The Ruach ha-Kodesh is making it clear from the beginning that spiritual Israel and ethnic Israel are one in the same and that she has been chosen by HaShem for the sake of His great Name.
An examination of Romans 11
Shaul/Paul begins Romans 11 with a statement that regards the last verses of Romans 10. This is yet another reminder of the reason for examining this entire section of Romans 9 through 11 as one dialogue. Shaul/Paul says, “Okay, so if Israel has been a disobedient and gainsaying people, does that mean G-d has rejected her?” The answer is of course an emphatic, “No!”
11:1 I ask then, “Did G-d (the G-d of Israel--empirical, ethnic, spiritual) push away His people?” A curse on it! For I myself am an Israelite (empirical, ethnic, spiritual), from the seed of Avraham, of the tribe of Benyamin.2 G-d has not rejected His people, whom He foreknew. (From before the foundation of the world. 1 Kefa/Peter 1:20)
Why have I added the bracketed statement, “G-d of Israel”? Because over 360 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament), HaShem refers to Himself, either directly or indirectly, as the Elohim ha-Israel (the G-d of Israel). Romans 11:1 should read with incredulous irony in the face of the anti-Semitic rhetoric of replacement theology or Supersessionism—or whatever new name these same ideas have been given in recent days. It should read as a blatant and forceful rebuke and warning to those who seek to misrepresent the Word of G-d. It should read, “I ask then, “Did G-d, the G-d of the people of Israel push away His people?” A curse on it!”
“For HaShem (YHVH) will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because HaShem (YHVH) has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” –1 Sh’muel/Samuel 12:22
“Zion says, ‘The Lord has abandoned me;
The Lord has forgotten me!’
15 ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or lack compassion for the child of her womb?
Even if these forget,
yet I will not forget you.
16 Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
your walls are continually before Me.’” –Yeshaiyuhu/Isaiah 49:14-16
“And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 24 “Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, ‘The two families which the Lord chose, He has rejected them’? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight. 25 Thus says the Lord, ‘If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, 26 then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.’” –Yermiyahu/Jeremiah 33:23-26
Shaul/Paul has made it very clear from the outset of Romans that he is a Jew, an ethnic member of Israel and unashamedly so. Why does he stress this point here? Why is he so pedantic on this point? Because he knew that the Goyim (Gentiles) might misinterpret Israel as referring to all believers in Messiah. Therefore he begins with the premise for the unique and uncompromised position of the ethnic people of Israel. The Ruach ha-Kodesh is making it clear from the beginning that spiritual Israel and ethnic Israel are one in the same and that she has been chosen by HaShem for the sake of His great Name.
Or don’t you know what the Tanakh says about Eliyahu? He pleads with G-d against Israel, 3 “HaShem (YHVH), they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars, and I’m the only one left, and now they want to kill me too!” 4 But what is G-d’s answer to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not knelt down to Ba‘al.” (1 Kings 19) 5 It’s the same way in the present age: there is a remnant, chosen by chesed (grace). 6 (Now if it is by chesed—grace, it is therefore not based on legalistic observance; if it were, chesed [grace] would no longer be chesed—grace.) 7 It makes sense then, that Israel (empirical, ethnic, spiritual) has not yet attained the goal (Messiah) for which she is striving.
There continues to be a remnant among ethnic Israel (which is the only Israel) chosen by chesed/grace. That is over and above those among ethnic Israel that have, like Shaul, accepted Messiah Yeshua. This remnant refers to the entire ethnic people of Israel who have yet to recognise the goal of the Torah, which is Messiah Himself.
It is important to note that the mistranslation of many English versions which reads, “For which they were striving.” is tragically anti-Semitic. A true representation shows us that Israel—evidenced even until the present time in history, now—has continued to seek the goal of Torah but has yet to discover Him. Why? We will soon see that it is because of G-d’s mercy toward the nations. Therefore the only correct reading of this text is, “It makes sense then, that Israel (empirical, ethnic, spiritual) has not yet attained the goal (Messiah) for which she is striving.”
The ones chosen have obtained it, but the rest have been made like petrified stone/calloused, (frozen in stasis) blinded, 8 just as the Tanakh says:
The chosen ones are those Jews who have individually received the gift of G-d through Yeshua. The rest are the entire remnant of Jews who have not yet reached the goal of the Torah, which is Yeshua.
The Greek word poroo can be rendered as: petrified, hardened, blinded, and calloused. I believe Shaul/Paul, making a typically rabbinical word play and using all these meanings, is connecting this phrase to the following quotes, the olive tree allegory and the temporary petrified stasis of the Jewish people. There is no need to insist on one of these meanings as being paramount over the others. This is a wonderful word play that should be enjoyed and accepted as an illumination of the applicable texts.
“G-d has given them a spirit of dullness (numbness, stasis) --
eyes that do not see (temporary blindness);
and ears that do not hear, (temporary deafness)
right down to the present day.” (Deuteronomy 29:3, Isaiah 29:10)
9 And David says,
“Let their dining table become for them
a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a punishment. (Isaiah 28:8)
The fellowship gleaned from gathering around food is central to Jewish custom and Biblical moadim (festivals). The Talmudic writings of Rav Shimon convey the importance of Torah filled conversation at the dining table:
“Rabbi Shimon said: ‘If three have eaten at one table and have not spoken there words of Torah, it is as if they had eaten from the sacrifice of the dead; since it is said, “For all their tables are full of vomit and faeces.” (That is, without a place--makom: a Mishnaic euphemism for describing the omnipresent G-d of Israel.) But if three have eaten at one table and have spoken there the words of Torah, it is as if they have eaten from the table of G-d, blessed be He; since it is said, “And he said to me, ‘this is the table that is before HaShem.’” (Ezekiel 41:22)’” –Avot 3:3
10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they can’t see, (a temporary blindness intended to bring about tishuvah—repentance/returning.) with their backs bent (compare to ekklao Romans 11:17) continually.” (Psalm 69:23–24)
11 So then, I say, “has she (Israel, empirical, ethnic, spiritual) stumbled in order to permanently fall away?” A curse on it! On the contrary, it is because of her stumbling that deliverance has come to the nations, in order to provoke her to jealousy. 12 Moreover, if her stumbling is bringing riches to the world, how much greater riches will Israel (empirical, ethnic, spiritual) in her fullness bring them!
Israel’s stumbling is temporary, its purpose is to reconcile those among the nations who will receive Messiah. If Israel had not stumbled salvation would never have come to the nations. This is the purpose of G-d. The purpose of those who are of the nations who have accepted G-d’s gift, is to provoke Israel (that is the remnant who remain in disbelief) to jealousy. Not a vial jealousy but a holy desperation for the truth of G-d and His redemptive purpose in Messiah.
Shaul/Paul affirms all this with the promise of things to come. At the redemption of the entire remnant of Israel (not the Church) there will be immeasurably greater riches.
13 However, to those of you who are of the other nations I say this: since I myself am an emissary sent to the Goyim, I make known the importance of my work 14 in the hope that somehow I may provoke some of my own people to jealousy and save some of them! (That is, in order to save some of the Jews now, prior to all of the remnant of the Jews being saved) 15 For if Israel’s casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will her accepting Him mean? It will mean resurrection from the dead!
Here Shaul/Paul digresses and speaks specifically to the Gentile believers of Rome. He reminds the nations of their obligation in Messiah to provoke Israel to jealousy. Notice that Shaul/Paul always speaks of the nations and Israel as two entirely different entities. He restates the promise of greater things, this time in specific terms. Israel’s salvation will usher in the return of Mashiyach, the final resurrection, the judgement, the Olam haba—world to come.
16 Now if the portion of challah (Israel, the blood descendants of Jacob) offered as first-fruits (Yom ha-bikkurim, Shavuot) is holy, so is all of the dough (Numbers 15:17-18). And if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were bent (ekklao), and you — a wild olive — were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, 18 then don’t boast as if you were better than the natural branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, but the root supports you.
Numbers 15:17-18 describes the practise of offering the first portion of the dough before the L-rd, this portion makes all the other portions holy. The priests alone may eat the first portion but the remaining portions may be given to non-priests. Hence Shaul/Paul is saying, the forbears of Israel, the first portion, have been made holy for the purpose of making the ethnic descendants of Israel holy, which in turn will allow the remaining dough to be given to the nations, as members, not of Israel but of the commonwealth of Israel.
The roots of the olive tree representing Israel (empirical, ethnic, spiritual) are the Patriarchs of Israel; Avraham, Isaac and Jacob. This root is feed from the water of life that rains upon the soil of G-d’s instruction to Avraham. G-d is the source of nutrition for the root and the root is the channel by which the nutrition is passed on to all the branches.
