Torah Portion: Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)
Gospel Reading: Romans 10:1-21
Commentary by: Kelsey Bryant / Matthew Day
In Romans 10, at a time when it seems God has given up on His people, we read about Paul’s longing for the fulfillment of the prophecy in Deuteronomy 30--the repentance and restoration of Israel. Deuteronomy 30 foretells the time when Israel will finally be restored to full fellowship with God – keeping His Torah, living in the Land, loving Him with all their hearts. This is not just a restoration of physical blessing--it’s a transformation that goes as deep as the heart: “Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” (Deut. 30:6 NASB). Even at that present time, when Moses was speaking to the Israelites, he made the point that loving God, obeying Him, clinging to Him, “is your life and the length of your days” (v. 20). As Paul expressed in Romans 10, if only the Israel of his day would heed these words, then the prophecy could come to fulfillment. Yeshua is the Life that they should choose (30:19), He gives the righteousness they need. The word is near them – they have only to believe in Yeshua and confess His Name (Romans 10:8-10).
Nevertheless, something is amiss. A hardening has come over Israel. The descendants have not turned; they have not humbled themselves before their King. Paul mourns Israel’s uncircumcised, unrepentant hearts, which holds them back from realizing Yeshua is their righteousness and salvation. They have created their own way of gaining righteousness, contrary to Moses’ teaching in Deuteronomy 30. Look back at verse 6 again--who performs the circumcision of the heart? It is not born of human effort; it is the work of God. Legalism never saved anyone; it has always been faith in Yahweh.
Has God forgotten His promise? This might be considered the question of the Gospel. Deuteronomy tells us that the restoration will happen in the end. Paul, writing during a time of Roman occupation and Levitical corruption, encourages us to continue to keep up faith, to keep up hope, reminding us in Romans 11 that in the end “all Israel will be saved.” Will we keep up the faith? If there is any doubt that one day Israel will walk in full obedience to Yahweh, Isaiah presents yet another witness:
Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him….The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone....In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples--of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isa 8:16-17; 9:2; 11:10-12 ESV)
The promise still remains to those who will believe. One day the Lord will once again gather Israel from all the nations. One day the Messiah will rule over the earth and there will be peace even among the animals. This beautiful end-time picture is the promise of the Gospel. God will remember His promise.