donít think there is anything as bad as when you try to express your love
to somebody and they reject it. You love somebody dearly and are doing
everything you can think of to express that love to that person and that
person just turns their back on you and rejects everything you are trying
to do to show your love. You know we have been looking at righteousness by
faith. We know that righteousness only comes by faith.
have seen the contrast of the two kinds of righteousness. There is the
true kind that comes by faith in Christ. There is the other kind that man
works up for himself. He thinks arrogantly that he can attain that. Sadly
enough that is what Israel went after. Then we saw the accessibility of
righteousness. Paul even used Moses, over in the book of Deuteronomy to
show how clear, how accessible God has made His word to them and to us.
Then we saw the invitation to righteousness.
Now we turn to the saddest message of all because you are going to see the
rejection of that righteousness. What we have to understand is that Israel
was not in any way a nation that did not know that righteousness was by
faith. We are going to see that in the Word. They knew it. They heard it.
God loved Israel. God pursued them and through their prophet spoke of them
and tried to communicate to them. They saw it. They heard it. But they
rejected it. How often I want to point my finger at Israel. But I want to
tell you something, folks, they are a picture of all of us when we look at
How many times has God, out of His love, tried to speak to you in your
life? Think about it. What did He bring into your life? Who did He bring
into your life? How did God try to get a message of love across to you?
But you didnít listen and you rejected that love. Boy, what a
long-suffering God we have. He continues to try to show His love in our
life. He did with Israel, but Israel rejected that love.
You know, in being grateful for what God has done, we realize that God not
only orchestrated salvation, but He also ordained the way in which it
would come about. We need to go back to Romans 10:14. This is the way it
comes about. He says, "How then shall they call upon Him [out of
desperation] in whom they have not believed?" That is the first question.
How can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? Secondly, he asks
the question, "And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not
heard?" Thirdly he asks, "And how shall they hear without a preacher?" You
have to hear to believe. You have to believe to call upon Him. That is how
salvation takes place. There is no other way. I wish there was sometimes,
but there is no other way than to hear what the Word of God has to say
about salvation by grace and grace alone. Righteousness is by faith.
In verse 15 of Romans 10 it says, "And how shall they preach unless they
are sent? Just as it is written [and here is the response of those who
hear], ĎHow beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good
things!í" People must hear in order to believe and in order to call.
I want to go back to that one thought because I am going to use it as a
springboard. We have got to do whatever it takes to make sure people get
the opportunity to hear. You see, we must go, we must send and we must
give. You have heard that over and over and over again. God says that is
the only way people are going to get saved. They have to hear in order to
believe and in order to call. To be able to hear you have to have somebody
to share, and to be able to share somebody has to be sent. That is the way
it works. God ordained it that way. There is no other way for a person to
come to know that righteousness is by faith.
Well, the reason I am bringing this up is the question may be, "Has Israel
ever heard?" Maybe this would explain why they pursued righteousness by
their own works. Maybe they just didnít know. Maybe somehow they had not
heard. Maybe this is why they acted so stubborn and rebellious. What we
are going to see is, oh yes, they heard and they understood, but they
chose to reject what they heard and understood.
There are three things I am going to look at.
First of all, Israel is not innocent.
When you think of Israel as a nation and you realize they have rejected
the message, remember they are not innocent in this. They are very guilty.
They know what this message is. Look at Romans 10 beginning with verse 16:
"However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, ĎLord,
who has believed our report?í So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by
the word of Christ. [Some translations say "by the word of God."] But I
say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; ĎTheir
voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the
Paul is saying they have heard. The fact that Paul is speaking in verse 16
only of Jews is, to me, without question. Now some scholars have said,
"No, he is referring to the Gentiles." I donít see how that could be. He
is quoting Isaiah who is speaking of his own people. He had that in his
mind since the first part of chapter 9. The guilt of Israel is so great
and their refusal to respond to the good news is so unreasonable. Why?
Because they have literally rejected the good tidings, the glad tidings of
God Himself. Here is a God, a compassionate God, loving these people, and
He has tried to get His message to them. He has sent it through His
prophets. But these people will not respond. They have rejected that
message. The message of righteousness by faith which came to the Jews by
the word being spoken to them was refused by Israel as a nation. You see
this message that says we must come as only poor, destitute sinners
aroused the most violent opposition in the Jewish mind. They couldnít
understand that. You see, they had worked so hard to get their standard of
righteousness and put it above anything God required. They used their own
standard to justify themselves.