19 So you will say, “Branches were bent (ekklao) so that I might be grafted in.” 20 True, but so what? They were bent (ekklao) because of their lack of emunah (trust). However, you keep your place only because of trust (not your trust, but the trust provided for you by G-d). So don’t be arrogant; on the contrary, be terrified! 21 For if G-d did not spare the natural branches, He certainly won’t spare you!
The Greek word ekklao unless it is specifically referred to as broken off, can refer to something that is, “dislocated,” or, “bent,” but not severed. This is clearly the meaning here. In fact the word ekopto, which means, “to severe, cut off, break off”; is only used in Romans 11 in reference to the nations.
Understanding the metaphor of the Olive tree:
Many a false theology has been formed over a misunderstanding of the allegory of the olive tree. It is important to have some basic understanding of the grafting process in order to properly understand Shaul/Paul’s (inspired by the Ruach ha-Kodesh) metaphor of the olive tree:
· Firstly, grafts take best from like plants, in this case we see the representation of humanity.
· Secondly, we must note that the wild branch never becomes a natural branch, it is always a grafted wild branch.
· Thirdly, a fruit bearing plant—in this case an olive tree—that bears fruit of the same species but a different variety (colour, flavour etc.), will continue to bear the fruit of its varietal origin even after having been grafted to a new mother plant.
§ For example: if the mother plant bears black olives and a wild olive branch that comes from a green olive tree is grafted to the black olive tree, the wild branch, once the graft has taken, will continue to bear green olives rather than changing and bearing black olives. It is the same with Gentile Christians, a Gentile Christian does not become a Jew; to the contrary, as the following verse clarifies, the Gentile Christian becomes part of the commonwealth of Israel.
There is therefore no New Israel or Renewed Israel or a Spiritual Israel that combines Jew and Gentile or the Church as Israel, rather there is Israel—the blood descendants of Jacob, empirical, ethnic and spiritual—and the nations—not the blood descendants of Jacob—and the root—Avraham, Isaac and Jacob, in Messiah—sustains both the natural branches—Israel—and the once alien branches—the nations. Israel, led by Messiah Yeshua, remains the autonomous ruling nation of a wider commonwealth which submits to Israel’s King. Hence G-d has determined to honour the yet to be fulfilled promises He has made to the blood descendants of Jacob/Israel, who maintain a remnant at this present time.
“Remember that you were at that time separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without G-d in the world.” –Ephesians 2:12
Gentiles do not become spiritual Jews, as some have suggested—what a ludicrous, racist and demeaning idea. On the contrary, Gentiles—to follow the metaphor—are from a different olive tree, and just as a grafted branch continues to bear its own olive tree’s variety of fruit, so too a Gentile continues to have a unique identity within the commonwealth of the mother plant. The grafted branch receives nourishment from the root but maintains its unique identity.
Commonwealth here, should be understood in a similar way to the commonwealth of Great Britain: each country belonging to this commonwealth maintains its unique cultural identity while submitting to the rule of the King or Queen of England. It is the same with the believers from the nations, we submit to the rule of Yeshua, the King of Israel and are therefore members of the commonwealth of Israel with all the rights of citizens, however, we are not Israel, we are still Goyim, of other nations but no longer alien’s to the G-d appointed traditions and culture of Israel, which has become familiar to us in Messiah, the Jew.
There is no Spiritual Israel made up of Jews and Gentiles. There is Israel and there are the nations, and Messiah makes us echad—one. Not one ethnic group, but one collection of ethnic groups.
There is nowhere in all of Scripture where Israel is ever spoken of as referring to the nations. We must conclude that when Shaul/Paul speaks of Israel he is always speaking of empirical (ethnic, spiritual) Israel. Any attempt to read Israel as referring to the Church or Spiritual Israel is nothing less than a satanic heresy.
22 So take a good look at G-d’s chesed (kindness) and his severity: on the one hand, severity toward those who fell/failed; but, on the other hand, G-d’s chesed (kindness) toward you — provided you continue in that chesed (kindness)! Otherwise, you then will be cut off (ekopto)! 23 Moreover, the others, if they do not persist in their lack of trust, will be grafted in; because G-d is able to graft them back in. 24 For if you were cut out (ekopto) of what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree!
When grafting a fruit bearing plant, the natural branches take more readily than the unnatural ones. In this case we understand, due to the word ekklao used in the previous verses that Israel has been torn but remains partially connected and therefore is grafted back in from a partial connection rather than from a complete severing.
25 Therefore, Ami (my people, fellow Jews), brothers & sisters, I want you to understand this truth (mystery) which G-d formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won’t imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that a type of petrified stasis/callousness, to some degree, has come upon Israel (empirical, ethnic, spiritual), until the full number from among the nations comes in; 26 and then all Israel (that is both those Jews who have individually accepted Messiah prior to the nations coming in, and the entire remnant of the blood descendants of Jacob: empirical, ethnic) will be saved. As the Tanakh says:
Shaul/Paul only uses the word brethren/brothers in Romans to refer to his ethnic Israeli brothers and sisters. Therefore these next few verses are directed toward the Messianic Jews of the Roman ecclesia. He is warning them of the danger of forgetting the promises of G-d. He is imploring them not to become despondent. This section ends with the quotation of Isaiah 59. Following this Shaul/Paul, in his practised rhythm, returns to addressing the general Roman ecclesia/church.
“Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer;
He will turn away ungodliness from Yaakov
27 and this will be my covenant with them, . . .
when I take away their sins.” (Isaiah 59:20–21, 27:9)
Shaul/Paul now returns to speaking to the wider ecclesia of Rome:
28 With respect to the Good News Israel (empirical, ethnic, and spiritual) is hated for your sake. But with respect to being chosen she is loved for the Patriarchs’ sake, 29 for G-d’s gifts and His calling are irrevocable. (Romans9:4-5)
Shaul/Paul is referring specifically here to the gifts and calling of G-d on ethnic Israel. This is not a one liner for Christians to use in affirming their own individual G-d given gifts.
30 Just as you Goyim were disobedient to G-d before but have received mercy now because of Israel’s (empirical, ethnic, spiritual) disobedience; 31 so also Israel (empirical, ethnic, spiritual) has been disobedient now, so that by your showing her the same mercy that G-d has shown you, she too may now receive G-d’s mercy. 32 For G-d has made all humanity prisoners to disobedience, (Romans 1:18) in order that he might show mercy to all.
Here, the nations, those that have accepted Messiah, are challenged to show mercy to Israel. Those Christians who today side against the people of Israel and encourage others to do so, are in direct disobedience to G-d. This is rooted in rebellion, which is the root of all sin. The Ecclesia is commanded here to show the Jewish people, “the same mercy G-d has shown you!”
33 O the depth of the riches
and the wisdom and knowledge of G-d!
Who can explain His judgments!
How unsearchable are His ways!
34 For, ‘Who has known the mind of HaShem (YHVH)?
Who has been His counsellor?’ (Isaiah 40:13)
35 Or, ‘Who has given Him anything
and made Him pay it back?’ (Job 41:11)
36 For from Him and through Him
and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever!
Shaul/Paul concludes this portion of his letter with an acknowledgement of the reason behind the continued purpose of G-d for Israel, His chosen people. This reason is found in the previously quoted passage from 1 Samuel 12:22. It is for the sake, not of Israel, but for the sake of His own great Name that HaShem will never abandon her. Rather than inspire Christians to be jealous of the election of their older brother Israel because of some misperceived second class status, this affirmation of Israel should secure Christians in the knowledge that G-d is no liar, He keeps His promises. For the Scripture says, “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“For HaShem (YHVH) will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because HaShem (YHVH) has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” –1 Sh’muel/Samuel 12:22
Having read my examination of Romans 11, no one could fail to see that it has been a polemic against the lie of Replacement Theology (Supersessionism, Revisionism etc). I have intentionally interpreted the Word of G-d in an accurate and contextual way that utterly refutes the anti-Semitic lies of many Christian scholars, leaders, teachers and laypeople throughout the centuries, even up to the present time. I passionately despise the hatred of these teachings and yes, I have an agenda. My agenda is truth in Messiah, the King of the Jews (empirical, ethnic, spiritual and seated at the right hand of G-d).
There is no such thing as a separate spiritual Israel made up of Jews and Gentiles. Israel is a spiritual and ethnic unity, it is not the Ecclesia (Church). The Church (Ecclesia) is an entirely different entity that is made up of both believing Jews and Gentiles, but it is not and will never be Israel in any way.
