A couple of days ago, I talked about the paradox of salvation. That though the path to salvation is so easy, yet it is difficult. All we have to do is put our faith in God and Jesus’ work on the cross and we’ll be saved. And yet so many people don’t. We see this problem with the Jews. Paul writes,
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” (10:16)
That’s not just the problem with the Jews; it’s the problem with most people today. To this very day, these words ring true. “Lord, who has believed our message?”
Paul then says,
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (10:17)
In other words, two things are necessary to be saved. To hear the message of the gospel and to believe it.
What is the problem? Why don’t so many Jews and others believe. Is it that Christ has not spoken? Or is it that they have not heard? Not at all. Paul writes,
Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (10:18)
The quote here, from Psalm 19:4, talks about how the heavens declare the glory of God. Paul then applies this to the gospel, that Jesus’ words had gone into all the known earth.
Paul then asks,
Again I ask: Did Israel not understand?
Rhetorical question here, the answer being, “No, they didn’t understand.”
And Paul goes on to talk about the irony of the work of God. That those God revealed himself to first (the Jews) rejected him, but when God went on to others, those others did believe. Paul says,
I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me. (10:20)
God is specifically talking about the Gentiles here. That though the Gentiles were going their own way and were not even seeking God, God revealed himself to them and they accepted him.
The truth is, though, verse 20 can equally be applied to the Jews. They weren’t really seeking God. They had started worshiping other gods in Egypt. (Joshua 24:14) Yet God revealed himself to them. But what was their response when God revealed himself to them?
God said of them,
All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. (Romans 10:21)
Why didn’t they believe? They saw all the miracles. The ten plagues in Egypt. The parting of the Red Sea. The manna in the desert. And so much more. They had every reason to believe.
Then Jesus came. He performed miracles. He cast out demons. He preached words of wisdom such as they had never heard before. And yet they rejected him. Why?
The others (Jews) were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” (11:7-8)
This is a quote from Isaiah 29. I talk more about this here, but the idea from this passage is that the Jews first blinded themselves. And so God said, “You don’t want to see? Fine. Be blind.”
That’s what happened with the Jews. For hundreds of years, despite all God did and said, they refused to believe. So God gave them over to their unbelief.
That’s the danger for all who hear the gospel. If we harden ourselves to it, sooner or later, God will say, “Fine. Dwell in your unbelief,” and he gives us over to the results of that unbelief: death.
So don’t harden your hearts to God’s message of salvation. Don’t listen to it with a heart that is skeptical and hardened from the beginning. If you do, you will only blind yourself and you will die, separated from God for all eternity.
Instead, open your heart. For only in Christ and his message of salvation will you find life.