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The Stone in Zion

Daily Devotional • July 11

A Reading from Romans 9:19-33

19 You will say to me then, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who indeed are you, a human, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction, 23 and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory — 24 including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he also says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’

    and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ”

26 “And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’

    there they shall be called children of the living God.”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left descendants to us,

    we would have fared like Sodom

    and been made like Gomorrah.”

30 What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith, 31 but Israel, who did strive for the law of righteousness, did not attain that law. 32 Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

“See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall,

    and whoever trusts in him will not be put to shame.”




Don’t trip! Enter in.

Over the years I have known about half a dozen Messianic Jews, Jewish people who have come to accept Jesus as the Messiah and become active in a church. One in particular, now a professor at a Christian University, delivered a series of addresses at a church where I was pastor. He began his testimony, both powerful and entertaining, with the words, “What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing in a place like this?” Licensed by our bishop as a lay preacher, his sermons were unlike any I’ve ever heard: rabbinical explications of the Hebrew and Semitic backgrounds to the life, culture, and religious convolutions of Judaism in the time of Jesus, as only one who had been steeped in them from birth could have unfolded. 

And this is the topic in today’s lesson, as Paul continues his almost desperate, heartfelt theme of why many descendants of Abraham refused to believe in Jesus, while many Gentiles did so. Unwrapping layers of reasoning and puzzled questioning that address God’s power, God’s wrath, God’s patience with the rebellious, and God’s deepset mercy and perseverance in love, Paul comes to the core that what is always at stake is the salvation of all. Those who resist it will find even in Zion itself “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense,” but “whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Paul brings up the prophecies that affirm that even in Israel, the blessed and chosen people, only a remnant will accept the divine promises, and that there will even be Gentiles who will be included among the faithful. Paul launches this magnificent letter to the Romans with that theme: the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).


David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Guildford – The Church of England
St. Francis Episcopal Church, Houston


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