All of Isaiah 53 was seen by the early Church as speaking of Jesus. So it is again understandable how Paul keep referring to the prophet. Continuing the impact of the gospel message he now says,
“But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10 v 16-17)
Every Jew has heard of Jesus, that’s not the problem, they know but they have not accepted him. Isaiah was a failed preacher, no one listened to him all his life. He never got to speak at the conferences and do a book tour. Yet he is now the most famous Old Testament prophet and Paul uses him a lot regarding the Jews not receiving the message of Christ spoken to them.
Who are your ‘Israelites’? Your family? The people group your church are trying to reach? So do you stop ‘preaching’ to them? Not if you follow Isaiah’s approach. He simply continued. Not all will accept but some will!
Paul continues to use the Old Testament to say that Israel has and continues to have their chances to respond.
“But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (v18 quoting Psalm 19 v 4)
Have your ‘Israel’ heard? Yes! Not only from you but from many places. I spoke to one man at the door of the church yesterday. He knows and he believes in Jesus, he says the right words, but he has not yet confessed Jesus as Lord.
So what do we do? Paul says without taking your eye off your ‘Israel’ go to the whomsoever. “Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” (v19 quoting Deuteronomy 32:21) “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.” (v20 quoting Isaiah 65:1)
Israel saw the message being accepted by other nations, the Gentiles of all people, to people in lesser privilege, to those who don’t look much to give or are ever close enough to be known as God’s children.
The key is for us to open our eyes to see what God sees and our ears to hear what he hears. The man I met at the door went away without Jesus as Lord of his life. However, there was another man, he didn’t have even 1% of what the man at the door had. This man had a disability, he was a man that many would walk past and he came to church for the first time and he made Jesus the Lord of his life. What do we do? We keep our eyes open to those who will accept without taking our eye off our ‘Israel’. Let us continue to have an open-handed stance reaching out to our ‘Israel’. “But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people” (v21 quoting Isaiah 65:2).