Accepting And Acting Upon The Things Revealed
But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? At the first Moses says,”I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you.”
Romans 10:19 (NAS)
We will prolong our stay in the book of Romans for a while longer yet as we study the Old Testament quotes found in the New Testament. This week, it’s to chapter 10 and Paul’s citation from the song of Moses as found in Deuteronomy 32:21. The full verse reads, “They have made Me jealous with what is not God; 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”
Song sung blue, everybody’s warned some.
In essence, the book of Deuteronomy deals with the second giving of the Law, the word of God. Along with the reciting of the Law, Moses offers a few important history lessons by allowing Israel as a people to recall not only their past, but to look into their future as known in the mind of the omniscient Creator.
The song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 builds upon the previous several chapters as Yahweh, through Moses,
Laid out the blessings and the curses associated with adherence to or rejection of the Law of God (Deut. 28).
Renewed the covenant with them in the plains of Moab, which the LORD said, “Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today.” (Deut 29:14-15)
Prophesied the scattering of apostate Israel into captivity followed by a restoration movement out of captivity and back into the land of Promise. (Deut . 29:16-30:10)
A key statement is made in Duet. 29:29 smack dab between the prophesied scattering and restoration of Israel: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.”
Moses was given this song from the LORD (Deut. 31:19-21) with the express purpose that it was to be a witness for God against the sons of the physical nation of Israel. It was a basic restating of what Moses had told them previously, only put to song. Included is the promise (a thing revealed) that the LORD will use a nation without understanding to make jealous and angry the physical seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Typically in the Old Testament, the LORD did this through using the Gentile nations as a means of His judgment upon them in hopes of their returning to Him. Israel should have known better than to kick at His blessings and forsake the true God who had made him (Israel) and brought him salvation. (Deut. 32:15) The majority of Moses’ song is a sad one, with warnings for everyone.
Faith (and understanding) comes by hearing honestly the word of God
Let’s consider our text for today in light of the context of Romans chapter ten in general. This chapter speaks to the power of God’s word in Christ Jesus to produce faith that leads to salvation. The objection that somehow the Israelites wouldn’t have been able to understand or comprehend the plan of God to extend salvation by faith in Christ Jesus and to include the Gentiles, is answered by the apostle.
In the previous context of the book of Romans, the apostle Paul through the Holy Spirit has demonstrated that Israel had been exposed time and time again to the truth of God’s word, His character, and His plan in the Old Testament books. The problem was with Israel’s integrity. They continually turned to idols and rejected the LORD even though His word had been proclaimed to them. This provoked Him to put into action His promised rejection of them and offer to other nations the opportunity to taste of His kindness and mercy, according to prophetic utterance. Paul then substantiates this by citing two Old Testament prophesies concerning the Gentiles (Rom. 10:19-20)being accepted of God upon hearing and acting upon the message.
Israel was a proud people, unwilling to accept God’s plan of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus even though they had all the prophetic utterances in the scriptures that proved Jesus was the promised Messiah in His fulfillment of them. The Gentiles, the supposedly foolish and ignorant peoples of the world, could readily recognize who Jesus was when honestly considering all the Scriptural evidence. What seemed somewhat secret, mysterious, when revealed through Gospel preaching, was understood and they acted in faith. They recognized the oath the LORD had made way back to Abraham, “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3) and “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:18) This oath fulfilled in Christ brought them out of spiritual captivity, restored them into the presence of God, in the spiritual Promised Land of light. If the Gentiles, the “uninitiated” into the things of God could figure it out, then Israel, and likewise the world, is without excuse.