We left Chapter Nine, having understood that God made a choice to use the nation of Israel, having fashioned them as a vessel of mercy. In accordance with Israel bearing the Oracles of God, this vessel was not simply to house/hoard the mercies of God, but was to be broken and spilled out up on the world (like the alabaster box). However, Paul makes it clear that despite many fashioning themselves as vessels of wrath, God made allowance for this through His forbearance because it would mean allowing the Gentiles to be included in this vessel of mercy.
In Chapter Ten, we will see Paul explaining why Israel, at large, ended up in the state God concluded them in (as a vessel of wrath).
Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Paul’s desire for his kinsmen was still strong. He testifies of how zealous they are of God, but not according to knowledge. In Hosea 4, it is prophesied of Israel that,
Hosea 6:4 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Israel, in their own minds, was “on fire for God” (ever heard that expression?) Their zeal couldn’t be topped. They fancied themselves as going the extra mile, thus earning the favor of God they so desperately wanted. But, Paul says that their zeal for God wasn’t according to knowledge. In other words, they toiled away, generation after generation, based on ignorance. Paul says in verse 3 that they were ignorant of God’s righteousness and went around trying to establish their own and in so doing, they have not submitted unto the righteousness of God. All of the work they accomplished did nothing to place them under God’s righteousness. We should also note that being ignorant here is willful. As we’ll see later in the chapter, Israel had no reason to be ignorant, but they willfully chose to be nonetheless.
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 10:5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 10:6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 10:7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Israel sought to have God meet them at the end of their law performance and reward them with righteousness, however, Paul clearly states that CHRIST is the end of the law for righteousness. Moses certainly described a righteousness of the law, but the man that submits to that righteousness will ultimately be bound to live therein. Remember from the earlier chapters in Romans, the law’s purpose was to expose sin and when allowed to do so, the law works death. Those who do not desire Christ to be the end of the law for their rigtheousness will ultimately submit themselves to a realm of sin and death.
The righteousness of faith (Christ being righteousness) doesn’t seek to set one on a course to run a race to earn heaven or to dive to the depths to find it, but rather the righteousness of faith is so close to Israel – its on the tips of their tongues – its the beat of their heart and that is the word of faith which Paul preached. In other words, Israel, just stop! Quit trying to “be on fire for God” because the very righteousness you need is not a matter of your zeal, but is a matter of your knowledge – that is, understanding and submitting to the word of faith. What is this word of faith?
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
This word of faith is Jesus Christ. However, for a Jew to confess Jesus Christ would have been a big deal. We’ll explain this more fully in the next post.
Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Israel, you have to reason to be ashamed of confessing Jesus Christ. It is the same confession that the Gentiles make, for the same Lord is over all and rich unto all that call upon Him. For indeed, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. However, as I mentioned, for a Jew to make this confession had tremendous implication – perhaps more so than a Gentile who made the very same confession. This doesn’t mean that one is better than the other or the results of the confession are different, but understanding a Jew’s proximity to this information that Paul says they were ignorant of helps to give some clarity.
What does it mean to call upon THE NAME of the Lord?
Our story continues…