God Has Not Failed; The Word Of God Has Not Failed; The Gospel Of God Has Not Failed; The Lord Is Not To Be Blamed For The Jewish People Not Being Saved Because God Has Made Salvation Simple, Easy And Accessible; We Are Saved When We Hear The Good News And Believe It And Confess That Yeshua Is Lord; This Applies To The Jewish People And To The Gentiles; Christians And Messianic Jews Must Bring The Gospel To Those Around Them
So far in his letter to Messiah’s Community in Rome, the Rabbi has informed us that God has saved us with a great salvation, a salvation that we have not earned or deserved. We are saved by God’s grace when we respond to the Good News about Messiah with faith. God has killed our old nature. He has removed us from the control of our old, horrible master, sin. He has freed us from the law of sin and death. He has given us a new nature. He has given us new life. He has given us His Spirit who lives in us, who does so many good things for us. He has promised to resurrect our bodies and give us eternal life and an amazing inheritance.
But, the Christians and Messianic Jews in Rome may have started thinking: how reliable are these great promises? Reliable enough to suffer for? Reliable enough to die for? After all, God made a lot of promises to the Chosen People, and things didn’t seem to be working out too well for Israel. If God’s promises to Israel won’t be fulfilled, how can we trust God’s promises to us? And what about Israel? How should we understand Israel? Is God finished with the Jewish people? How should Messiah’s Community relate to Israel? These are the questions that Rabbi Paul deals with in chapters 9, 10 and 11.
Rabbi Paul wanted the Christians and Messianic Jews in Rome to know that being saved by grace through faith, not works, not human effort, not a legalistic form of law-keeping, was not something new. The Lord never intended salvation to be complicated or difficult for us to achieve or hard to find. Just as God made salvation simple and faith-based and easily accessible to the Jewish people under the Sinai Covenant, so with the arrival of the Messiah, God made salvation simple and faith-based and easily accessible for everyone – including the Jewish people. Therefore there was no excuse for the Jewish people to not be saved. It wasn’t God’s fault that the majority of the Chosen People weren’t saved.
Shortly before he died, Moses said this to the nation: Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
Under the Sinai Covenant, God wanted the Jewish people to know Him and have faith in Him and understand His law so we could experience His salvation. So He revealed Himself and His law to us. We didn’t have to go on a difficult, dangerous or impossible journey to find the law. We didn’t need to cross the treacherous sea or try to climb our way to Heaven. The law had been revealed to us and was close to us. We had received part of it from God Himself when He spoke the Ten Commandments from Sinai. Moses had written down the rest of it. Moses had been teaching it to us. We had been thinking about it. We had been talking about it. The law was right there – in our mouth and in our heart.
The law, which had been made accessible to us, when properly understood and received with faith, was able to be successfully observed, and resulted in salvation and life. The same principle was operating with Messiah’s arrival and the institution of the New Covenant. The way of salvation is simple. It is not difficult. It is not based on human effort – how hard we work. Salvation is easily accessible – to the one who simply hears the Good News and responds with faith. So, Paul takes the passage from Moses and modifies it to apply to the New Covenant. But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Messiah down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Messiah up from the dead).
The Lord is not to be blamed for the Jewish people, or anyone else, not being saved because God has made salvation simple and easy and accessible. No one needs to do the impossible task of ascending into Heaven to access a salvation that is only found there, because Messiah has already come down from Heaven through the incarnation and brought salvation to us. No one needs to go on a dangerous journey into the depths of the Earth because Messiah has already done that by His death and resurrection. Messiah had done everything that is needed to make salvation accessible to us. All anyone has to do is respond with faith to the simple message about the Messiah that was being proclaimed everywhere, and they will be saved.
The Rabbi continues the quote from Moses and applies it to his day. But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim. Just as Moses proclaimed the law to Israel, so that it was close to us, accessible to us, in our mouths and hearts because we were thinking about it and talking about it, so the Lord’s Representatives and other Messianic Jews and Christians had been proclaiming the Gospel throughout Israel, and to Jewish people and the peoples of the nations throughout the Roman empire, so that everyone was thinking about it and talking about it. The Good News about the Messiah was in the mouths and hearts of people throughout the Roman empire.
Because the message was in peoples’ mouths and hearts, the mouth and heart must be involved in salvation. If you declare with your mouth, “Yeshua is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Our words reveal what we believe at the core of who we are. With the heart one must believe that Yeshua is the Son of God who came from Heaven, and who died and who was raised from the dead; that He is the risen Messiah. And with the mouth public profession must be made that Yeshua is the living Lord.
Hearing the Gospel. Believing the Gospel. Confessing that Yeshua is the living Lord. This is the way of salvation.
This is a salvation that is simple. It’s not complicated.
This is a salvation that is not difficult. It is based on faith, not works. All we do is believe the truth and then proclaim the truth.
This is a salvation that is real. It is deep, not shallow. It comes from the heart.
