In our last study we left off with considering the gracious promise of God that, “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I hope that every one of you reading these words have called upon the name of the Lord, and you are experiencing His great salvation. If you have, then you are enjoying His forgiveness of sin, a conscience that has been cleansed from all guilt, and the wonderful power of the Holy Spirit living inside you to refresh your soul. But, in order to experience this connection with God, you had to call upon His name by faith. Calling upon His name is the theme of this study. Paul is about to explain the process of how and why you called on His name. Paul wrote, “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?” (Rom. 10:14-15).
What caused you to call upon the Lord? Vs. 14
Understanding what caused you to call on the name the Lord is vital to your own faith and essential if you want to communicate this truth to others so that they may call upon Him. What drew you to that place where you would confess your sin and ask God for His salvation? There are two basic reasons. One reason is obvious in the passage we are studying, and the other is clearly taught in the context of the Bible. These two reasons are very simple. I believe that God draws a person to call upon His name because of a child-like faith that results in all who will be sensitive to their own conscience. Second, if a person resists this child-like faith and the conviction of their conscience, then God reaches out to them through an approach by someone to personally preach the Gospel to them. This personal approach can come by a person or some other method, such as a book, radio, or tv program. God used someone to reach out to you.
1. You called upon Him because of your child-like faith.
So often Jesus used children as examples in His teachings to His disciples. Matthew records, “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matt. 18:2-4). Jesus makes it very clear that what He desires in His disciples is a child-like faith that only children have. Child-like humility and faith are where true conversion of the soul take place. It is the conscience of the child that prods them to believe, because they don’t have all the mental arguments against faith that grown-ups have. Children believe what their moms and dads tell them, just as adults with child-like faith will believe what their Heavenly Father tells them. I have personally seen this child-like response in so many people that I have ministered to over the years. It is a glorious thing to watch people believe what they cannot see or fully understand, and still experience the joy of salvation and relationship with their Heavenly Father.
I have also been the recipient of this work of God in my life. As a child I grew up in a non-religious home, so I had no formal religious training. I knew nothing about the Gospel of Christ. I remember as a teenager watching the movie, The Greatest Story Ever Told and thinking to myself, Wow, could this be true about this man Jesus? But, before ever seeing this movie, as a very young child I remember praying many times. Now, some of those prayers were very foolish and unbiblical, but what was it that would draw a child who had no religious training to pray to a God he knew nothing about? What moved me to call on the name of the Lord like this? When my own children were very young, I watched them do the same thing. There is something deep within the soul of every child that recognizes that there is a God who exists. I believe this example reveals the simplicity of the Gospel, that even a child can believe and be saved. It is not a complicated thing to become a Christian; it’s something that even a child can do.
This is why Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Becoming a Christian, and entering the kingdom of heaven, can be done by a child. Jesus is saying, don’t forbid children; let them come. If a child can understand what faith is, and call upon the name of the Lord, then anyone can do it. But that requires child-like humility. As a child, I prayed to God, because I knew in my heart that there was a God. My conscience prodded me to call on Him; my conscience prodded me to believe. So, I encourage you, if you are reading these words today, and you are not a Christian, it’s not a complicated thing. You must humble yourself as a little child. Ask His forgiveness, and receive Him into your heart by faith right now. Call upon Him now, and He will answer you with the power of the Holy Spirit who will flood your heart!
2. You called upon Him because someone shared Christ with you.
What happens when a child is told by an adult that God doesn’t exist, or they have resisted belief and the prodding of their own conscience? Then this person needs to have someone share the Gospel with them. In fact, I would say probably the majority of you reading this now required this personal intervention by God who sent His message to you through some other means. He sent a person to you, or you heard a Gospel presentation on the radio, or television, or read a book or a tract that someone gave you. There are others of you who believed from childhood, but later silenced your conscience and went your own way. This is what I did. I knew my conscience bothered me the entire time as I was growing up. I knew the things I was doing were sinful, and that they were wrong, but I chose to sin anyway. I said to myself, I'm just going to have a good time. I'm just going to do as I please, and I resisted my conscience. Then one day, I walked into a restaurant in Newport Beach, California, and I met up with a group of guys I used to party with growing up. They had just become Christians, and they started sharing the Gospel with me. At that moment my eyes were opened once again. I thought, I think this is the truth. It took a little longer for me to fully surrender to Christ, but that was the first time someone really explained the Gospel to me. A few weeks later I went to a Billy Graham Crusade, and that night I called upon the name of the Lord and received Him into my life.