Now the quote that Paul uses here in Romans 10:16 is from
Isaiah 53:1, that marvelous chapter that
is so prophetic about the Lord Jesus Christ. The report concerns Christ
and the gospel that Israel would reject. I think the reason he brings this
up is to show you something. To say that Israel has rejected righteousness
by faith only at a certain time period is not true. It has been the story
about their history for as far back as you can go. Eight hundred years
before, Isaiah himself complained about it. Stephen chided Israel in
Acts 7:51: "You men [talking about
Israel] who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are
always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did."
For generation after generation after generation, God had spoken to them
very clearly that righteousness is only by faith in Christ. This is why
Abraham was reckoned as righteous. He believed in the same Christ we
believe in. But Israel as a nation continued to reject that. They thought
somehow they could earn it. They wanted their standard. They did not want
Look at Romans 10:16 again: "However, they did not all heed the glad
tidings." The word "all" means all. They should have all heeded the
glad tidings, but they didnít. Most of them did not. The word for "heed"
is the hupakouo. That is a good word to remember. There are two
words that are similar in meaning. One is hupotasso. That is a good
word for wives to remember because that is the word for submitting to your
husband. It does not mean that you are a doormat and it does not mean that
your husband is some big boy and you are the little woman in the house. It
means that both of you are equals, but because of Godís order in your
family and because you love Jesus like you love Him and because He
submitted to His own Father, then you choose, as an equal, to put yourself
under another equal and let him lead. It doesnít mean that you canít have
times of talking and discussing this matter. There are times when his
leadership might be in question. But you see the word hupakouo is a
different word. That is the word for a child to the parent. Children donít
like this word. It means to submit with no questions asked, totally bowing
down and heeding to. It is the same word Jesus used to His Father of
Himself, and it is the word used for Christians to God. It says that when
they heard, they did not all heed, they didnít obey, they didnít willingly
bow down. They didnít willingly submit as they should have.
The word for "glad tidings" is the word gospel or the word
for good news. When the good news came to Israel, they did not all heed
that good news. The good news is that righteousness is not by what you can
do. Righteousness is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in what He did.
Then it goes on in verse 16, "for Isaiah says, ĎLord, who has believed our
report?í" I donít think that "our" is just an editorial "our." I think the
"our" there is the prophetsí report. Many of the prophets had prophesied
of the Lord Jesus. Many of them had shared what He was going to have to do
when He came to this earth. "Lord, who has believed our report?" The word
"report" is all that the prophets had said to them. Remember back in verse
14 that hearing is the means by which a person can believe. Well, they had
heard. Isaiah is saying, "Lord, who is going to believe what they have
heard? We have told them. I have told them." If you want to use an
editorial "our," then this is Isaiah. Isaiah said, "I have told them. Who
is going to believe our report?" Israel was made to hear the gospel
through the prophets, but they refused it.
Now this is a sad testimony. Here is God, a compassionate God, who is
loving them, showing them that He loves them, telling them that
righteousness is by faith, starting with Abraham, all the way back to
Abraham. Their prophets have told them, but they have refused it. That is
sad. Israel had not just rejected their own prophets, they had rejected
God Himself. Now I want you to understand something. When the word of God
speaks to your heart, you are not just rejecting what it says, you are
rejecting what God is saying to you through His Word. That is what Israel
Look at verse 17. I know you can do other things with this verse and there
are many other applications to it, but to me here is the interpretation.
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." There
are two different texts. One says "the word of God" and one says "the
word of Christ." Well, Christ is God. I donít have any trouble with
that. It is Godís word. But letís look at it. Paul is continuing his
thought of verse 16. Israel was made to hear the message, but they did not
respond in faith. When faith was there, faith was there. When you hear it,
faith is there. He says, "So faith comes from hearing." Right out of the
thing that one is made to hear comes this justifying faith. It was there.
That is what Moses was saying. It is right here. It is in your mouth. It
is in your heart. Listen to what you are hearing because there is the
faith to believe it. Faith comes from hearing. The word ek means
Then it says, "and hearing by the word of Christ." You see the message
that Israel was made to hear is not manís message, it is Godís message.
Christ Himself, in the Old Testament, was speaking to the people whom He
loved, and He speaks through His prophets. Man is the messenger sent to
herald the message, but when it is spoken, it is Christ who speaks it to
the heart which enables faith. Israel didnít just reject the message of
their prophets, but they rejected the very message of Christ Himself. Then
they reviled Him that God had sent to this earth.
