v. 1. Paul intercedes for the salvation of Israel. Paul is not spending his prayer time trying to heap up treasures for himself, but he is a man with a burden for others and especially here for Israel. There is a great need in our day for people to recognize the serious and destitute condition of others and do their part to reach them for Christ. When Jerusalem would be besieged each family was being responsible to defend a portion of the wall. As casualties occurred, throughout the course of the battle, some sections would be seriously depleted of defense or even completely removed of it. It is in this setting that Ezekiel 22:30 makes its plea for people to recognize the need and step in where others have fallen and make up the gap in the walll. And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. The Lord found none in Ezekiel's day. Will he find one in ours? There is a great price to pay. This kind of life is a crucified life and not governed by the self-will, but the very heartbeat must be the heartbeat of God. The heartbeat of God is for the salvation of the lost. Let us stand in the gap and intercede for our people and then for all people. …Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth—Acts 1:8. The progression from Jerusalem to ultimately the uttermost part of the earth is very key. How can we effectively carry a burden for someone we have never met, if we are calloused and without concern for the spiritual condition of those immediately close to us?
v. 2-4. Paul clearly perceives their spiritual condition.
Have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (epignosis—full discernment; acknowledgement.)
Ignorant of God's righteousness for they go about trying to establish their own righteousness. Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone that BELIEVETH.
Have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
v. 5-13. Paul contrasts the righteousness of the law and the righteousness which is by faith. The righteousness which is by faith is directly connected with the Word of God and its revelation.
v.14,15. Paul expounds on the need for the preaching of the Word. For their to be a salvation, their must be a declaration of the Word of God.
v.16-21. Paul as if in spiral combines the thoughts of Israel's spiritual condition, the importance of the word in connection with righteousness and faith, and then concludes with the Lord's tireless intercession for and reaching out to Israel for their salvation.