Romans 9 … Consider Him, the Stumbling Stone

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, (9:30-32).

Stumble:
“4350.
προσκόπτω proskóptō; fut. proskópsō, from prós (4314), to, against, and kóptō (2875), to cut, strike. Trans., to strike or dash against as the foot against a stone.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
“15.228 προσκόπτωb: to strike one’s foot against something as one walks and in this way to lose one’s balance temporarily—‘to stumble.’” Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

Consider Him, the Stumbling Stone

His ways… so unlike ours. And He doesn’t sugarcoat it. His Word gets in our way and His ways do, in fact, cause many to stumble, unless of course they take Him at His Word.

As though Paul must defend God’s character, He presents the argument for Him, the Stumbling Stone.

 For many will stumble…

  • …over His Word of Promise.
    • who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” (9:4-9).
  •  …over His Purpose according to His Choice.
    • And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,” (9:10-13).
  • …over His Expressions of Mercy.
    • What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy…18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires, (9:14-16, 18).
  • …over His Glory Demonstrated in His Wrath and Patience.
    • What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, (9:22-23).
  • …over His Election and Calling.
    • even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’
      And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”
      26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’
      There they shall be called sons of the living God, (9:24-26).
  • …over His Way of Righteousness.
    • What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works… (9:30-32).

How do we respond to Him, the Stumbling Stone?

God did not keep this fact a secret: the promised Messiah would be the Stumbling Stone. He revealed this truth through His prophets, through the life and death of His Son, and confirmed it through His apostles: Jesus Christ would be the very Cornerstone of His Deliverance, yet many would stumble over Him, the Stumbling Stone, through their choice to reject Him.

The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone,
(Psalm 118:22).

“It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy.
And He shall be your fear,
And He shall be your dread.
14 “Then He shall become a sanctuary;
But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over,
And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 “Many will stumble over them,
Then they will fall and be broken;
They will even be snared and caught.”
(Isaiah 8:13-15).

Therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,

A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed,”
(Isaiah 28:16).

Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:10-12).

For this is contained in Scripture:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,
“The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the very corner stone,”
and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”;
for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed,
(1 Peter 2:6-8).

Why is He the Stumbling Stone? Simply put, God’s way does not fit our own concept of the way it ought to be. We want to walk along by our own wisdom in our own way, but when we insist on doing so, we will surely trip over the very Rock of Salvation.

And when we resist His Truth through our own analysis, we end up striking our foot against Him, the Stumbling Stone. And it hurts. And if we persist in rejecting Him, the Stumbling Stone, it will more than hurt, it will be deadly.

For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23).

In all of Paul’s case laid out in Romans 9, there is but one solution offered to prevent our stumbling; His way that is often perceived as foolishness to so many… His free gift to be received by faith through Jesus Christ.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:23).

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, (1 Corinthians 1:21-24).

But we must remember, receiving His wisdom and power for salvation through our faith in Christ does not alleviate hardships and trials. When life seems contrary to His faithfulness and goodness, and the threats of stumbling and slipping loom, it is then that we must remind ourselves of His goodness. It is then we must choose to intentionally seek Him for His understanding; and by faith, determine to closely cling to His truth.

Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked…
16 When I pondered to understand this,
It was troublesome in my sight
17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end…
28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works,
(Psalm 73:1-3, 16-17, 28).

There will always be things about this life, and about Him, that we do not understand, for He is God and we are not. But rather than treating Him as the Stumbling Stone and stumbling through life in our unbelief or scrutinization of His mysterious ways, we must come into His Presence to perceive His analysis, and acknowledge Him by faith, as the Almighty Omniscient Omnipotent God.

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? (9:20-21).

There will always be secret things that belong to only Him.

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law,” (Deuteronomy 29:20).

We must trust His wisdom. He has revealed to us what is needed for this life. May we commit to never waste anything He has revealed, that we would walk by faith and in obedience to bring Him glory. And He has promised that we will not be disappointed.

For this is contained in Scripture:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed,”
(1 Peter 2:6).

Let’s Grow Together!

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