But to Israel he says: “All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (Romans 10:21-11:1)
A Disobedient And Contrary People And God’s Love
The nation of Israel was the apple of God’s eye enjoying all the favors of a chosen people born of adversity and cherished by the mighty hand of a compassionate Father to His children. With all the blessings, security and needs fulfilled by the providential hand of God, Israel could never grasp the measure of how much they would be cared for if they would obey the will of the Lord God who brought them out of Egypt. The Old Testament is a testimony to the stubborn will of Israel who continually disobeyed the Lord and acted in every contrary manner possible. They saw the mighty works of God through the plagues brought upon Egypt yet doubted Him as they approached the Red Sea. Shortly after their arrival to Mt. Sinai to receive a law the people fell into the carnal pleasures of calf worship with many lives lost. They were promised the land of Canaan as their own special inheritance yet when they arrived at its borders they rebelled against the will of God and failed to believe they could conquer the land with God’s help. Forty years of wandering in the wilderness removed the stubborn will of those who refused to give the Lord His glory but the new generation that would conquer the land struggled with their faith as the period of the Judges and Kings led to the destruction of the ten northern tribes and the final demise of the last remnants of a once powerful and mighty nation. The remnant of Israel came out of the bondage to await the coming Christ. When the Son of God came down from Heaven showing Himself to His own people they rejected Him and killed Him. The final bell was sounded in 70 A. D. when the nation of Israel was removed from the pages of history as the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. It is clear the history of Israel is characterized by the story of a disobedient and contrary people.
Paul’s plea in his letter to Rome was to illustrate the failure of Israel to accept the rule of God in their lives. As a nation, the Lord had rejected Israel because the people had broken the covenant given to them at Sinai. With all of their failures and while their history is filled with disobedience and going against everything God demanded of them, the Lord still loved them and desired they be saved. The apostle would write that his heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they would be saved. As difficult as the nation of Israel had been God did not cast them away. The love of God is seen in the history of Israel for the innumerable times the Lord extended mercy, grace, longsuffering, and patience and in every case offered the people His love if they would repent and return to Him. He did not condone their actions nor approve of their disobedience and demanded they repent. Sadly they rejected the mercy of God and His love. The Jews killed the Son of God but the Son of God died to give them hope. Fifty days after Jesus arose from the dead the first sermon of grace was given to a crowd of men that had assembled in Jerusalem to worship God. Three thousand devout Jews obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ because God had not cast them away. They responded to the first call of grace and the early church was originally made up of the nation that is called a disobedient and contrary people. If Israel is the example of man’s rebellion God’s grace is the example of how much He is willing to love a people that are undeserving.
Reading the story of Israel and seeing how they were a disobedient and contrary people it is easy to see the nature of all men who find themselves before a righteous and merciful God. There was nothing special about Israel that made them worse than any other person on the earth. The Old Testament is filled with the story of how Israel struggled with sin and often they failed to give God the glory. Throughout the story of Israel God’s love and His wrath is clearly defined and illustrated for all men to see that sin is the evil man must overcome and although the struggle with sin is a constant challenge for man God is always faithful. Those who rebelled against the Lord and refused to repent were destroyed. The mercy of God was given to those who were disobedient and contrary and who repented and sought the love of God. That is the story of all men. The word of God is given to show all men the nature of sin and that if they repent God will extend to them His divine mercy and love. No man should ever ignore the wrath of God because it is as real as His love. The severity of God is fully documented as well as the goodness of the Lord is exalted in holy writ. Israel is the example of the struggle all men have. I say then, has God cast away all men? Certainly not! God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son and through the blood of the Savior all men can find the love of God if they would repent and obey His will.