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©John Yerkes

Chapter 10:18-11:6 (ESV)

Posted on January 08, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 10:18-11:6 (ESV) -  But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
    and their words to the ends of the world.”

But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
    with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
    I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

Question to consider: How was Paul confident that the gospel message had gone to Israelites scattered throughout the world?

Over the last couple of chapters, Paul established that the only way to achieve righteousness from the Law was to keep it perfectly. Only Christ was able to accomplish this, but the good news is that He offers His righteous work as a free gift to all who would receive it. Of course, in order to be given the opportunity to receive this good news, Paul taught that it must be preached all over the world.

Yet even in preaching, not all who hear the good news will receive it. In the case of the Jews who were persecuting the church at this time, it was not out of ignorance, for they had been given the oracles of God which contained all of the information necessary for them to recognize Christ. Abraham said in Jesus’ parable about Lazarus and the rich man, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

Paul argues in today’s passage that even Moses and Isaiah understood that many in Israel were a disobedient and contrary people, and that God would ultimately make them jealous of the Gentiles in order for them to come to faith. After Jesus pronounced curses upon the scribes and Pharisees, it was with great sorrow that He pronounced the judgment that would be coming upon that generation, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:37-39)

Despite those who rejected the righteousness offered to them by Christ, Paul argued that there was still a remnant who recognized their Messiah, for he was one of them (from the tribe of Benjamin). This wasn’t the first time that it seemed like all of Israel had abandoned the LORD, for Elijah felt very much alone when trying to contend with Jezebel, who forcibly promoted Baal worship in Israel as the wife of King Ahab.

Of course, even this remnant recognized Christ because of the grace of God. I had a conversation once with someone who was Israeli-born whom I considered to be like a brother. He insisted that my talking about sin was cumbersome because he thought I was a much better person than I gave myself credit for. His wife had been raised Roman Catholic and converted to Judaism, and he highlighted all of the work she did to accomplish this. When I insisted that even our best efforts fall short of the righteousness of the Law and that our only hope was in the righteousness of Christ which we receive in faith, he asked me to stop bringing up the subject, and soon after stopped calling me his friend. I still pray for him and deeply desire that he and his family receive this free gift, for only by grace will God bring about the things in his life which can soften his heart.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your word. Please help us to proclaim it— even to those who do not have ears to hear it. May Your Spirit soften their hearts to the point where they will receive the righteousness that only comes by faith. Amen.