Romans (XCVIII)

ROMANS 10:19-21

(from a manuscript of a sermon preached on 8/12/12 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)


Please turn in your Bibles to Romans 10, and let’s read verses 12 through 21:


Romans 10: (12) For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord of all is rich toward all the ones calling on Him.  (13)  For everyone, whoever may call on the name of the Lord will be saved. (14) How then may they call on [One] into whom they have not believed? And how may they believe [One] of whom they have not heard? And how may they hear without preaching? (15) And how may they preach if they are not sent? Even as it has been written, How beautiful the feet of those preaching the gospel of peace, of those preaching the gospel of good things. (16) But not all obeyed the gospel, for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our report? (17) Then faith [is] of hearing, and hearing through the Word of God. (18) But I say, Did they not hear? Yes, rather, into all the earth their voice went out, and to the ends of the world their words. (19) But I say, Did not Israel know? First, Moses says, I will provoke you to jealousy by a non-nation, by an unwise nation I will anger you. (20) But Isaiah [is] very bold and says, I was found by those not seeking Me; I became known to those not inquiring after Me. (21) But to Israel He says, All the day I stretched out My hands to a disobeying and contradicting people.


We went through verses 16 through 18 last time and saw that not all who HEAR the gospel OBEY or SUBMIT TO the gospel.  We went over a lot of passages showing that not all who hear the gospel believe the gospel and that, in fact, God uses the preaching of the gospel as a means of hardening the reprobate. 


We now come to verses 19 to 21, where Paul speaks specifically about the Jews in relationship to the preaching of the gospel.  The question is, “Did not Israel know?”  Did not Israel know what?  Well, if you look at the preceding sentence, it is talking about the gospel being preached to the ends of the world, meaning to both Jews and Gentiles.  As we saw in verses 12 and 13, there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles - whoever may call on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Didn’t Israel know this?  Didn’t Israel know that the gospel was not just preached to the Jews but also the Gentiles, and that ALL who believe in him, including the Gentiles, will be saved?  Paul answers the question by quoting from the Old Testament.  Let’s look at each of the Old Testament passages that Paul quotes from.


First, let’s turn to Deuteronomy chapter 32, and let’s read verses 15 through 21:


Deuteronomy 32: (15) But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, thick [and] sated. And he abandoned God who made him, and fell away from the Rock of his salvation. (16) With strange [gods] they moved Him to jealousy; and with idols they provoked Him to anger. (17) They sacrificed to demons [who were] not God, [to] gods whom they did not know, new ones who came lately. Your fathers had not dreaded them. (18) You forgot the Rock [that] brought you into being and ceased to care for God who formed you. (19) And Jehovah looked and despised [them] because of the provocation of His sons and of His daughters. (20) And He said, I will hide My face from them; I will see what their end [will be]; for they [are] a perverse generation, sons in whom [is] no faithfulness. (21) They made Me jealous with a not-a-god; they made Me angry by their vanities; and I shall make them jealous by a not-a-people; by a foolish nation I shall make them angry.


This is part of the song of Moses that he spoke in the ears of all the assembly of Israel.  “Jeshurun” is a symbolical name for Israel.  Moses said that Israel moved God to jealousy by sacrificing to a no-god, so God was going make Israel jealous by a no-people.  The “no-people” here are also called “a foolish nation,” a people that had no knowledge.  Who’s he talking about here?  He’s talking about the Gentiles.  And how was God going to make the Jews jealous by the Gentiles?  Well, He was going to send the call of the gospel to the Gentiles.  The Jews, who thought that they only had the privilege of the truth, would then be provoked to jealousy by seeing that God was calling the Gentiles.


Now let’s turn to Isaiah 65 and read verse 1:


Isaiah 65: (1) I have been sought, not by those who asked. I have been found, not by those who sought Me. To a nation not calling on My name, I said, Behold Me! Behold Me!


Now let’s turn back to Romans 10:20:


Romans 10: (20) But Isaiah [is] very bold and says, I was found by those not seeking Me; I became known to those not inquiring after Me.


