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14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”[a]

16 But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[b] 17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. 18 But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have:

“The message has gone throughout the earth,
    and the words to all the world.”[c]

19 But I ask, did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God said,

“I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation.
    I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles.”[d]

20 And later Isaiah spoke boldly for God, saying,

“I was found by people who were not looking for me.
    I showed myself to those who were not asking for me.”[e]

21 But regarding Israel, God said,

“All day long I opened my arms to them,
    but they were disobedient and rebellious.”[f]

God’s Mercy on Israel

11 I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said, Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”[g]

And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!”[h]

It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel[i] have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.

So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened. As the Scriptures say,

“God has put them into a deep sleep.
To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see,
    and closed their ears so they do not hear.”[j]

Likewise, David said,

“Let their bountiful table become a snare,
    a trap that makes them think all is well.
Let their blessings cause them to stumble,
    and let them get what they deserve.
10 Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see,
    and let their backs be bent forever.”[k]

11 Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. 12 Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.

Footnotes

  1. 10:15 Isa 52:7.
  2. 10:16 Isa 53:1.
  3. 10:18 Ps 19:4.
  4. 10:19 Deut 32:21.
  5. 10:20 Isa 65:1 (Greek version).
  6. 10:21 Isa 65:2 (Greek version).
  7. 11:3 1 Kgs 19:10, 14.
  8. 11:4 1 Kgs 19:18.
  9. 11:5 Greek for a remnant.
  10. 11:8 Isa 29:10; Deut 29:4.
  11. 11:9-10 Ps 69:22-23 (Greek version).

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