evidence of God’s hand of care upon them. And yet they were a “disobedient and contrary people.”

Even from the earliest moments after the giving of the law, they were in rebellion against Him. They had seen the miraculous – having been delivered from Egypt by the ten plagues. Then they saw it again in the pillar and the cloud and the parting of the sea. A short time later, they beheld the glory of the Lord at Mount Sinai and they received the law. And yet, during the entire time, they complained. Soon enough, they were in gross violation of the law they were given when they set up and worshipped a golden calf.

And the record of disobedience continues throughout the pages of the Old Testament. Occasionally a good judge or king would come along and set them on  a good path, but in short span, they would again turn away from the Lord. “All day long,” is a way of saying, “through the duration” or “without ceasing” God “stretched out” His hands to them. This is a term which gives a sense of almost begging. “Please pay heed. Return to Me and I will return to you.” Rather than responding, they remained rebellious, disobedient, and contrary to what He expected of them.

This last verse then shows why their rejection came and explains why the message of salvation through Christ was thus turned to, and accepted by, the gentiles as is noted in the previous verses. What was offered as a gift of grace was shunned by the same people who had, for so many centuries shunned Him. Is this the end of the story for Israel then? Did they turn so far from God that they would never again receive His favor? Chapter 11 will continue on with Paul’s thoughts on his beloved people; his countrymen according to the flesh.

Life application: God is merciful and longsuffering, but there is a point when He knows it is no longer of use to stretch out His hands to those who turn from Him or shun Him. And this is certainly true even with saved believers who fail to walk in a manner worthy of His greatness. We need to evaluate our walk with the Lord continuously and ensure that we are living in accord with His precepts.

Heavenly Father, how can I expect Your blessings or mercy when I ignore You constantly? And how can I ask You to bless my nation when we fail to acknowledge Your greatness? Rather, help me to first set You as my highest delight and my constant joy. And help those in my country to exalt You above all else. In so doing, I know that the blessings will come and the mercy will flow forth. Amen.


Romans 10:20


Saturday, 28 September 2013

But Isaiah is very bold and says:
“I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” Romans 10:20

“But” is given to contrast the preceding verse. He was speaking of Israel and God’s need to provoke them to jealousy and to move them to anger. These actions would be effected by those who were “not a nation” and by a “foolish nation.” Unlike Israel, who would reject Him, Paul cites Isaiah 65:1 to show directly from Scripture that in the process of doing this, the gentiles would actually come to find the Lord that the Jews had rejected.

To show the force of this, he says “Isaiah is “very bold” using the Greek word apolotoma; a word used only here in the New Testament. It has the intent of someone who dares another. His statement was one which could arouse his readers to anger, but he stated it anyway and he states it with bold confidence. Now, in his citation of Isaiah, Paul switches the order of the verse. In Isaiah it says –

“I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me.”

The reason for this change must certainly be the nature of the gospel message. It is given to people who aren’t seeking God and they suddenly become aware of who He is; they find Him without having sought Him. When they find Him, He is made manifest to them, even though they didn’t ask for Him. This is sure because the term “I was sought” is replaced with “I was made manifest.” Also, the term “I was found” was written by Isaiah in the present tense – “I am sought.” However, Paul is writing it as a completed action – “I was found.”

Isaiah looked forward to the time when the gospel would be given to and accepted by the gentile people. Now Paul shows that the time had arrived. In both cases, from Isaiah and from Paul, this would have been an offensive message to the Jews. But despite this, they both boldly proclaimed the gospel.

Life application: The message of Jesus is offensive. John 14:6 is a statement which shows the harsh reality of rejecting Him. No person can be reconciled to God apart from Him. John 3:18, likewise is offensive – all people are “condemned already.” Are you willing to be as bold as Isaiah and proclaim a message which is so unpopular? If so, God will be pleased with your stand. His word takes precedence over the hurt feelings of others.

Lord God, if I knew there were a thousand grains of gold on my walk to the mailbox, I’d surely seek out each one, knowing how precious they are. But even more precious than all the gold in the world is the human soul. Have I shown the same concern for them as I have for specks of golden metal? I think not. Forgive me for the appalling way I have prioritized what is most valuable. Give me a true heart for others Lord. Amen.

Romans 10:19


Friday, 27 September 2013

But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
“I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.” Romans 10:19

From a general statement about the universality of the going forth of the gospel, Paul now speaks only of Israel. “But I say, did Israel not know?” The question for us to consider is, “Did they not know what?” And so we are directed back to verses 16 and 17 –

“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

The answer to the question then is two-fold. First, it is speaking of the going forth of the gospel, which was then to be heard and accepted. Did Israel not know that the gospel would go forth and thus what the consequences of rejecting it would be? Secondly, it is a question which demands an affirmative answer. “Yes, they knew.” And they knew it from their own lawgiver, Moses.

