27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, ‘Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; 28for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively.’* 29And as Isaiah predicted,
‘If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors* to us,
we would have fared like Sodom
and been made like Gomorrah.’
Israel’s Unbelief30 What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; 31but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. 32Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling-stone, 33as it is written,
‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall,
and whoever believes in him* will not be put to shame.’
1) "...only a remnant of them will be saved;" "...quickly and decisively;" "...survivours;" "...as if it were based on works;" "...They have stumbled over the stumbling-stone;" "...a stone that will make people stumble;" "...a rock that will make them fall;"
2) I want to challenge the notion of God "laying in Zion a stone." But there are certainly stumbling-stones. I don't think we stumble over them. We worship them, race, gender, guns, wealth, beauty, power, knowledge, ignorance, self, violence, aggression... A "remnant" doesn't sound very promising. I remember reading a story about ants crossing a river. The first soldiers get swept away, until there are enough ants entering the river that the later ants cross over on the backs of those who have drowned. How many need to drown before the survivors cross over? Will the survivors remember? Will they be grateful? Will they just feel like they've earned the privilege to continue walking on the backs of others? Paul is trying to give hope. At least there is a remnant. Is a remnant enough for hope? Hope isn't a feeling, its an action. Hope is continuing to do what is right, because it is the right thing to do, whether there is hope or not. I will continue to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.
3) To not stop at the stumbling-stone, even if we stumble. To not worship the stumbling-stone, but to continue to follow the way of justice, kindness, and humility. Humility does not mean silence or not attracting attention to myself. It means risking everything I am and have to continue doing what is right.
"Holy One, even as we stumble, help us to not worship the stumbling-stone, but to rise again and follow the way of Christ, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."
Breathprayer: "Isaiah cries out... people stumble."