As I read Romans 9 and 10, I see in my mind's eye the religious Jews in Israel as they bobbed back and forth, their prayer shawls waving gently with their movements while they prayed earnestly at the Western Wall. I just returned from Israel and saw this same scene, which always brings tears to my eyes. They are praying for Messiah—when Messiah has already come.
These Jews have great zeal in their religious activity, but they are without knowledge. Paul recognized this. He says about them, "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:2-3).
These religious Jews in Paul's day and in our day sincerely want to do what pleases God, but in all their works they have missed doing the one work that is required-to believe. Without faith it is impossible to please God, and every work we do that is not based upon our faith in Jesus Christ is not pleasing in God's sight.
No one on earth can establish his own righteousness because there is none righteous, no, not one. Jesus tried to make this clear to His Jewish brethren in His teaching and preaching here on earth. He told them that if they sinned in one part of the Law, they were guilty of breaking the whole law.
Whenever I pray at the Western Wall in Israel, I pray for all Israel to be saved. There will be a remnant in Israel saved as Paul declares. God's requirement for salvation is spelled out in this passage when Paul says, "The word is near you in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith, which we preach): That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:8-10).
Join with me today as I pray for both Jewish and Gentile unbelievers who have not yet made the above confession of faith with their mouths or believed in their hearts.
Lord, I pull down the strongholds of unbelief, doubt and pride in the minds of those who need salvation. Give them the gift of faith to believe and unveil their eyes so that they might have understanding.
Linda Sommer is the author of Around the Word in 365 Days Daily Devotionals, from which this article is adapted.