Let's Learn the Lesson of the Rejected Jews
Ro 10:18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world."
Once again Paul dips into the Old Testament as he addresses the dilemma of the Jew. Here, he quotes from Ps. 13:4 A Psalm most of us are familiar with as it speaks to the witness of God’s creation.
Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
A great psalm to remind us that even God’s creation declares His existence! And notice that the psalmist uses the word “line” and Paul uses the word “sound.” Both words are musical terms. Line is Hebrew for a musical string. (Their musical string has gone out through all the earth) And “sound” in the Greek is likened to a musical note. (Their musical note has gone out through all the earth.)
The Ryrie study Bible comments on the 19th Psalm by saying, “Day and night the created universe broadcasts its silent but eloquent symphony to the glory of the Creator.” There is music taking place here! Beautiful music, and the first four verses of this Psalm deal with the symphony of God’s creation.
Day after day, night after night, creation strums the tune, “There is a Composer. There is a God !” But how does one get to know the composer? For that, we skip down to v7:
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
You see, we get to know the composer, through His Word. All people know of Him, His creation testifies to that. Paul made that clear to us way back in the first chapter of Romans. “For since the Creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made...” But not all people know Him in a personal way.
We can only know Him personally, through faith in Jesus Christ, and as we saw last week, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. “The law of the Lord, (read that, the Word of the Lord) is perfect, converting the soul.
The simplest soul is made wise by simply believing the gospel message of the Old and New Testaments. And what Paul is trying to tell his Jewish brethren here is, look, the Gospel message was spread just as widely to the them as widely as the expanse of the heavens declared the existence of God. There was not a Jew who did not get to hear the gospel message.
Remember, they had been entrusted with the oracles of God! They had the same Bible the early church had, Jesus came and spoke primarily to the Jews, the apostles made sure that the gospel went to the Jew first, but they refused to believe it’s connection to and proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah. They refused God’s saving grace. But it’s not just those of Paul’s day, for Stephen made it clear that Jewish unbelief has been around a long long time.
Stephen said, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law (read that Word) by direction of angels and have not kept it.” ( Read that believed it.)
How could a Jew read Isaiah 53 and claim he had not heard the gospel? How could any Jew ignore the 300 plus prophecies concerning Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The Gospel is all over the Old Testament. And wherever you find the Old Testament scrolls, you will find the Jew and they are without excuse.
The psalmist continues talking about the Words of the Lord:
10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (I hope that’s your attitude toward the word! More desirable than money, and sweeter than a Krispy Kreme donut, or a chocolate eclair.)
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,”
Your servant Israel is warned! And with that gentle reminder let’s turn back to Paul in Romans 10:19:
19 But I say, did Israel not know? (Weren’t they warned?) First Moses says: "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation."
Israel was warned of this turn of events by Moses himself. Paul quotes from a portion of Scripture known as Moses Song. It’s found in Dt 32. Just listen first of all to the description of God’s love toward these people beginning at 32:10:
De 32:10 "He (God) found him (Israel) in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.
11 As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings, 12 So the LORD alone led him, And there was no foreign god with him. (NKJV)
What love! What care! Things were going great, there was no foreign god among them.
Then the next couple of verses describe the awesome material blessing God would provide for them in the promised land.
De 32:13 "He made him ride in the heights of the earth, That he might eat the produce of the fields; He made him draw honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock;
14 Curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock, With fat of lambs; And rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, With the choicest wheat; And you drank wine, the blood of the grapes.
That’s living! Grocery store after grocery store lined with food, restaurant after favorite restaurant. Abundant oil for their Suv’s and Hummers, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers. The best cheeses, grade A milk, the best cuts of meat, finest breads, and delectable wines. But look what happened with all this prosperity:
15 "But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; You grew fat, you grew thick, You are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
16 They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger. 17 They sacrificed to demons, not to God, To gods they did not know, To new gods, new arrivals That your fathers did not fear. 18 Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, And have forgotten the God who fathered you. 19 "And when the LORD saw it, He spurned them, Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters.
Does this not sound all too familiar? And my prayer is that if we learn nothing else this morning, let us learn the lesson of the possibility of riches and the good life, choking out the Word of God, from our lives. Here they were, a people chosen by God, loved by God, blessed by God, growing fat and thick, and then getting sucked in to chasing after other gods.
Does this not sound like America today? We are blessed to live in a land with a tremendous Christian heritage.
The sound of the Gospel has gone out throughout our land. We have Bibles galore and if we run out we’ll make more. Televangelists, Christian radio, churches in every town, “But I say, have we not heard?” Oh yes America knows about God, but America has rejected the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are no different than the Jews of old and deserve the same judgement. We deserve to be rejected by God!
Other gods have moved in and we’re frantically chasing them. The god of materialism, the god of rationalism, the god of hedonism, just to mention a few. And here’s the thing about chasing after other gods. The proof is always found in the rise of abominations. The proof always shows up in the people engaging in and accepting detestable, abominable acts.
The Israelites engaged in child sacrifice to their other gods. We engage in abortion. The Israelites engaged in the sexually deviant behavior required in the worship ceremonies of other gods,
and what are we doing?
