For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:5-14)
Israel stumbled over the Righteousness of God, not because it was a way which was too hard, but because it is too simple. They did not understand what Moses refered to when He said, that Righteousness would not be a matter of self effort,“Who shall bring Christ down from heaven?…”, as if a human being could ever qualify themselves to ascend to heaven and procure salvation.
Christ did indeed come from heaven, to save us from our sins and to justify us before God, but not because of the worthiness orb attainments of Israel. It was sheer grace, Love and mercy which brought Christ down to us from Heaven. Truly, “The Father sent the Son, to be the Savior of the World”.
Nor was anyone worthy of “resurrecting” any lost opportunities for salvation squandered by Israel in the past,“Who shall descend into the deep to bring Christ from the dead?”. Christ died for our sins willingly and on the third day God raised him from the dead, death having no real claim on Jesus, who had done no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth….
The only worthy person who ever lived is Jesus Christ, He is the only wise God and our Savior and man can only be saved through Him. He descended from heaven himself, no one was ‘worthy’ to go up there and fetch him. He rose from the dead, after he had “by himself purged our sins”, as Hebrews 1:3 tells us.
But Israel for the most part didn’t want such a salvation. The salvation described in the book of Romans, is too simplistic. Salvation by a substitute is demeaning to the individual, it presupposes no inherent righteousness and gives no credit to the status of being a child of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob.
There is no striving, and nothing to glory in. They preferred a “Righteousness of their own”, an ethical system of works and saving rituals, originating in scripture but steadily evolving over the centuries by the teachings of Rabbis and Sages. Jesus and John warned about it, that mere physical affinity with Abraham wouldn’t save anyone, rather spiritual affinity.
Who is really a son of Abraham? Who was Abraham and how was he counted as Righteous? What works did he do to attain Righteousness. Abraham was a pagan idolater, who had an encounter with the Living God. God gave him a promise, that one of his children would be a blessing to the whole world! Abraham believed God, and He counted it to Him for Righteousness.
Moses also had an encounter with God, and He believed Him. He is the one who warned Israel not to trust in works, but to realize that “The Word is nigh thee, evening thy heart and in thy mouth…”. God is as close to you as your breath, for in the coming of Jesus, God was manifested in the flesh, He has come unto us, bringing salvation.
How close is salvation?
It is in the simplicity of confessing with our mouth, That Jesus is the LORD, and believing in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, that we shall be saved.
This is the original Creed, and the only saving faith, That Jesus is the LORD, and that God has raised him from the dead. In these spare words lie a whole theology, an entire life, even an eternity.The Creed is simple, in the sense that it is uncomplicated, but it isn’t easy. Consider it’s only two components briefly-
* Jesus is LORD- Jesus is the name of a human being, a very real person, the son of the Carpenter from Nazareth. He had a time and a space, having lived in the Roman Empire, in the first century. Jesus of Nazareth lived, laughed, felt, ate, slept, and in short he fully experienced humanity.
Then he died, for he was accused of blasphemy and treason and was “Crucified under Pontus Pilate”.
But God has shown us that this Jesus of Nazareth, is God.
* God raised Him from the dead- Jesus died as a human being on a cross of shame. But on the third day after he died, when they went to complete the embalming of his body, they found the tomb empty, and Jesus appeared to them very much alive. They handled him, ate with him, listened to him and walked with him until he ascended back to heaven.
The nation of Israel rejected Jesus for the most part, choosing instead a salvation of their own making, one that gives a works righteousness and that elevates the most pious among them, one that a man can glory in, and be exalted above others by.They have unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah,
“My people have committed two evils, they have forsaken ME, the fountain of Living waters, and have Hewn out for themselves broken cisterns that can hold no water”. (Jeremiah 2)