Paul now turns again to discuss Israel and the Law. He commends Israel for being zealous for God but says that Israel is not going about finding God in the right way. The Jewish Law of the Old Testament had its place, which was to point out our need for a saviour. Righteousness comes from God, Paul says, not from following a set of rules. In other words, we have to have faith in God and not in our own abilities to do anything to put us right with God. (I am from the West Coast and we used to call this the “swimming to Hawaii” example: if we all lined up in San Francisco to swim to Hawaii, some may get further than others, but what we ALL need is bridge). Paul would agree. He’d say, don’t think your following the Law would build you up so you could swim to Hawaii, so to speak.
On our best days we see what poor swimmers we are and we live a life of thankfulness to Jesus for coming to our rescue. Last week I was sitting in my back yard when I noticed a chipmunk scampering up the steps to my kitchen area. I thought, “that’s not a good idea for him,” but didn’t make any effort to leave my lawn chair. Soon I heard a scuffle in the kitchen. I ran up the steps and sure enough, there was the chipmunk in the kitchen; in the mouth of our young cat. Belatedly I came to the aid of the chipmunk (I mobilized other family members by yelling really loud) and we rescued the unharmed chipmunk. I’m really glad that God doesn’t sit around like I did. I am thankful for Paul’s writings which always direct me to be thankful.