However, what happens if there is no one around who can share the Gospel with you? Let me tell you the story that showed me that God will answer the sincere prayer of anyone on earth. In 1992, I went to Russia with Campus Crusade for Christ to evangelize after the Iron Curtain came down. In Russia, churches were forbidden, and anyone evangelizing to others was put in prison. For 70 years children were taught in Russian schools that God did not exist, and the only god that deserved their service was the state. But, one day while I was evangelizing in Russia, I was tired and sat down on a bench in a park. Then two girls sat down next to me. I began sharing the Gospel through my interpreter, and they were very receptive. One of the girls told me that she had heard a little of the Gospel through a radio program broadcast from Europe, but didn’t understand how to become a Christian. Then she said to me, “I’ve been praying for God to send someone who could explain to me how I could become a Christian. I believe that you are the answer to my prayer.” I told her that I agreed with her, and that this was truly a divine appointment we were having. I then shared with them the Gospel, and they both gave their hearts to Christ. God sees and hears every heart that cries out to Him, and He will respond, even if it takes an angel to bring people together. If you doubt this, read the story of how God used an angel to bring Peter and Cornelius together (Acts 10:1-49).
I want you to think about this question: if no one ever shared the Gospel with you, would you be a Christian today? That thought should motivate you to share the Gospel with others. But, if you are thinking right now, I have tried sharing Christ with others and the only response I get is someone mocks me, or getting angry and swearing at me. People get an attitude and just won’t listen. If this has been your experience, will you do one thing for me, remember me? I mocked and cursed the first people who shared the Gospel with me. I was downright mean to those people, but I’m so glad they shared with me. A few months later I believed in Jesus and ultimately became a pastor for 50 years of my life. I also want you to remember Paul the Apostle. He killed Christians, but later he ended up becoming an apostle to the Gentiles and leading thousands to Christ. So, just because someone doesn't respond to your attempt to share Christ with them, doesn’t mean that they will never respond, or that they are a lost cause. The next time someone says to you, “Leave me alone, get off my back, I don't want to hear about Jesus anymore,” be respectful and leave them alone and start praying for them. The next time they share a need or a struggle in their lives, take that opportunity to share Christ again, and how He can help them through their time of need. If they are still not receptive, continue to pray and wait for another opportunity. Remember, you are not responsible to save anybody. You are only responsible to tell them the truth. That’s all you are called to do. Remember, if they reject you, they are in reality rejecting Him. Jesus said, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me” (Luke 10:16). All people are responsible for the decisions they make to refuse or receive the Gospel. So, share your faith when you can, and let Jesus do His work in their hearts.
In verses 14-15, Paul explains the logical conclusions he came to when considering how a person actually comes to call upon the name of the Lord. He writes, “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? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15). Paul’s conclusions are so obvious and logical. He explains that no one is going to call upon the Lord, unless they have first believed in Him (Heb. 11:6; Mark 1:15; Rom. 10:17). No one is going to believe in Jesus, unless they have first heard the Gospel (Matt. 13:9). No one will hear this glorious message, unless they have someone preach to them (Mark 16:15). And those who preach must hear God’s call to send them.
Why does Paul state this logical step-by-step conclusion? It’s very simple. Paul wants you to realize your responsibility in this work of salvation. If you believe today, it is because someone shared Christ with you. If you are a believer, then please share the Gospel with those who don’t know Him. If you know His voice, you will hear Him sending you to people who need Him. Please be receptive to His voice!
How can you learn to share your faith with others?
There are several ways to learn how to share your faith. The problem is that many believers don’t see their responsibility to share with anyone and thus never see the need to learn how to share their faith. How can you learn to share the basics?
