The Jews pursued wrong righteousness.
The Jewish leaders and those loyal to them were rejected because they pursued righteousness by the works of the law but ignored the righteousness to which the law pointed. They did not accept Jesus as the promised Messiah because He insisted that also Gentiles are a part of God’s choice, on the same basis as literal Israel is. Even though God announced through the prophets that He would include all nations in His administration of mercy, the Jews refused to accept it. “As he says in Hosea; ‘I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one.'” Romans 9:25, NIV.
This idea was so radical and unacceptable to the Jews that they tried to kill Jesus when He reminded them of it. See Luke 4:23 – 30. Paul refers to this truth as “a mystery” revealed to him by Jesus. Paul, an expert in Judaism and the law of Moses, must have been shocked when he heard this truth. “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly…The mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 3:3 – 6, NIV. The Jews based their self-righteous pride on their misguided zeal for God. However, our zeal for God could not make us righteous. Paul vouches for the Jewish zeal. “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” Romans 10:2, NIV.
The Jews refused to know Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Moreover, because they did not know Jesus, they only knew about Him, they could not see that God, in Jesus Christ, fulfilled His promise to Abraham, (Genesis 22:18). Their pursuit of self-righteousness through obedience to the law, became an even greater sin because they did it deliberately. The law and the Prophets testified to the fact that righteousness is through the Son of the promise, Jesus Christ, who is called “The Lord Our Righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:5, 6. Those who insist that obedience to the law be added as necessary for righteousness must understand that the spirit of the law is fulfilled through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ only; not through our believing and working. Romans 3:22. (The literal rendering in the Greek is “through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ”). There is no other way; therefore, our reliance on self and our works of the law, concerning righteousness, violate the law and, consequently, it is a sin.
Was entire Israel rejected? Read the next blog.