As an Ecclesia (Church) we receive the promises of G-d from the root, but we maintain our unique identity, bearing the fruit of our uniqueness for the sake of reconciling the world to HaShem, with the hope that at this present time, prior to the full salvation of Israel, we might provoke some of the members of Israel to jealousy and individual reconciliation to the Father through Messiah Yeshua.
Shalom Aleichim, Peace Himself is with you
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation
An examination of Romans 10:10-21
Continuing on from the previous concepts, Shaul/Paul now shuvah (returns) our attention to Romans 9:33 and the passage quoted from Isaiah 28. The initial use of the Isaiah 28:16 passage in Romans 9:33 is as a warning regarding a failure to acknowledge the stone (Messiah) that causes men to stumble: here the same Scripture is used as an assurance of eternal security in Messiah (the stone) for those who emunah (trust). In fact the Scripture reads as concerning Messiah, “A costly corner stone, firmly placed.”
It is therefore prudent for us to understand the context of this entire chapter of Isaiah:
28:1 Woe to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim,
And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
Which is at the head of the fertile valley
Of those who are overcome with wine!
2 Behold, Adonai has a strong and mighty agent;
As a storm of hail, a tempest of destruction,
Like a storm of mighty overflowing waters,
He has cast it down to the earth with His hand.
3 The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden under foot.
4 And the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
Which is at the head of the fertile valley,
Will be like the first-ripe fig prior to summer,
Which one sees, and as soon as it is in his hand, he swallows it.
5 In that day HaShem tzvaot (of hosts) will become a beautiful crown
And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people;
6 A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment,
A strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate.
7 And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink:
The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,
They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink;
They reel while having visions,
They totter when rendering judgment.
8 For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place.
9 “To whom would He teach knowledge,
And to whom would He interpret the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just taken from the breast?
10 “For He says, precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line, a little here, a little there.’”
Tzav latzav, tzav latzav, Kav lakav, kav lakav, Ze’ er sham, ze’ er sham (These Hebrew monosyllables, imitating the babbling of a child, mock the prophet’s preaching)
11 Indeed, He will speak to this people
Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue,
12 He who said to them, “Here is rest, give rest to the weary,”
And, “Here is repose,” but they would not listen.
13 So the D’var (word) of HaShem to them will be,
“Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line, a little here, a little there,”
That they may go and stumble backward, be broken, snared and taken captive
14 Therefore, hear the D’var (word) of HaShem, O scoffers,
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol we have made a pact.
The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by,
For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.”
16 Therefore thus says the Adonai (Merciful) HaShem (Judge),
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a proven stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who trusts (Him) will not be put to shame.
17 “I will make justice the measuring line
And righteousness the level;
Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies
And the waters will overflow the secret place.
18 “Your covenant with death will be cancelled,
And your pact with Sheol will not stand;
When the overwhelming scourge passes through,
Then you become its trampling place.
19 “As often as it passes through, it will seize you;
For morning after morning it will pass through, anytime during the day or night,
And it will be sheer terror to understand what it means.”
20 The bed is too short on which to stretch out,
And the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in.
21 For the HaShem will rise up as at Mount Perazim,
He will be stirred up as in the valley of Gibeon,
To do His task, His unusual task,
And to work His work, His extraordinary work.
22 And now do not carry on as scoffers,
Or your fetters will be made stronger;
For I have heard from Adonai (merciful) HaShem (Judge) tz’vaot (of hosts)
Of decisive destruction on all the earth.
23 Give ear and hear my Kol (voice),
Listen and hear my emrah (speech).
24 Does the farmer plow continually to plant seed?
Does he continually turn and harrow the ground?
25 Does he not level its surface and sow dill and scatter cumin
And plant wheat in rows, barley in its place and rye within its area?
26 For his Elohim instructs and teaches him properly.
27 For dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
Nor is the cartwheel driven over cumin;
But dill is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a club.
28 Grain for bread is crushed,
Indeed, he does not continue to thresh it forever.
Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it,
He does not thresh it longer.
29 This also comes from the HaShem tz’vaot of hosts,
Who has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great. –Yeshaiyahu/Isaiah 28
10 For from the core being (Levav, heart) one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness, while with the mouth one keeps on making acknowledgement and thus continues toward salvation (Yeshua). 11 For the passage quoted says that “everyone who rests his trust on him will not be humiliated.” (Isaiah 28:16)
Shaul/Paul is connecting Deuteronomy 30:11-14 with an affirmative reading of Isaiah 28:16. Note that the passage from Deuteronomy places the D’var (Word) in the mouth and heart of the believer and that in turn it is from a heart (core being) trust and through the mouth (verbal declaration) that the D’var (Word) connects us to a place of right standing with G-d. Standing up after stumbling on the foundation stone, rather than being crushed by Him.
Throughout Romans 10 Shaul/Paul challenges his readers to, “hear, listen, acknowledge.” The Hebrew regarding words is repeated many times in the Isaiah 28 passage. It is presented in a number of formats: ketvi (writing), emra (speech), kol (voice/sound), and D’var (word consciousness). Israel is instructed to receive every aspect of the D’var so that she might find the goal of Torah, which is the D’var Himself, Yeshua.
It is interesting to note that G-d, through the prophet Isaiah, is expressing the simple truth of salvation by alluding to a child’s chant, the simplest of understandings. The Hebrew phrase, “Tzav latzav, tzav latzav, Kav lakav, kav lakav, Ze’ er sham, ze’ er sham.” These Hebrew monosyllables, imitating the babbling of a child, mock the prophet’s preaching at first, but the outcome is that G-d turns this very simple language back upon Israel so that she is without excuse.
The ironic claim of the disobedient nation of Israel in Isaiah 28, is one of having made an agreement with death in order to spare her life. G-d responds with a dissolving of Israel’s covenant with death and by withdrawing His hand to allow her to be disciplined so that He might save her from eternal death. Therefore the following verse has a certain ambiguity. On the one hand it disables the protection Israel thought she had arranged with demonic forces, but on the other hand HaShem has removed the power death from her because of the work of His D’var (Word, Yeshua).
“Your covenant with death will be cancelled,
And your pact with Sheol will not stand;”
The word play here is both clever and profound, a sobering reminder of the severity of G-d’s discipline and the absolute security of His love.
By familiarizing ourselves with Joel 2, we prepare ourselves to understand the subsequent verses of Romans 10. We are beginning to see that the perceived length of this chapter is somewhat smaller than the total volume of the conversation Shaul/Paul is having with the ancient Scriptures of the Tanakh. We see that like Doctor Who’s science fiction craft the TARDIS, Romans 10 opens a door to an immeasurable wealth of depth.
2:1 Sound a shofar (rams horn) in Zion,
And sound an alarm on My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
For the day of HaShem is coming;
Surely it is near,
2 A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness.
As the dawn is spread over the mountains,
So there is a great and mighty people;
There has never been anything like it,
Nor will there be again after it
To the years of many generations.
3 A fire consumes before them
And behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them
But a desolate wilderness behind them,
And nothing at all escapes them.
4 Their appearance is like the appearance of horses;
And like war horses, so they run.
5 With a noise as of chariots
They leap on the tops of the mountains,
Like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble,
Like a mighty people arranged for battle.
6 Before them the people are in anguish;
All faces turn pale.
7 They run like mighty men,
They climb the wall like soldiers;
And they each march in line,
Nor do they deviate from their paths.
8 They do not crowd each other,
They march everyone in his path;
When they burst through the defences,
They do not break ranks.
9 They rush on the city,
They run on the wall;
They climb into the houses,
They enter through the windows like a thief.
10 Before them the earth quakes,
The heavens tremble,
The sun and the moon grow dark
And the stars lose their brightness.
11 HaShem utters His kol (voice) before His army;
Surely His camp is very great,
For strong is he who carries out His word.
The day of HaShem is indeed great and very awesome,
And who can endure it?
12 “Yet even now,” declares HaShem,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
13 And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to HaShem your Elohim,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness
And relenting of evil.
14 Who knows whether He will not turn and relent
And leave a blessing behind Him,
Even a grain offering and a drink offering
For HaShem your Elohim?
15 Blow a shofar (rams horn) in Zion,
Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly,
16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and the nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom come out of his room
And the bride out of her bridal chamber.
17 Let the priests, HaShem’s ministers,
Weep between the porch and the altar,
And let them say, “Spare Your people, O HaShem,
And do not make Your inheritance a reproach,
A byword among the nations.
Why should they among the peoples say,
‘Where is their G-d?’
