Romans 9:30-33

In Romans 9:30-33 Paul reminds us that by all appearances the Gentiles found righteousness even though it did not seem that they really looked for it. God reveals Himself to us and we can find Him merely through living in His creation. It’s not that we need some special anointing to find God. We merely need to be open as He shows us Himself. “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.”

By all appearances Israel seemed to work for the righteousness of God with everything it had, but did not find it. Guzik explains “What was the difference? Why did the unlikely Gentiles find righteousness, when the likely Jews did not? Because the Gentiles pursued the righteousness of faith, and the Jews pursued the law of righteousness. The Gentiles who were saved came to God through faith, receiving His righteousness. The Jews who seem to be cast off from God tried to justify themselves before God by performing works according to the law of righteousness.” We find God when we pursue Him with faith.

We might expect Paul to answer the question “Why?” again from God’s perspective, and simply throw the matter back on God’s sovereign choice. Instead, he places the responsibility with Israel: Because they did not seek it by faith…they stumbled at that stumbling stone. “Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.” The reality is  that the only possible way to be saved is through faith, not the works of the law; and that salvation comes only through the work of a crucified Savior – which was a stumbling block to Israel. He was their own, but they did not believe in Him.

Paul shows that Israel is responsible for their present condition. “They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Has he contradicted everything he has previously said, which emphasized God’s sovereign plan? Of course not, he simply presents the problem from the other side of the coin – the side of human responsibility, instead of the side of God’s sovereign choice. God has made the offer of a free gift of grace through Christ. But we have to accept it through faith to make it our own!

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