Tragedy of the Jews
A Sermon on Romans 10:18-21
18But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? On the contrary:
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world.”
19But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, …
18But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. 19But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and …
As it pertains to human knowledge, human understanding, or human works, the Jews of Paul’s day would be in a position of entire advantage. Yet the majority of Jews, as Paul laments in Romans, did not obey the gospel. Why? Moreover, what does it mean that Paul cites Scripture against the Jews calling them “disobedient” and “gainsaying”? In this sermon on Romans 10:18–21 titled “Tragedy of the Jews,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones grounds the tragedy of the Jews in God’s sovereign election and their prejudice against the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation belongs to the Lord, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds the listener. The way of salvation from old covenant to the new covenant is determined by the sovereign grace of God. The “whosoever” of salvation is tied to “whosoever” as God determines, whether that is predominantly Jews or predominantly Gentiles. But Dr. Lloyd-Jones leaves room for human responsibility as well. Many of the Jews in the first century were simply set against the gospel. Jesus experienced this in His earthly ministry with the Pharisees as did Paul in his ministry. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones tackles the topic of divine sovereignty and human responsibility and as Paul explained the tragedy of the Jews, Dr. Lloyd-Jones calls the church to self-examination and praise in the sovereign election of God.
- The apostle Paul is dealing with the last verses of Romans 10, from verse 18 to 21.
- Paul asks two rhetorical questions: Have they not heard? Did not Israel know? He answers that yes, they have heard and known through Moses and Isaiah.
- Paul is showing the utter inexcusability of the Jews. He divides his argument into negative and positive sections.
- The negative sections show that the Jews' trouble was not due to not hearing or the message not being clear. The Old Testament made it clear Gentiles would be saved and Jews would reject the message.
- The positive section shows what the real trouble with the Jews was. There were particular troubles and a general reason.
- The particular troubles:
- The Jews had false notions of salvation. They relied on being God's people, having knowledge of the law, and their own works.
- They failed to see the true way of salvation, which is by God's election and grace, not human effort.
- Their hearts were hardened. They were non-persuasible, stiff-necked, and spoke against the message.
- The general reason for their condition was rejecting God's love. God stretched out His hands to them all day long but they were disobedient and contradicted Him.
- The Jews are without excuse because they rejected grace. If salvation were by perfect law-keeping, all would be damned. But God offered grace, and they refused it.
- God's election and human responsibility must be held together. We are not responsible for our salvation but are for our damnation. God is responsible for salvation, man for refusing it.
- Without election, none would be saved. But man is responsible for rejecting the offer. The power of the Spirit is needed to soften hard hearts.
- We must give God all glory for salvation. Trying to take credit shows a spirit like the Jews. We must become as children and recognize we can do nothing.
- The gospel is offered to all, but some refuse to call on the Lord. The Jews thought they could save themselves. They are without excuse.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.