18 Then HaShem will be zealous for His land
And will have pity on His people.
19 HaShem will answer and say to His people,
“Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine and oil,
And you will be satisfied in full with them;
And I will never again make you a reproach among the nations.
20 “But I will remove the northern army far from you,
And I will drive it into a parched and desolate land,
And its vanguard into the eastern sea,
And its rear guard into the western sea.
And its stench will arise and its foul smell will come up,
For it has done great things.”
21 Do not fear, O land, rejoice and be glad,
For HaShem has done great things.
22 Do not fear, beasts of the field,
For the pastures of the wilderness have turned green,
For the tree has borne its fruit,
The fig tree and the vine have yielded in full.
23 So rejoice, O sons of Zion,
And be glad in HaShem your Elohim;
For He has given you the early rain for your vindication.
And He has poured down for you the rain,
The early and latter rain as before.
24 The threshing floors will be full of grain,
And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.
25 “Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
26 “You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied
And praise the name of HaShem your Elohim,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
Then My people will never be put to shame.
27 “Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And that I am HaShem your Elohim,
And there is no other;
And My people will never be put to shame.
28 “It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
29 “Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days
30 “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.
31 “The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the great and awesome day of HaShem comes.
32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Will be delivered;
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be those who escape,
As HaShem has said,
Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
12 That means that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile (with regard to salvation) — Adonai is the same for everyone, rich toward everyone who calls on Him, 13 since everyone who calls on the name of Adonai (YHVH) will be delivered. (Joel 2:32)
Shaul/Paul by G-d’s chesed (grace) offers a drash (illumination, non-literal meaning) on Joel 2 in order to apply its eternal effect to all who trust in HaShem. He presumes that his hearers, especially his Jewish hearers, will understand the context of Joel 2 regarding Israel.
It is interesting to note that it was most likely Jews returning from Shavuot/Pentecost to Rome having received salvation at the pouring out of the Ruach ha-Kodesh in Acts chapter 2, who were the founders of the Roman ecclesia. Therefore the quote from Joel 2 bears even greater significance here, because it alludes to that very event, the result of which has been the salvation of every member of the Roman ecclesia and thus validates Shaul/Pauls allusion to its application to all believers, both Jew and Gentile.
Our reading of Tanakh passages continues as we move on to Shaul’s quote from Isaiah 52.
52:1 Awake, awake,
Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion;
Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Will no longer come into you.
2 Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.
3 For thus says HaShem, “You were sold for nothing and you will be redeemed without money.”
4 For thus says HaShem Elohim, “My people went down at the first into Egypt to reside there; then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.
5 Now therefore, what do I have here,” declares HaShem, “seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?” Again HaShem declares, “Those who rule over them howl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long.
6 Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, ‘Here I am.’”
7 How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your G-d reigns!”
8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices,
They shout joyfully together;
For they will see with their own eyes
When HaShem restores Zion.
9 Break forth, shout joyfully together,
You waste places of Jerusalem;
For HaShem has comforted His people,
He has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 HaShem has bared His holy arm
In the sight of all the nations,
That all the ends of the earth may see
The Yeshua (salvation) of our G-d.
11 Depart, depart, go out from there,
Touch nothing unclean;
Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves,
You who carry the vessels of HaShem.
12 But you will not go out in haste,
Nor will you go as fugitives;
For HaShem will go before you,
And the G-d of Israel will be your rear guard.
13 Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.
14 But how can they call on someone if they haven’t trusted in Him? And how can they trust in someone if they haven’t heard about Him? And how can they hear about someone if no one is proclaiming Him? 15 And how can people proclaim Him unless G-d sends them? — as the Tanakh puts it, “How beautiful are the feet of those announcing good news about good things!” (Isaiah 52:7)
Shaul/Paul is not giving a method for evangelism here, on the contrary, he is carrying on an imagined diatribe with a non-Messianic Jew who is seeking an excuse for not accepting the gift of G-d in Messiah. The non-Messianic Jew is saying, “But we didn’t know He was the Messiah, we didn’t understand that this is how He would manifest Himself to us?” To which Shaul/Paul responds, “But the Scriptures told you clearly, the very Torah you examine daily explains Yeshua in detail and reports the events that have now come about. The rumours of these events have spread throughout the known world so that you are without excuse, and Isaiah 52:7 affirms what the whole of Isaiah 52 is expounding. That Yeshua has brought Good news to you, even as you hear my gospel, for my feet also perpetuate that news.
Shaul/Paul doesn’t stop there, he continues with the next chapter of Isaiah, solidifying his argument with undeniable Scriptural proof:
53:1 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of HaShem been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our grief He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of G-d, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But HaShem has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10 But HaShem was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of HaShem will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
6 The problem is that they haven’t all paid attention to the Good News and obeyed it. For Yesha‘yahu says,
“Adonai, who has trusted what he has heard from us?” (Isaiah 53:1)
The reason Shaul has quoted the first verse of Isaiah 53 is because he intends his non-Messianic Jewish opponent to recall the entire passage and be brought to repentance as a result of seeing it illuminated by the Ruach ha-Kodesh. Messiah is clearly seen in every word.
Again using a quote from the following Psalm, Shaul rebuts his opponent, saying, “They did hear!”
19:1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The Instruction of HaShem is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of HaShem is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of HaShem are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of HaShem is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of HaShem is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of HaShem are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O HaShem, my rock and my Redeemer.
17 So trust comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through a word proclaimed about the Messiah.
18 “But, I say, isn’t it rather that they didn’t hear?” No, they did hear --
“Their voice has gone out throughout the whole world
and their words to the ends of the earth.” (Psalm 19:4)
Shaul builds on the argument of Romans 1:20-21, showing through the psalmist that creation itself declares this truth to the ends of the earth. He secures this line of thought with the statement, “Their voice has gone out throughout the whole world and their words to the ends of the earth.”
“You have heard.” Says Shaul/Paul, you know this, that:
“The Instruction of HaShem is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of HaShem is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of HaShem are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of HaShem is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of HaShem is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of HaShem are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
And again we read of the need for trust of the heart and confession of the mouth, hence:
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O HaShem, my rock and my Redeemer.”
However, Shaul is loathed to stop here, he continues with a quotation from Deuteronomy 32:
32:1 “Give ear, O heavens, and let me emra (speak);
And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
2 “Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My emra (speech) distil as the dew,
As the droplets on the fresh grass
And as the showers on the herb.
3 “For I proclaim the name of HaShem;
Ascribe greatness to our G-d!
4 “The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A G-d of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
5 “They have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
But are a perverse and crooked generation.
6 “Do you thus repay HaShem,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you.
7 “Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father, and he will inform you,
Your elders, and they will tell you.
8 “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.
9 “For HaShem’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.
10 “He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
11 “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.
12 “HaShem alone guided him,
And there was no foreign god with him.
13 “He made him ride on the high places of the earth,
And he ate the produce of the field;
And He made him suck honey from the rock,
And oil from the flinty rock,
14 Curds of cows, and milk of the flock,
With fat of lambs,
And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats,
With the finest of the wheat--
And of the blood of grapes you drank wine.
15 “But Yeshurun grew fat and kicked--
You are grown fat, thick, and sleek--
Then he forsook G-d who made him,
And scorned the Rock of his Yeshua (salvation).
16 “They made Him jealous with strange gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.
17 “They sacrificed to demons who were not G-d,
To gods whom they have not known,
New gods who came lately,
Whom your fathers did not dread.
18 “You neglected the Rock who begot you,
And forgot the G-d who gave you birth.
19 “HaShem saw this, and spurned them
Because of the provocation of His sons and daughters.
20 “Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them,
I will see what their end shall be;
For they are a perverse generation,
Sons in whom is no faithfulness.
21 ‘They have made Me jealous with what is not G-d;
They have provoked Me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,
22 For a fire is kindled in My anger,
And burns to the lowest part of Sheol,
And consumes the earth with its yield,
And sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
23 ‘I will heap misfortunes on them;
I will use My arrows on them.
24 ‘They will be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague
And bitter destruction;
And the teeth of beasts I will send upon them,
With the venom of crawling things of the dust.
25 ‘Outside the sword will bereave,
And inside terror--
Both young man and virgin,
The nursling with the man of grey hair.
26 ‘I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces,
I will remove the memory of them from men,”
27 Had I not feared the provocation by the enemy,
That their adversaries would misjudge,
That they would say, “Our hand is triumphant,
And HaShem has not done all this.”’
28 “For they are a nation lacking in counsel,
And there is no understanding in them.
29 “Would that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would discern their future!