“First Moses says” indicates that the very basis of who they were as a people, the Torah which was received and then passed on to them by Moses, hints at the truth of the situation. In support of this, Paul cites Deuteronomy 32:21 –

“They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.”

Israel had provoked the Lord by what is “not God” and therefore, He would provoke them by what is a “no-people.” And so it is. The message of Jesus Christ cannot be claimed by a single group of people. No nation has authority over it, nor does (despite frequent claims to the contrary) any single denomination, sect, or cult have authority over it. The gospel is found anywhere and in any person who will honor the true God through Jesus Christ.

Through this no-nation, which is in fact a collective group under a single Headship, God will provoke Israel to jealousy. And he will move them to anger “by a foolish nation.” The word “fool” is used in various ways to indicate a lack of understanding, but also one who denies God (see Psalm 14:1) or one that refuses sound instruction or is morally corrupt, such as in the Proverbs. In this context, it is being spoken of as a nation of people who had no revelation or perceptive knowledge of the true God.

From this no-people, completely inferior in the understanding of God, would come Israel’s provocation to jealousy and movement to anger. Peter speaks of such a nation in his first epistle –

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” 1 Peter 2:9

The reason for this provocation and movement is obvious. It is not to shame them into condemnation, but to spur them towards salvation. Paul will continue to cite this line of thought concerning Israel’s disobedience throughout the coming verses. Then he will show that the intended effect of God will eventually be realized in Israel. As this hasn’t happened to Israel as a nation yet, then it must be (despite preterist claims to the contrary) future to us now.

Israel will behold the splendor of the Lord, call on Him, and become the nation to whom Christ will return some wondrous day in the future.

Life application: Does Israel of today merit God’s blessing? No. But God has returned them for His reasons and they are being worked out despite their failing to acknowledge Him. When one fights against Israel, they fight against God’s plans for Israel and thus they fight against God. Think that one through and then determine to stand with, support, and pray for Israel.

Lord Jesus, the people exiled for so long have returned; the language which was dead for millennia is again spoken; the land which lay waste is now fruitful – the desert blooms and the springs of water flow; and the scrolls hidden in a cave for eons were found, proving the ancient oracles You spoke. How can I deny the wonder of Your hand upon Israel. Though they haven’t yet called on You as a nation, I stand with Israel. Amen.

Romans 10:18


Thursday, 26 September 2013

But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
“Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” Romans 10:18

Verses 14 and 15 showed the burden of getting the message of salvation out; the transmission of the gospel and the responsibility of the messenger was highlighted. Verses 16 and 17 transitioned from the message and messenger to the receiver. Now verse 18 places that burden on the receiver. “But I say…” is the contrasting thought. “Have they not heard?” This is a rhetorical question. The means of spreading the gospel has been explained and the fact that it was not received by the hearer was noted. But some may say, “Well this isn’t fair, I never heard the message.” Paul contradicts such a notion. “In fact, it has been sent out.”

“Yes indeed” is Paul’s declaration. In order to substantiate this, he cites the general thought of Psalm 19:4. This psalm, penned by David, begins with his observations about the universality of the knowledge of God which is evident in creation –

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4

If David, a man born and raised as a shepherd, and who had no theological training at all, could discern these things, then no one else could claim otherwise. His thoughts thus substantiate that all have heard the voice of God. All have God’s general revelation clearly presented to them. This knowledge is sufficient for man to know that God exists and thus man is responsible to Him. But instead of pursuing Him, acknowledging Him, and rightly honoring Him, they seek out their own devices. This then is tied into Paul’s thoughts in Romans 1:18-21; man is without excuse.

Now, with the gospel proclaimed, their is an even greater burden on the people to believe. And so Paul equates David’s knowledge of general revelation to the now provided and superior knowledge of the gospel – God’s specific revelation. By citing the psalm in this way, he is making a wide-ranging statement about the gospel’s transmission. This doesn’t mean every person had heard the gospel, but that the message had gone out to the inhabited world. This is the same thought (and the same word for “world” is used) as the statement made in Acts 17:6 –

“But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.'”

And so, this “sound” which is the gospel message “has gone out to all the earth.” The word “sound” is phthoggos. It is used for a musical tone like when an instrument plays or a voice sings. The gospel is this beautiful voice. The “earth” is speaking of the physical earth. This voice has been transmitted on the planet “and their words to the ends of the world.” The word for “words” is rhemata. This signifies the matter which is being relayed. This subject, the gospel, is what has gone to the “ends of the world.” The “world” here being the inhabited world as noted in Acts 17:6 above.

In other words, by using different words for “earth” and “world” Paul demonstrates that the message has been carried over the physical earth and has been relayed to the inhabitants of the earth. It’s obvious that even today many haven’t actually heard. But the gospel is being transmitted actively and continuously. Those who have heard should have accepted the message. If they did, then the obvious next step would be to pass it on. If they didn’t, then they have disobeyed the gospel, first by not believing and then by not passing it on (because they didn’t believe.) This goes right back to verse 16, “…they have not all obeyed the gospel.”