This is a salvation that is inherently evangelistic. If you declare with your mouth. This is not a one time declaration – the day you are saved. It is an on-going declaration. It is a daily declaration. Every day we need to be using our mouth to declare that Yeshua is Lord. Every day we are to be looking for opportunities to tell others the Good News about Him. If we have no passion for the Gospel, not enough concern for the salvation of others to open our mouths, no desire to help people who are alienated from God be reconciled to Him so they can live forever – something is seriously wrong.
Again, as he did so often in this letter, Paul reinforces his teaching with a quote from the Word of God. He quotes Isaiah 28: As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” God, speaking through Isaiah, was telling us that even though the foolish and corrupt leaders of Israel would be judged and destroyed, all those in Israel who had faith would be successful. In the same way, in Paul’s day, every person – Jewish person and Gentile, who had faith in the Messiah would not be put to shame. God would honor them and save them with a great salvation. We are saved by belief, by faith in Yeshua – not by anything we can do.
The law, and the salvation it offered, was given to Israel. Occasionally a Gentile was attracted to the God of Israel, and became part of Israel, and was saved. But the salvation that the New Covenant offers is different. It is offered not only to Israel, but equally to the people of the nations. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” There is a difference between Jew and Gentile in national identity and related issues, one being the need for circumcision. But there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in matters of salvation – having the same Lord and having the same way of salvation. There is not one way of salvation for the Jewish people, and another way of salvation for the Gentiles. There is no “two covenant” teaching here; no two ways of salvation, one requiring faith in Yeshua and one not requiring faith in Yeshua – like the Kinzers and Dauermanns and Hagees teach.
No, with the arrival of the Son of God, the Jewish people are saved the very same way as the peoples from the nations are saved. Gentiles are saved the same way as Jews. When anyone, Jew or Gentile, hears the Good News about the Lord Yeshua, and responds with faith, and calls on the name of the Lord by confessing their faith in Yeshua – they are richly blessed by God with a great salvation and with life. The Rabbi reinforces this teaching by quoting the prophecy from Joel 2, which predicts the great future salvation of many of the Jewish people in the Last Days. Joel makes it clear that everyone of those children of Israel who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. The Lord will rescue them from Satan and the demons, from sin and from death. He will richly bless them and give them eternal life.
God has the right to choose some for salvation, and not others. And He has the right to choose the way those chosen ones will be saved. And, the way He has chosen for them to be saved is through the proclamation of the Good News by other human beings. They must hear the Good News; believe the Good News; proclaim with their mouth that Yeshua is the risen Lord.
God has chosen to use Messiah’s followers, Christians and Messianic Jews, to bring the message of salvation to others. Our proclamation of the Gospel is essential for others to be saved. Therefore we must do our part. We must be faithful to proclaim the Good News to those around us. The Rabbi asks some questions to emphasize this.
If everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved – and they will – how, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? The answer: they can’t call on the name of the Lord, who is Yeshua, if they have not believed in. They must have faith in Him to call on Him.
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? The answer: they can’t. They must hear about God the Father sending Messiah the Son, and His death and resurrection, and that He is the risen Lord and the one and only savior of human beings.
And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
The answer: they can’t. Human beings who know the truth need to proclaim the Good News to other human beings who need to hear the truth. Those who know the truth must preach, declare, proclaim to those who don’t know the truth.
And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? The answer: they can’t. Those who preach the Good News that is able to save people when it is believed must be sent. And the truth is that the Father and the Son have sent many people to preach the Good News – not just missionaries and evangelists and pastors and rabbis. God has sent each one of His sons and daughters to preach. He has sent you; and you and you and you. He has sent me.
It’s a beautiful thing to be sent by God to bring the Good News that is able to save human being to those who are perishing. Again, the Rabbi quotes from Isaiah to reinforce his teaching. As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Just as it was so helpful, so beneficial, so beautiful when faithful Jewish people in earlier days encouraged their suffering nation with the good news that God would restore us – it’s a beautiful thing for us to share the Good News with people who are headed to death, not life; to Hell, not Heaven. Who would not want to be used by the Creator to bring such a beautiful message to those around them, to people who so desperately need this Good News, so they can hear it, know the Lord, be saved, be transformed and live forever? What a great honor! What a tremendous privilege! What a beautiful thing!
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! American spend billions of dollars each year so that their feet will be more beautiful. They go to podiatrists – foot doctors, to keep their feet looking good. They get pedicures. They buy shoes that enhance the beauty of their feet. U.S. consumer footwear spending is about 30 billions dollars per year. You want beautiful feet? You don’t have to spend a dollar! Bring the Good News to those around you.
Make a serious commitment to bring the Good News to those around you. Pray for opportunities. Look for opportunities. Make opportunities happen. Redirect conversations to Yeshua and the Good News about Him. Ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit, and with wisdom and courage, and help you share the Good News with at least one person each week. How many of you will try to do that this week?
After the arrival of the Son of God, the majority of the Jewish people rejected Him; only a minority were being saved. However, God was not to be blamed. The fault was ours, not His. We refused to believe the message when it was proclaimed to us. But not all the Israelis accepted the good news. Again, reinforcing his teaching with the Word of God, the rabbi quotes from what I consider to be the greatest of the Messianic prophecies, Isaiah 53. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” The implied answer: not many. The Lord communicated to Isaiah, some 700 years before Messiah arrived, that the majority of the Jewish people would refuse to believe the message about the Messiah – which is of course exactly what happened.