30 “How could one chase a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
And HaShem had given them up?
31 “Indeed their rock is not like our Rock,
Even our enemies themselves judge this.
32 “For their vine is from the vine of Sodom,
And from the fields of Gomorrah;
Their grapes are grapes of poison,
Their clusters, bitter.
33 “Their wine is the venom of serpents,
And the deadly poison of cobras.
34 ‘Is it not laid up in store with Me,
Sealed up in My treasuries?
35 ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution,
In due time their foot will slip;
For the day of their calamity is near,
And the impending things are hastening upon them.’
36 “For HaShem will vindicate His people,
And will have compassion on His servants,
When He sees that their strength is gone,
And there is none remaining, bond or free.
37 “And He will say, ‘Where are their gods,
The rock in which they sought refuge?
38 ‘Who ate the fat of their sacrifices,
And drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you,
Let them be your hiding place!
39 ‘See now that I, I am He,
And there is no god besides Me;
It is I who put to death and give life.
I have wounded and it is I who heal,
And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.
40 ‘Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven,
And say, as I live forever,
41 If I sharpen My flashing sword,
And My hand takes hold on justice,
I will render vengeance on My adversaries,
And I will repay those who hate Me.
42 ‘I will make My arrows drunk with blood,
And My sword will devour flesh,
With the blood of the slain and the captives,
From the long-haired leaders of the enemy.’
43 “Rejoice, O nations, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And will render vengeance on His adversaries,
And will atone for His land and His people.”
44 Then Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he, with Joshua the son of Nun. 45 When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. 47 For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”
48 HaShem spoke to Moses that very same day, saying, 49 “Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession. 50 Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, 51 because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel. 52 For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel.”
19 “But, I say, isn’t it rather that Israel didn’t understand?”
“I will provoke you to jealousy over a non-nation,
over a nation void of understanding I will make you angry.” (Deuteronomy 32:21)
Shaul/Paul uses this verse from Deuteronomy to set up its conclusion in chapter 11, where he will show the Gentile believers their obligation to provoke Israel to jealousy. For G-ds purpose has always been for Israel’s reconciliation to Him through Messiah Yeshua.
65:1 “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me;
I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me.
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’
To a nation which did not call on My name.
2 “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,
3 A people who continually provoke Me to My face,
Offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks;
4 Who sit among graves and spend the night in secret places;
Who eat swine’s flesh,
And the broth of unclean meat is in their pots.
5 “Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me,
For I am holier than you!’
These are smoke in My nostrils,
A fire that burns all the day.
6 “Behold, it is written before Me,
I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will even repay into their bosom,
7 Both their own iniquities and the iniquities of their fathers together,” says HaShem.
“Because they have burned incense on the mountains
And scorned Me on the hills,
Therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom.”
8 Thus says HaShem,
“As the new wine is found in the cluster,
And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is benefit in it,’
So I will act on behalf of My servants
In order not to destroy all of them.
9 “I will bring forth offspring from Jacob,
And an heir of My mountains from Judah;
Even My chosen ones shall inherit it,
And My servants will dwell there.
10 “Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks,
And the valley of Achor a resting place for herds,
For My people who seek Me.
11 “But you who forsake the Lord,
Who forget My holy mountain,
Who set a table for Fortune,
And who fill cups with mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you for the sword,
And all of you will bow down to the slaughter.
Because I called, but you did not answer;
I spoke, but you did not hear.
And you did evil in My sight
And chose that in which I did not delight.”
13 Therefore, thus says HaShem G-d,
“Behold, My servants will eat, but you will be hungry.
Behold, My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty.
Behold, My servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame.
14 “Behold, My servants will shout joyfully with a glad heart,
But you will cry out with a heavy heart,
And you will wail with a broken spirit.
15 “You will leave your name for a curse to My chosen ones,
And HaShem G-d will slay you.
But My servants will be called by another name.
16 “Because he who is blessed in the earth
Will be blessed by the G-d of truth;
And he who swears in the earth
Will swear by the G-d of truth;
Because the former troubles are forgotten,
And because they are hidden from My sight!
17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness.
19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
20 “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,
Or an old man who does not live out his days;
For the youth will die at the age of one hundred
And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred
Will be thought accursed.
21 “They will build houses and inhabit them;
They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 “They will not build and another inhabit,
They will not plant and another eat;
For as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people,
And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands.
23 “They will not labour in vain,
Or bear children for calamity;
For they are the offspring of those blessed by the Lord,
And their descendants with them.
24 It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says HaShem.
20 Moreover, Yesha‘yahu boldly says,
“I was found by those who were not looking for me,
I became known to those who did not ask for me”; (Isaiah 65:1)
Again Shaul/Paul forces home the point that the Gentiles are being reconciled to G-d through trust in His Son, while Israel remains numb to His gospel.
21 but to Isra’el he says,
“All day long I held out my hands
to a people who kept disobeying and contradicting.” (Isaiah 65:2)
Shaul/Paul desperately relays the ache of HaShem’s heart as He cries out to His people. This anguish call and the desperate open arms of a pleading Father are the premise for all of Romans 11. Hence, all of Romans 9 through 10 has been leading us to the pre-conclusion of Romans 11 and the consolidation of Israel.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
A single unveiled glance at the Torah will reveal Mashiyach.
An examination of Romans 10:1-9
Romans 9 ended with Israel hanging by a thread, a remnant, skinned to the bone by discipline and broken by the stone of stumbling. And yet Paul/Shaul, by the Ruach ha-Kodesh, calls to his own people with great compassion as he continues to reveal the purposes of HaShem. “Ami—my people, brothers and sisters…”
Jacob is a masculine name in Hebrew, Israel however is feminine; in addition Israel is called a wife to HaShem throughout the Tanakh. Therefore I have rendered, “their,” as, “her,” and “she,” throughout this passage. Shaul/Paul does not intend us to perceive his non-Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters as separate from him, which can be inferred by the translation, “their.” On the contrary, he is speaking as one who has new information to share, that will lead to Israel’s reconciliation—which is the goal of this dialogue.
10:1 Ami (My people), Brothers and sisters (Fellow Jews), my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to HaShem for Israel (our people) is for her yeshua (salvation);
Notice that when this text is translated from a Hebrew consciousness perspective, using the original Greek, into English; the meaning takes on a radically different tone to the anti-Semitism of some English translations. We are challenged to think differently, Shaul/Paul is no more an enemy to the Jewish people than the Messiah Himself; he is our brother and he speaks as a concerned brother, frankly and without judgement. Shaul/Paul is issuing a warning, not a condemnation.
The Hebrew word for salvation is yeshua, thus Shaul’s deepest desire and prayer for Israel is for both her Messiah Yeshua and her yeshua (salvation). Word play is a Hebrew constant, it shouldn’t be trivialized or overlooked, Shaul is after all, a rabbi.
Let us be clear that where ever Shaul/Paul uses the proper noun Israel throughout his writings, it always refers to the blood related ancestors of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; who are the root of the tree (Rom. 11:16-27) of Israel and Judaism. He does this to show G-d’s unwavering commitment to His own promises. If G-d is not committed to keeping His promises to the physical people of Israel, He is untrustworthy and therefore we have no hope as Gentiles.
2 for I can testify to her zeal for G-d. But it is not based on correct understanding;
Shaul/Paul understands Israel’s zeal, both for G-d and for His promises. Shaul/Paul himself was a practitioner of a flawed zeal prior to meeting Yeshua. He is not suggesting that zeal is wrong, he is simply suggesting that zeal which relies on legalistic human observance of man-made law is not the zeal G-d requires. There is a clear distinction between extra biblical human law and the Torah of G-d throughout this passage: one is not the same as the other and should not be perceived as such. It is zeal born of a false understanding that Shaul/Paul is addressing. If it were simply zeal for the Torah, why does he say, “The goal of the Torah is the Messiah”?
3 for, since she’s unaware of G-d’s derach (way) of making people righteous and instead seeks to set up her own righteousness, she has not submitted herself to G-d’s derach (way) of making people righteous.
Why is Israel unaware of G-d’s way (derach)? We will find in the conclusion of Shaul’s discussion in chapter 11, that it is due to an intentional blindness which is purposed for the reconciliation of those among the nations who will receive G-d’s gift. This blindness is a national blindness, not an individual one. It remains that it is only by the revelation of the Ruach ha-Kodesh that anyone, Jew or Gentile, can receive the gift of G-d, Messiah our King.