Paul is quoting here from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, which uses the verbs hew-RIS-ko, meaning “to find,” and zay-THE-oh, meaning “to seek.”  Paul says that Isaiah was being very bold when he said this.  Why is that?  Because he is plainly telling the Jews that those NOT SEEKING God would FIND God.  Those NOT INQUIRING AFTER God would have God REVEALED to them.  Who are the ones not seeking and not inquiring after God?  The Gentiles.  The Jews prided themselves on being the only ones with the truth, and yet Isaiah prophesied that those who didn’t even seek the truth would be the ones finding the truth.


What other passage in Romans does this remind you of?  Let’s look back at Romans 9:23-26:


Romans 9: (23) and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, (24) whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also out of nations. (25) As also He says in Hosea, I will call those Not My people, My people! And those not beloved, Beloved! (26) And it shall be, in the place where it was said to them, You are not My people, there they will be called, Sons of the Living God.


Now I don’t want to re-preach that sermon, but I encourage you to listen to it or read it again.  We saw the truth that the vessels of mercy that God prepared for glory from before the foundation of the world, those whom God chose to save from the foundation of the world, otherwise known as the elect, are called not only out of the Jews but also out of the non-Jewish nations, otherwise known as the Gentiles. Salvation is not for the Jews only but for the WHOLE WORLD - both the Jews and the Gentiles. This is what John the Baptizer proclaimed in John chapter 1 - that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the WORLD - not 222just the Jews. This is what Jesus Christ told Nicodemus in John 3 - that God so loved the loved the WORLD - not just the Jews - that He gave His only begotten Son, that EVERYONE believing into Him - not just the Jews - should not perish but have everlasting life. That's what God told Peter in Acts 10 - that God has made even the Gentiles clean, that He is not a respecter of faces, but in EVERY NATION - not just the Jews - the one fearing Him and working righteousness is acceptable to Him. That's what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 2 and 3 - that the Gentiles, who were afar off, came to be near by the blood of Jesus Christ, and that Christ reconciled both Jews and Gentiles in one body to God through the cross, and reconciled them to each other in Christ, breaking down the barrier between them, making them heirs together and sharers together of the promise of the gospel. This is what John was talking about in 1 John 2 - that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD, not just of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. This had been prophesied before by Isaiah and Hosea, who said that the Gentiles would be partakers of God's mercy and that God would call those who were not His people - the Gentiles - Sons of the Living God.


Now let’s turn back to Romans 10.  We come to verse 21:


Romans 10: (21) But to Israel He says, All the day I stretched out My hands to a disobeying and contradicting people.


Notice that Paul is making a contrast here between the Gentiles and the Jews.  In verse 20, he says that Isaiah said that those not seeking God would find God, which is specifically talking about the Gentiles.  In verse 20, he says, “BUT TO ISRAEL,” making a distinct contrast between the Gentiles and the Jews.  In verses 20 and 21, Paul quotes from the same passage in Isaiah.  So let’s again turn back to Isaiah chapter 65 and read more.  This time, let’s read verses 1 through 7:


Isaiah 65: (1) I have been sought, not by those who asked. I have been found, not by those who sought Me. To a nation not calling on My name, I said, Behold Me! Behold Me! (2) I have spread out My hands all the day long to a rebellious people who walk in the way not good, after their own thoughts; (3) a people who continually provoke Me to My face; who sacrifice in gardens, and burn incense on the bricks; (4) who sit among the graves and lodge in the towers; who eat swine's flesh, and broth of unclean things [in] their pots; (5) who say, Keep to yourself! Do not come near me, for I am holier than you! These [are] a smoke in My nose, a fire burning all the day. (6) Behold! [It is] written before Me: I will not be silent, except I repay; yea, I will repay to their bosom, (7) your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together, says Jehovah; [they] that burned incense on the mountains, and have blasphemed Me on the hills. And I will return their former work into their bosom.


So we have already seen Paul’s reference to part of verse 1.  Because it’s important to the interpretation of verse 2, let’s look at the end of verse 1: “To a nation not calling on My name, I said, Behold Me!  Behold Me!”  God says that He will call on the Gentiles to behold Him - to see Him in all of His attributes, to believe in Him as a just God and a Savior.  God calls out to these people who have not called on Him.  It is the gospel call.


