And why not? Because it was not by faith [that they pursued it], but as though it were by works [relying on the merit of their works instead of their faith]. They stumbled over the stumbling Stone [Jesus Christ].
For what reason? Because [they pursued it] not through faith, relying [instead] on the merit of their works [they did not depend on faith but on what they could do]. They have stumbled over the Stumbling Stone.
It also means that the people of Israel were not acceptable to God. And why not? It was because they were trying to be acceptable by obeying the Law instead of by having faith in God. The people of Israel fell over the stone that makes people stumble,
[L Why?] because they tried to make themselves right by ·the things they did [works] instead of ·trusting in God to make them right [L by faith]. They stumbled over the stone that causes people to stumble.
Now, how far have we got? That the Gentiles who never had the Law’s standard of righteousness to guide them, have attained righteousness, righteousness-by-faith. but Israel, following the Law of righteousness, failed to reach the goal of righteousness. And why? Because their minds were fixed on what they achieved instead of on what they believed. They tripped over that very stone the scripture mentions: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence, and whoever believes on him will not be put to shame’.
Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” they’re calling you “God’s living children.” Isaiah maintained this same emphasis: If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered and the sum labeled “chosen of God,” They’d be numbers still, not names; salvation comes by personal selection. God doesn’t count us; he calls us by name. Arithmetic is not his focus. Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth: If our powerful God had not provided us a legacy of living children, We would have ended up like ghost towns, like Sodom and Gomorrah. How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together: Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion, a stone you can’t get around. But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.
Why so? Because it was not on the mekor (basis) of emunah but on the mekor (basis) of [zechus-earning] ma’asim (works 3:20,28; 4:2,6; 9:11-12). They have stumbled over the EVEN NEGEF ("Stone of Stumbling" Isa 8:14; 28:16),
And why was that? Because they did not pursue the path of faith but insisted on pursuing righteousness by works, as if it could be seized another way. They were offended by the means of obtaining it and stumbled over the stumbling stone,
And why is that? Because Israel did not follow the path of faith. They thought that whatever they needed to be right with God could be accomplished by doing the works of the law; they tripped over the stumbling stone.
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