February 4 - Romans 9:30-33

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Romans 9:30-33 – Israel's Unbelief

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written: 

         “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 

The Lord looks at the heart and not the actions. Paul clearly states that the Gentiles received righteousness because they put their faith in Jesus Christ. They didn't look at it as a goal to pursue, but accepted it as a gift from God.

On the other hand, the people of Israel, who spent generation after generation, pursing righteousness through the Law became lost because it was never a matter of faith and trusting in God, but a matter of their own performance. They brought the most perfect sacrifice and offered the loudest prayers, they built the temple by their own hands and they spent every day trying to follow just enough rules to appease the tyrant God they served.

Paul reminds us that righteousness does not come from the works of our own hands, but comes by faith. In believing that we can do something to attain righteousness, we lose sight of the immensity of our sin. We don't have the power to bridge the gap between us and God. There is nothing we can do that brings us any closer to him. Only God has the power to create the bridge and he doesn't need our help. The only thing we can do is step onto the bridge, whether it is visible or not.  That is faith.

This is the stumbling block for the people of Israel. They had centuries of belief wrapped up in their rituals and rules. Jesus Christ was that stone that caused them to stumble and the rock that made them fall. He was set down in Zion … in the midst of all that the Jews considered to be holy and they stumbled and fell because they didn't understand what he was calling them to do.

Give up on yourselves and trust in me, Jesus said. Trust only in me.