We looked at Romans 9:14 where Paul asked the question, is there injustice in God? Paul answers his own question with, Of course not!; Paul continues with what we see in Romans 9:15-16.
Romans 9:15-16 NET. For he says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (16) So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.
Where does this showing of mercy come from?
Exodus 33:18-19 NET. And Moses said, “Show me your glory.” (19) And the LORD said, “I will make all my goodness pass before your face, and I will proclaim the LORD by name before you; I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.”
Moses merely asked to see God’s glory. That was an all-encompassing request, for, as we learned, His Glory shows up in everything. If God was going to be narrow-minded about whom He showed his grace and mercy, why start with Moses, for he murdered a man? Why show any of those things to any of us, as we are all embedded with this sin nature?
What is the one passage that gets read for most salvation pleas?
John 3:16 NASB “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
If John 3:16 shows us anything, it shows us a God that was willing to put Himself on that cross for a world that did not love Him.
Does that demonstrate a God who handpicks those He will show grace and mercy to, when, in fact, it is a demonstration of how He shows grace and mercy to all who will follow after Him?
Romans 9:16 NASB So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
We cannot do this on our own, and it is God who demonstrates mercy. Now here comes the one verse that seems to slap us around more than any other. I will give you the MKJV first.
Romans 9:17 MKJV For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “Even for this same purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth.”
And Jehovah said to Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, So says Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, so that they may serve Me. For I am going to send at this time all My plagues upon your heart, and upon your servants, and upon your people, so that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. For now, I will stretch out My hand, that I may strike you and your people with plagues, and you shall be cut off from the earth. And for this, I have made you stand, to make you see My power, to declare My name in all the land. Do you still exalt yourself against My people, that you will not let them go? (Exodus 9:13-17 MKJV)
There is a phrase here that I want to focus on for a moment, and I want to look at the NASB to do it.
“But, indeed, for this reason, I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. (Exodus 9:16 NASB)
The Hebrew word for reason is abur and also means on account of.
God was not punishing a human just because He felt a need to be vindictive; there were many reasons. When we look at the context, which I have given in Exodus 9:13-17, you can see several clues as to why God used Pharaoh in this manner.
- Pharaoh, regardless of whether he respected the word of Moses or not, was under a mandate to release God’s people; he chose to disregard that mandate.
- We learn that Pharaoh was warned that plagues would come: upon his heart, the heart of his servants, and the heart of the Egyptians – your people. While the plagues go beyond annoying, they were meant to demonstrate that God is in control, NOT some Pharaoh. Let us make something understood, God’s people did not belong to Pharaoh, but they had foolishly given their hearts to Egypt. Scripture proves this out, and we see it when Stephen addresses the Jewish council who intends to kill him. He provides the council with a history lesson, which none of them disputed, and Stephen added, “your people, brought the tent of Moloch and the star of Rephan out of Egypt with them. You can find this story in Acts chapter seven but look specifically at verses 39, where their hearts turned back to Egypt, and verse 43, which tells us that they brought the tabernacle of Moloch.
Romans 9:18 CJB So then, he has mercy on whom he wants, and he hardens whom he wants.
Should this perceived attitude problem cause us problems? Why should it, aren’t we currently living in God’s enduring grace?
Keep something in mind. Joseph, under the control of a different Pharaoh, was raised to the second- highest position in the country. Nobody did anything in Egypt without Joseph knowing about it. Did that Pharaoh care? Not at all, in fact, Pharaoh relaxed knowing that a Godly man was in charge. But almost four hundred years have passed, Joseph has long since died, and Israel is still in Egypt and growing in numbers. This new Pharaoh, who knows nothing of Joseph, nor cares, is concerned about one thing, this vast number of people could turn against him, and therefore, must be quickly controlled and sedated.
Dr. J Vernon McGee tells us that, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it means that God forced Pharaoh to make the decision that was in his heart. God forced him to do the thing he wanted to do. There never will be a person in hell who did not choose to be there, my friend. You are the one who makes your own decision.”
So the assumption made by the foolish is that humanity has no choice, when, in fact, their course of action to reject God is their own making. God merely helps to get them there.
Romans 9:19 TLV You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”
Assuming that we lack a choice, some will say, why then still find fault in people, for who can resist God’s will?
The Message translation gets right to the point in response to the question we see in verse 19.
Romans 9:20 MSG Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you, for one moment, suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?”
I think the obvious answer NO ONE knows the heart of God, the way the Son did. One way for me to understand this is that our antenna is broken, and as James says, we look through the glass darkly. But also pay attention to this sentence: “Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it.” Now that should straighten the hairs on the back of your neck.
Romans 9:21 MSG Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans?
Well, of course, He does, and I suspect He has the right to reconfigure us as it suits His needs, not ours.
Romans 9:23-24 MSG and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? (24) Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people.
And we are the other people who were adopted into this relationship. Adopted but Sons none the less, and since we are sons, we are obedient.
Romans 9:25-26 MSG Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. (26) In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” they’re calling you “God’s living children.”
Romans 9:27 NLT And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.
Concerning Israel, only a remnant will be saved. What does that mean?
Several things. The meanings can be wrapped up in an understanding that not all will come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and it can also point to Israel’s end-times destruction. I believe this is what is conveyed in Ezekiel 38, 39.
Romans 9:28 NLT For the LORD will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality.”
The notion of a sentence, as used here, has to do with judgment. When does God bring judgment?
Only when He has removed those who are to be excluded in that judgment, will He pour out His wrath upon the earth for seven years. We have two ways of considering this time frame, in contrast to what Romans 9:28 tells us.
- Seven years is a drop in the bucket compared to the last two thousand or so years we have been waiting for Christ to return and catch the church away.
- Since Paul uses the term finality, then we are thrust forward in time to the end of those seven years, to the time when Jesus will come riding back on the scene on a white horse. It is then that much of what we see as justice will be delivered. If you are familiar with this story in the Revelation, then you are aware of the speed with which it transpires.
- For those that love to argue, there is one last judgment However, it is for slightly different reasons, and that is the great white throne judgment. This judgment comes after Christ, and a few others have been reigning over the earth for a thousand years. Satan gets released at this point and deceives the nations. Remember, the nations are those that are outside of a relationship with Christ, and there is surely the opportunity during the 1000 year reign. Those nations, under the guidance of Satan, try to kill God; however, God consumes them all with fire, and they too are brought before the Great White Throne. This moment in time ends all judgments forever, and the rest of us all live happily ever after.
Romans 9:29 NLT And Isaiah said the same thing in another place: “If the LORD of Heaven’s Armies had not spared a few of our children, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.”
Paul got this from Isaiah 1:9 NLT
If the LORD of Heaven’s Armies had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.
But this has a familiar ring to it.
Isaiah 10:21-23 NASB A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. (22) For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, Only a remnant within them will return; A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. (23) For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.
Romans 9:30-33 NASB What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; (31) but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. (32) Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, (33) just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
- “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; (31) but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law?”
- Why did Israel not arrive at that law?
HE WHO BELIEVES IN JESUS CHRIST WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.