The Son of God came to Earth and made it abundantly clear to His people that He is the Messiah. He claimed to be the Messiah. He claimed to be the Son of God. He backed up His claims by living a perfectly righteous life. He was full of divine wisdom. He gave us the most glorious teachings. His miracles, which were unprecedented in number and in greatness, were evidence that Yeshua was sent by God and is who He claimed to be – the Messiah and the Son of God.
There was more than enough truth, clarity, evidence that Yeshua is the Messiah. The problem wasn’t the message. The problem was a stubborn, irrational lack of faith on the part of the majority of the people and our leaders. God is not to be blamed for Israel’s lack of salvation. Our refusal to believe the message was the problem.
The majority’ failure to believe in Yeshua doesn’t discredit Him. It does not disqualify Him from being the Messiah. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. The failure of the majority to believe is one of the prerequisites for Yeshua being the Messiah! The Word of God must be fulfilled, and the Word of God predicted that when Messiah arrived, the majority would not believe the message. Lord, who has believed our message?
Faith is essential to salvation. Hearing the message, specifically, the message about Messiah, is essential to faith. Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Messiah. The message that God has ordained to help produce faith is the word about Messiah. Our preaching must be about Messiah. The Word we give must be Messiah-centered: who Yeshua is; why He came; the evidence for Him being the Messiah; His teachings; His miracles; His death; His resurrection; His ascension; His return; why we need to believe in Him; the consequences if we don’t believe in Him.
We need to be taking control of our interactions with people, and direct them to Yeshua. We ask them: who do you think Jesus is? Where they are right, agree with them. Where they are wrong, correct them. Where they lack information, teach them.
Is the problem that the Jewish people didn’t hear the word about Messiah? There weren’t enough people sent to proclaim the message? Is that why so few believed? Not at all. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: The Rabbi reinforces his teaching with a quote from Psalm 19: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Just as the heavens declare the glory of God – the sun, moon and stars reveal to everyone on Earth that God is real and powerful and wise and glorious – so those who knew the Lord in the first century had been declaring the Good News to the Jewish people in Israel and to the Jewish people in other cities in the Roman empire. The Jewish people thoroughly heard the message about Yeshua – from Yeshua Himself, whose impact was tremendous on the Jewish nation; and after Yeshua’s death and resurrection, they heard the message from Yeshua’s Representatives and from many others.
The Rabbi anticipates another, related objection. The Jewish people heard the message but the majority didn’t understand. Maybe the problem was that the message was too confusing. It wasn’t understandable. How can they be held responsible for not having faith if the message wasn’t understandable? Again I ask: Did Israel not understand?
The Rabbi answers this objection by again, quoting the Scriptures. First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” At the very end of the Torah, Moses predicted that the Jewish people would become unfaithful to God. The Lord would punish us and make us jealous by those who are not a nation, and make us angry by blessing another nation. Something similar was happening in Paul’s day. People from the nations, who had no spiritual understanding, were becoming God’s people because they were responding with faith to the message of salvation.
The Lord revealed something similar to Isaiah. And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” Just as the Jewish people would become far from God, but God in His grace and mercy would reveal Himself to them and save them, so, many of the Gentiles in Paul’s day, who had been far from God and who had not been seeking Him, were having the truth revealed to them. They were able to understand the message about Messiah that was being given to them, and respond with faith to the proclamation of the Gospel.
If the majority of the Jewish people didn’t believe the message, the problem wasn’t with the message. The message is perfectly understandable. The proof? People from other nations, who didn’t have the same level of spiritual understanding that we had, were able to understand it. If they could understand the message, the Chosen People could certainly understand it.
God is not to be blamed for our failure. The message is not to be blamed for our failure. The problem was with us – not with God; not with the message. The Rabbi again reinforces his teaching with a quote from the Tenach, again from Isaiah. But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” Israel’s lack of understanding which resulted in our lack of salvation, our lack of righteousness, was not because the message couldn’t be understood. It wasn’t because God wasn’t keeping His promises. He was holding out His loving and gracious hands to us, hands which held salvation. But we rejected those hands. We refused to receive from those hands. The problem was us and our disobedience and stubbornness.
Would this situation – where the majority of the Chosen people would be lost, not saved; disobedient, not obedient; in a state of stubborn unbelief, not humble faith – last forever? That’s what the next chapter is all about. I’ll give you a hint. The answer is no. All Israel will be saved.
Lord, we acknowledge that even though the majority of the Chosen People were not saved in the days of Paul, and are not saved today, You have not failed; Your Word has not failed. Your promises have not failed. The message, the Gospel has not failed.
You are faithful. You have made the message about Messiah clear. You have made salvation simple, easy and accessible – to everyone. Jewish people and the peoples from the nations are saved when we hear the Good News and believe it and confess that Yeshua is the risen Lord.
You have chosen to use human beings as your messengers to help with the salvation of others. Help each one of us to be faithful messengers; to do our duty; to fulfill the great responsibility You have entrusted us with by bringing the Gospel to those around us. Amen.