Summary: Has God really rejected Israel forever? It’s a touchy subject, but one Paul deals with strongly in these chapters. If God has not cast them away forever, then how do they, and us, reach God? By the Word.
We’ve been talking about Israel. There are many believe that God has turned His back on those who were His people. I believe Romans 9-11 provide proof that this is not the case. Paul was so concerned about his brethren that if would have become accursed if they would come to faith. He continues that concern here in chapters 10-11 and gives us some insight into how Israel got cut off from God, how we were grafted in, and how God treats us just like Israel—once they come to God in faith, they come home.
1 – 4
Being zealous doesn’t make you right. There are a lot of people in this world who make powerful arguments through the zeal they show for their position. But the strength of an argument comes not from the force of its delivery but the truth of its assumption. The Jews assumed that God would always be pleased with and accept them because they were God’s people. But God had always designed righteousness to come from faith, not obedience (eg: Abraham).
When we deal with people who are really strong in their opinion opposing God, we do not need to match them shout for shout or zeal for zeal – Jehovah’s Witnesses are some of the most motivated and zealous people that exist, but they are very wrong in their theology. What matters is what works, not what sounds good.
Notice that in reality, the Jews wanted to have self be number one. They rejected God’s righteousness through Jesus and sought “to establish their own.” We like to be God but we can’t in practice. And that’s the ultimate reality everyone has to grasp.
Christ is the end of the law for righteousness because we are no longer justified by following the law, but by faith in Jesus. It doesn’t mean the law goes away, it is fulfilled in Jesus, who by giving us His life, makes us transformed into law fulfillers too.
5 – 7
Under the law if you wanted to be counted as righteous you had to fulfill every single commandment. James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
The idea here is that we, as humans, can do nothing to save ourselves or even participate in the saving process. Jesus did it all for us singlehandedly.
8 – 13
In other words, you don’t have to go to heaven or to Hades to find salvation—it is always right there. I know this is a somewhat silly analogy, but in the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy had to go all over Oz and fight witches and flying monkeys to earn the right to go home. When it was all said and done, the good witch (I can’t remember which compass point she belonged to) told her she always had the power, just by clicking the heels of her shoes. With us, our salvation is very near, and it comes by our affirming from the heart two things: 1) That Jesus is Lord and 2) that through his life, death, burial, and resurrection, has cleansed our sins and given us eternal life. Jesus saved us, Jesus rules us and the universe. It is trust and reliance, and it is confession, first to God, perhaps, then to others. To “confess” means “to say the same thing.” Jesus said in Matthew 10:32 if you confess Him here, He will confess you in heaven! You cannot be a completely closet Christian. If you have never acknowledged your faith to anyone else I would question whether you are really saved.
“No distinction between Jew and Greek” God’s special relationship with Israel continues, but now it has been broadened to include us. More on that in a moment.
14 – 17
All of us who have made this affirmation and confession have done so on the witness of those who saw the events of the gospel, wrote them down, and others brought these writings through the ages. Those who believed told others about it and so the gospel passes on. Jesus, before He ascended to heaven said “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21). It’s all about 1) a relationship with God and 2) bringing others into that relationship by being transformed to being like God and then used to further the good news.
And though we use our words, it is really “the word of Christ” – the power of the gospel – that saves. Remember Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” As we’ve already said, though, not everyone will receive this message.
18 – 21
Essentially the Jews could make two arguments that: 1) They didn’t hear the gospel or 2) That they didn’t understand. By this time Paul had spent 20 years taking the gospel and carefully explaining it all over his known world. Yes, God would make the Jews angry and jealous that stinking Gentiles would get salvation, and that people who knew nothing of Yahweh would be welcomed into His arms. But as it has been through much of their history, the Jews were “disobedient and contrary” (vs 21). So now it comes up, a controversial subject about the future of the Jewish nation and the Jewish people.