As we now move to finish Chapter 10, let’s quickly remind our selves of where Paul has been. In Chapter 9, we see how God made a choice to bless the world through Israel. This choice was not merited by Israel’s decision to do good or abstain from doing bad, but was simply because that was God’s prerogative. Joshua understood the purpose for his people and before Israel goes into Canaan, Joshua states:
Deuteronomy 32:1 Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. 32:2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: 32:3 Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
The Oracles of God (ultimately personified in Jesus Christ) was to be borne through Israel, heard of Israel, accepted of Israel, and then subsequently delivered by Israel to the rest of the world. Notice that Joshua was to publish the NAME of the Lord to the world, which is vital (as we saw in Romans 10:13 – Romans Chapter 10, pt. 2).
Israel, however, fancied themselves to be the all-stars on God’s team and determined by that they were created based on their abilities. However, they failed to remember their history, where whenever they did that which was right in their own eyes, they failed miserably. However, whenever they recognized God and followed Him by faith, they were prosperous. It was never Israel who was the all-star, just as it is never you and I who are the all-stars, for God Himself is the All-Star and His team is not known by their own abilities, but by His abilities being manifested in and through the team.
As Paul closes Chapter Nine,
Romans 9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
As we moved in Chapter Ten, Paul is expressing his deep desire for his kinsmen, that they would be saved. They have the chance of attaining the very righteousness they sought if they should just submit to Faith. For Israel to call upon the NAME of the Lord would be an open admission of Jehovah Saves, or Jesus Christ. Whosoever shall call upon Jehovah Saves (the NAME of the Lord), shall be saved.
Paul is now about to completely dismantle any arguments that would suggest that Israel never had the chance to call upon the name of the Lord.
Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
It would be impossible to call upon Him if they do not believe Him. Likewise, it would be impossible to believe Him if they have never heard of Him. Furthermore, it would be impossible to hear of Him without someone preaching Him. Further still, it would be impossible for someone to preach Him without being sent to do so. After all, the smug Jew replies, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!
Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
But, as Isaiah understood during his time, Paul understood it to be true as well – obedience to the gospel (which is faith) wasn’t a universal truth amongst Israel. They may protest that they never heard, but Isaiah and Paul both declare they had sufficient information, yet obeyed not the glad tidings of good things.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Indeed – faith comes by hearing the word of God. Is this is the Bible? Many teach this to be the case, but has the context at all been about the Bible? No, far from it. What Bible did Job hold that would bring the reason of faith to him? The context has been about Jesus Christ. In Revelation 19, Jesus Christ’s name is the Word of God. This in no wise suggests that the Bible doesn’t contain the perfect record of the Word of God Himself, but simply addresses the phrase “word of God” as it is used in the context of Romans 10.
To the Jew, it would be another blow to their religious ego to understand that they not only had to call upon the name of Jehovah Saves, but also that faith is a product of hearing Jehovah Saves. Faith isn’t a product of their law-keeping or their religious performance. Faith isn’t a product of their lineage or heritage. Faith isn’t a product of God’s divine choice to have Israel be the channel of blessing to the world. Faith comes from hearing Jesus Christ. Not only faith to Israel (who were first given the chance to hear and believe it), but also to the Gentiles, to whom Israel was to bear the Living Oracles of God. Indeed, as Paul said at the end of Chapter Three,
Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 3:29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
But, what did Israel hear? And, in turn, what did the rest of the world hear?
Romans 10:18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
Paul says Israel absolutely did hear, but they did not hear Christ and therefore the world did not hear Christ (from Israel) either. Instead, Israel’s sound went into all the earth and THEIR words unto the ends of the world. Israel advertised to the world that they were the people of God and their marketing tactic was to exploit the righteousness of God by using it to decal their own performance. In other words, they told the world how great THEY were…not how great GOD is. Unfortunately, this is alive and well today. You don’t have to look far to see believers broadcasting THEIR WORDS to the world, but ascribing God’s name to it. Some of the Jews might further protest,
[12-7-18, editing the above – what I wrote doesn’t seem to jive with the context nor the Psalm that is being quoted]
How did Israel hear? Paul says that they did hear this preaching of faith and he quotes Psalm 19.
Psalm 19:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 19:2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 19:3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 19:4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 19:5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 19:6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
Regarding all the handiwork in the heavens, the Psalmist says that regardless of the language one might understand, there is no misunderstanding in the handiwork of God. This is a true universal language and the language declares the glory of God to all. Recall in Genesis what the purpose of the heavens were to play for mankind,
Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 1:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
Regardless of the linguistic construction we give these things, they are universally understood to mark celestial events and seasons and time. And, as the Psalmist writes, their line has gone out through all of the earth and their words to the end of the world. Their WORDS have been speaking to the earth. Now, this isn’t to suggest that the gospel message can be deciphered from the stars, as some claim. But, it is to suggest that there is something about the heavenly, celestial bodies that ‘speak’ universally to those observant of the heavens. In fact, we have this happening quite a bit in the scriptures where the heavens indicate God is at work. One of the most famous of these results around what the Magi saw.
Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
Matthew 2:9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
By the way, being a young child at this time certainly suggests these Magi weren’t at the actual birth of Christ. We also have the issue of where they are lodging – a house, not a stable. But, the purpose of this isn’t to digress about Christmas traditions that may or may not be scriptural. The point here is that we have a celestial event being used to announce the birth of the divine King. As the Psalmist wrote, their word was speaking and the Magi were listening.
In Romans 10, Paul is saying that Israel should have known because the heavens declared something about the birth of the NAME of God. But, if the universal, heavenly language isn’t enough, Paul goes on,
Romans 10:19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. 10:20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 10:21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
Paul quickly squashes any attempts to claim ignorance. If Israel had paid any serious attention to their history, let alone the heavenly announcement, and paid attention to what was written in their scriptures, they would have been perfectly aware of God’s intention to use an inferior nation to provoke Israel to jealousy–they would have been aware not only of Christ, but that Christ would be the catalyst for Gentiles to be redeemed.
Israel’s position in this regard was superior and as long as they followed God by faith and lived as good citizens under the law, then God would keep them superior. But, their superiority was because it was through them that God would reclaim the nations.
Deuteronomy 28:13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:
Deuteronomy 32:8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. 32:9 For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
Yet, despite Israel’s buffoonery, believing they were chosen because of how great they were (Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.), God still brought forth the Light unto the Gentiles. Israel’s superiority, however, wasn’t to be a tool by which Israel would look down at the other nations, but was an opportunity by which Israel would exalt the other nations by bringing them Jesus Christ. As mentioned above, Israel was to take God’s message (Jesus Christ) to the world, yet they believed Him not and therefore naturally wouldn’t have taken Him to the world. Yet, the Gentiles were receiving Christ nonetheless! God was fulfilling His promise that an inferior nation would make Israel jealous. As Isaiah said – God was found of them who weren’t seeking Him (that’s because He was seeking them!).
This then begs a few questions: Did all of Israel not believe? Wasn’t there at least one person of Israel who died in faith?
Our story continues…