Commentary on Romans 9-11, Part 2
By Jack Kelley
…Elected, Rejected, Accepted
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4)
Our human nature makes us more task-oriented than results oriented. This means that it’s easier for us to identify what we need to do today than to remember what we’re trying to accomplish with our lives. (It’s easier to get the trash out every Sunday night than it is to schedule quality time with our kids each week.) Because of this tendency, we often confuse effort with results, especially with repetitive tasks. It’s no surprise then that the Israelites began to rely more and more on the religious tasks they were performing as time passed and less and less on the promise of a Redeemer. Little by little the form of their religion had overtaken the substance, and they lost sight of the fact that those tasks were designed as a daily reminder of their need for a Redeemer. Eventually the tasks became their redeemer and by the time of Jesus, many believed that their efforts at keeping the commandments were sufficient to earn their Salvation.
This was not unique to them or their time. Ask anyone today who believes in an afterlife, but isn’t Biblically literate, how they expect to get into Heaven and watch as they tick off their own list of commandments. Even though they made the list up, they believe by keeping it God will reward their efforts and they’ll go to heaven.
You’re Missing The Point
The Israelites missed the point that Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes, and that 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: 4,9). Speaking of the Messiah, Isaiah had told them that anyone who puts their trust in Him will never be put to shame (Isaiah 28:16) but having drifted away from a literal interpretation of Scripture, they lacked the knowledge to recognize Him when He walked among them. When the Lord rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday He lamented, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:42) Later that week He indicated that their blinding would be temporary, ending when the time of the Gentiles had run its course. (Luke 21:24)
Who Rejected Whom?
“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?” Paul asked in Romans 10:14. And so the Messiah had to leave until they learned to recognize Him. “You will not see Me again,” He said, “Until you say Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.” (Matt. 23:39). In the courtyard of the Antonia Fortress a few days later as Pilate condemned Him to death, they shouted, “Let His blood be on us and on our children.” (Matt. 27:25) And so it was. The people rejected Him. The Lord had no choice but to reject them.
The prophets had foreseen even these details of the Lord’s ministry: “Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:15)
But as the Apostles concluded at the Council of Jerusalem, this rejection would last only until the Lord had finished building His church (read ). The day will soon come when they will earnestly seek Him, saying, “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” (Hosea 6:1-2) Many interpret this prophecy to mean that after 2000 years the Lord would revive them as a nation (with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day, 2 Peter 3:8) and then restore them in fulfillment of their 1000 year Kingdom promises.
On that day the Lord will “pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zech 12:10) From that day on “Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.” The Lord dwells in Zion! (Joel 3:20-21)
Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring! (Romans 11:11-12) In our conclusion next week we’ll see how the elected and rejected will once again be accepted and the whole world will be blessed beyond our wildest imagination.