“But as for Israel He says, ‘All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.’” Romans 10:21
Throughout the letter to the Romans, Paul has been moved by the spirit to cite the numerous prophetic utterances in the Old Testament that pointed to the inclusion of the Gentiles as a part of God’s people. From Abraham in the book of Genesis (Gen. 17:5), Moses in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut 32:21), Isaiah (Isa. 65:11, 66:2-20), and Hosea (Hos. 1:10, 2:23) the LORD revealed His kind intention to graft them in, these “vessels of mercy” called from among the nations.
They were called by the gospel of Jesus Christ, the same as the Jews. (Rom. 9:23-24) The gospel of Jesus Christ, proven true in accordance with prophesy, “enlightens every man” (John 1:9). The gospel has the power to take the ignorant pagan and turn him or her “from idols to serve a living and true God and to wait for His son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus” (1 Thess. 1:9b-10). Remember, these are the nations who had previously not sought after Him, nor been called by His name, nor had they received His favor. Yet in God’s eternal plan, there was going to be that opportunity for all who would humble themselves to the truth of the gospel, bow their knees in obedience, and by faith trust in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ for their salvation and justification, to be welcomed by Him just as the apostle Paul averred in Romans 10:20, the verse preceding our text for today. “And Isaiah is very bold and says, ‘I was found by those who sought Me not, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.’”
Now let’s turn our attention to our text for this week. In contrast to the Gentiles who are described as understanding and responding appropriately to the gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ, even though not blessed with all that the Jews had received, Paul presents the picture of the prideful and disobedient Jews (those who were stewards of the written record of God), from the prophetic utterance of Isaiah. Both Romans 10:20 & 21 are quoted from the context of verses one and two of Isaiah 65. Here is Isaiah 65:2: “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” (NAS)
The LORD had spread out His hands, invited and entreated the Jews time after time (“all day long”) through the Fathers and the prophets to partake of all that He had prepared for them. Time and again, they rejected His plan and purpose revealed for them. One final time, In Jesus Christ, He literally stretched out His arms on the cross for them and their sins. Result? Rejected! There was no excuse and certainly they couldn’t feign ignorance of the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to avoid accountability as Paul had mentioned in the previous context of Romans 10:18, “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” They had heard and read it many times as foreshadowed in the Old Testament writings through the voices of the Fathers and the prophets.
Isaiah chapter 65 is one of those foreshadowed Old Testament writings with which the Jews should have been very familiar. It recounts clearly the LORD’s righteous rejection of His covenant people (Jews) bent on executing their own will and not His, yet incredulously, still believing they are holier than the rest of mankind. (Isa. 65:3-7, 11-12) There would be a small faithful remnant (Isa. 65:8) among the Jews that the LORD would not destroy. But the promise for those who sought Him and found Him, the chosen ones, which was to include the Gentiles, spiritual Israel, they were to inherit and dwell on His holy mountain. They, the LORD said, shall eat, shall drink, shall rejoice, shout joyfully with a glad heart and be called by another name! (Isa. 65:13-15) We know that new name which brings glory to God is Christian, according to the apostle Peter. The last verses (17-25) of Isaiah 65 speaks of the reconciling work of the church on earth preaching the gospel in light of the promises of her eternal home in heaven. We have been given all of God’s revelation plus the lessons of physical Israel. We need to remember He has stretched out His arms in Christ to produce an obedient and humble people, who will walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Amen?