Scripture reading – Romans 10; Romans 11
Our study of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans continues as we come to chapters 10 and 11.
Although writing to all believers, Paul appeared to address in particular believers of Jewish ancestry when he wrote: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved” (10:1). King David wrote the same longing when he wrote, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6). Of course, Israel as a nation, and Jerusalem as her capital have not known peace, for the Jews rejected Jesus Christ, the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Sadly, rather than praying for Israel to be saved, a spirit of “Antisemitism,” a hatred or prejudice for Jewish people, is on the rise within and without the churches. In my opinion, a major contributing factor for an increase in discrimination and hostility toward the Jews is a misunderstanding of Israel as a nation and people. The Israel of the 21st century is a nation with a secular government. Not all, but many in current day Israel identify as Hebrew or Jew, while a host of others are secular in faith and practice.
Nevertheless, as believers and followers of Christ, there should arise within our hearts an affection for God’s chosen people. Though a majority of believers are not of Abraham’s physical lineage; we are of his spiritual lineage (by faith in God’s covenant promises made to him and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Genesis 12:1-3). We are also debtors to the Hebrew people, for they were chosen to be caretakers of His Holy Scriptures.
While praying for the salvation of Israel as a people, Paul observed the Jews were religiously zealous, but “not according to knowledge” (10:2). I am afraid they were like a lot of religious people of our day, “ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (10:3). They were self-righteous, and in their zeal to prove themselves righteous, were blind to the reality they had violated God’s Law and Commandments. They failed to submit “themselves unto the righteousness of God” (that is a righteousness that may only be found by yielding to God’s plan for redemption (10:3c).
What is God’s plan for salvation? It is to accept by faith that Christ, by His death and resurrection, fulfilled all the law demanded. He “is the end [the completer] of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (10:4). Notice the last phrase: “every one that believeth” (10:4b). A sinner is not saved by his works, or religious fervor. We are saved by confessing and acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord (10:9a), and believing in our “heart that God hath raised Him from the dead (10:9b).
How important is faith? What a man believes regarding Christ determines his eternal destiny: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (10:10).
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