Now we need to understand that verse 2 is a CONTRAST to verse 1.  Remember that Paul said, “BUT TO ISRAEL He says ...” and then quoted from verse 2.  What is that contrast?  In verse 1, God calls out to those not calling on Him, and those who did not seek Him found Him, because He is the one who sought them out.  Now keep this in mind when you read verse 2 and following, which shows God’s attitude toward Israel. 


God says that, in contrast to what He has done with the Gentiles, in calling them to Himself, He has spread out His hands all the day long toward the Jews.  What does it mean to spread out one’s hands?  The Hebrew word for “to spread” is paw-RAS, which means “to break, to break apart, to disperse, to chop in pieces, to lay open, to scatter, to spread or stretch forth or out.”  If we look back at the Greek translation of this word in Romans 10:21, it is ek-pet-AN-o-mee, which comes from the preposition EK, meaning “out,” and the verb PET-o-ma-hee, meaning “to fly.”  So literally, it means “to fly out.”  God’s hands FLEW OUT toward the Jews.  No when we hear the term “spread out” in English, we first think of a widening out, so “spreading out your hands” would look like this (demonstrate).  But that’s not what this means.  This is a stretching out this way (demonstrate) or a flying out like this (demonstrate).  Okay?  Now here’s also something that is very important when thinking about what this means.  The Greek word for wrath is OR-gay, which comes from the verb or-EG-o-ma-hee, which means “to stretch oneself toward.”  Another word that’s related to this is or-GWEE-ah, which means “a stretch of the arms.”  So with all these things in mind, what does it mean where God says that He has spread His hands or stretched out His hands toward a disobeying and contradicting people?  Well, we can see what it means by the context, can’t we?  First, it is in contrast with His calling to and bringing in the Gentiles.  It is just the opposite.  And second, if you look at how God’s stretching forth His hands is manifested in the verses that follow, you see that this is an action of WRATH, of DESTRUCTION. 


But you know what?   I couldn’t find a single commentary with this interpretation.  Instead, what I found were things like this: “The stretching forth the hands is the gesture of invitation, and even supplication. God has extended wide his arms, and urged men frequently and long to return to his love” (C. Hodge). “This denotes an attitude of entreaty; a willingness and earnest desire to receive them to favor” (Barnes). “the attitude of gracious entreaty” (JFB).  “And he says, that to Israel he stretched forth his hands, whom he continually by his word invited to himself, and ceased not to allure by every sort of kindness; for these are the two ways which he adopts to call men, as he thus proves his goodwill towards them” (Calvin).  “His offers: I have stretched forth my hands, offering them life and salvation with the greatest sincerity and seriousness that can be, with all possible expressions of earnestness and importunity, showing them the happiness tendered ... as offering reconciliation - come let us shake hands and be friends ... He waits to be gracious” (Henry).   So this verse is used to show that God is showing love and grace and kindness and good will by sincerely and well-meaningly offering them salvation.  His spreading out his hands, according to some of them, shows that He is ready and waiting and willing to save these rebellious Jews.  So if God is ready and willing to save them, what is He waiting for?  He’s waiting for the sinner to DO his part.  So we know that it can’t mean that.  But even if you just looked at  the context, it wouldn’t make sense.  There would be no contrast between what God said to the Gentiles and what God said to the rebellious Jews.  And Romans 11:1 wouldn’t make any sense, as we will see in the next sermon, the Lord willing.


So back to the question in verse 19: Did not Israel know?  Paul showed from two prophesies from the Jews’ own Scriptures that God was going to effectually call the Gentiles through gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.  God has broken down that middle wall of partition.  Let’s read Ephesians 2:11-18:


Ephesians 2: (11) Because of this, remember that you, the nations, [were] then in [the] flesh (those having been called Uncircumcision by those having been called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands) (12) that at that time you were without Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers of the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (13) But now, in Christ Jesus you who then were afar off, came to be near by the blood of Christ. (14) For He is our peace, He making us both one, and breaking down the middle wall of partition, (15) in His flesh causing to cease the enmity, the Law of the commandments in decrees, that He might in Himself create the two into one new man, making peace, (16) and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, slaying the enmity in Himself. (17) And coming, [He] proclaimed peace to you, the ones afar off, and to the ones near. (18) For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.