I would like to give a quick summary of Romans 9-11 so that we can keep our text in its proper context to better understand what God is saying in this portion of Scripture. These three chapters are dealing primarily with the reasons for Israel’s rejection of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Romans chapter 9 describes Israel’s false hope of salvation by works rather than by grace. As a whole, most Jews believed they were guaranteed God’s favor because of their ancestry and their ability. In essence, they believed God chose Abraham because of Abraham’s ability to please God rather than the truth that God saved Abraham by grace (a truth firmly established in Romans 4). All through Scripture we see the Jews appealing to their ancestry and claiming Abraham as their father. Romans chapter 9 obliterates this false hope of salvation and establishes the truth that salvation is by grace and not by ancestry or ability.
Romans chapter 10 describes Israel’s failure to heed the message of salvation by grace. Since it was true that the majority of the Jews had a false hope of salvation based on their ancestry and ability, their failure to heed the message of salvation by grace was the logical and inevitable outcome. Their false hope of salvation by works led to their failure to heed the message of salvation by grace.
Romans chapter 11 describes Israel’s future salvation by grace after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Chapter 11, while dealing with Israel’s rejection and the good that God would accomplish through it (bringing salvation to the Gentiles), tempers the bad news about Israel’s stubborn disobedience with the good news that God will one day save Israel by grace.
As we conclude chapter 10 we will be considering the truth that Israel’s failure to heed the message about salvation by grace in Christ was predicted in Scripture. Chapter 10 deals with both the exclusiveness of salvation in Christ (God doesn’t save any other way than through faith in Christ) and the inclusiveness of salvation in Christ (it is for anyone who believes, Jew or Gentile). Israel failed to heed both of these aspects of the Gospel message and therefore Christ became a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to them.
Israel failed to heed the exclusiveness of salvation in Christ (10:18). Had they ever heard? Sure they had! Over and over God sent His prophets and they preached of the exclusiveness of salvation in Christ. In Genesis 3, God promised Adam and Eve that He would send an exclusive deliverer through the seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head.
When giving the promise to Abraham and his seed, God spoke in the singular and not the plural (Galatians 3:16), speaking of Christ and the exclusiveness of salvation through Him. Moses also stated that God would raise up one exclusive Prophet to whom you shall give heed to everything He says or utterly be destroyed from among the people of God (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22-23). God proclaimed through Isaiah about the exclusive Suffering Servant who would pay sin’s penalty for His people.
Instead of trusting in the exclusiveness of salvation in Christ, Israel trusted in ancestry and ability rather than the finished and sufficient work of Christ. The exclusiveness of salvation in Christ was a stumbling stone to the Jews.
Israel failed to heed the inclusiveness of salvation in Christ (10:19-21). They didn’t know that God was going to include the Gentiles did they? Well, Paul gave two Scriptures that Israel failed to heed concerning the truth of the inclusiveness of the Gospel of Christ:
First, what Moses said in Deuteronomy 32:21. Here we see that the Scriptures predicted the inclusion of Gentiles in salvation in order to make Israel jealous (Romans 11:11) so that they might also be saved (Romans 11:14).
Second, what Isaiah is very bold and says in Isaiah 65:1. Here we see that God through Isaiah preached the truth that He was going to include the Gentiles who did not seek Him or ask for Him because salvation is by grace and not by works. The Jews were seeking God through their works but salvation is by grace through faith. Israel thought salvation was exclusive in the sense that they believed it was for them because of their works and not for the Gentiles because they weren’t even trying.
Paul could have given more Scripture showing that Israel should have known about the inclusion of Gentiles because of the predictions of Scripture. Paul said in his letter to the Galatians, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you’” (Galatians 3:8). The truth that God would include the Gentiles in salvation was reprehensible to the Jews. The inclusiveness of salvation in Christ was a rock of offense to the Jews.
Israel failed to heed God’s offer of salvation (10:21). Immediately after God told Israel through Isaiah 65:1 the truth that He was going to include Gentiles in salvation, He told them the sad truth of their condition in Isaiah 65:2 – “All the day long I have stretched out My hand to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
The apostle Paul, making application with the Scriptures, showed that Israel’s failure to heed the message of the exclusiveness of salvation in Christ and the inclusiveness of salvation in Christ, was predicted in Scripture.