By Doug Bell
1¶ “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Paul, once again is expressing his love and concern for his countrymen the Israelites. 1“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.“ They have rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Therefore they have cut themselves off from the only way Of salvation. So, Paul is praying for their salvation!
But Paul knows there is a problem God will have to overcome If Israel is to be saved, I.e., their Unbelief. 2 “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God…” How many today want to talk about being “Spiritual” whatever that may mean to them. But, it is their ‘belief’ that they are somehow tapping into God. As James 1 says, 26 “If anyone among you thinks he is religious… deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” James says this in relation to the sin of not controlling the tongue, but it is true of any sin that controls them. So, what is the problem?
2 “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” They have a zeal and they have knowledge, but not a zeal for the True God. So many today think they know God, but it is a God of their own making. Instead of the God of the Bible, they want a God who is all love. Or a God with whom they cooperate to earn their salvation. Or a God who sends no one to hell.
3 “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” This is the center of all misunderstanding of God. Our God is first and foremost a “righteous“ God. He can’t overlook sin, and His righteousness must punish sin wherever He may find it. The heart of the Gospel is that God became a man so He could do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. There is only one way to God and that is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Christ is the “End” of all the means that people may try to be in a right relationship with God. We can’t be good enough. We can’t earn our way to God. We will never be acceptable to God unless we come to Him the way He instructs us to come, I.e., through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). So, Paul is praying that God will show Israel their inability to save themselves. That they will see the hopelessness of their situation. And realize that God has already done for them what they need. Though He was sinless, Jesus became the only perfect sacrifice. And God laid our sins on Him. Jesus was Crucified and because of Him, we are “declared” innocent because of the vicarious sacrifice (in our place) and death of Jesus Christ! God has punished our sin when Jesus hung on the Cross, and we are declared innocent.
There has always been only one way of a relationship with God. And it has always been through Our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”