Life application: All people have heard God’s voice through general revelation. This is plainly declared in Scripture. And the message of God’s special revelation, the gospel, has gone out and continues to go out through the world and to the people of the world. But it is incumbent on the people to obey the gospel by believing what is heard. If one believes the message, then he will obey Jesus’ words to share the good news. The question is, even if you have obeyed by believing, have you obeyed by sharing? It is time to demonstrate your belief through getting the message out.

Heavenly Father, what a treat it is to walk at night and behold the stars You have placed in the sky. The vastness of the universe shows the magnificence of Your wisdom and power. And yet, You have directed Your attention towards one such as me. Because of Your great love, with which You have loved us, You sent Your Son to bring us back to You, and this includes me… I am humbled by the thought. Thank You for noticing even me. Amen.

Romans 10:17


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Romans 10:17 is another verse which should be committed to memory. It is simple, concise, and carries with it a most important message.

“So then” is a summary statement. In essence, “These things can be summed up as follows…” For a complete perspective on this verse, it would be wise to take a moment to go back and read Romans 10:1-16. By doing so it will help in understanding this important point Paul will now state.

“Faith comes by hearing…” Faith, in this context, is speaking of the properly directed faith of the gospel message. Many have faith, but not all have the right faith. People hear the words of Buddha and have faith in those words, but this isn’t the true faith that Paul speaks of. Such is the case with countless misdirected belief systems which have been instituted by man. People exercise faith all the time and they do so without considering the error of the message. Even within supposed Christian denominations, error abounds. Bowing to a statue of Mary is contrary to the truthful message of God.

Even more to the point is that when the message is correct, it may not be received as such. Faith does come by hearing, but this doesn’t imply that faith will come by hearing. Rather, it means that faith can only come by hearing. Many hear; not all accept. This is the intent and meaning of Jesus’ parable concerning the sower and the seeds in Matthew 13:1-9. The correct message has been given by the Sower, but it may not be received as such, or it may be understood, but not sink in to become heart knowledge. Thus any accompanying confession is not a true profession.

When the proper message is given, when it is received, and when it is believed – then it is the “faith” Paul speaks of here. In what is one of the most egregious errors of understanding the process of exercising faith, we read this almost bizarre analysis of it from Tabletalk magazine’s daily devotional dated 17 September 2013 – “Dr. RC Sproul has said that the biblical doctrine of salvation can be summed up effectively in three words: regeneration precedes faith.”

This is so out of line with what the Bible teaches that it is almost unimaginable to consider how it was ever introduced into the doctrine of soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). In fact, salvation can be summed up in a single sentence, but it has nothing to do with “regeneration preceding faith.” It is explicitly stated in Jonah 2:9 in only two Hebrew words – yeshuatah Y’hovah, “Salvation is of the Lord.” From this thought, Paul explains that this means faith in the Lord; an acceptance of His provision.

Faith in the Lord brings salvation; faith in the Lord comes by hearing about the Lord; and hearing about the Lord comes “by the word of God.” Jonah learned this in the belly of the great fish. The very nature of the process indicates that this is a volitional act of the free-will. Inserting “regeneration” prior to “faith” as is noted above, is inserting a concept foreign to the clearly presented message of the Bible. Man must hear and then man must respond. To be “regenerated” prior to faith would imply that man is saved before he is saved, and it would be universal in its scope. If not universal, then God’s regenerative process would be ineffective for some. This particular teaching is taught in seminaries under the course subject “Convoluted Theology 101.”

Rather, for there to be a recipient of a message, there must be a source of what is relayed. The term “word of God” is used approximately 50 times in the Bible to describe its contents. It is the word which issues directly from God and which is breathed out to men of God (2 Timothy 3:16) as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This message, which Jesus argued over even to a single word – such as in John 10:35, is the complete, accurate, and fully sufficient source of bringing faith to the individual.

It is this “word of God” which when heard will bring faith to the one who accepts it for what it is. Jesus explains the process in Luke 11:28 –

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Neither Jesus here, nor the apostles later, ever state that we are regenerated in order to obey or believe the word. It is, as noted, a volitional act of the free-will.

Life application: Go back, read, and memorize Romans 10:17 and then accept it at face value. Such simple and concise statements need nothing inserted for clarification. Read the word, and then exercise your faith in that same word.

Lord, if the thoughts of my head at night cause me to lose sleep, I want them to be thoughts meditating on Your word. If I am troubled in my soul, O God, let it be troubled hopes of understanding Your word more fully. And should I hunger, may my hunger be to know Your word more. Then Lord, sort my thoughts out aright, clarify my understanding, and fill my soul to overflowing with my desired knowledge of Your word. Amen.