Rom_9:17-18) The example of Pharaoh.
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
The Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up:
God allowed the Pharaoh of Moses’ day to rise to power so that God could show the strength of His judgment against him, and thereby glorify Himself.
Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens:
Sometimes God will glorify Himself through showing mercy; sometimes God will glorify Himself through a man’s hardness.
We should not think that God persuaded an unwilling, kind-hearted Pharaoh to be hard towards God and His people. In hardening the heart of Pharaoh, God simply allowed his heart to pursue its natural inclination.
We know that Pharaoh did harden his own heart, according to Exo_7:13; Exo_7:22; Exo_8:15; Exo_8:19; Exo_8:32; Exo_9:7, and Exo_9:34. But “He does not so much as bother to indicate that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, an evidence of unbelief and rebellion, because he is emphasizing the freedom of God’s action in all cases.” (Harrison)
5. (Rom_9:19-21) Does the sovereign right of God to choose relieve man of responsibility?
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”
Paul imagines someone asking, “If it is all a matter of God’s choice, then how can God find fault with me? How can anyone go against God’s choice?”
Indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?
Paul replies by showing how disrespectful such a question is. If God says He chooses, and if God also says that we are responsible before Him, who are we to question Him?
Does not the potter have power over the clay:
Does not God have the same right that any Creator has over his creation? Therefore, if God also declares that we have an eternal responsibility before Him, then it is so.
(Rom_9:22-24) Doesn’t God have the right to glorify Himself as He sees fit?
What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
What if God:
Again, the same principle from God’s dealing with Pharaoh is repeated. If God chooses to glorify Himself through letting people go their own way and letting them righteously receive His wrath so as to make His power known, who can oppose Him?
He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy:
If God desires to be more than fair with others, showing them His mercy, who can oppose Him?
But also of the Gentiles:
And if God wants to show mercy to the Gentiles as well as the Jews (of course, never being less than fair to either), who can oppose Him?
“The Jews were inclined to think that God could not make them anything other than vessels of honor. Paul rejects this view and points out that God does what he wills.” (Morris)
When Paul says that there are vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, we should not think that God has prepared them so. Those vessels do an adequate job on their own.
(Rom_9:25-26) The prophet Hosea (in Hos_2:23 and Hos_1:10) declares God’s right to choose, calling those who previously were not called His people.
As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved.” And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there they shall be called sons of the living God.”
You are not My people: These passages from Hos_2:23; Hos_1:10 shows how merciful God is. God told the prophet Hosea to name one of his children Lo-Ammi, meaning “Not My People.” Yet God also promised that this judgment would not last forever. One day Israel would be restored and once again be called sons of the living God.
Hos 1:6 And she conceived again and bore a daughter. And God said to him, Call her name No-mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel. But I will utterly take them away.
Hos 1:7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and will save them by Jehovah their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
Hos 1:8 And when she had weaned No-mercy she conceived and bore a son.
Hos 1:9 And He said, Call his name Not-my-people. For you are not My people, and I will not be for you.
Hos 1:10 Yet the number of the sons of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered. And it shall be, in the place where it was said to them, You are not My people, there it shall be said to them, You are the sons of the living God.
Hos 1:11 Then the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel shall be gathered together, and shall set over themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land. For great shall be the day of Jezreel.
Hos 2:23 And I will sow her to Me in the earth. And I will have mercy on No-mercy. And I will say to Not-my-people, You are My people. And they shall say, My God.
(Rom_9:27-29) Isaiah (in Isa_10:23 and Isa_1:9) declares God’s right to choose a remnant among Israel for salvation.
Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.” And as Isaiah said before: “Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah.”
The remnant will be saved: The passage quoted from Isa_10:23 speaks first to God’s work in saving a remnant from the coming Assyrian destruction. The suffering of God’s people at the hands of the Assyrians and others would make them feel as if they would certainly be destroyed. God assures them that this is not the case. He will always preserve His remnant.
God has always dealt with a remnant. “It was stupid to think that, since the whole nation had not entered the blessing, the promise of God had failed. The promise had not been made to the whole nation and had never been intended to apply to the whole nation.” (Morris)
We would have become like Sodom:
Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed in judgment. This quotation from Isa_1:9 shows that as bad as Judah’s state was because of their sin, it could have been worse. It was only by the mercy of God that they survived at all. Sodom and Gomorrah were both totally destroyed, with not even a very small remnant to carry on. Even in the midst of judgment, God showed His mercy to Judah.
The merciful promise is clear: “But if only a remnant will survive, at least a remnant will survive, and constitute the hope of restoration.” (Bruce)
Why Israel is in its present condition from man’s perspective: Israel missed the Messiah because they refuse to come by faith.
(Rom_9:30-31) Analyzing the present situation of Israel and the Gentiles according to a human perspective.
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.
Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness:
By all present appearance, the Gentiles found righteousness even though it did not seem that they really looked for it.
But Israel . . . has not attained to the law of righteousness:
By all present appearance, Israel seemed to work for the righteousness of God with everything it had, but did not find it.
What was the difference? Why did the unlikely Gentiles find righteousness, when the likely Jews did not? Because the Gentiles pursued the righteousness of faith, and the Jews pursued the law of righteousness. The Gentiles who were saved came to God through faith, receiving His righteousness. The Jews who seem to be cast off from God tried to justify themselves before God by performing works according to the law of righteousness.
(Rom_9:32-33) Paul emphasizes the reason why Israel seems cast off from God’s goodness and righteousness: Because they did not seek it by faith.
Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
Because they did not seek it by faith: We might expect Paul to answer the question “Why?” again from God’s perspective, and simply throw the matter back on the sovereign choosing of God. Instead, he places the responsibility with Israel: Because they did not seek it by faith . . . they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
Paul has already shown in Romans that the only possible way to be saved is through faith, not the works of the law; and that this salvation comes only through the work of a crucified Savior - which was a stumbling block to Israel (1Co_1:22-23).
For they stumbled at that stumbling stone:
So, Paul shows that Israel is responsible for their present condition. Has Paul contradicted everything he has previously said, which emphasized God’s sovereign plan? Of course not, he simply presents the problem from the other side of the coin - the side of human responsibility, instead of the side of God’s sovereign choice.
Next week chapter 10 Lord willing.