Romans 10, Part 2
Dec 16, 2010
It is apparent from Paul's quotation of Deut. 30:12, 13 that he equated Jesus Christ with the Word spoken at Sinai.
Moses himself was explaining to Israel that the commandments were designed to bring us blessing and prosperity as a nation (Deut. 30:9). Then he says,
(11) For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. (12) It is not in heaven that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?" (13) Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?" (14) But the word is very near you in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.
In other words, the word had been given to them directly by revelation when Jesus Christ came down upon Mount Sinai, manifesting as fire, calling Himself Yahweh. Out of this fire the Word was spoken to the people, for Jer. 23:29 says, "Is not My word like fire?" Thus, when John 1:1 equated the Word to Jesus Christ, we see that Jesus Christ was not only the Creator but also the Word given at Mount Sinai.
Moses told the people that this revelation was not far away. No one had to go to heaven or cross the sea to bring it to them. Instead, Jesus Christ came to them from heaven with the word. So obtaining the word was "not too difficult" for them.
Paul quotes Moses in Romans 10:6-8, but then explains to us exactly what that word was in verse 9. It is to confess Jesus Christ and believe in Him. Hence, the Israelites in Moses' day were to receive and believe the Commandments, which were the expression of the mind of Jesus Christ. Paul explains Moses' statement by defining that Word in Rom. 10:9,
(9) that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
Moses had admonished Israel to hear/obey all that the Lord had spoken. Paul tells us in Rom. 10:17 that "faith comes from hearing." Hence, if the people would "hear," the result would be FAITH. And faith is the whole point of the discussion.
Faith in Who? Faith in Yahweh, the Lawgiver, who is revealed as Jesus Christ under the New Covenant. One cannot truly believe in Yahweh and yet reject Jesus Christ. Furthermore, to believe in Jesus Christ as a mere teacher, prophet, or good man is insufficient. One must believe in the actual work that He came to do on earth, that He died for our sins and was raised from the dead.
This word was given directly to Israel at Mount Sinai, and so Israel did not have to cross the sea to hear it. Other nations, however, were not so fortunate, because the world was a much bigger place in those days than it is today. Some nations did not hear the word for thousands of years, and some have not yet heard. Though its availability was localized in Moses' day, it was a word for all men, for Paul tells us in Rom. 10:11-13,
(11) For the Scripture says [in Isaiah 28:16], "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed." (12) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; (13) for "whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved" [Joel 2:23].
Paul interprets the "whoever" and "whosoever" in a universal sense, showing that this word given to Israel at Sinai is not just for them alone. It was certainly more difficult for others to hear the word, but nonetheless, the word applied equally to everyone.
There are many who have taught that the Law is exclusively for Jews, and that the ethnos are given a different revelation. Such teaching is entirely foreign to Paul's thought process, for he quotes Moses regularly and applies the word to all men equally.
Yet the main problem has been the restriction in distributing the word to all men. Paul addresses this in the next verses:
(14) How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (15) And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written [in Isaiah 52:7], "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!"
God gave the word directly to Israel, but then He required preachers to distribute that word to the rest of the world. This was Israel's advantage, for they were the first to receive the word. Most of the others had to wait for God to send apostles to them, bearing "glad tidings of good things." Some waited for many generations. This would be terribly unfair, if those sitting in darkness were to be lost forever or--worse yet--were to burn in hell forever. But we see from Romans 5 that God's intent is to save all men either in this life or in the next.
(16) However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says [in 53:1], "Lord, who has believed our report?"
Isaiah 53, of course, is the great prophecy of the suffering Messiah, which comes shortly after his prophecy of "the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things" (52:7). If we were to finish that verse, we would see that it says, "who announces salvation [Yeshua], and says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
The "glad tidings," then, are specifically prophesied to be an announcement of Yeshua and a proclamation that "Your God reigns." Let me again remind you of Isaiah's earlier prophecy in 12:2, 3,
(2) Behold, God is my Yeshua, I will trust and not be afraid; for Yah Yahweh is my strength and song, and He has become my Yeshua. (3) Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of Yeshua.
Isaiah tells us that not everyone believes this report. They do not believe that Yeshua is the Yahweh of the Hebrew scriptures, nor do they believe that He would come to die as the Lamb of God in Isaiah 53. Paul well understood this lack of faith, for he confronted it daily.
(17) So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.
Faith does not come merely by hearing the word of God, but specifically by the word of Christ. The King James Version reads, "the word of God," but the Greek texts read "the word of Christ." It is not enough to claim to believe "the word of God" apart from faith in the One who inspired that word--Jesus Christ.
(18) But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." [Ps. 19:4]
Here Paul refers to the gospel written in the stars long before the Scriptures were written. Psalm 19 tells us,
(1) The heavens are telling of the glory of God . . . (2) night to night pours forth speech. (3) There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. [Even so] (4) Their line [solar pathway, "the ecliptic"] has gone out through all the earth, and their utterance to the end of the world.
Gen. 1:14 tells us that God created the stars and said, "let them be for signs." Psalm 147:4 tells us that God is the One who named the stars,
(4) He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.
God named the stars and constellations to reveal His plan of salvation from the Virgin birth of Christ to His rule as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Read my weblogs beginning with 9/24/2009.
This is the second part of a series titled "Romans 10." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones