“What then? That which Israel is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day.’ ” Romans 11:7-8 (NAS)
As the inspired apostle is communicating to the Roman church God’s choice (Rom. 11:5) of His people under the New Covenant, the Spirit moves Paul to quote from the Pentateuch, particularly the scroll of Deuteronomy.
In our Bibles today the quote comes out of chapter twenty-nine. Here is the context: “And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, ‘You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.’ ” (Deut. 29:2-4) Moses, as he was preparing the second generation to enter the Promised land to the west of the Jordan River, was trying to get the nation to grasp the awesome events that had brought them to this point. Miracle after miracle beginning with their exodus from Egypt, the provision and protection of the people on the wilderness journey, the recent conquest of the lands of Sihon and Og which now were in the hands of the tribes of Rueben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. All this was not just to bring them into the land, but to bear witness to the people of the LORD’s faithfulness to His word of promise made previously to forefathers such as Abraham and Joseph. Moses, through the Spirit, was communicating that many among the people still didn’t get the real reasons behind all the signs and wonders: Confidence in God’s word! Moses delivered God’s instruction and renewal of the covenant a second time to the nation of Israel. His exhortation “So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do” (Deut 29:9) came upon the heels of the aforementioned blessings (14), curses (32), and prophesied future captivity he had outlined for the people (Deut. 28:1-69) for failing to heed God’s word. Those who would understand the words and heed them would obtain the blessings, those who would disobey came promised destruction. So important was their knowledge of the law (God’s words) that the LORD had the people coat stones with lime (plaster-like substance probably) “and write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over, in order that you may enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.” (Deut 27:3) The stones were to provide a public, available record of God’s words. Moses went on to prophesy, through song, that the LORD “will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deut 32:21) Paul had cited this passage as well earlier in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 10:19) proving the Gentiles entering in as covenant people were always a part of His plan. Jesus came, proving through a multitude of signs and miracles in accordance with the written word, that He was the Messiah, the Word of God made flesh, dwelling among men. After His resurrection and ascension, the apostles were entrusted with power on the day of Pentecost, accompanied by signs, for the express purpose that the Jews would hear God’s word, understand it properly and heed it. You can see the pattern. Miracles and signs were to turn the person to God’s words. Space limitations do not avail us of all we could say here on this topic. But notice this about the more noble minded Bereans spoken of in Acts 17. It doesn’t say Paul and Silas had to whip up a bunch of miracles to convince them. All they had to do was show them in the Scriptures (the Old Testament) the prophecies that proved Jesus to be the Christ and the church to be fulfillment of God’s plan. It says after they searched the Scriptures, “many of them believed” (Acts 17:12). Faith comes by hearing the words of Christ. Those who are chosen are those who obtain the word, check it out, then believe it. The hardened ones are those who need more. They would do well to heed what Moses said to the people: “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.” (Deut 29:29) The Bible has been preserved and revealed, that we may observe it and be healed. Amen?