Found Of Them That Sought Me Not
Its almost become an axiom, a fundamental truth that can’t be proved, that if you want to find what you’re looking for, stop looking for it. It does not seem to matter if it’s your keys, your wallet, your phone or even the person with whom you share the rest of your life, you find it when you stop seeking after it. We as Gentiles indeed came to the hope of the Lord without truly looking for him, according to the Bible he was found of them that sought him not.
God speaks wonderfully in the passage in the middle of the three verses we will look at, saying in verse 20, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. He is speaking here about you and I.
I never sought-after God. I had no Christian upbringing, there was no faith in my home, no conversation of God ever. Mum was a New Ager and Dad was…he was just dad. But the Lord was made manifest to me even though I asked not after him. It seems to me that the most precious things in my life were found when I had not sought it.
In our passage this morning, Paul explains that Israel knew God, the knew the truth of the Gospel, but they did not all obey the Gospel, as a result, the wonderful joy of the hope of heaven went to all the world, the gentile world and extended through the years to you and I.
Each of us has a story, each has a testimony to which God could say I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. This first verse demonstrates Israel being provoked to Jealousy by a people that had no right to call God, their Lord and Saviour, you and I.
1. Provoked To Jealousy
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.Romans 10:19
Paul reminds the Gentiles (recall that according to the bible there are two main groups of people in the world, the Gentile and the Jew) of Gods love and infinite patience with the people of Israel. But even though he suffers long with them and tolerates their backsliding, it is not without consequence. Paul makes it clear that, though he speaks so forcefully of his People Israel, God has not “cast away his people” as he affirms at the very beginning of the next chapter.
The purpose of this entire chapter to the Gentile nation (You and I) is to remind us that “the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” (Rom 10:12). That is, that God fills the heart of ALL who call upon his name. He brings life and joy and hope and the peace that passes ALL understanding. It is a richness that is infinite respecting his love, his patience and his faithfulness to keep his promises to all who call upon his name for all eternity.
THAT IS THE CONTEXT OF THIS 10TH CHAPTER OF ROMANS, Verse 12 is its purpose statement.
But here Paul reminds the gentiles that God had witnessed the backsliding nature of his people, from the beginning of the creation of the nation just after they came out from Egypt. The passage he refers to that Moses spoke of comes from the book of Deuteronomy, the last of the first five books of Moses. (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers….) Deuteronomy 32:20-21
Before us is a small part of a song that Moses wrote and sung for the people. It begins at verse one and continues until verse 43, and in the midst of the song is this revelation to the people that Paul sees as relevant over one thousand years later. Indeed, speaking to the very nation who would provoke Israel to jealousy.
20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. 21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
It is a condemnation upon the nation of Israel with regard to their own foolishness and the very anger with which they themselves have angered the Lord. They have made him Jealous for his people, a people that he claimed for himself and yet was angered by their behavior, acting as a people “which are not a people”. But it was not only for those forty years that Israel behaved as they did, it continued on and on under the reigns of no less than all the Judges and all 19 of her kings, until they were carried away as Captives by the Babylonian Empire.
They were meant to be a people separated unto the Lord and yet they behaved as if they were not a people, they behaved as if they were just like the people that are in the world.
Perhaps that might remind you of someone….? I wonder how often we also provoke the Lord to Jealousy each time we go astray?
Christians are referred to in the Bible as The Bride of Christ, we are not married to this world, we are not married to the way of this world and yet we are far too often so entwined in the world that it is difficult not to think we are married to the world. It is any wonder that James refers to us all as adulterers!
Turn with me and consider the context for yourself.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, yedouble minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Do we not also Provoke the Lord to Jealousy? He who loves us with a love unspeakable and desires a relationship so wonderful for us, how do we pain him when we live and behave as those who are no people? We too often sorrow and fear as if there is no hope, we often mourn earthy loss as if we have not obtained heavenly treasure and we seek and search for worldly happiness as if infinite joy is lost to us?
You and I have had our sins against the Lord perfectly forgiven through the death of Jesus Christ who came and died for us that we might have life, How often do we provoke the Lord to Jealousy when we think our hope can come from the world?
The Apostle also experienced this pain and expressed it to the worldly Christians of the Corinthian Church, turn to 2 Cor 11:1-4
1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Jealousy is one of the most powerful of emotions. It is an emotion that is expressed in both Love and Betrayal. God is a jealous God,
Exodus 34:14 says “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”
Israel were Provoked to Jealousy, by whom?
2. Angered By A Foolish Nation
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you
This latter part of the text is instructive. Israel are noted as being provoked to Jealousy. As mentioned earlier, they now suffer the same emotions as the one who made them a people. Just as God was jealous over them, now they are made jealous by a foolish nation. The result is anger.
