Romans 9:30-33 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” NKJV
Paul now unfolds the current condition of Israel at the time of his letter which is unbelief. Paul knowing that the Gentiles being alienated and enemies in their minds by wicked works from the promises of God were not looking for the One True God and never was pursuing righteousness but now they have been reconciled to God by faith. So the question Paul now anticipates from the Jew is why would God receive these pagan idol worshipers and reject the people He made a Covenant with through Abraham? Abraham entered into Covenant with God because he believed God and by faith God gave Abraham righteousness, but somewhere down the Jewish line the High Priest and Rabbis began to create a works system for Jews to follow which completely forfeited their access to right standing with God. As Abraham saw and looked forward to the day of our Lord Jesus Christ coming and was glad, every subsequent Jew in every generation was to do likewise and this looking forward to the coming Messiah was counted to them as righteousness (Romans 4:3).
Every Jew who died looking forward to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Prophets prophesied were justified before God the Father without performing any of the Jewish works religious rituals established over the many years because as Paul said, Romans 4:4 “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” and this applied to the Jews who lived before Calvary just as it does to the Jews who live today, after Calvary. Today modern Israel is still in the same blind state or condition they were at the time the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Romans. Paul had no way of knowing how long it would be before our Lord Jesus returned to the earth the 2nd time because no man knows that, but Paul did know that Israel was blinded by God the Father to the gospel of grace the moment they as a Nation rejected the True Messiah the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul knew that for however long our Lord Jesus tarried that the majority of the Jewish Nation would remain blinded to the gospel of grace and remain in their works based religious system of trying to earn their way into God’s favor. Ask any Jewish Rabbi today how does one get to heaven and they will tell you that you must be good and do enough good that God would receive you.
However, many of the Gentiles who were living in utter spiritual darkness worshiping the sun and moon and stars practicing all manner of paganism heard the gospel of grace in our Lord Jesus Christ and embraced it and were justified immediately by faith in Christ and were made sons of God and no longer His enemies (Isaiah 65:1). Now today most of Israel is not even practicing works based Judaism, but the majority of the Nation is pagan and live their daily lives like pagan unbelievers. Our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world born a Jew and came to His own people Israel and they hated Him, mocked Him, despised Him, and then killed Him, but this was all done according to the Sovereign Will of God the Father before He ever made the world and Christ death, burial, and resurrection from the dead opened the way for all people to be reconciled to God and not just the Jews. Christ was a stumbling block to the Jews because they did not understand all that the Prophets wrote concerning Him and His first coming. They read the Prophets and expected the Messiah to come once in Great Power and Glory to crush His enemies which He (Christ) will do at His 2nd Coming, but they miss-interpreted what Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 52 and Isaiah 53 thinking the suffering servant was not Christ, but instead them (the Nation Israel) and this too was all a part of God’s Sovereign Plan.
Paul again quotes the Jewish Old Testament Prophet Isaiah and his words spoken to the Nation Israel some 700 years in the past foretelling of the coming Messiah and as we said earlier God the Father did not overpower any Jews will from the time He said these words through Isaiah to the time our Lord Jesus appeared in the flesh. What God the Father did is the same thing He did with the Pharaoh and that is He gave to every man according to his own heart and works that proceed from their hearts. Some Jews over the course of those 700 plus years saw Christ on the Cross dying for their sin, but most of the Jews during the course of those 700 plus years continued to stumble at the Messiah suffering and accounted the suffering servant as Israel and they perished in every generation right up to our Lord Jesus being born in Bethlehem and dying at Calvary.
The Jewish Nation as a whole ran hard after God, but they did it not in accordance with His will but tried to work their way to Him which He hates and despises as He said through the Apostle Paul with these passages of Scripture, Romans 3:9-10 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” NKJV and Galatians 2:15-16 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. NKJV Only the Jews like Paul who had received our Lord Jesus Christ by faith knew that trying to work your way into God’s grace was futility and this is why Paul was so grieved and filled with such sorrow over the Jewish Nation as a whole.
Luke 2:34 “Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against’” NKJV
Romans 4:5 “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” NKJV
Galatians 3:7-9 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. NKJV
“The Jews were slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken concerning the sufferings of their Messiah; we are slow of heart to believe all that they have spoken concerning His glory.” C. I. Scofield
“There was less pride, obstinacy, self-confidence; and people were more easily brought ‘to see’ that they were sinners, and to feel their need of a Saviour. Though God dispenses His favors as a Sovereign, and though all are opposed by nature to the gospel, yet it is always true that the gospel finds more obstacles among some people than among others. This was a most cutting and humbling doctrine to the pride of a Jew; and it is no wonder, therefore, that the apostle guarded it as he did.” Albert Barnes
“How ironic that the Jew was running toward God by the works of the ceremonial Jewish law and did not find Him, while the Gentile was running away from God worshiping nature and carved images and ran into the wall of the gospel of Christ and were stoped and changed forever into sons of God, Paul knew what he was talking about in Romans 9:16 I guess!” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…