1. Find a friend who shares their faith to explain to you how they open a conversation with an unbeliever. This is a very important way to get good counsel and practical guidance from someone who can help you.
2. Go with a friend who shares their faith so you can learn by seeing, listening and doing.
3. Go to www.covenantkeepers.org and click on the “Bible Studies” icon and then the “Discipleship” icon. There you will find several articles on how to share your faith. In addition, there is an apologetic section to help you learn how to answer people’s objections to the Gospel.
4. Read material on how to answer the questions and objections that unbelievers have when they hear the Gospel. Go to www.covenantkeepers.org and click on “Bible Studies” and “Apologetics Studies” for answers to the most basic questions people ask.
5. Go to YouTube and search for the videos of the “Way of the Master” produced by Kurt Cameron and Ray Comfort.
6. Remember that you are preaching every day to those who are watching your life. Whenever you tell someone that you are a Christian, from that point forward that person will be watching you every day. I can guarantee you that unbelievers are watching you, and they are watching you very closely. They are looking at how you respond when a problem occurs. They are watching your marriage, and how you treat your children. They are watching how you perform your job at work. They are listening to your conversations at the break table at work. I know this is true, because I did it with believers while I was a non-Christian. I have had people who have come to faith in Christ tell me that they were watching me. So, remember that you are preaching every day by your life.
Why should you preach the Gospel? Vs. 15
Here in verse 15, Paul goes on to explain why you should preach this Gospel of peace. Consider these three very important reasons why you should share the Gospel.
1. God has commanded you to preach.
Understanding first that God has commanded all of us to preach the Gospel is critical to actually progressing to the point of doing it. Many times, after I share this truth, people respond, “Oh, you are just making me feel guilty. This is just not something I’m into.” However, if you understand that this is your calling as a disciple of Christ, and ask God to help you actually do it, there should be no guilt. Remember, no one is proficient at sharing their faith when they first begin, but we all can learn to do it better.
One of the best passages of Scripture which reveals that this is your calling and ministry as a follower of Christ is found in 2 Corinthians 5:18. There Paul declared, “All things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” God has given us all this ministry of reconciliation. If you have been reconciled to God, then wouldn’t you want to share with someone else, so they could be reconciled to God too? If God has given you new life, then wouldn’t you want others to experience this life you have found? This is the ministry that God has given you. In John 20:21 Jesus taught again, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Just as Jesus was sent to you by the Father, so Jesus has sent you. Remember, “How shall they preach unless they are sent?” Jesus has sent you, which means that He will teach you how to preach! This is your calling!
2. You have the greatest news that could ever be proclaimed!
Notice that Paul quotes in verse 15 the Old Testament passage of Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” Why does Paul quote this particular passage here in this context of sharing your faith? What does having beautiful feet have to do with preaching the Gospel? The term beautiful feet is a poetic description of how welcome this person will be who proclaims these great tidings. In addition, this particular prophecy has a quadruple fulfillment. In other words, there are four ways that this verse is fulfilled.
The first way this prophetic promise was fulfilled was to the people of Israel, and it had a very specific fulfillment in the 6th century BCE. In the 8th century BCE, the prophet Isaiah predicted that one day someone was going to come and proclaim glad tidings to them that their captivity would be over, and they could return from their captivity in Assyria and Babylon back to their homeland. This particular part of the prophecy was fulfilled when Cyrus, the Persian king, who conquered Babylon, allowed the Jews to return to the land of Israel. He made a proclamation that all of the Jews could return from their captivity and go back to their homeland.
The second fulfillment of this prophecy was realized in the life of Christ, because He is the ultimate One who has beautiful feet sharing the message of glad tidings that all men could be set free from their captivity of sin. Notice the similarity between this verse and what the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem. In Luke 2:10-11 the angel said, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This angel announces that there is a Savior who will proclaim these good tidings to all people. These good tidings are the Gospel message. Therefore, Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this prophetic promise.
