To the ends of the earth

My dear friends, the desire of my heart and my prayer to God is for the Israelites to be saved. I know what zeal they have for God, but it’s misplaced.

Because they misunderstood God’s righteousness, they tried to establish their own, thereby missing the whole point – for Christ himself is the fulfilment of the law, and there’s righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses wrote this concerning the righteousness which comes from the law: “The man who keeps all these laws will live by them.”

But the righteousness of faith says: “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who’ll go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who’ll go down to the depths?’ (to bring Christ up from the dead).”

So, what does it say? It says: “The word is near you – on your lips and in your heart.”

That’s the word of faith which we proclaim. For if you declare with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you’ll be saved. For it’s by believing in your heart that you are justified, and it’s by confessing with your lips that you are saved. As it’s written: “Anyone who trusts in him will never be ashamed.”

There’s no distinction between Jew and Gentile in this matter. They both have the same Lord, who richly blesses all those who call on him. For: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But how can they call on someone who they don’t believe in? And how can they believe in him of whom they’ve never heard? And how can they hear unless someone goes and tells them? And how can anyone go and unless they’ve been sent? As it’s been written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news, because Isaiah said, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes from preaching about Christ. But now I’m asking: didn’t they hear?

Yes, of course they did! Because it’s written: “Their voice has gone out into all the world, and their message to the ends of the earth.”

But didn’t the Israelites understand what was going on?

Well, they should have done, because Moses warned them: “I will make you envious by those who aren’t a nation; I will make you angry by people without understanding.”

And Isaiah spoke boldly for God, saying: “I was found by those who weren’t looking for me; I revealed myself to those who weren’t asking for me.”

But regarding Israel, he said, “All day long I’ve held out my hands to a disobedient and rebellious people.”

Paul

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