“Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 9:32–33, KJV 1900)
In 1967, John Lennon of the Beatles wrote a song called “Strawberry Fields.” The song contains these lyrics, “Living is easy with eyes closed, Misunderstanding all you see.” The lyrics refer to a willful refusal to see anything that contradicts one’s preconceived idea. When you have your eyes closed, you cannot see anything, including the truth, even if it stands right in your face.
Paul writes here about Israel’s problem, that is why they missed the mark. They “stumbled over the stumbling stone.” Why would anyone stumble over a stone? There is only one reason. They did not see it. Metaphorically speaking, they had their eyes closed.
What was this stumbling stone? In verse 33, Paul tells us that it was a person and that those who would believe in him, would not be put to shame. We know this person to be none other than the Messiah of Israel, Jesus. He came to bring salvation to Israel and yet they stumbled. In a sense they were living easy with eyes closed. Israel’s misunderstanding that their justification would come by legalistic obedience to the Law had closed their eyes to see the truth. Their blindness caused them to miss that Jesus was their Messiah and His message.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, in spite of Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah, God is still saving a remnant of Israel. We see that many Jewish people are coming to faith in Jesus, even though the nation, as a whole, had stumbled. Moreover, many Gentiles are also coming to faith in Jesus.
Yet, today I still see many people who are “living easy with eyes closed.” These are both Jews and Gentiles who have their eyes closed by preconceived ideas that prevent them from seeing the truth and believing the gospel. Many are holding to religious systems that blind them to the truth. Others are caught up in the system of this world that drives people to pursue the desires of the flesh for happiness. What should be our response to this? I can think of nothing other than prayer. Pray that the Lord would heal the blindness of these who are living with eyes closed. They will stumble over our message unless their eyes are opened.