The third fulfillment of this prophecy is the second coming of Christ. This prophecy is fulfilled through Jesus twice, because He is the One who will ultimately come and will bring all men out of their captivity, and deliver the whole world from its bondage. One day an angel will fly through the heavens just before the Second Coming of Christ and proclaim that “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ” (Rev. 11:15). The Second Coming of Jesus is clearly a part of this fulfillment. How can we be sure? Notice the little portion of Isaiah 52:7 that Paul does not quote here in Romans. Read the passage again. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” The question to ask yourself is, “when will their God reign?” Only after the Second Coming of Christ occurs. If you read this passage in its entire context in Isaiah 52, it is very clear that it is referring to this ultimate salvation of the world. In addition, Isaiah 52:7 is also declared by another Old Testament prophet, Nahum. If you read Nahum 1:15 in the context of the entire chapter, God is talking about His making a final end of mankind and His indignation and wrath that will come upon this earth. This final end will occur at the Second Coming of Christ.
The fourth fulfillment of this prophetic promise is that you get to proclaim to others that their sins have been atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ. He came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). You are sharing with people this simple message, that their captivity can be over today. They can be free! You get to encourage them to be reconciled to God, so they can experience this freedom from the captivity of the penalty and power of their sin nature. You get to tell them that one day they are going to be called home to the ultimate promised land of His kingdom. You have the greatest message that has ever been given to mankind, that men can be forgiven, that God loves them, and that He wants them to come into His kingdom! These are the most glorious glad tidings that anyone could share with others. Share these good tidings boldly!
3. What has Jesus done for you?
The third reason you should share the Gospel with others is because of what He’s done in your life. The simple reality is that you should be experiencing the excitement of His life inside you. This life within should help you to never stop talking about what He has done for you. Is this what’s happening inside of you right now?
Remember that this is the way the disciples described their relationship with the Lord when they were commanded not to preach anymore in His name. How did they respond in Acts 4:18-20? There Luke declared that the Jews, “Called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’” What were Peter and John saying? What was their point? They were declaring that they could not be silent. They had to share what they had seen and heard. In other words, they had such a powerful experience with Jesus that He had changed their lives. They could not obey the command of the religious leaders to be silent.
So, do you have that kind of relationship with the Lord? Are you so excited about what you have seen Him do in your life that you feel compelled to speak to others about Him? What have you heard Him say to you personally? How has He changed your life? If you know this reality of a changed life, why would you not want to share your faith with others? If you say, “No, I don't have that kind of relationship with Jesus,” then I encourage you that you need to find out why this is the case, and determine what is wrong. Something is missing in your relationship with Christ. You need to seek out the counsel of your pastor or an elder in your church. If you don’t have a church, then I encourage you to go and find one that teaches the Bible and get some counseling. Please, allow someone to help you!
If you are experiencing the good tidings of the Gospel in your life, His power and love, and the life He offers, then share it with someone. You would surely tell a friend if you found a great deal on some item you knew they wanted. If you would do that for some material thing, why wouldn’t you do the same with the life of Christ? People are longing for this good deal that God is offering to their soul.
But, how do you handle it when people don’t want to hear the Gospel? Vs. 16-21
Many times, people say to me, “But, when I share the Gospel, people don’t respond. They don’t want to hear what I have to say. Then what do I do?” Notice that Paul acknowledges this reality. Read his response. “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’” (Rom. 10:16-21).
Paul is acknowledging that the Jews did not obey the Gospel, and then quotes Isaiah 53:1. Note that Paul here is connecting obedience with faith. They did not obey, because they did not believe. That is his point. When Paul acknowledges this fact, he is declaring to his readers that they are not responsible to save anyone. The people who hear the Gospel are personally responsible for what they hear, and to be obedient to God. Remember, you are not responsible to convert anyone, you are only responsible to tell people the truth.
