Nazareth • Devotion #6: Stumbling Block

One of the hardest prophecies for me to wrap my mind around is one found in Isaiah chapter eight. I saved this one for last because it has taken me this long to be able to write a thought that proves the point, in about 500 words, that is applicable, and still not boring. Isaiah 8:14-15 reads, “And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

In the first half of the Book of Romans, Paul has to straighten out Gentiles who became Christians and Jewish people who professed to be Christians to what it truly meant to follow Jesus. Former Gentile Christians would look down on former Jewish Christians for their practices. Romans chapter nine explains the fulfillment of the prophecy found in Isaiah by stating that salvation is only found by having faith in Jesus. Romans 9:30-33 reads, “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” If you ever read the book of Romans, you should always have a commentary with you because it can be difficult to break down. Paul is teaching that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a stumbling stone for Jews because they did not pursue living for God by faith, rather the Jews began to base their living for God solely on their works. 

The part that gets me is that God knew He was going to be a stumbling block for people, not just any people but His chosen people. God “so loved the world,” the Jewish people were His chosen people up until Jesus came and died on that cross, and the veil of the Holy of Holies was torn. The part that had me scratching my head for a few weeks was why God would allow Himself to be a stumbling block. In 1 Corinthians 8:9, we are told, “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” So God’s Word tells us not to be a stumbling block, and yet, Jesus Himself was a stumbling block. Welcome to the brain; it is like a herd of cats running around sometimes. 

If you have questions for God, take them to Him. In a moment of pausing, reflecting, and studying, God showed me the answer. It is not that God was trying to be a stumbling block, in fact, just the opposite. There are some things that have happened since God said, “let there be” that God did not intend to happen. They were not part of His perfect will. The biggest would be sin entering the world. Since sin entered the world, it causes God’s creation to rebel. This state of rebellion is engrained in every heart of every man, woman, and child. Because we have rebellion in our hearts, eventually, we are going to want to do it our own way. That is what happened to the Jews. They were given the law, and they turned it into something it was not meant to be. Also, preceding the law would have been the father of the Jewish nation, Abraham. Abraham was told to follow God, and Abraham displayed the model of faith before works. That is what God desires to see. Ultimately, God made it so everyone could have faith in what Jesus did for us by dying on a cross and resurrecting three days later as the essential components to salvation. God did not make Himself the stumbling block; He never changed His methods. Jews changed their obedience to God. Truth should never be a stumbling block, and Jesus told the Jews the truth.

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