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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Eighty-Ninth (Romans Part 18)

We saw some pretty interesting connections Paul made between scripture and non-Israelites being included as YHWH’s people last week, and this week we’re going to see some more connections he brings to light.  As alluded to last week, these connections would speak the most to the Jews in Rome that Paul was writing to since they were the most familiar with scripture.  Pointing out the verses that he does helps them to move on from things they were taught to believe growing up because it’s written so clearly in the Word that they can recognize that the teachings they were given didn't include the things Paul points out.  Not only that, it speaks to the non-Jews because it shows them that they’re not just some afterthought of YHWH, they were intended to be fully included as His people all along.  


We’re going to look at chapter 10 and the beginning of chapter 11 this week since it all goes together under a theme of scriptural prophecies regarding the blindness of the Israelites, from which we now can only identify the tribe of Judah.  As we saw last week, Paul really feels for the Jews not only because he is one but also because he was deep in the religious sect of the Pharisees (Philippians 3:5, Acts 22:3), so he understood how misled his people were by those who believed they were guiding the people in YHWH’s way.  This chapter starts with him talking about how much he wants for their salvation, but their zeal for YHWH was for their own righteousness, not YHWH’s righteousness to be given to them (Romans 10:1-3).

 

He then makes a statement that gets used frequently as a “proof” that YHWH’s Law is no longer applicable.  However, some of the translations that have been made from the Greek don’t quite give the same idea as the original writing unless you factor in the other writings Paul has made regarding this topic, some of which we have already seen in the letter to the ekklesia in Rome.  Given what we already have seen, specifically that Paul repeatedly emphasizes that it’s not the Law that gives righteousness but the Law is still applicable to tell us what sin is, and therefore what we should not do, as we live for Yeshua, we can correctly interpret his statement here.  He is not saying that Yeshua made the Law void, he is saying that Yeshua made it so that keeping the Law is not what produces righteousness (Romans 10:4).  


Paul then goes on to quote Moses’ writings while contrasting righteousness through the Law and righteousness through faith, and these are some interesting scriptural references that he uses.  His first reference, regarding righteousness through the Law, is Leviticus 18:5, and initially the statement seems to be a bit redundant (Romans 10:5).  I mean, of course anyone who obeys commandments lives by them, right?  The meaning behind these words is different though.  It’s talking about the commandments not being just things you do or don’t do, but them being a part of you.  Something meaningful to you rather than just an action you take or an action you’re forbidden to take.  But you have to ask yourself, what would cause a set of rules to be meaningful to you?


The contrast he makes between this and righteousness by faith is that the latter comes from the heart, and the verses he quotes from Deuteronomy speak to this (Romans 10:6-8, Deuteronomy 30:12-14).  The context of those verses are what really gives light to what Paul is saying.  In this section of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 30:11-18), Moses is speaking directly to what YHWH’s desire is, and it all boils down to loving Him.  Given the context of the verses Paul quotes, he is effectively linking righteousness through faith with being obedient to YHWH, to include following His commandments.  


Paul, quoting Moses, says that righteousness through faith means you’re not looking for a thing that you can bring down from heaven or bring up from the abyss, it’s something that comes from within you, your heart and your mouth.  If something is in our mouths, it comes from the abundance of our heart (Matthew 12:34, 15:18, Luke 6:45), meaning it’s what our heart is focused on and what it lives by.  It can either bless us or curse us (Deuteronomy 30:19).  What Moses is talking about is a commandment that is not something in heaven or something in the sea (which Paul writes as the abyss), it’s what’s in your heart.  And that commandment is to love YHWH (Deuteronomy 30:16).  


Paul relates this commandment to Yeshua next by stating that confessing Yeshua as your Lord, if it comes from a heart that believes He was raised from death, is to obtain the righteousness by faith (Romans 10:9-10).  He is making a parallel that loving YHWH and loving Yeshua are the same, and since Moses connected love for YHWH with following His commandments, a love for Yeshua means following His commandments as well.  Paul uses this opportunity to again try to bring the Jews and non-Jews together by showing them that scripture stated anyone believing in Yeshua as their Lord has the same salvation regardless of who they are (Romans 10:11-13), and he quotes this from Isaiah 28:16 and Joel 2:32.