People also have another witness that is speaking to them every day and every night. This is why Paul quotes in Romans 10:18 a truth from Psalm 19. David writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun” (Psalm 19:1-4). Note the phrase their line has gone out. The word line literally means the sound that comes from a cord of a musical instrument. David is actually talking about a sound or message in a song that is being played for the entire world every day. The next phrase makes this absolutely clear when he says, “their words to the end of the world.” Literally, David is teaching that the creation is uttering a message every day and every night. It is a message of God’s glory, power, and obviously His existence, so that all mankind is without excuse. The creation of God that is seen every day is the ultimate revelation to every person on the earth that God exists. It’s a message that every person on the earth has heard and is responsible for. Remember back in Romans 1:20 Paul made this point there too. “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Therefore, God has given creation as a testimony to all His creatures. But, God also in His grace sends you to people to confirm the message He has already given.
This message that God has sent to all men is a great thing to remind people about when you share the Gospel with them. When I speak to people, I usually begin by asking some of the basics. “Do you believe in God?” If someone says, “I don’t know,” I usually then ask, “So how did the world get here?” People will either say, “Well God created it,” or others respond, “I believe in the Big Bang hypothesis.” I then usually say, “But, that isn’t really logical. If I said that all the houses in our city just built themselves after someone threw a couple of sticks of dynamite in a lumber yard, would you believe me?” People usually sheepishly respond, “no.” I then explain that a big bang in a lumber yard will only cause destruction, but houses demand the craftsmanship and design of a master-builder. Likewise, the creation of the world demands the design and craftmanship of a Master-Creator. People then realize that the creation around them, their own human body, and all that they see around them didn’t just happen. A similar question is to ask people if they believe that minerals and alloys just flew out from the dirt and instantly created the watch on your wrist? People obviously realize that this could not happen. This should lead them to the obvious conclusion that God created the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them. But then they must determine if they believe in this Creator, and what He has commanded them to do.
This is why Paul brings up his point in Romans 10:17. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If you want someone to believe, they need to hear the Word of God. Remember Paul’s earlier point, “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” In other words, if you want to give someone the best chance of believing, then share the Word of God with them. But again, this is no fool proof formula for seeing someone come to faith in Christ. They still have the individual responsibility to choose to believe and follow Him.
For you as a believer in Jesus, verse 17 should also be a wake-up call. So often people have said to me as a pastor, “I am so lacking in faith. What is wrong with me? Why don’t I believe God more than I do?” There are two answers to this question, and they are found right here in this text of Scripture.
The first reason people don’t have greater faith, is simply because they are not studying the Word of God on a regular basis. If you believe verse 17, then you will pursue a deeper understanding of the Word of God by reading, memorizing, and studying it on a daily basis. No one could possibly think that they would be physically healthy or grow if they ate one meal every Sunday morning at church. In reality, if a person did this, they would be starving themselves and would quickly become malnourished and eventually die. However, Job said, “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Therefore, are you malnourished in your faith? The reason is that you are not studying the Word of God as you should. Do you consider the study of God’s Word more important than the food you eat every day? If you do, then you will grow in your faith and develop into the disciple of Christ that God intends.
The second reason people don’t have greater faith, is that they do not act on the faith that they have. Acting on your faith is obedience to the faith. Obedience can never be separated from a person’s growth in faith. Paul taught at the beginning of this epistle, “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name” (Rom. 1:5). Obedience is what enables faith to grow and mature. Acting on your faith is what causes you to pray, serve, give, and preach the Gospel as you have been commanded. Failure to act on your faith will cause you to become stagnate in your faith, just as a pool of water becomes stagnate if it does not have an inflow and outflow of water. If you don’t have an inflow of the Word of God, you will not grow in your faith. If you don’t have an outflow by acting on your faith, then you will not grow. It is just that simple. So, where is the outflow of what God has taught you? Are you driven to prayer because of what God is speaking to you? Are you motivated to serve God and others? Do you give as God has given to you? Are you sharing your faith with those who don’t know Him? There are so many other ways you need to act on your faith. When you do, growth in your faith will naturally occur. In addition, both of these truths were not followed by the Jews, and that is why they didn’t prosper in their faith. This is Paul’s point!
Proof that the Jews knew God’s heart to save the Gentiles.
Paul explains in verses 19-20, “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.’”