I have always wondered about
Revelation 3:20. Jesus said, "ĎBehold, I
stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.í" You know,
any time the word is there and you are hearing it spoken, it is God
speaking through that word to your heart. There comes the faith that opens
the door. It is there already, but He enables that faith.
Israel had it in the prophets, folks. God had spoken it to them throughout
the generations. They had it. Righteousness is by faith. But Israel as a
nation said, "No, we donít want that." They were striving to establish
their own system of righteousness by which they were going to justify
Well, in verse 18 of Romans 10, Paul reinforces the fact that Israel had
heard. He says in verse 18, "But I say, surely they have never heard, have
they?" Then he answers the question, "Indeed they have; ĎTheir voice has
gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.í"
When Paul says, "surely they have never heard, have they" it could be
said, "It certainly was not that they didnít get to hear, was it?" You can
say it in a lot of ways. I mean, what he is saying and making very
emphatic here is, "Israel heard. They knew. They clearly knew that
righteousness was by faith." There is no doubt that Paul makes sure the
point is made that Israel has very definitely heard.
Isaiah has been quoted again and again and here he is quoted again. Paul
is trying to say that, not only the apostles preach it, but Isaiah and the
other prophets also tried to tell them. From the very beginning there was
not a single Jew who did not get the opportunity to hear either through
the prophesies given through the prophets or later by witnessing the
fulfillment of these prophecies in Christ Himself or through the apostlesí
teaching that righteousness comes by faith. There is no other way. From
their prophets through their prophecies to the very fulfillment of Christ
and Christís own words and right on down through the apostles, they had
heard. The gospel message of Christ was contained in the very scriptures
that they read every Sabbath. From the very time that they were old enough
to hear, from the time they were old enough to read, they heard these
passages read and God was speaking through these passages. The prophets of
old were trying to show them the message of salvation that righteousness
only comes by faith in a man, Jesus Christ, the Messiah who would come.
Look at what Paul says in
Acts 13:14: "But going on from Perga,
they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into
the synagogue and sat down. [Now watch. He takes the whole history of
Israel here.] And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets the
synagogue officials sent to them, saying, ĎBrethren, if you have any word
of exhortation for the people, say it.í And Paul stood up, and motioning
with his hand, he said, ĎMen of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:íÖ"
Paul gives the history of Israel, and then in
Acts 13:26-29 he addresses all the
Israelites who were there: "Brethren, sons of Abrahamís family, and those
among you who fear God, to us the word of this salvation is sent out. For
those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor
the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled
these [very things that they were hearing read] by condemning Him
[Christ]. And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they
asked Pilate that He be executed. And when they had carried out all that
was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him
in a tomb." Right there Paul was saying, "Listen, you donít even
understand what you are reading every Sabbath. But God has put it before
you for generation after generation after generation. You have heard, you
have heard, and you have heard. It is right there in front of you. There
is not a one of you who has missed it. Not a one of you have missed it."
He says that indeed they have heard.
Here is what I think Paul is talking about there. The Jews at the time
Paul was writing this were scattered all over the world. I mean they were
scattered because of persecution and every other thing. Everywhere they
went, they took these prophecies with them. Therefore, wherever you would
go, any synagogue, any place, you could find them being read somewhere in
their scriptures. God had spoken it to them in His Word. He had spoken it
to them through their prophets. And therefore, they had it with them
wherever they would go. But they had chosen not to respond. They had
rejected the very love that God was trying to extend to His own nation,
Israel. Oh, yes. Israel had heard, but they had rejected what God had so
graciously put before them. When it comes to hearing and you look at the
nation of Israel, remember, they are not innocent. They are not innocent.
God said it to them through their prophets all the way back.
Well, secondly not only are they not innocent, but Israel is not ignorant.
Some people think, "Well, maybe they had heard but they just didnít know."
Now be careful. We saw earlier in the passage of chapter 10 that they
didnít have the fullness of knowledge, but be real careful, they had
knowledge. Let me show you here. He says in verse 19, "But I say, surely
Israel did not know, did they? At the first Moses says, ĎI will make you
jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding
will I anger you.í And Isaiah is very bold and says, ĎI was found by those
who sought Me not, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.í"
They were not ignorant.
