20 But Isaiah is very bold and says: “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” 21 But to Israel he says: “All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people.”
Paul now quotes two Old Testament prophets to prove the statement of the previous verse. Israel knew from Scripture that Gentiles would embrace the Messiah and that many Jews would reject Him.
Isaiah is very bold and says:
Paul quotes Isaiah 65:1-2 in verses 20 (v.1) and 21 (v.2) to boldly show that Gentiles would accept the Messiah as their Savior. If Gentiles could grasp the message why could not Jews do so as well?
“I was found by those who did not seek Me;
The Messiah was found by Gentiles who did not seek Him. It was a shock to the chosen nation that Gentiles would come to faith in the Savior.
I was made [became] manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”
God revealed Himself to Gentiles who did not even ask about knowing Him. They did not put priority on even a query about Him. Yet God revealed Himself in grace to those so darkened in sin that they did not even have a heart to know Him.
But to [with regard to] Israel he says:
Now Paul again calls Isaiah to the witness stand to show that God takes the initiative to reveal Himself to anyone in Israel who would open themselves to Him. This is a quotation of Isaiah 65:2.
This verse also addresses Israel of Paul’s day. Still, even in the time of Paul, God offered His grace to obstinate Israel.
“All day long I have stretched out My hands
This phrase is a picture of God stretching out His hands in gracious entreaty. God implores Israel in grace even though they were negative toward Him. It is God who takes the initiative in this. He is faithful in doing so.
To a disobedient and contrary people.”
Israel’s unbelief flew in the face of God’s gracious invitation; they did not accept God’s revelation of Himself (vv. 14-17). The Jews were in a persistent state of obstinate refusal to accept the Messiah as their Savior. The call of Gentiles was enough to warn Jews of God’s rejection of them as a nation.
God does not act arbitrarily when pronouncing judgment on Israel. That nation had first blatantly rejected Him.
Mt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;
The issue for Israel was not want of understanding but willful, suborn rejection of the message of grace by the Messiah. The word “disobedient” carries the idea of not allowing oneself to be persuaded. The word “contrary” means to declare against; it was not enough for Israel to reject the Messiah but they went further to make a stand against Him. They made it abundantly clear that they would have nothing of Him.
As Israel was culpable for their rejection of God so there is no excuse for people rejecting Him today.
People reject the gospel today not because they have not heard or understand; they reject it because of negative volition toward the gospel, God and His Word. They are culpable because of defiance and no excuse will yield any credit with God, even their sincerity. It is pride that keeps people from the gospel.
Religion is no justification for rejecting God’s explicit revelation of the gospel. Sincerity is no excuse for deliberate rejection of saving truth. Religion is no compensation for revelation. The predisposition of the mind that man can raise himself up by the bootstraps of religion is a heresy produced by Satan. So long as people seek fellowship with God by self-righteousness there is no hope for them. Religion is Satan’s ace-trump. He deceives more people by religion than by any other means.