There is no real indication respecting the direction of the anger. We are not told that they are angry with this “foolish nation”, we are only told that it is by this “foolish nation” that God will anger them. Nevertheless, the indication here is that Israel knows that there is a relationship between the saved gentiles and the Lord who made Israel a people.
God IS the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God IS the King of Israel, and God has made a covenant and promise to Israel that he will never break so long as there is a Sun and Moon and Seasons on the Earth. Yet they are provoked to Jealously and made angry by a “foolish nation”.
It seems so clear that, on the whole, Israel deep down know that those who are genuinely born again and know the Lord, have THE VERY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THEY THEMSELVES WERE MEANT TO HAVE.
O how I wish you might know the wonderful privilege you have that you do not forsake that which Israel forsook! That you might know the greatness of God and the mercy, grace and blessing of the Lord to have given the Saviour to save us from our sin and guilt that we might be finally FREE. No longer racked by the guilt of all we have done, FORGIVEN! I still cant comprehend it! I still don’t understand why God would give his only begotten Son to die for me!! But I know he did!
For more than 20 years I have been freed from the guilt of sin, no longer needing to cover it up, no longer trying to set it aside artificially….the world still does that! How wonderful is the Lord, and truly marvelous is our God in whom we have come to trust!
Every time I read the Old Testament I marvel of the Love of God and his patience with the people that he made. I marvel that they stray from the Lord so quickly.
I marvel that all the wonder that the Lord had shown them, they so soon fall out of the way.
He has proved himself to them time and time again. He had demonstrated to them his mercy and his love. His promises to them were spoken of from the time of Moses and they should have been able to identify the judgments that came upon them and yet they forgot them quickly.
Every event from the longest captivity of Israel as a family in Egypt (430 Years), to their Captivity in Babylon as a nation for 70 years, demonstrates the enduring love and patience for who God referred to even as an adulterous wife (Israel). But now are they provoked to jealousy and angered buy a “foolish nation”.
Israel were first to know God, but the foolish nation coming after inherit equal hope. Turn to Matthew 20:1-16. An interesting passage that speaks to a degree about all who come to Christ receive the gift no matter the timing.
1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
Each of us who are saved have a relationship with the Lord, some longer than others.Those of us who have long been known by the Lord, and have “born the heat of the day”, might have turned lukewarm and made jealous by the ZEAL of one who has just come to know the Lord, and realized that most exiting reality of everlasting life. Sometimes it’s the provocation of jealousy regarding the zeal of a new believer that puts a halt to our own backsliding!
3. Was Found Of Them That Sought Me Not
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
Scripture makes it plain that the Gospel was to be for the benefit of Israel. They were awaiting the messiah, the deliverer, the Saviour and restorer of the nation. It was the most anticipated event on their calendar, after which would be the destruction of the godless, and the one thousand year reign of Christ. The Gospel was “to the Jew First” (Rom 1:16, Rom 2:10)
On Wednesday night, we saw Jesus himself instruct his disciples that the Gospel is to go to Israel as a priority. The Lord said plainly to the disciples,
“Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 10:5-6)
The Gospel was NOT originally purposed for you and I beloved. The Gentile world was historically set for destruction, the Gospel was for Israel. This Jesus, who we have trusted to save us, is THE JEWISH MESSIAH! In the Old Testament there is no mention of the Church as we have it (The passage in Acts 7 notwithstanding).
- Paul speaks of the Church as a Mystery… kept secret since the world began. (Rom 16:25)
- Paul refers to the work of Christ and his death as “the wisdom of God in a mystery” which he goes on to state what would happen if even the devils knew about it, saying “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:7-8)
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
The gentile world did not and does not still seek after the Lord. They seek to go everyone their own way, like sheep without a shepherd, they have no idea of God nor do the scriptures present any evidence of their seeking after him. On the contrary;
Romans 3:10 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God”
Paul quoting from and confirming the Old Testament passage of Psalm 14:1-3.
“For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.” (Isa 9:13)
“And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.” (Hos 7:10)
Yet the command is indeed given to the people on several occasions;
“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” (Isa 55:6)
It seems to be a miracle that the Lord was found of them that did not seek him!
I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
In an eternal way, the passage seems to prove the old axiom that the most certain way of finding anything is to stop looking for it.
Lost your keys and can’t find them? Stop looking for them and you’ll find them.
Lost your wallet and can’t find it? Stop looking for it and you’ll find it. You probably would not apply this rule if you lost a child….
But you get the point.
How often it also was that we found what we stopped looking for in the strangest of places?