One of the things that prevents us seeing is our self-righteousness. When we work to earn G-d we work in vain. Another stumbling block for all humanity is our pride, our unwillingness to submit to G-d is an act of rebellion, which is the root of all sin. Therefore, being unaware is more than simply not knowing how we should respond to G-d; it is wilfully refusing what we know to be right. Rather than being blinded by the Torah, we are blinded by our own inclination and deep seeded rebellion. On the other hand, a single unveiled glance at the Torah will reveal Mashiyach.
The early believers, both Jewish and Gentile were known as a Jewish sect called ha-derach (the way). It seems that Paul/Shaul is again making a word play here, using the way as both a p’shat (literal contextual statement) and as a noun.
4 The goal of the Torah is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts (emunah).
It is unfortunate that some translations use the verb, “end,” to translate the Greek, “telos,” because it can be so easily misunderstood to infer the cessation of the Torah if read as a noun. Telos is a goal, something to be aimed for; it is on this understanding that Shaul/Paul makes his argument for the right and zealous application of the Torah. Messiah is the one to be aimed for, He is the goal of the Torah (Instruction).
“Now the goal of our mandate is love (ahava), (chesed) loving kindness, out of a pure core being (heart), and of a good conscience, and of an unpretentious faith.” –1 Timothy 1:5
5 For Moshe writes about the righteousness grounded in the Torah, that “the person who does these things will attain life through them.” (Leviticus 18:5)
“Then HaShem spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am HaShem your G-d. 3 You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their appointed customs. 4 You are to perform My judgments and keep My appointed customs, to live in accord with them; I am HaShem your G-d. 5 So you shall keep My appointed customs and My judgments, the person who does these things will attain life through them; I am HaShem. –Leviticus 18:1-5
Paul/Shaul again affirms the continued relevance of the Torah. His drash (illumination) here is claiming the Leviticus text as a promise of life to those who keep the Torah unto its goal, which is Messiah Yeshua (salvation).
It is noteworthy that the two overarching instructions quoted by Messiah in Mark 12:28-31 are two of the most important appointed customs and judgements of the Torah. (1) “Love HaShem your G-d with all your heart, mind and soul.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) (2) “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18). Both these commandments require emunah (trust), which is the catalyst that Shaul/Paul has already alluded to as being the inception of salvation through Messiah’s sacrifice.
The concept of eternal life—related to the Olam haba (World to come)—based on a proper understanding of the Torah, is present in rabbinical literature.
Rashi, referring to Leviticus 18:5 and quoting from the Sifra relating to Leviticus, says:
“It refers to the Olam haba—World to come; for if you say it refers to Olam ha’zeh—this world, doesn’t everybody die sooner or later?”
Before we read on we must first read Deuteronomy 30 in order to understand the p’shat (Contextual, historical) relevance of the quote Shaul/Paul uses to draw our attention to the unity (echad) of the Hebrew words; Kol (Voice, sound), Ketvi (writing), mitzvah (commanded actions) and D’var (Word) of G-d.
30:1 “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where HaShem your Elohim (G-d) has banished you, 2 and you return to HaShem your G-d and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then HaShem your Elohim (G-d) will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where HaShem your Elohim (G-d) has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there HaShem your Elohim (G-d) will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 5 HaShem your Elohim (G-d) will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
6 “Moreover HaShem your Elohim (G-d) will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love HaShem your Elohim (G-d) with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. 7 HaShem your Elohim will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 8 And you shall again obey HaShem, and observe all His mitzvot which I command you today. 9 Then HaShem your Elohim will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for HaShem will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 10 if you obey HaShem your Elohim to keep His mitzvot and His appointed customs which are katav (Ketvi, written word) in this book of the Torah (Instruction), if you turn to HaShem your Elohim with all your levav (heart, core being) and nefesh (soul).
11 “For this mitzvot (Yeshua) which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it (Yeshua) for us and make us hear it (Yeshua), that we may observe it (Yeshua)?’ 13 Nor is it (Yeshua) beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea (a metaphor for passing through death re: red sea) for us to get it (Yeshua) for us and make us hear it (Yeshua), that we may observe it (Yeshua)?’ 14 But the D’var (word, Yeshua) is very near you, in your mouth and in your core being (heart), that you may observe it (Yeshua).
15 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity;16 in that I command you today to love HaShem your Elohim, to walk in His ways and to keep His mitzvoth (Yeshua) and His appointed customs and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that HaShem your Elohim may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17 But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it (Crossing the Jordan is a physical metaphor for crossing into the Olam haba. Joshua/Yeshua leads us across). 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving HaShem your Elohim, by obeying His kol (voice, Yeshua), and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which HaShem swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
The land sworn to by G-d for Avraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel is twofold: (1) The physical land of Israel (2) The Olam haba—World to come, the physical-metaphysical land of Israel.
6 Moreover (that is, in addition to what has gone before), the righteousness grounded in trusting (emunah) says:
“Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend to heaven?’” — that is, to bring the Messiah down — 7 or, “‘Who will descend into Sh’ol? (the holding place after death, within time. Not the grave, which is kever.)’” — that is, to bring the Messiah up from the dead. 8 What, then, does it say?
“The d’var (word consciousness of G-d, not Ketvi, the written word) is near you, in your mouth and in your core being (heart).” (Deuteronomy 30:11–14) -- that is, the d’var (word) of trust (emunah) which we proclaim, namely, 9 that if you acknowledge with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and trust in your core being (heart) that G-d raised him from the dead, you will be saved (in Yeshua).
Having read and understood Deuteronomy 30, we can see the drash (illumination) that Shaul/Paul is making. Shaul/Paul does more than infer that Yeshua is the mitzvot of Deuteronomy 30:11-14, he calls Him the D’var (Word consciousness of G-d, and the Ketvi—written Word, and the Mitzvot—commanded right action, and the Kol—voice, sound) that is in the mouths of Israel’s obedient sons and daughters.
Therefore Shaul/Paul challenges those who hear this D’var--Word/gospel—now, to mirror the actions of the Word and confess with the mouth—where the Word dwells—and, resisting the heart of disbelief, instead emunah--believe/trust--with a levav--heart, core being--of belief, that Yeshua has been through/crossed the sea of death and has been resurrected. It is this D’var (Word) that Shaul/Paul proclaims, the same D’var that had met Israel’s ancestors in their desert wandering. Baruch HaShem!
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Therefore, if we resist our purpose because of pride, we become hardened, brittle, easily broken like Pharaoh. Better to be a useful drinking cup than a broken candle stand.
An examination of Romans 9
Shaul/Paul concluded chapter 8 with an all-encompassing assurance of love and security for those in Messiah Yeshua: he now begins a related conversation regarding the yet to be fulfilled promises of G-d to the Jewish people and how the unrelenting love of G-d for Israel assures all believers of their own eternal security in Messiah.
It is unwise to divide this next section of Romans—chapters 9 through 11—into chapter portions for study, without considering how each chapter relates to the whole of Shaul’s argument; which finds its conclusion in the salvation of Israel (11:25-27) and a challenge to Gentile believers to show the Jewish people G-d’s mercy (11:31).
Shaul/Paul is using the following three chapters to explain that G-d has designed the pattern of salvation so that not all Israelites will take part immediately. Many Jews stumble over any suggestion of announcing salvation to the nations unless the individual involved is willing to become a proselyte and make a full conversion to Judaism. Perhaps in part, they doubted the loyalty of Gentile followers of Yeshua, given that without a strong connection to the Jewish consciousness there would be no real passion amongst them for the land of Israel. History has proven this concern to be a valid one, ironically it is one of the very things Shaul/Paul is hoping will be avoided by his teaching the Gentiles of the Roman ecclesia the importance of G-d’s future purposes for the Jewish people.
Before approaching this text it is of foundational importance to study the text of Hosea 1 and 2, and Isaiah 1, 8, 10 and 28 as well as Jeremiah 18. These give a firm context for Paul/Shaul’s multi layered teaching approach, which draws on both a contextual-historical reading that affirms Israel’s continued place in G-d’s plan and a Midrash that uses this as a foundation for showing how G-d has made a way for the inclusion of the nations.
9:1 I’m speaking the truth in Messiah, I’m not lying; my conscience also bears witness in the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit),
Why is Paul/Shaul so emphatic with regard to the truth (emet)? Why does he begin with the invocation of two witnesses aside from himself? By invoking the Messiah and the Ruach ha-Kodesh he is claiming the two witnesses required by Torah for the verification of truth. He is marking a clear line in the sand here, a restart of sorts that draws on the premise that the gospel is always first for the Jew and also for the nations (1:16).
2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my core being. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Messiah for the sake of my brothers and sisters, my people by race.
