Romans 9:33, “as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.'”
I was reading in Romans 10 this morning, but I started back in chapter 9 to get some context and, in doing so, came across the verse that I ended up using as today’s picture. In Romans 9:30-33, Paul is explaining how it can possibly be that Israel failed to obtain righteousness while the Gentiles have attained righteousness before YHWH God. How can this be?
The answer is in verse 32: the Jews pursued the law as though it were by works. Note, Paul does not say that the law is of works, he is not here (though it seems that he does in the next section, but there are reasons for that) he is not here making a sharp law / gospel distinction, rather he is making a law-as-pursued-by-works / gospel distinction.
So, Israel pursued righteousness as though it was based on works, and because of this heart-motive, when they came to the Crucified Messiah, they stumbled over Him (1 Corinthians 1:23). A heart that wants to prove itself, a heart that wants to make itself clean in its own strength, a heart that wants to be captain of its own destiny, as it were, is a heart that will stumble over Christ and be shattered….and this is what happened to most of ethnic Israel, and this is what still happens when the gospel of the glory of God in Christ is refused to this day.
But those who believe in this Crucified and Risen Savior, those who humble themselves and cast themselves wholly and only on His Person and Work as their eternal hope…they will not be put to final, eschatological shame. Why? Because whoever believes that Jesus was crucified for our sins and raised again to life by the Father (Rom 10:9b), and recognizes this slain and risen one as the Lord–as YHWH incarnate (Rom 10:13+Joel 2:32)–they will be saved.