Israel was zealous for God, but did not truly know him. Paul takes the opportunity to empathize with his people, Israel.
10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Romans 10
Can you imagine Paul’s situation? A religious leader, trained his whole life through strict spiritual disciplines. Confronted by these Jesus followers. He would have thought they were idolaters. Without Jesus supernaturally confronting Paul he might have continued to persecute Christians. Well the Jewish nation had the same problem as Paul. They stumbled over Jesus. And Paul’s desire and prayer is the Israelite nation would be brought back to God.
They were zealous and likely more devout than anyone I know. But Jesus is the righteousness of God, not my ethnic origin or my culture symbols. We can be tempted with the same thought. We still live in a near post-chistian culture in the U.S. That means our righteousness can be a contrived culture identification instead of in Christ.
How do we even know when we have begun to establish our own righteousness?
- You will determine the qualifications for righteousness: Because you are earning your rightness, you will expect others to earn their rightness with you. Not even with God’s objective truth, but even with your subjective framework.
- You will lack mercy and grace that naturally resides in the heart of a person saved only because of Jesus Christ.
- You will view the saved as the other people that look, talk and walk just like you.
* Jonah will be our next book of the Bible and is a great story to reflect this issue.
8 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:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 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. Romans 10
We have made this scripture a formula. Believe + Faith = Saved. But what is Paul writing about? The nation of Israel! What does he want for his nation? He wants them to hear the word so that they may return to God and be saved! He is calling us out. He wants the Roman Church to speak about the Spirit that lives in their chest. And he is suggestively pulling from the Old Testament to do so. The very scripture written to Israel is being used to persuade Christians to preach to Paul’s brethren about Jesus.
But there is something to be said about burning your ships. After arriving to the New World, Cortes ordered the men burn the ships. One man laughed, only to find Cortes’ sword thrust into his belly. The ships burned along with their only option of retreat.
When we speak about Jesus we burn our ships. You can’t go back to the same position. You will always be that crazy person that talked about some God-Man that died for our sins and was born to a virgin. Start talking about Jesus! Or even writing about Jesus. Burn your ships! Retreat is not an option.
Also as humans what we say impacts who we are. Tell someone that you are a follower of Jesus. It will change you. The Brethren of the Feast desires to make men transparent and honest. If I talk about Jesus on Sunday, then I’ll talk about Jesus on Thursday afternoon. There is something special about knowing who you are and not giving a rats about what anyone else thinks.
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! Romans 10
Do you have opportunities to speak to people about Jesus? I am actually around a few atheists every day. And I’ve discovered a few things. People don’t like to be corrected. If your goal is to study apologetics so you can correct all of your co-workers or family, then you are in for a rough ride. And you will probably never completely accomplish your task.
Most people don’t want to be told they are wrong. What people do understand is hope. The Gospel or Good News is the the heralding of a King’s victory. It is a message of hope and peace. It answers a lot of questions. But you can not portray the good news if you don’t internalize it and let it flow through your life.
19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? 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.”[j]
20 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.”[k]
21 But concerning Israel he says,
“All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people.” Romans 10
Israel can still be saved. So can even the most horrible human being in this world. Do not give up. Do not stop. Tell people about Jesus and live the hope that is in your chest.
While we become Christians through faith, we can begin to establish our righteousness based upon manners, items we abstain from or denominational beliefs. Why is this dangerous? What guardrails can we put in place to keep our righteousness rooted in Jesus?
Have you spoke to others about Jesus? If so, was it uncomfortable and why? If not, why?
Have you ever turned down the radio when a christian song is playing when you go through the drive-thru? (yeesh)
C.L. Lewis spoke about the difficulty transitioning from a new idea that was exciting and romantic to the actual work needed to execute the idea. (bad paraphrase) Speaking to others about Jesus can be like this. How can we prepare our hearts and minds to speak to our families, co-workers and friends about Jesus?
Would you feel embarrassed to lower a life raft to a drowning man? Is there a different between that and telling someone about Jesus?
Paul wants us to pray for those who are special to us. I challenge you to pray for specific people to be open to hearing about Jesus. I challenge you to intentionally seek those people out. I really am challenging you to be like Jesus.
He prayed for you and intentionally sought you out. Return the favor. Burn your ships.