Message: In Romans 9 Paul was talking about his anguish for the Jews because he understood that salvation was created for them, but they were on the outs while the Gentiles were invited in. Being a Jew himself, he anguished for them almost to the point of wishing he could sacrifice his own salvation for the sake of seeing them fulfill what was promised to them. Paul was wrestling with knowing that God knew in advance that the Jews would reject Him and he quoted the prophet Isaiah when he prophesied that the Messiah would be a stumbling stone and a rock to trip over because the Jews were pursuing righteousness through the law apart from God instead of pursuing God and allowing the law to teach them his heart and his ways. At first, reading this sounded like a predestination argument, but as I continued I realized that this was about the Jews. God had always intended to be their king and priest, and lead the Jews by using the law as a teacher. Instead, they pushed God out and tried to rule themselves by using the law as a pathway to obtain their own righteousness. God made a living analogy out of Hosea for the Jews to see by calling him to marry a prostitute that he would love, but she would continuously stray back to her unfaithfulness. Hosea loved her, searched for her during her unfaithfulness and brought her back home repeatedly. He never divorced her, but he brought her back home and repeatedly restored her dignity while humiliating himself as he served as priest in front of the very men who were sleeping with his wife. God used this analogy to show the Jews their own unfaithfulness to God, and Paul was using this story to explain that what looked and felt like injustice was actually a continuation of a pattern of unfaithful behavior for the Jews. God had given everything to them, and in spite of their unfaithfulness he continuously restored their dignity and gave his favor to them above everyone else. Like Hosea’s unfaithful wife, they continued they prostituted themselves even though they had literally anything they could ever want. Hosea’s wife would try to act like a wife for a short time, but her desires were elsewhere and she never saw herself as a wife to Hosea. She was drawn to another life. Likewise, the Jews would try to act the part for a short time, but their constant rebellion hardened their hearts and pulled them away. In their unfaithfulness they never did see God as their Lord. They rejected the promised Messiah because in their state of hardness they didn’t recognize him because they didn’t know the heart of God. Reading this reminds me of the importance of paying attention to the beginning signs of a hardened heart-before it’s too late. Feeling distant from God is the first indicator and the most important thing to keep in check.