“I will take you from the nations and gather you from
all the countries and bring you into your own land.”
Yesterday we talked about how God loved Jacob yet hated Esau. God chose Jacob over Esau. Jacob was a conniving cheat and schemer. He wasn’t qualified. Neither was Esau. Yet God didn’t choose Esau even though he sought repentance with tears. Or how about Cain and Abel? “And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.” (Gen. 4:4-5) Now, we hear all sorts of rationale for that including God prefers the sacrifice of animals over grain, yet that doesn’t hold. The fact is that we don’t know why God preferred Abel’s and not Cain’s.
This is no small matter because we are really talking about the inheritance of eternal life. How can these passages seem to be so contrary to what we think of God and his nature? Yet these certainly aren’t the only ones like it. Apparently, Paul must have anticipated our response. He probably had the same thoughts. Remember, we must take what Paul says seriously for he was an apostle taught and sent by Jesus himself (2 Peter 3:15-16)
Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
In other words, if we are thinking something is wacky about this stuff, we need to think again. He goes on to explain.
Romans 9:15-18 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
Over and over in the bible we find that faith is a gift and not a result of works. Here, we see that mercy is also a gift not dependent on anything we do but decided by God before any of us can choose. Does that seem possible, according to our traditional way of thinking? No, it’s completely contrary. Some say baptism is required. Others say we need to choose God on our own accord. Others say he will use a scale to weigh out our deeds. Some say God doesn’t care what we do; all are welcome. Yet, that is not what we see in scripture. We see that God’s decision, even his decision to make a special nation of Israel, has nothing to do with us. It’s all him.
Romans 9:19-21 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
I don’t know about you, but the thought certainly crosses my mind that God is unfair – if this business is true! The big question is, “Is it?” Well, I tell you, there are so many strange things throughout the bible that are contrary to what we are taught that one simply must ask the question. Whom shall I believe? Humans and their institutions that give me conflicting accounts? Or do I believe the bible as the Word of God and let Him guide me through all this? Remember, it is the Holy Spirit who is our teacher. Maybe I should let God teach me what He wants me to know about it. Certainly, there are plenty of tough verses (material) to go through!
So, what do you say? Is God unjust in hardening Pharaoh’s heart? Is God unjust for rejecting Esau’s tear-filled plea? Is God unjust for rejecting Cain’s offering? Is he unjust in withholding mercy on anyone? What could his motives possibly be?
Romans 9:22-23 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory –
Here we have something that should stop us dead in our tracks. God desires to show his wrath and power. Paul asks it in the form of a question. Does God? Well, yes, it would seem so. That’s what the flood was all about. That’s what the exiling of Israel was all about. That’s what the lake of fire is all about. God showed his wrath and power.
Why? “In order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy…”
Is it possible to have mercy apart from condemnation?
Is it possible to have condemnation apart from guilt?
Folks, if you are born-again, you have been spared the wrath of God by his mercy and his mercy alone. Up until that point, and apart from it, you are condemned by your own thoughts and deeds. Do you have any idea how awful it would be to suffer God’s wrath? “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) Can you now start to imagine just how incredible his mercy is?
1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor heart of man has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” –
Does God’s law stop your mouth? It should. (Romans 3:19-20) Does his mercy leave you speechless? It should. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Look those verses up. I think you’ll see them differently, in light of Romans 9.
Father, what can I say? I will praise your name and make it known. Jesus is my Savior! Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers