Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.Romans 10:1(NASB)
Paul dedicated three whole chapters to set-out, in sequential order, God's programme for Israel. Chapter 9 reminds us of Israel's past history, their tremendous privileges, and precious promises, while chapter 11 rejoices in their election by grace, their future hope, and eventual salvation.
Here in chapter 10, Paul outlines the state of the nation during the present Church dispensation. It summarises Israel's stumbling and the rejection of their Messiah. It speaks of the irony that the Gentiles who did not seek after God, have gained the righteousness that comes by faith, while the Jews who strived to achieve it through their own efforts by keeping the Law, failed miserably and even rejected the One through whom righteousness is received.
Jesus became a Rock of offence and a Stone of stumbling to unbelieving Israel, which grieved the apostle Paul who longed that His fellow-countrymen would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved: "Brethren", he wrote in this first verse of chapter 10, "Brothers-in-Christ my heart's desire and earnest prayer to God for my Jewish brothers, is for their salvation."
I wonder if Paul recalled his own furious rejection and vicious persecution of Christians in those early days of the Church, when Jesus spoke to him on that road to Damascus and asked him, "Paul, Paul, why do you persecute Me?" I wonder if the yearning in his heart for the salvation of his fellow-Jews was heightened, when he recalled the stoning of Stephen and heard his Christ-like prayer, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." (Lord, lay not this sin on Saul of Tarsus).
The dear pleasure of Paul's heart and his deep spiritual burden was for Israel's salvation. His personal longing and pleading prayer was that God's chosen nation would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and place their collective trust in His sacrificial work for the forgiveness of their sins.
Paul's greatest joy would be the spiritual awakening of his people, and yet he knew blindness in part was happening to Israel and would continue until the fulness of the Gentiles had come in. Many in Israel would remain in darkness until the dispensation of the grace of God was completed.
Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a strict Pharisee, and a passionate persecutor of the early Church. His conversion shocked many in Israel who considered him to be a traitor to his Jewish roots. He had to endure much opposition and hatred from both saved and unsaved Jews because his teaching offended them to the core of their being. Unsaved Jews would not recognise Jesus as Messiah, while many who believed in Him could not accept that the rites and rituals required of Israel were not a requirement for the Church.
However, Jesus was the final sacrifice for their sins - the ultimate sacrifice for sin. He was the definite Passover Lamb, the final Sin Offering, the perfect Burnt Offering, and the One to Whom the Law and the prophets pointed. The rejection of their Messiah caused the kingdom promised to Israel to be postponed for a time, and God required Paul to pen this series of chapters outlining His past, present, and future programme for His people, to prevent any false claims that God had finished with Israel and replaced them with the Christian Church, who some erroneously claim to be 'the new Israel'.
Sadly, this false teaching of 'replacement theology' is gaining traction in Christendom today and needs to be firmly rejected. Equally shocking is that in certain circles the authority Paul's apostleship and teachings are questioned and even discredited to support this erroneous position of 'replacement theology'.
Let us never forget that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes, and pray for the salvation of Jew and Gentile alike. Let us thank God for His faithfulness to Israel - past, present, and future, and rejoice that His promises to them, and to us, are true and cannot be broken. Let us pray for the day when the current blindness to the truth is lifted from Israel's eyes, and Jesus returns as their Messiah and King to set up His earthly kingdom as promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and His Seed, forever.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Paul's detailed discourse on the past history, present status, and future hope for Your people, Israel. Thank You for the many members of the Jewish race who have already believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and been saved. I pray that many more would have their blindness removed and recognise Him as their Saviour and King. I pray that Christendom's current, unbiblical teaching of 'replacement theology' which fuel's anti-Semitic hatred, would be halted, and thank You that the day is coming when You will bring Your plans and purposes to completion, as outlined in Scripture and Christ is crowned as King of kings. This I pray in Jesus' name, AMEN.