Paul/Shaul is essentially saying he would give up his own salvation for the sake of Israel, his people. Is this a blasphemous statement? No, on the contrary it is proof of the presence of the spirit of Messiah in him, crying out to the Father in desperation for the salvation of Israel. Paul/Shaul shares this plea with one other famous Israelite, Moses:
“’But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!’ HaShem said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. But go now, lead the people where I told you. Behold, My angel (Yeshua—John 1:14, Acts 7:30) shall go before you; nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.”–Shemot/Exodus 32:33
Notice that Paul/Shaul continues to identify himself as a Jew: “my brothers and sisters, my people by race.”
4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption,
The adoption as heirs belongs to Israel. This is a foundation stone for the conclusion of 11:25-27.
“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.” –Shemot/Exodus 4:22
The glory of G-d’s presence belongs to Israel. This glory, the Shekinah or manifest presence of the glory of G-d, was with Israel, made visible in the pillars of cloud and fire that lead Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:31).
“The covenants,” plural, belong to Israel, this includes Jeremiah 31:31:
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares HaShem. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” –Jeremiah 31:31-33
The new covenant that makes it possible for all people to be reconciled to G-d, belongs to the Jewish people. This is confirmed in 11:18.
“Do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”
The giving of the Torah (Instruction),
The Torah belongs to Israel. And the living Torah Yeshua in His humanity, is born of her (v.5).
The worship structure,
The worship practices that symbolize the heavenly Temple on earth belong to Israel. These are those procedures, implements, tools and sacrificial rituals given to Israel through Moses Rabenu (our teacher). These are the tactile, kinetic and symbolic representations of the spiritual realm, given as a window to the unseen.
And the promises;
G-d’s promises belong to Israel. The Tanakh is a record of G-d’s promises to the Jewish people which include protection, cleansing, redemption and salvation in Messiah.
Many Christians today claim these promises without realizing that they can only claim access to them through Messiah, in Israel.
To them belong the patriarchs,
Avraham, Y’tzchak and Yaakov belong to Israel. G-d’s faithfulness to these foundational fathers of Israel is a further assurance both to Israel and to all believers of the certainty of our hope in Him.
And Messiah is of the Jewish people, according to human lineage.
Messiah Yeshua is a Jew according to His humanity. Messiah is over all, just as the Scriptures testify:
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” –Isaiah 9:6-7
Therefore, Paul/Shaul has left the greatest of Israel’s belongings till last, Messiah Himself. He does not belong to Israel in the sense of being Israel’s possession, after all, Israel is G-d’s possession. He belongs to Israel in the same way a Father belongs to a son.
G-d who is over all be blessed forever. Amen.
“Baruch HaShem l’olam vayid.” This is a prayer formula much like the key triggers used in prayers such as Kaddish, “vayimru (and all say…),” the response being, “Amein.”
Paul/Shaul is asking for a response here, an, “Amein,” an agreement from his listeners.
6 But it’s not as though the d’var (word) of G-d had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham simply because they are his descendants; but “Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the body who are the children of G-d, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants.
Shaul/Paul is not seeking to critique Israel with these words, on the contrary, he is simply showing how G-d’s faithfulness has not failed Israel. The child of promise, Isaac, is the one from whom the children of G-d are descended. What does this mean?
Here, “children of the body,” doesn’t mean all children who are born physical human beings, or it would also discount Isaac. Rather it alludes to the fact that Avraham acted of human will by taking Hagar to bed for the purpose of the procreation of an heir, whereas Sarah was allowed to be impregnated by Avraham due to the will of G-d. This is yet another affirmation of the fact that salvation is entirely reliant on the purposes of G-d and not on any function or act initiated by humanity. G-d sends the son of promise, Isaac; again G-d sends The Son of promise, Yeshua.
9 For this is what the promise said, “About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only this, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that G-d’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call, 12 she was told, “The elder will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
The intention here is to convey the foundational principle of the election of believers by G-d. This is why it is made clear that Yaakov was chosen even before birth, before either Yaakov or Esau could tell right from wrong. This was entirely G-d’s decision. Why? Perhaps because outside of time and space He knows the end from the beginning.
It is well established that the statement, “Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated,” is a phrase that sets one apart from the other. It does not mean that G-d continues to hate Esau as some have foolishly suggested, if it did, any descendants of Esau introduced to the gospel would be unable to receive it, which would contradict the message of the gospel itself. Yeshua uses similar phrasing when He says:
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” –Luke 14:26
Like the statement made in Malachi 1:2-3, this statement from Luke is intended to be understood comparatively. We are simply expected to place our love for G-d above all others; the paradox of this being that we cannot possibly know what it truly means to love others until we learn what it means to be loved by G-d.
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on G-d’s part? A curse on it! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
The presumption is often made that G-d has had mercy upon Jacob and has hated and destroyed Esau, however the Midrash that continues from the previous verses shows us that G-d has mercy upon Jacob and compassion on Esau (the one He had hated). G-d hates, this is clear (Psalm 139:21-22) but His hatred, like His wrath, is purposed for reconciliation.
16 So it depends not upon human will or exertion, but upon G-d’s chesed (mercy, loving kindness). 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing My power in you, so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then He has chesed (mercy) upon whomever He wills, and He hardens the heart of whomever He wills.
We are told in the historical account of the Exodus, that Pharaoh first hardened his own heart five times and only then does the text state that G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Though this may not infer a point of no return, it does signify a point of foreknowledge on G-d’s part and solidifies the mysterious paradox of predestination and free will. The Rabbi Akiva of Talmudic fame puts it well when he says:
“All is foreseen and free will is given.” –Avot 3:15
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”20 But who are you, a human being, to answer back to G-d? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me this way?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for sacred and another for mundane use? 22 What if G-d, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of His glory for the vessels of chesed (mercy), which He has prepared beforehand for glory,24 even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only but also from the nations?
By using the potter and clay imagery from Jeremiah 18, Shaul/Paul (by the Ruach ha-Kodesh) is not claiming that the pottery made for mundane use is any less useful than the pottery made for sacred use, on the contrary, he is simply reminding the reader that each piece of pottery has it’s appropriate use.
At the end of each Shabbat we practice a rite called Havdalah, which in Hebrew means, “separation.” We see in this ritual the separation of the sacred (Sabbath) and the mundane (work week). This doesn’t devalue the work week, nor does it fail to understand that the seven days of the week are a unity in themselves, it is done to remind us that all things have a unique G-d ordained purpose.
Therefore, if we resist our purpose because of pride, we become hardened, brittle, easily broken like Pharaoh. Better to be a useful drinking cup than a broken candle stand.
As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people
I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved
I will call ‘my beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” –Hosea 2:23 see also Hosea 1:8-10
It is important to understand that the passage Shaul/Paul quotes from Hosea refers only to Israel/Judah, it doesn’t in any way refer to the nations. Therefore it is a pointer that directs us to the conclusion of this argument, which is the salvation of the remnant of Israel.
In addition to the historical-contextual reading, Paul is also using this text as a Midrash to show how the nations can be redeemed from being disobedient children and be called sons and daughters of the living G-d.
27 And Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute his sentence upon the earth with rigor and dispatch.” –Isaiah 10:22-23
This is where Shaul/Paul again answers the questions, “Is G-d unjust? Has He failed to keep His promises to Israel? How can I trust that what you said at the end of chapter 8 will be true for me, if G-d doesn’t keep His promises?”
There remains and has always remained a remnant of physical descendants of Jacob/Israel according to G-d’s promise and to this day that remnant awaits her restoration and reconciliation to G-d through Messiah Yeshua.
29 And as Isaiah predicted,
“If the Lord of hosts had not left us descendants,
we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah.” –Isaiah 1:9
This, “if,” is an assurance of the fact that G-d has protected and proliferated the remnant of Israel throughout time, even until the present day.
30 What shall we say, then? That those among the nations who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through emunah (trust); 31 but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on Torah observance did not succeed in filled by that Torah. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it through trust, but as if it were based on legalistic observance. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble,
a rock that will make them fall;
and he who believes in Him will not be put to shame.” –Isaiah 8:14, see also Isaiah 28:16
Yeshua Himself is that stone and we will see the reason for the delay in Israel’s receiving of Him as we progress further into the conversation of chapters 10 and 11. What is clear is that Shaul/Paul continues consistently, to make a distinction between the physical race Israel and the Gentile believers. At no point does he equate the two, except in regard to personal salvation. This is an important fact to hold on to as we approach one of the most contested passages of the New Testament, a passage that has been interpreted by many for the purpose of arrogant deception and the usurping of Israel’s identity on the part of the Gentile church.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Words are not proof of prayer. Prayer is the conversation of G-d at work in us, or else how do we cry, “Abba”?