Paul then brings it back to the non-believing Jews by pointing out that the only way they can receive this salvation is if someone shares it with them.  This also doubles as an encouragement to the believers in Rome to share that salvation with everyone (Romans 10:14-15), understanding that some will still not receive it (Romans 10:16).  Quoting scripture again, Paul shows that even hearing and understanding doesn’t mean someone will accept it and be obedient to it.  The Israelites heard and understood (Romans 10:17-19, Psalm 10:18, Deuteronomy 32:21), but were still disobedient (Romans 10:21, Isaiah 65:2), and as a result, YHWH revealed Himself to those who did not seek or ask for Him (Romans 10:20, Isaiah 65:1), namely, the Gentiles.


Moving on to chapter 11, Paul again goes to references in scripture to show the Jewish believers in Rome that their fellow tribe members were not rejected by YHWH, because there are more Jewish believers than they might realize (Romans 11:1-4).  The event he references is where Elijah thought he was the only one left that was faithful to YHWH, but YHWH revealed to him that there were others that had not turned away (1 Kings 19:10, 14, 18).  In that situation, Elijah was living outside of Israel in a Gentile town by the order of YHWH (1 Kings 17:8-9), and he assumed that all those who remained in Israel under King Ahab had turned from YHWH.  The men YHWH talked about were living in Israel still, but they had not given in to worshipping Baal as the rest of Israel had.  They were still there, but they just didn’t have the same mission that Elijah had, so Elijah didn’t know about them.

Paul says that in the same way, there were Jews that had been chosen by YHWH through His grace (Romans 11:5-6).  They were still living in and among the other Jews, but they had not turned their hearts away from YHWH and loving Him.  Those that did not love YHWH in their hearts were hardened and blinded to the truth (Romans 11:7-10).  


Paul goes on to talk about the grafting in of the Gentiles, which we’ll get to next week, but first, there is something very important that we can take away from what we just looked at in Paul’s letter.  Two key things to remember whenever you are studying scripture is that YHWH and Yeshua never change (Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6, Numbers 23:19, James 1:17, Psalm 102:27) and that They do not favor anyone over anyone else (Romans 2:11, Deuteronomy 10:17, Acts 10:34, Job 34:19).  With those things in mind, we can take a very important lesson from what we just studied.

 

While we are not the Israelites, YHWH’s response to the Israelites will be His response to us if we do the same things they did.  Namely, we will be blinded to His influence in our lives and the signs that He gives, and He will give us over to our fleshly desires and imaginations.  As we saw from Moses’ statements, all YHWH wanted from the Israelites was their love and obedience, and that’s all He wants from us as well.  However, as Paul quoted from Isaiah (Isaiah 65), the Israelites turned their back on YHWH, breaking commandments by doing things like eating pigs and worshipping other gods.  They refused to accept the signs and miracles YHWH did during their exodus from Egypt, and more importantly, that He was the one that did them (Deuteronomy 29:2-4).  He not only sent the plagues, but kept their sandals and clothes from wearing out as they wandered in the desert for 40 years!  They acted like they loved YHWH, but their hearts were not with Him (Isaiah 29:13).


As a result, they were blinded to His working in the world and their wisdom and intelligence in understanding what’s truly going on in the world went away (Isaiah 29:10, 14).  They were given over to the table they set for themselves, and allowed to continue in their actions of turning away from YHWH and the consequences that brings (Psalm 69:22-23).  And yes, for some, their names were erased from the Book of Life (Psalm 69:28).


It doesn’t matter if we’re Israelites or not, if we don’t love YHWH and Yeshua with all our heart we will end up the same as the Israelites.  We can say Yeshua is Lord all we want, but we are not truly saved if it’s not in our heart, which means we actually live that way.  If we’re not searching scripture about what YHWH really desires from us, how He is to be worshipped, and how we should live our lives, we will end up receiving the same consequences the Israelites did.  And if we let someone else tell us all that without studying for ourselves, we put our salvation in someone else’s hands.  YHWH gives plenty of warnings not to trust in man (Jeremiah 17:5, Psalm 146:3, 118:9, Isaiah 2:22, 31:1, 36:6) and if there’s anything we should not trust in man for, it’s our salvation.  


While we go through scripture weekly and study what it says, I implore you to study it for yourself.  Read it.  Seek to understand it.  Ask YHWH to show you the things He wants you to learn.  Ask Him to show you the truth.  There are a lot of things that are accepted these days in terms of beliefs, ways we are to worship YHWH, what’s ok and what’s not ok for us to do, and even the names of YHWH and Yeshua themselves, that are not truth.  They are equivalent to the oral tradition of the Pharisees that Yeshua spoke against because just like the Pharisaical oral tradition they were made up by man.  We are told to come out of Babylon so we don’t receive the same punishment (Revelation 18:4), and I believe that YHWH wants for us to do that now more than ever.


Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you!


-Rob and Sara Gene

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