Let me kind of help you understand where I am going here. Israel was never
ignorant of the fact that righteousness would be by faith. Never were they
ignorant of that fact. The word "know" is the word ginosko,
to have learned about something. They were told through the prophets. They
were not innocent, they had been told. They were not ignorant, they
understood. But since they were so stubborn and insisted upon their own
system of works, they did not fully know. In other words, because they
would not, they could not. They were blinded by their own
self-righteousness. But their prophets had spoken to them down through
history. They had it in front of them. The earlier word was epignosis.
In Romans 10:2 it says, "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for
God, but not in accordance with knowledge." That word is epignosis.
They had knowledge, gnosis, but they did not have epignosis.
Their self-righteousness blinded them at some point, but God was very
clear. God gave it to them on a platter and told them very clearly that
righteousness is by faith alone. In fact, Moses prophesied from the very
beginning that God would make Israel jealous by including those who were
not a nation.
You see, there has never been a point that I can find in Israelís history
that they have not been rebellious toward God. Now you can find certain
ones that werenít. Thank God, He always had a remnant. We are going to see
chapter 11 that Elijah came before the
Lord and said, "Lord, I am the only one not bowing my knee before Baal."
And God said, "I have 7,000 who have not bowed their knees before Baal."
God always kept for Himself a remnant, but when you look at the large
nation of Israel, there has never been a time in their history that they
have not been rebellious toward God. Yet, God in His long-suffering and
kindness and goodness had put before them in their prophets and their
prophecies right there righteousness by faith. It is all the way through.
Even Isaiah prophesied that Christ would have to die for us so that they
could have this righteousness that they wouldnít get any other way. So
they had it in front of them. They were not innocent and they certainly
were not ignorant.
It appears to me that what Paul is doing here by mentioning Moses and
Isaiah is like taking the law and the prophets. Both of these bear witness
to what Paul is saying here. First of all, he is quoting there about Moses
Deuteronomy 32:21. I think there he is
possibly referring to the church. He says there is going to be a people
who are not a nation and they are going to make you jealous. He could be
talking about the church and I will tell you why. Some people say he is
simply talking about the Gentile people, but if you think about the church
of Jesus Christ in the current century and you look at it real carefully,
it is made up mostly of Gentiles. So when you think of the church, you
donít think of the Jews who are in it that have come to know Christ,
although they are there. You think of the Gentile world that is in it. It
says over in
I Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation." That is exactly what Moses said. There
is going to be a nation that He will raise up that is going to make you
jealous. In other words, you have rejected everything God has put before
you. So therefore, God is going to turn and make you jealous by allowing
the Gentiles to come in. It is a parenthesis that is divine found in
Daniel. It is a parenthesis that includes all the church, those who have
come by faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore are made
righteous in Him.
By a nation without understanding, he says, I will anger you. He quotes
from Moses in order to say, "All the way back to Moses God said in your
word that you have right in front of you that you are going to be this
way, that you are not going to receive what He puts before you and that
God is going to bring in another group of people who are going to make you
jealous." We will look at that a lot in
Then he goes on in verse 20 and quotes from Isaiah. "And Isaiah is very
bold and says, ĎI was found by those who sought Me not, I became manifest
to those who did not ask for Me.í" What is he talking about here? He is
quoting out of
"ĎI permitted myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I
permitted myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, "Here
am I, here am I," to a nation which did not call on My name.í" To me, he
is not talking about the Jews here because he has already referred earlier
that the Gentiles never sought after Him but they attained it, talking
about righteousness. God chose to allow Himself to be found by the Gentile
This is what I think Paul is talking about way back in chapter 9 when he
talks about the fact that Israel pursued it but did not attain it. The
Gentiles did not, but they attained it. The Gentiles were allowed in
because of Israelís rejection of Christ. Israel was not innocent and is
Israel is not ignorant. They
had an understanding. They did have an understanding. All they have to do
is look at their own scriptures and realize God has told them exactly what
is going to happen to them. He told them through Moses. He told them
through Isaiah, and all their prophets have told them that righteousness
is by faith. Israel has never bought into that. They want their own
standard of righteousness. Therefore, they are not innocent nor are they
Verse 21 reads, "But as for Israel He says, ĎAll the day long I have
stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.í" Now he is
quoting out of
which says, "I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious
people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own
thoughts." That is the way Israel was and has been since the very
beginning. They have never, as a nation, followed Him. Thank God,
all through history God has had a remnant. (click
here for discussion of remnant) He had a remnant in Paulís day.
