Romans 9-10, Psalm 137
Penn Gillette, outspoken atheist, and member of the comedic magical team, Penn and Teller, relates emotionally on YouTube the events after one of his shows in Las Vegas. He was signing autographs after the show, and when the last person approached him, he was holding a Bible. He lovingly gave the Bible to him, and lovingly presented the gospel message to Penn. Penn states that though he still does not accept the gospel message, this man showed nothing but love and concern for him. He then says that he is shocked, considering if what this man said was true, why he was the first one to approach him in his life. If everyone who considers themselves Christian truly believed that without Christ that he was going to hell, how could they have remained silent all these years. He goes one step further and said how much did they have to hate him, to not care enough about him to have told him this message. Were they afraid that he would mock them or yell at them? And when considering his fate, would that really be enough to remain silent?
Paul reveals his heart for the Jewish people in this section of Scripture. We read in Romans 9:1-3, "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,..." Paul wasn't angry at the deafness towards Christ from the majority of the Jewish people, he grieved for them. Moses felt the same way after the Golden Calf incident in Exodus 32:32, he says, "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin- but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written." Jesus after His strong words against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in Matthew 23, concludes his message in Matthew 23:37 by stating that all He ever wanted to do was gather them into His arms and love and protect them. Paul goes on to describe the Israelites as being zealous, but misguided. In Romans 10:1-4, he says, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge...For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Paul knew all about zeal as he described himself before accepting Christ in Philippians 3:6, "concerning zeal, persecuting the church;...". Paul never lacked zeal, it was simply misguided and misdirected.
Many are zealous today in a multitude of directions. People are continually protesting, marching for this cause or that. Many who claim to have faith are zealous in their pursuit and like to call themselves, "spiritual". Zeal is only good if it is directed in the right direction. God is not a God of moral relativism, He is a God of absolutes. Paul was sincere in his life before Christ, but he was sincerely wrong. Paul states his mission and our mission clearly in Romans 10:14, 17, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"...So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." We who know Christ have been placed in a world in desperate need of hearing the Word of God. As Penn said, knowing the consequences, how can we remain silent.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: