In the book of Romans, chapters 9–11, Paul is answering the following questions many were asking in his day. If the nation Israel was God’s people, why are so few embracing Christ as their Savior? Has God’s plan failed? A casual reading of the Old Testament might lead one to wonder what the LORD was doing there as well. Israel had a very checkered past. As a nation they were prone to wander away from God and the place of blessing.
Romans chapter 9 provided two answers. First, not every child of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were children of the promise. Ishmael and Esau were given as examples of this and a rather blunt statement says so succinctly, “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans 9:6). God has His people. They are characterized by having the faith of Abraham. The truly chosen people are but a remnant of the nation of Israel. One can be assured that God’s promises will come true as He will make them come to pass. So, the first mistake in evaluating if God had failed or not is assuming the promises to Abraham’s offspring were for the whole nation of Israel. (Many Christians still do that today, in their prophetic speculations about the future of Israel)
The second answer, is that unbelieving Israel, being part of that people who received God’s law through Moses, failed to grasp the aim of the law. The law was to point to Christ. They missed it. They stumbled over Christ because they were so distracted, so zealous in trying to keep God’s law that they failed to realize they could not keep it. The law’s aim was to reveal to them their sinfulness and need; thereby, leading them to Christ and the gift of righteousness that He has procured for them.
Romans chapter 10 is a turn from the plight of ethnic Israel in the direction of hope for many of these unbelieving Jews. First, Paul is praying for them. We often fail to realize how powerful prayer is. Second, the major theme of our message today, Paul personifies the righteousness of faith. It actually calls out to unbelieving Israel with a strong allusion to Deuteronomy 29–30, a passage of Scripture at the end of Moses’ second giving of the law to Israel just prior to going into the land, showing that what was happening in Paul’s day concerning the spread of the Gospel of Christ is that blessed time of revival Moses spoke of. It is a revival that includes Paul’s Jewish kinsmen.
Here is a message of hope. The coming last days for Israel were not future to Paul, the promised blessings of the last days for Israel had already begun and the blessing of those days was and continues to be found in Christ. There is now a righteousness from God for Jews and Gentiles alike, for you and me. According to Paul that righteousness of faith is calling. The phone is ringing. Can’t you hear it? Pick up the phone. It is for you and me.