“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” (Romans 10:1)
Chapter 10 of Romans opens very similiarly to Chapter 9. Paul laments over the fate of his kinsmen, Israel, and the fate that awaits them because of their unbelief. He would willingly sacrifice his own position in Christ if it meant that his brethren would take his place (Rom. 9:3). Though his gesture is doubtlessly sincere, the Apostle knows that such a proposition is just not possible. So he does the only other thing possible on behalf of his countrymen and that is to petition God on their behalf, earnestly praying for their Salvation. Would that they might redirect the fervent religious zeal that drives them! They are zealous (literally, jealous) for God, but their zeal is woefully misguided. For the object of their devotion is not really God, at least not the fulfillment of God’s will for them, but rather it is focused upon their own piety. It is not the genuine things of God that motivates them, but their own religious rites, observances, and ceremonies. They have exchanged the commandments of God for the doctrines and traditions of men (cf. Mark 7:7-8).
“For I bear them record that they have a zeal [for] God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:2-3)
Paul bears them record precisely because he was exactly the same way before he met the Lord Jesus on the Road to Damascus. He will later recount his own days of zealously pursuing the righteousness of the Law in his Epistle to the Philippians (3:5-7), declaring that all such things are counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Paul, too, had been ignorant of God’s righteousness, that is, God’s Way to Justification and Salvation. He, too, had set about to establish a righteousness of his own, ironically, by persecuting the very people who actually belonged to God. He knew where his Jewish brothers were coming from because he used to be just like them. Yet seeing things now from a new perspective, the scales of blindness having both literally and figuratively fallen from his eyes (cf. Acts 9:18), the Apostle now knew that of which his brethren remained ignorant.
The End Of The Law
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:4)
Lest any suspect that Israel was ignorant of God’s method of Salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ simply because they did not know any better, the balance of this chapter will go into great detail concerning how the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (e.g., Isaiah) had foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures what it was that God was now doing among them through His Son, Jesus. For Christ is the end of the Law, He is the culmination of the purpose of the Law, it’s use and intent being to bring the sinner to the foot of the Cross (cp. Gal. 3:23-25), recognizing the futility and hopelessness of seeking Salvation through a Law which only has the power to accuse and convict, never the power to redeem. Jesus Himself told those who were trusting in their own ability to keep the Law of Moses,
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17)
He came to fulfill the Law, He was the Law’s end in that He fulfilled its purpose. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ is truly also the end of the Law for righteousness in the sense that the Law has nothing more to say to those who are in Him. The Law of Moses has no more application in the life of the believer, having been superceded by the Law of Christ. The Christian has been freed from the death-grip of the Law by being in Jesus Christ, Who has been made the Righteousness from God provided for us. It is not our ability to keep the Law that commends us to God, nor is it our inability to keep it which condemns us. We stand before God now, clothed in righteousness, based upon the merit of the Lord Jesus, not based upon our own merit or lack thereof. Once a person turns to Jesus Christ in faith, the Law has served its purpose and function in the life of that person. He is no longer under the power of that Law but has been placed under the authority of a new Master, the Lord Jesus Himself. Christ is the Law’s end and He is also the end of the Law for those who trust in Him.
Coming To God On Our Own Terms
The contrast is here made between those who seek to establish their own righteousness and those who accept and avail themselves of the Righteousness which God provides. All who seek to come to God, Hebrew and Gentile alike, fall into one or the other of these two categories. We are either coming to God His Way or our own way. The Jews to which Paul was referring were relying on their own interpretation of God’s expectations to carry them through, not what God actually expects. Their sincerity and zeal were not in question, Paul readily attested to their religious dedication. But zeal and sincerity are not enough if that zeal and sincerity are focused on the wrong thing. The Buddhist monk forsakes all earthly pleasures, committing himself to a life of asceticism and inward reflection. The devout Muslim pauses five times throughout each day to direct his attention toward Mecca, kneeling on his prayer rug and tuning out all other distractions. The cultists spend much of their free time disseminating their doctrines, often going door-to-door in the hopes of winning one convert. Are not all of these people both zealous and sincere? Yet they have not done the one thing that God has required and that is to come to Jesus Christ in faith.
Until next time. To God goes all glory. In service to Him,