When children will not listen to their teacher, the teacher must work harder to gain their attention. Perhaps he will warn them, and perhaps he will punish them. However, his real desire is not to hurt them, but to end their foolish behaviour.
Paulís subject is those people in Israel who refused to accept Godís message. Their decision was both foolish and evil. In the end, it brought about a terrible change in their character. The passage compares them to blind people, deaf people (Deuteronomy 29:4), or people whom nobody could wake (Isaiah 29:10). They could hear Godís message, but they gave no attention to it. They saw what God was doing - but it made no effect on their lives. They seemed unaware of what God wanted them to do. Of course they would suffer much from such foolish behaviour, as Psalm 69:22-23 says.
However, as Paul repeats these very serious passages, he is reminding his readers about something else too. In the end, each of these passages is about how God will bring Israelís people back to himself. He will overcome their foolish attitudes and lack of attention. They will turn back to him and then they will truly be his loyal people. So, let us look more carefully at each of the passages that Paul refers to here:
(1) Deuteronomy chapter 29 warns that Israelís people would have to leave their land because of their evil deeds. However, chapter 30 promises that God will bring them back. Then they will truly love and obey him (Deuteronomy 30:1-6).
(2) Isaiah chapter 29 tells how God will defeat Israelís enemies (Isaiah 29:5-8). Then Israelís people will respect God and they will learn from him (Isaiah 29:22-24).
(3) Psalm 69 ends with the promise that God will rescue Israel. He will rebuild its cities, and its people will serve him loyally. Then, they will truly love him.
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© 2018, Keith Simons.