Romans 10:16–21 (NKJV)
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
“Their sound has gone out to all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world.”
But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
“I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,
I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”
But Isaiah is very bold and says:
“I was found by those who did not seek Me;
I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”
But to Israel he says:
“All day long I have stretched out My hands
To a disobedient and contrary people.”
Paul has just finished noting how beautiful are the feet that bring good news (the gospel). Just one problem—Israel rejected the good news. As we saw earlier in verses 9:1–3 and 10:1–4, this drives Paul to write laments.
But this time he takes a different approach. Paul uses Isaiah 53:1, Psalm 19:4, Deuteronomy 32:21, Isaiah 65:1, and Isaiah 65:2 to show that everything happened in exact accordance with God’s divine plan.
As bad as things are, it’s comforting to know that all is as it’s supposed to be.
This principle applies to many aspects of life. For example, it’s not unusual to return from the dentist in great pain. It’s even normal to be prescribed narcotic pain killers for that pain.
Now imagine how you’d feel about that pain if you hadn’t just been to the dentist—if it just cropped up out of the blue. Same pain, yet now it’s unbearable. The unexpected and unexplained nature of the pain makes it worse.
When you know things are under control, you can relax. That’s where Paul’s going with this passage. It reads like he’s writing out a therapy exercise.
This concept also applies to the many warnings, throughout the New Testament, of persecution. The suffering is more bearable when you know that it doesn’t mean something’s gone wrong with the plan.
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