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The Stumbling Stone

(Romans 9:30–10:4)

Last Sunday, was like a fly over of chapters 9 and 10 of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. As you may recall, the big question in view in this section of Romans was, “Did God’s plan fail?”

Since Pentecost, the nations were streaming into to church. In those apostolic days it was a revival time. Yes, people from every nation, tongue, and tribe were coming to Christ in droves except one nation, the nation Israel. The Jewish people were not just indifferent to Jesus, they were hostile! The outpouring of the Spirit was foretold by Joel. What was happening during those days, the coming of the long-awaited Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection, the atonement, the giving of the Spirit, the in gathering of the nations were all prefigured and foretold. The words of the prophets were being fulfilled in their very day, yet the nation Israel, the LORD’s people, did not see it although everything was happening right before their noses.

Did God’s plan fail? Paul wrote that it did not. First, because He had never intended that every son of Abraham would see it. Not all Israel was truly Israel. The blessings were for the children of promise, for Isaac and not Ishmael, for Jacob (Israel), and not Esau, not even all of Israel, as only a remnant would be saved.

God is the One who gives eyes to see and ears to hear, and He does so because salvation is not based upon parentage or merit. God’s blessings come as a gift of grace – grace because no one deserves His mercy – a gift, because we cannot obtain salvation through our own efforts. We can only lay a hold of it by faith. This is the theme of Romans 9.

Romans 10 lets us know that God did not fail. The failure was with all who fail to believe, whether Jews or non-Jews. Today’s passage forms a bridge between Romans chapter 9 and 10. Romans 9:30– 10:4 and it lets us know the reason the Jews failed to believe. They tripped on Christ. To them Christ was a stumbling stone.

What does that mean? Have you ever tripped on something? What happens? What you trip on is in your path. Why do you trip over it? It is because you did not see it. Perhaps you were distracted. Perhaps you were busy with something else. You were preoccupied. So, one moment you are walking along and the next you are flat on your back.

Today, we will look at what distracted them. It is a common distraction.

Today, we are going to take a good look at that stumbling stone, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the rock spoken of by Isaiah, the rock in the Psalms, whom Jesus spoke of, whom Peter spoke of in the book of Acts and in his epistle, and Paul spoke of here. He is the stone that fells Nebuchadnezzar’s image in Daniel 2 and grows into a mighty mountain.

For the Christian, Jesus is the solid rock. The Christian can sing,

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus name
On Christ, the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.

And hopefully all will understand clearly what Paul meant when he wrote, “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

The Jews tripped over Christ in their zeal to keep God’s law, not realizing that the Christ was the end, the aim, that which the law of God sought to point them to.

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The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches. (Matthew 13:31-32)

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