“What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith” (Rom. 9:30-32).
What’s the message here, and, more important, how can we take this message that was written in a certain time and place and apply the principles to ourselves today? How can we avoid making the same mistakes in our context that some Israelites did in theirs?
In words that cannot be misunderstood, Paul explains to his kinsmen why they are missing out on something that God wishes them to have – and more than that, on something they were actually pursuing but not achieving.
Interestingly, the Gentiles whom God had accepted had not even been striving for such acceptance. They had been pursuing their own interests and goals when the gospel message came to them. Grasping its value, they accepted it. God declared them righteous because they accepted Jesus Christ as their Substitute. It was a transaction of faith.
The problem with the Israelites was that they stumbled at the stumbling stone (see Rom. 9:33). Some, not all (see Acts 2:41), refused to accept Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah whom God had sent. He did not meet their expectations of the Messiah; hence, they turned their backs on Him when He came.
Before this chapter ends, Paul quotes another Old Testament text: “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Rom. 9:33). In this passage, Paul shows again just how crucial true faith is in the plan of salvation (see also 1 Pet. 2:6-8). A rock of offense? And yet, whoever believes in Him shall not be ashamed? Yes, for many, Jesus is a stumbling block, but for those who know Him and love Him, He is another kind of rock, “the rock of my salvation” (Ps. 89:26).
|Have you ever found Jesus to be a “stumbling block” or a “rock of offense”? If so, how so? That is, what were you doing that brought you into that situation? How did you get out, and what did you learn so that, one hopes, you never find yourself in that type of contrary relationship with Jesus again?|