We engage in homosexuality, adultery, and most people live with each other in fornication before they get married, if they even bother to marry at all.
The sexual deviancy of America is even worse than that, but we are a family church, and we won’t go into further detail. But it’s bad, it’s wicked, it’s evil! Idolatry always leads to behavior that is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.
Moses continues his prophecy from the Lord:
20 And He said: 'I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, Children in whom is no faith.
21 They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.
This is a prophetic word from God as it concerned the Israelites. God saw it coming. Just read the Old Testament sometime and note how often the people provoked God to jealousy as they sought to worship other gods. It started with the Golden Calf and continued in a constant yo yo struggle with each succeeding king.
One would tear down the altars, another would put em back up, down and up, down and up, and finally, Moses says here, God’s patience would run out! Just as His mercy toward Pharaoh eventually ended, so it would be with the Jews. and He told them of it in the Song of Moses.
Try to put yourself in Moses’ sandals here. This must’ve been very difficult for him. All the struggles of leading the people to the Promised Land, and then the Lord showing Moses that one day these people would finally be rejected by God because of their constant chasing after other gods..
And God said, “But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation. (NKJV)
Here then is the gist of the prophecy. The Gospel, having been rejected by the Jews would be given to the Gentiles and this gift of salvation would be a source of great anger and jealousy of the Jews and it is to this day. The Gentiles were no better than dogs in the mind of the Jews. How dare they speak of a “personal relationship” with Yawheh apart from works of the law!
Oh yes, the Jews would be greatly angered by this gospel being offered to the Gentiles! We read of one such incident (there were many more in the travels of Paul) in Acts 13:44-46,
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.
45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. (NKJV)
You can taste the jealousy and anger of the Jews and see that this prophecy of Moses was fulfilled throughout the entire book of Acts, as the apostles who were shunned by the Jews would then preach to the Gentiles.
But it’s not just Moses who spoke of this rejection, Isaiah said the same thing, so we have the law represented by Moses in agreement with the Prophets, represented by Isaiah.
We have the biblical principle of something being established by two witnesses. This should hold a tremendous amount of weight to the Jewish ear. Surely the Jews knew this was coming, they have the testimony of two witnesses!
20 But Isaiah is very bold and says: "I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me." 21 But to Israel he says: "All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people."
This quote comes from Is 65:1,2
Isa 65:1 "I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am,' To a nation that was not called by My name.
2 I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Don’t miss the stretching out of hand here by God. God has opened His arms widely for the Jew to come to repentance. Here I am! Here I am! Do you think it was by accident that Jesus was hung on a cross with His arms open wide? Come unto Me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest! He has continually kept His arms open for those remnant Jews who would come to Him in faith.
He has done the same for you. He opens His arms for all Jew and Gentile to come.
But, let’s read on, Isaiah says, “Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts; They were a people who said to God, “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.”
These people lived according to their own rules. They pushed God away and said, “keep to Yourself!” How many times have you and I done the same thing. The minute the Word of God gets too close to our wallet, or our sex life, or our married life, or our recreational life, or our social life, we say with the Jews, “keep to Yourself God!”
And so we cling to our money unless it’s for our own pleasure and we rob God by withholding the tithe. And we engage in all sorts of deviant sexual behavior outside the bounds of marriage.
And we fail to submit to our husbands or love our wives as Christ loved the church. And we put our recreational activities above the activities of the kingdom of God, and we sure don’t want a Bible Study or lending a helping hand to interfere with any of our social activities or TV programs do we?
Do you know what that is to God? It’s smoke in his nostrils. Have you ever had smoke in your nose. I guarantee you, this is not a place you want to be in your relationship with God. Yet that is where the Jews ended up because they insisted on living according to their thoughts rather than God’s.
And that’s where we are headed as a church. The nation is already there, smoke in the nostrils of God, and unless we repent of our own ways and surrender anew to Him, we will be cast out just as sure as the Jews were.
What can we learn from all of this? Perhaps we can learn from the Israelites and their downfall. Perhaps we will be more sober and alert when it comes to following the one true God.
God has saved us by His grace, He has blessed us with unbelievable prosperity, but let us not become fat and contented and thick and forgetful. Let us not chase after other gods, lest we get accustomed to and accept abominable behaviors.
Let us learn that God’s arms are still open. Even today, He invites you and I to return to Him. Sinners that we are, He longs to restore us if we would just confess our waywardness and receive His free gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Oh we must not just call God, God, we must call on Him and ask for His mercy and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. Then we must humbly receive it. Anything less than acknowledging Jesus as our only hope, our only Lord is idolatry, and idolatry always breaks out in lawlessness. Jesus said in Mt 7:22-23
Mt 7:22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'
23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
Do you know of Jesus, or do you know Jesus? You can only truly know Him by grace through faith, and Scripture says that He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The psalmist said that the heavens declare the glory of God and it’s line or sound has gone out through all the earth.
2000 years ago on a hill outside Jerusalem another line, another sound, another chord was struck. This chord too has gone out through all the earth and we are all without excuse. Jesus was strung up on the cross, and His arms were open wide, and this chord spoke of the depth of love that God has for you. “Here I am, Here I am.” Will you listen? Will you humbly come to Him and receive His grace?