1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. 5 For Moses described the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
In chapter 9 we began the 3 chapter emphasis on Israel; 9 = Israel past; 10 = Israel present; 11 = Israel future. So we see in chapter 10 how Israel is today and WHY she is where she is. Overall it is because of her unbelief. It is interesting to me and I hope you too, how Paul begins this chapter in a similar way to his introduction of chapter 9. In both instances Paul longed for Israel, his brethren in the flesh, to be saved.
In chapter 9 Paul revealed Israel’s rejection of Christ because of her non-election. Now, I know that is troublesome to some readers of this blog. Many well meaning Christians hold to the view that their salvation is strictly up to them and their choice to receive Christ as Savior. For those dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I know chapter 9 is one you would like to leave out of the Bible.
So in chapter 10 Paul revealed Israel’s position or condition is because of unbelief of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her unbelief is due to her being set aside by God’s sovereignty. This topic of election is one that folks on either side of the issue can pull out biblical verses to prove the truth of their view. I believe and hope the answer to that dilemma is one Jesus will answer first and foremost when we all get to Heaven some blessed day in the future.
For now let’s just be content to study these chapters as Paul wrote them to the church at Rome and because of God’s preservation, to us today also. Ooops, someone just kicked my soapbox out from under me so I guess it’s time to get to the verse by verse study. LOL! These first 5 verses of chapter 10 show that all people need the Gospel and are lost without it. Verse 1 could be received as harsh by the Jews who read it because of Paul’s statement of their lost condition. However, Paul was not being harsh even though he did confirm their lost condition. Notice how he came across as a friend by his prayer for their salvation. An enemy doesn’t pray for the good of an adversary. A friend prays for another friend. Paul was not their enemy.
In verses 2-4 we see the clear rejection of the Gospel by the Jews for 28 years which is the time period of the birth or empowering of the church on the Day of Pentecost until 58 A.D. which is the date most people claim Paul wrote this letter. He listed 4 reasons for this conclusion. (1) their ignorant zeal. They ignorantly rejected the truth that Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness. (2) their ignorance of God’s righteousness. God is the Author of righteousness and He imputes it to everyone He chooses. So their ignorance was willful. (3) they made a wrong choice. They chose their own righteousness instead of God’s righteousness. So we see in the Bible 2 kinds of righteousness. First it is Adam’s fig leaf righteousness—trying to cover himself. This is also what Cain offered as his vegetable offering. Then there is our own man made covering which so many people believe will earn their way to Heaven.
Second is Adam’s God given covering by a slain animal. This lines up with Abel’s offering of a slain animal. Today it is the Lamb slain without blemish offering of Jesus Christ on the cross. Without the shedding of blood is no remission. Israel made the wrong choice—they picked the first kind and it is a failure.
(4) Verse 3b shows that Israel stubbornly rejected God’s righteousness by their insistence on relying on their own righteousness. So, their unbelief is the reason for their being set aside and in need of prayer for their salvation. Verses 4 & 5 show the contrast of the 2 kinds of righteousness. True righteousness comes from God. Paul even used the words of Moses, the man Jews hold up as the true voice of God. Moses even said that if a person wanted to get to God by his obedience to the Law, he would have to live or die with that decision. That decision would result in death because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.