But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.Romans 10:19(KJV)
The book of Romans guides us, step by step, through the innate depravity of sinful man and our great need of a Saviour. He talks of God's gracious offer of salvation and walks us through the treasures of justification and sanctification, election and adoption, and he opens up the wonderful identification truths where Christ's resurrected life is imparted to us and we are positioned in Him. Paul then goes on to explain that in Christ we are dead to sin and released from the bondage of the Law, alive in Christ, and set free by the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus so that we may live our lives to His praise and glory.
Paul traces the great plan of redemption from the first man-Adam to the last Adam-Jesus; from the old creation in the flesh to the new creation in the spirit; from the old sin nature to the new life in Christ; from the curse of the Law to the freedom of grace, and points out that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone and not by personal merit or through works of the flesh.
He explains the reason why God selected one man, one kingly line, one particular tribe, one earthly people, one nation under God (the nation of Israel). He explains that they were chosen to be God's mouthpiece on earth and to bring forth the promised Seed Who would save His people from their sins and redeem the lost race of fallen man.
He explains God's sovereign choices and Israel's unique privilege as God's adoptive son. He describes the incarnation and Christ's mission to Jews, and reminds us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. He describes Israel's stumbling and the partial blindness they entered into due to unbelief and the rejection of their Messiah King, and He incorporates warnings from Old Testament saints like Moses, Abraham, David, and Isaiah to authenticate the truth of his words.
These and other foundational facts were carefully laid by Paul in His letter to the Romans, to show that Israel would be set aside during this Church age because they heard the truth but rejected the message of salvation. Paul made it very clear that Israel plainly understood that the Lord required godly righteousness by grace through faith, and not man's fleshly righteousness by works of the Law, but they refused to receive their heavenly Kinsman Who was God's chosen sacrifice for the sin of Israel as well as the Redeemer of the whole world.
Did Israel know what was required? "Yes," is Paul's answer. Did Israel understand the message of salvation? "Yes," is Paul's emphatic reply. Prophets of old had foretold the unrighteous choices Israel would make and how they would reject the Lord's Anointed. It was Moses who foretold that Israel would be provoked to jealousy and anger by a rag-tag group of foolish Gentile believers who would receive the free gift of salvation from the God of Israel, by faith, before they did, and it was Isaiah who foretold that Israel's Messiah was also to be a light to lighten the Gentile nations: "And that they would become God's children as a result of Israel's transgression, rebellion and apostasy."
But Paul also goes on to rejoice that in His goodness and grace, God's offer of salvation continues to be extended to Israel and that His punishment for their sin will not remain forever. For the day is coming when all Israel will be saved and on that day, they will cry out together: "Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord."
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the truth that it contains. Thank You that the message of salvation is clearly set out, and that it is by grace through faith and not by works of the Law, that we are saved. Thank You that You have not rejected Your people, Israel, but that You have graciously included Gentiles also into Your plan of salvation. Praise Your holy name, AMEN.