Today’s reading was really hard for me to understand. I read it several times and I just don’t get it. I understand the words; that Paul is saying that people have to hear the good news so that they have the opportunity to believe. But the whole reading just doesn’t seem to fit together.
For help in understanding, I turned to Barclay’s commentary and The Message. And I take some comfort when Barclay says this is “one of the most difficult and obscure passages in the letter to the Romans”.
Eugene Peterson’s The Message reads “But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: Does anyone care God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” (v16)
Paul states that Israel has definitely heard the good news but isn’t listening. He refers to sayings from Isaiah, Moses and the Psalms to prove that God’s message was given to Israel and Israel refused to hear. In the last verse, Paul describes Israel as disobedient and contrary.
In Barclay’s commentary, he describes it this way: “….. shutting our minds to what we do not want to see, and stopping our ears to what we do not want to hear.” And, “God gave us conscience and the guidance of his Holy Spirit; and often we plead ignorance when, if we were honest, we would have to admit that in our heart of hearts we knew the truth.”
With a better understanding of these verses and the help of 20/20 hindsight, I can see times in my life where I’ve refused to see things that were right there if I just looked or where I haven’t acted on subtle leadings. Maybe I wasn’t ready, or maybe I was just stubborn and contrary. My prayer is that God will bless us with whatever we need to allow us to see and hear and act on the good news of his message.