That Stumbling Stone
Romans 9:25 As He says also in Hosea: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved." 26 "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God." 27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. 28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth." 29 And as Isaiah said before: "Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah." 30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." (NKJV)





Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Rome during a three month visit to the church in Corinth, Greece in late 56 and early 57 A.D. The letter is heavy with Christian Doctrine, Christian teaching.

Chapter 9 marks the beginning of a new topic from the Apostle Paul. He launches into the problem of Israel’s unbelief. Chapters 9-11 discuss this topic.

Paul begins this passage by quoting Scripture from Hosea 2:23 “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved." (v. 25). The Scripture was written of the Israelites, but here Paul uses it in reference to the Gentiles.

He is saying that those who were originally not God’s people, the non-Jews, the Gentiles, are now being called by Him. Christ will call those who were not beloved, the Gentiles, to be the beloved, the church, the Bride of Christ. The Gospel was first offered to the Jews, God’s people, but then it was also offered to the Gentiles.

Next, Paul quotes Hosea 1:10 "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God." (v. 26). Again, Paul uses Scripture written to the Israelites and applies it to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were non-Jews and, as such, were not considered God’s people. However, Paul now refers to some of them as “sons of the living God”, children of God, Christians.

Paul then quotes a third Old Testament Scripture, this time from Isaiah 10:22-23 "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth." (vv. 27-28).

Isaiah was referring to the exile of the Israelites for seventy years in Babylon, and the return, after the seventy years, of only a few, the remnant. Now, in Paul’s time, this will happen again, with only a remnant, Christians, being saved.

Paul quotes Isaiah 1:9 "Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah." (v. 29).

 The term “Sabaoth” is Hebrew for “hosts”. The Lord of Sabaoth means hosts of Heaven, God. The seed Isaaih refers to is the remnant of Israel. The application that Paul may be making to these new Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, is that the seed is Christ, without whom we would be condemned to damnation like those of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were condemned to Hell for a lifestyle of sin, homosexuality.

Paul writes: “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.” (vv. 30-31).

Israel pursued righteousness by trying to obey the Law, and failed. Whereas, some Gentiles, who did not pursue the righteousness of the Law, attained righteousness through their faith in Jesus Christ.

 So why was this the case? “Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. (v. 32). The Israelites tried to achieve righteousness by keeping the Law, and not by faith in Jesus Christ.  

They could not accept Christ as their long-awaited Messiah. They stumbled over “that stumbling stone”, Christ.

Paul closes this passage with a quote from Isaiah 8:14 "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." (v. 33).

Christ is “a stumbling stone and a rock of offense” for most people. They are tripped up by something that has happened to them in life, for which they blame God. And as they continue to harden their hearts towards God, they become offended by the Gospel.

But a remnant will accept Him as their Lord and Savior and spend eternity in Heaven. You will never “be put to shame” for trusting in Christ. You will never regret trusting in Christ.

 

Art Toombs Ministries

Online Bible Commentary