Challenge and Blessing
Father, I need Your good gifts: diligence to seek You, patience to wait for You, eyes to behold You.
Read Romans 9:30-10:21
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Misplaced zeal and legalism can be stumbling blocks for those desiring faith. For us, this passage can be an uncomfortable and yet necessary reminder.
Paul continues to weave a tapestry of Old Testament texts to explore this puzzle of “the righteousness that is by faith” (9:30; 10:6), which the Gentiles have now received. It’s a thread running right through Romans (See Rom. 1:17). “Righteousness” (when applied to God) can refer to the quality that God has, but also his right action, his faithfulness, as experienced by others. When applied to people, it has often been taken to mean our standing before God, but it also includes ideas of right living and action as evidence of this.
In the face of Israel’s disobedience, God’s actions have always looked puzzling. On the one hand, his continued holiness means he will not tolerate evil persisting without judgment. On the other hand, this very holiness means he is faithful to his people and will, in some mysterious way, restore them. Paul draws on these ideas from Isaiah 8 and 28; the stone God lays in Zion is both a foundation for his rebuilding and a stone of stumbling as Israel continues to resist God’s ways of grace. And now Jesus is this stone, the foundation of God’s new work as well as a cause of stumbling for his people.
Although Moses seems to view the Law positively (Lev. 18:5), Paul re-reads this through Isaiah 28:13; when regulations become an end in themselves rather than a gift of God’s grace, they become petty rules that trip people up. In fact, as Paul shows, drawing on Deuteronomy 30, God’s restoration of Israel has always been something to receive and respond to by faith. This longed-for restoration has now come in Jesus; he is the “Lord,” the God of Israel, on whose name we call in these end times (Joel 2:28-32; compare Acts 2:21). Those announcing this good news of deliverance like Moses (Deut. 32:21) and Isaiah (Isa. 65:1,2), will always find a mixed response.
In what ways have you experienced an encounter with God as both challenge and blessing? Compare your experience with someone else today, either in person or in a message.
Lord, show me any way I might unintentionally cause others to stumble when I share the Gospel with them. Show me again the Gospel as it really is.