Holding Out His Hands (Lent 29-2013)

There are few pictures more plaintive than God’s holding out His hands, desiring a relationship with Israel over the course of history and their rejecting Him.  They rejected Him as King and they got Saul.  They rejected Him as God and they got exile.  They rejected Him as Messiah and now they are stubbornly insisting on remaining outside, looking in through an open door and seeing Gentiles in relationship with the Father the way they had been once upon a time.

And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” (Romans 10:20-21, NIV)

All of creation has been shouting God’s existence, indeed their voice has been proclaiming His message, “Come home to God your Father!”

Looking as God calls meIn our passage today, Romans 10:14-21, Paul asserts that God, having held out His hands for all this time, is now calling them back into a relationship with Him.  Now the time had come in redemption history for God to take the matter of the good news into His own hands by sending Jesus.  In Him, God is inviting the Gentile world to faith, just as He had planned all along.  But He’s holding out His hands, calling His people–Israel–home.

In doing so, He is also using a different strategy to bring Israel home.  He’s making Israel envious.  He’s making them angry so that the chosen people come will back home because they see people—Gentiles to whom they’d considered themselves superior—coming to God in faith.  God is using human nature in order to bring His people—both Jew and Gentile—into the Kingdom.

The good news has been for Jew and Gentile all along.  God held out His hands to Israel in the call of Abraham and in the giving of the Law—all the privileges of the chosen people.  He extended His nail-pierced hands to Gentiles at the Cross.  He extends these same hands to the Jews at the Cross, through the witness of Christians, and by His Word to show us that the good news of the Gospel is God’s holding out His hands and inviting us home. 

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Give it up for Lent: Silently keeping God to ourselves

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For further study

  1. Read Psalm 19—how does creation call out?
  2. Read Isaiah’s prayer in Isaiah 63:7-64:12What does Isaiah want God to do?  In Isaiah 65:2 we have the pronouncement that God has held His hands out.  Read the rest of Isaiah 65.  What does this tell us about why God was displeased with the Israelites?  What does this say God plans to do about it?
  3. Read Galatians 3:6-29—how does this inform our understanding of the Christians’ relationship to the Jews? 
  4. How are we doing at preaching the good news for our Jewish friends to see and hear?

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 18, 2013

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