It seems this is how the Gentile (the foolish) nation found the Lord. Yes, it was the Gospel that indeed brought the truth of Christ to the gentile, men and women who knew the eternal value of the hope of the Lord, obeyed the Lord when he said “Go”, and they went.
But many found the Lord is the strangest of places.
We have persecutors finding the grace and mercy of Christ from those they have persecuted.
We have doctors finding Christ from their terminal patients.
We have patients finding Christ from their nurses and visa versa
We have people finding Christ on Public Transport,
People who find the Lord on a tract left in all manner of different places.
In this very congregation are witnesses of two extremes, one who found Christ via a Vegemite food label (Never in their wildest dreams would the creators of that label think that possible).
And another who found the Lord after making all provision to end his own life.
I know of a woman who, desiring death more than life cried to God that she was through with her life, if he wanted it, he could take it for himself. And HE DID. Her heart warmed, her soul saved, she found the very life she wanted to end! She found JOY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HER YOUNG AND TROUBLED DAYS.
Beloved, testimonies abound all through the world of how Christ was found of them that sought him not!
The strongest argument for the Gospel of Christ is the personal testimony of someone whose life has been changed by it. Charles Bradlaugh, an avowed infidel, once challenged the Rev. H. P. Hughes to a debate. The preacher, who was head of a rescue mission in London, England, accepted the challenge with the condition that he could bring with him 100 men and women who would tell what had happened in their lives since trusting Christ as their Savior. They would be people who once lived in deep sin, some having come from poverty-stricken homes caused by the vices of their parents. Hughes said they would not only tell of their conversion, but would submit to cross-examination by any who doubted their stories. Furthermore, the minister invited his opponent to bring a group of non-believers who could tell how they were helped by their lack of faith. When the appointed day arrived, the preacher came, accompanied by 100 transformed persons. But Bradlaugh never showed up. The result? The meeting turned into a testimony time and many sinners who had gathered to hear the scheduled debate were converted.
4. A Disobedient and Gain Saying People
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. 20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
It is possibly the most difficult thing to endure. To love a person where the love for that person is not reciprocal. God loves Israel, and he demonstrated that love to the nation in act after act, after act, but Israel never returned that love to the Lord;
All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
The context is one of desire to receive. This is a fathers love for a wayward child, a father who’s only desire is for relationship and nurture and care. Nothing is more pitiable than selfless love not shared. But this is the Lord, this is the one who’s constant desire is for the people he has chosen as his own. But they would not.
In Matthew 23:37 Jesus the Lord himself said; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
Turn to Luke 19:37-44 as we consider some telling words of Christ. I want you first to consider the context of this passage. For a long time, Jesus had refused the effort of the people to take him and to make him a King. Many times, the scriptures tell us that he slipped by them because his “time had not yet come”.
Clearly there was an appointed time for Jesus to make himself known to the People, but at this point that time was not yet.
But just before this event Jesus has his disciples make all the arrangements for him to officially present himself as the King that comes in the name of the Lord.
First, he has them prepare the Ass to ride into the City from the mount of Olives. The famous prophecy concerning how the Messiah will present himself to the people is found in Zechariah 9:9 saying;
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
And here is Jesus presenting himself in the very manner spoken of over four hundred years earlier. One thousand years earlier the Psalmist also spoke of this saying;
“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. 23 This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. 24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 25 ….. 26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.” (Ps 118:22-26)
Again some 500 years before it would be the prophet Daniel who would give the precision of the very day the messiah, the Christ would make his appearance to the nation and present himself as King in Daniel chapter 9.
Lets now take a look at what exactly transpired;
And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. 39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. 40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
There are those that have heard the Gospel from this pulpit time and again the things which belong unto their peace, but have their hearts not yet softened to see the love of the Lord. My only prayer is that it would not continue to be hid from their eyes. Just like Israel, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
It seems true that it would be those that sought him not, that shall find him. There are many who will not obey the Gospel of Christ, even though there are blessed feet who proclaim the truth of it time and again.
- It will be the kind word to a person in need that will lead them to Christ;
- It will be the surprising gift of a generous heart who knowns heaven is their treasure, that will move a person to the Lord and just the right time in their life.
- It will be the willing sacrifice of kindness to the broken in spirit that will save a soul from death;
China today has Christians on the streets handing out masks and tracts to all who have not sought the Lord but will find him, and find him in the most troubling of circumstances.
Hope found in the midst of great danger.
Masks and Tracts
A fascinating picture of the Gospel in two items given;
One a reminder of danger, the other of hope.
Beloved there are people out there who do not seek after the Lord, but through you he will be found of them that sought him not!
 Galaxie Software, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations, (Biblical Studies Press, 2002).