Paul asked the same question in verse 19. “Did Israel not know?” In verse 18 he asked, “Have they not heard?” The apostle is proving his point again that the Jews knew that God wanted them to respond to Him. They knew God was ultimately interested in saving the Gentile nations through them. Fourteen times in Isaiah God speaks of His desire to reach the Gentiles. In one verse God says it so plainly to His people that Israel would be used so that, “The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Is. 60:3). But their eyes were blinded to the light He had given them. Yet still, it was their responsibility to act upon the truth that they knew. They had the testimony of creation and also the testimony of their own Scriptures, but they refused to repent of their sin. What did God do then to attempt to provoke His people to love and trust Him? God poured out His Spirit upon the Gentiles and revealed His grace to them.
God in His foreknowledge predicted that the Jews would reject Him. He is God, so He knew exactly what they were going to do. When you read what Moses declared to them in his farewell message it was clear that God had instructed Moses about what they would do (Deut. 28-32). God reached out to the Jewish nation, and they rejected Him. He then reached out to the Gentile nations, and He is using them to provoke the Jews to jealousy even today. I’ve seen this jealousy up close and personal. In 1970 I lived in Israel, and I worked on a kibbutz, which is a communal farm. This allowed me as a new Christian to gain great insight into the Jewish mindset and the way they thought. The Jews I worked with and had Sabbath dinners with definitely questioned me about why, as a Gentile, I believed in the God of Israel. They looked at me and asked, “Why do you love the Jewish people? Why do you support Israel? Why are you here helping us?” They especially couldn’t understand why I believed in their Messiah, even though they didn’t believe Jesus was their Messiah.
So, when you meet a Jewish person, I assure you if you share the love of God with them, they will be provoked in their mind as to why you are following the God of Israel. Be ready to be a light to God’s people. Share His love with them, even though they may not believe or respond.
God’s great grace.
In verse 21, Paul ends this thought with one of the greatest examples of God’s love and grace toward His people. Paul quotes from Isaiah 65:2, “But to Israel, He says: [to those who rejected Him,] All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” That is a declaration specifically to the Jewish people of His love, long-suffering, and His mercy towards them. This is how much God cares for His people and wants them to come into a relationship with Him. But this verse could also be applied to anyone who is disobedient or rejects Him. This is the heart of the God we serve! Think long about this verse and how it reveals God’s love toward you. Have you ever stretched out your hand to shake someone else’s hand, and the person just stood there refusing to respond to your outstretched hand? How long did you hold your hand out before you got the message, “This person doesn’t want to shake my hand?” You would only hold your hand out a few seconds before you would drop your hand to your side. That’s all it would take, because you realize what someone is saying by their refusal. But God is declaring in this verse that He is continually holding His hand out to the disobedient. This is why the moment you repent and cry out to God, He will hear you and will forgive.
Why is God so gracious to stretch His hand out all day long? What motivates Him to be like this? It’s very simple. He delights in mercy, not judgment. Jesus said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). He wants to forgive and save people from the control and penalty of their sin. The Prophet Micah said, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy” (Micah 7:18). He doesn’t delight in judgment; He delights in mercy. He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He wants every person on this planet to come to Him. What a gracious God we have!
Aren’t you glad that God loves you this much? I am so glad that God kept reaching His hand out to me, because I was not real receptive, and probably neither were you. I am so thankful that God kept sending person after person to me. Praise God that these people were obedient to hear His voice, and they came to share Christ with me! My question to you is, will you be one of those individuals who will stretch out your hand to others? If you care about them then you will. If you listen to His voice, I can assure you that He is going to speak to you and say, “reach out your hand to that person, they need to know I love them.” This is one of the most important ways that you can enter into the work of the kingdom of God. If Christians would stretch out their hands like God does, the church would be completely different. There would be no church that was not filled to overflowing, because we would all be sharing our faith with whoever would listen. If they refuse to listen, that is their responsibility. But you need to love them enough to at least give them an opportunity to hear and believe. Ultimately, what caused the Jews to miss God’s blessings? Was it that they did not know? Was it that they had not heard? No, it was because they rejected God’s outstretched hand. Please, don’t you reject His hand!