These are the concluding words in Romans 9. The verse is a quotation from Isaiah 28:16 and is the last of nine Old Testament quotations in this chapter. Paul selects these to demonstrate that there are a multitude of sayings in what Moses and the prophets recorded that have a relevance for followers of Christ. Because he was not the all-conquering Messiah they were looking for, the leaders, despite demonstrations of his remarkable power, had no time for him and eventually put him to death.

They ignored certain prophecies by God about the Messiah because they did not fit their expectations; Paul himself had been guilty of this before he was converted. This is also a lesson for us in our expectations about world events, which some still have to learn. Let us be careful and not too dogmatic about where the pieces fit of the prophecies yet to be fulfilled.

The last verse is, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame”. Jesus is the “stone” – this symbol was used in the vision Daniel interpreted for King Nebuchadnezzar, the stone that struck the image (the nations of mankind) on the feet shattering the whole image to pieces.

Let us make sure we have a heart-felt belief in him and then we “will not be put to shame”, being motivated to live our lives ‘inspired’ by our reading of His word. We cannot work to earn our salvation; our salvation, writes Paul, “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (verse 16). Paul quotes extensively (verses 25-29) from Hosea and Isaiah, showing that God is looking to call people from among the Gentiles (the non-Jewish nations) – and that a remnant among the “sons of Israel … will be saved”.

May we live so that we are among those who “will not be put to shame”, realizing that the signs among the nations, especially around the Holy Land, are ominous and that it might not be long before the stone strikes the feet of the image.