An examination of Romans 8:26-39
The beginning of this chapter has called us, “Sons, heirs and children,” through Messiah, who is the Son, heir and only begotten child of HaShem. It is G-d’s emunah (trust, firmness) in us that has birthed our emunah (trust, firmness) in Him, and it is upon this unseen but certain hope that we make our stand. This is why Paul/Shaul says in verse 26, “In the same way.” He means us to understand that the work of the Ruach ha-Kodesh is also purposed in an unseen but certain way. We have confidence not because we are strong but because He is strong in us, just as the prophet Daniel says:
“We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great chesed, mercy, grace and loving kindness.” –Daniel 9:8
8:26In the same way the Spirit (helps) holds us up and together with us helps our weakness;
The Greek text says so much more than simply, “Helps.” The Spirit, that is, He—a person, not an impersonal force—moves into position to strengthen and hold us. This brings to mind the struggle of Jacob which resulted in his overcoming in G-d, which is what the name Israel literally means: Yisra (to overcome) joined with El (Elohim) G-d. We also know Him as HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, our merciful Judge. The creator of the universe is strengthening us through His Spirit at work in our inner being. We lean into Him in our weakness and as we let go He takes hold, an immovable security.
for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with deep sighing that can’t be expressed in words;
By definition this is a form of prayer that doesn’t use vocalized words. This conversation is a deep sighing. Words are not proof of prayer. Prayer is the conversation of G-d at work in us, or else how do we cry, “Abba”?
It’s okay not to know how to pray. A good friend and hero of mine once said:
“I didn’t see the point in praying. I had asked G-d to heal and He hadn’t, so I thought, ‘why should I pray, You’re only going to do what You want anyway!’ Then a friend turned up in the hospital ward and asked if he could pray for us. I agreed and the moment he began to pray the Holy Spirit came and brought healing.”
What if when we say, “Why should I pray, You’ll just do what you want anyway,” it’s actually the Holy Spirit in us who is speaking? What if when Moses said, “If You’re going to wipe out this people then wipe my name out of You’re book,” that it was the Holy Spirit in Moses who was speaking? What if when Paul/Shaul says later in Romans, “I would willingly give up my own salvation for the sake of my people Israel,” that it’s the Holy Spirit speaking? What if you were to let go and recognize G-d at work in you rather than constantly beating yourself up.
Perhaps the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of deep sighing. The suffering Messiah lives in us by His Spirit. When we don’t know what to say, when we’re overwhelmed and disillusioned, He aches and sighs, groans and cry’s out from within us. Just as it is written:
“HaShem (YHVH) will fight for you, you need only be still!” –Shemot/Exodus 14:14
27 and He (Elohim) who searches the core being (Psalm 44:21) knows what the purpose of the Spirit is, because He (Ruach ha-Kodesh) intercedes for us (all who belong to Messiah) according to the will of HaShem.
G-d knows the working of our inner being, He knows us intimately and has purposed His Spirit to advocate for us from within. This is His will, our reconciliation.
28 And we know that G-d causes all things to work together for good
There’s a colloquialism, “It’s all good.” What nonsense! Suffering teaches us the foolishness of this youthful delusion, it’s not all good folks, death isn’t good, it’s the result of sin, sin isn’t good, it’s the result of rebellion; cancer isn’t good, heart break isn’t good, evil isn’t good, on the contrary, all those things are bad. The Scripture doesn’t say, “And we know that G-d causes all things to be good,” it says, “all things work together for good,” that is for the eternal fulfillment of G-d’s Kingdom.
The point is clarified in the words of Yeshua, (this is a promise) “In this world you will have trouble, but fear not, for I have overcome the world.” –Yochanan/John 16:33
To those who love G-d, to those who are called according to His purpose.
These words are a promise to us as believers. All things will not work together for good for those who reject G-d’s gift, in fact they will work together for the ultimate in bad, eternal punishment.
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the likeness of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
These are all past tense statements. Because G-d’s perspective is outside of time and space He sees the end from the beginning and therefore knows what we will decide. This doesn’t negate freewill, in fact it affirms its need to exist within the continuum of time.
Just as the first Adam was made in the likeness of G-d, so the children of the second Adam, Yeshua are made in the likeness of G-d’s Son.
The use of the verb, “called,” in verse 30 infers the need for response. Those called are justified through the sacrifice of Yeshua and have been glorified from G-d’s perspective. The completion of this glorification will occur outside of time in the Olam Haba (World to come).
31 What then shall we say to these things? If G-d is for us, who is against us?
The answer is, “All who oppose G-d are against us,” but the rhetorical question intends us to understand that no one has a chance against us if G-d is for us—that includes ha-Satan and his demons.
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him (Messiah) freely give us all things?
This is a very clear and logical progression. “For G-d so loved the world…”
33 Who will bring a charge against G-d’s elect?
We know the answer to this, it is the same one who brought the charge against Job, ha-Satan the accuser. Again, the intended rhetorical understanding is that the Devil has no chance of bringing a charge against us.
G-d is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns?
G-d both justifies and condemns. He has justified us already, as seen in verse 30. Those who reject His gift of eternal life will be condemned. In fact Yeshua says, “He who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Yochanan/John 3:18
The point is that G-d our judge has already justified us (past tense) so that we cannot be condemned.
Messiah Yeshua is He Who died, yes, rather Who was raised, Who is at the right hand of G-d, Who also intercedes for us.
Unlike others who have been resurrected and subsequently died again, Yeshua not only died but also rose eternal and is (not metaphorically or allegorically as some foolish scholars have suggested) seated at the right hand of G-d, circumcised penis and all. Yes, He is still a Jew, why? Because He has yet to fulfill His role as the reigning King of Israel and the nations, prophesied in the Tanakh. So yes, Messiah the Jew King and G-d the Son is seated outside the third heaven at the right hand of G-d. He intercedes for us. Therefore, Messiah in us, the Spirit intercedes with Messiah outside of us, the coming King and all this happens in G-d, because, “in Him all things exist and have their being.”
35 Who will separate us from the love of Messiah?
It’s rhetorical, nothing and no one can. And to prove his point, Paul/Shaul reminds the Jewish believers of psalm 40 and the Gentile believers are directed to it for the strengthening of their growing understanding.
Will trials, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” –Tehillim/Psalm 44:22
Insert Tehillim/Psalm 44:
44:1 O Elohim, we have heard with our ears,
Our fathers have told us
The work that You did in their days,
In the days of old.
2 You with Your own hand drove out the nations;
Then You planted them;
You afflicted the peoples,
Then You spread them abroad.
3 For by their own sword they did not possess the land,
And their own arm did not save them,
But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence,
For You favored them.
4 You are my King, O Elohim;
Command victories for Jacob.
5 Through You we will push back our adversaries;
Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.
6 For I will not trust in my bow,
Nor will my sword save me.
7 But You have saved us from our adversaries,
And You have put to shame those who hate us.
8 In Elohim we have boasted all day long,
And we will give thanks to Your name forever. Selah.
9 Yet You have rejected us and brought us to dishonor,
And do not go out with our armies.
10 You cause us to turn back from the adversary;
And those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves.
11 You give us as sheep to be eaten
And have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sell Your people cheaply,
And have not profited by their sale.
13 You make us a reproach to our neighbors,
A scoffing and a derision to those around us.
14 You make us a byword among the nations,
A laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my dishonor is before me
And my humiliation has overwhelmed me,
16 Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles,
Because of the presence of the enemy and the avenger.
17 All this has come upon us, but we have not forgotten You,
And we have not dealt falsely with Your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
And our steps have not deviated from Your way,
19 Yet You have crushed us in a place of jackals
And covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our Elohim
Or extended our hands to a strange el,
21 Would not Elohim find this out?
For He knows the secrets of the heart.
22 But for Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
23 Arouse Yourself, why do You sleep, O Adonai (Master, not YHVH)?
Awake, do not reject us forever.
24 Why do You hide Your face
And forget our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul has sunk down into the dust;
Our body cleaves to the earth.
26 Rise up, be our help,
And redeem us for the sake of Your purposed chesed—loving kindness.
How does the Ruach ha-Kodesh answer the psalmist? With the following words, spoken by Paul/Shaul and penned by his scribe:
37 But in all these things we vanquish beyond measure (a decisive victory) through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of G-d, which is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
We are absolutely and utterly secure in the love of G-d which is in Messiah Yeshua our lord.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.