He is going to have a remnant, I believe, in the end times because that is
chapter 11 seems to allude to. But
Israel, as a nation, is not innocent nor are they ignorant.
They are arrogant, folks. They
are disobedient and an obstinate people.
The word "disobedient" is apeitheo, unwilling to be
persuaded by what God gave them in the scriptures. They were unwilling to
be persuaded, to bow down, to obey what God had given them in the
scriptures. And the word "obstinate" there is the word antilego,
which means to speak against, to revile. Self-righteous Israel refused
their own prophets and reviled the very Christ who they say has not even
come yet today. They reviled Him and they refused to obey their own
Somebody said to me, "You are going to lose your Jewish audience." Romans
10 is Romans 10. I didnít write this, Paul wrote this. He is speaking to
Israel. Chapters 9, 10 and 11 are very clearly directed toward Israel, his
kinsmen according to the flesh. They were a privileged people and yet
proud people. If you start feeling sorry for Israel as a nation, you just
remember something, they are not innocent and they are not ignorant. They
chose not to bow to what God had clearly revealed to them through their
prophets. In what the prophets had said was the ability to have faith. But
they did not. They rejected what God had said.
That brings me to the closing of what I want to apply this to your life.
Sometimes when we are in these types of scriptures, you wonder, "What does
that have to do with me? I am a believer and I have bills to pay and I
have problems with my kids. Thank you a lot for telling me about Israel.
What does that have to do with me?" The more I thought about this, the
more I began to realize how much truth Israel had. You think of the
Gentile world, they had none of it. Israel had it all, folks, and rejected
the very key of what everything centered around. Now think about it for a
second. We now live in the 21st century and there is a whole lot of truth
that is around. Is that not correct? I wonder how much has God tried to
say to you and tried to say to me that we have become disobedient and
obstinate to the very thing God has so preciously spoken to us through His
Years ago, I was at a conference out in Texas. I remember going out of the
last meeting so filled up with truth. We heard these marvelous speakers
all day long and when you were finished, you just felt like you were just
full to the brim. I couldnít wait to go back. We were going to the airport
and I was telling my wife, "I donít even want to go home. This has been
wonderful. No wonder Simon Peter said, ĎLetís build a tabernacle up here
and stay.í This is just too good." My wife brought me back to earth so
fast! She said, "You know what? I am not going to any more of these
conferences. I have so much truth in my head that I know I am not living.
I am not sure I want any more until I start living what I know."
You know, if you think about what Israel had on their plate historically,
they had it all right there in front of them. They tracked themselves back
to Abraham. Jesus tried to say in
John 8, "If you were of Abraham, then you
would love Me. You donít understand. You are not of Abraham, you are of
your father the devil." Now that is amazing. They tracked it back to
Abraham. If you track it back to Abraham, Abraham believed and it was
accounted unto him as righteousness. Israel is not just Israel because
they say they are physically descended from Abraham. Israel, God had in
mind from the very beginning, was a people who by faith would believe Him.
But they are not that. Think about what they had on their plate.
Now, think about what you have had on your plate. Letís think about it.
You know, when you donít like my preaching and a lot of people donít, just
turn on Christian radio. You will find somebody you like. I guarantee you.
There are some good ones there. I know some people have told me, "I have
listened to Christian radio all day long." I am thinking to myself, "Good
night, with that much truth that ought to transform your life!" People can
turn around that fast and become disobedient and obstinate at the drop of
a hat. If you want to know what we are like in the flesh, folks, study
Israel. God lovingly spoke to them through their prophets for century
after century after century and they refused to listen to what God had to
say. They were an obstinate and disobedient people.
I donít know about you but chapter 9 humbled me to the point that I donít
ever want to do it again. I mean, it is just beyond me. It is over my
head. I learned one thing out of it: I donít deserve my salvation. But
what chapter 10 has done for me is to show me how much like Israel I can
be at the drop of a hat. They would not respond when God lovingly set
their table and gave it before them. Well, the rejection of this
righteousness is a tough thing, a sad thing. For God to love people so
much that He put it right in front of them and they would turn their back
and reject what He had done.
Where are you in light of the truth that God has put on your plate? What
has God spoken to you recently that you have not yet been willing to allow
it to persuade you to bow before Him and to trust Him and to walk by faith
in what He said?