As we continue to wade into Chapter 9, I believe its a good idea to think about who God is...
He is Love; He is Holy; He is Healer;
He is Kind; He is Creator; He is Father;
He is Just; He is Sustainer; He is Mighty;
He Is Ruler; He is All-knowing; He is Forever;
He is Good.....
I wonder what characteristics you came up with that I didn't? Now I want you to do one more thing as we consider who God is, after the word “He” add “alone”. Does that give us a good position to start in? I think so.
Another thing I think we need to do is recognize who we are or better yet “who do we think we are?” This passage speaks of God having mercy on whom he will have mercy and harden who he will harden. That is a hard saying, but here is where we need to have an attitude check. Are you ready to hear it? None of us deserve mercy, but God gives mercy to some, because of his great love! PERIOD. We have no righteous ground to stand on. We might think we're all that because of our over inflated human ego, but as we'll see in my next post, we are just a lump of clay in the potters hands. A loving potter who knows before hand what that lump of clay was made to be.
O.K. Now that we have a proper perspective let's dig in.
Paul begins this section with a question. Is there injustice on God's part? He quickly answers ~ By no means! Paul quotes from Exodus 33:19 where God says to Moses “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” In the NLT I like how it states “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, etc....”
It is because of God's great mercy that “anyone” is saved. It's not a question of “why not everyone?”, but a question of “why anyone?” In verse 16 it states it does not depend on man's will or (from the ESV) “exertion”, but on God who has mercy. The word “exertion” speaks of spending ones strength in performing or attaining something; of those who run in a race course. I get that. When I run I am pushing to go beyond what I feel I can, it's all effort. God is saying here ~ you cannot work hard enough to earn salvation, it's all about me and my mercy. Simple. Rest in that.
Paul goes on to quote from Exodus 9:16 concerning Pharaoh of Egypt and how he came to be. God raised Pharaoh up so that (God's) power might be shown and God's name proclaimed. Many rulers on earth have come to power and have been brought down since the dawn of creation. Not one still stands, except God! He alone sets up rulers and disposes them. I am reminded of Daniel's prayer in Daniel 2:20-23, “He removes kings and sets up kings”. (See also Daniel 4:17; 5:20; Psalm 75:7; and Romans 13:1). It's all God and for God!
In verse 18 it mentions of God hardening those who he wills (desires, chooses). I have gone through several commentaries to help really understand this area, and this is my findings. God hardens those hearts that are already hardened towards him. He gives them over (Romans 1:28). In essence he gives them what they want (ala Rob Bell; my sarcasm inserted here).
I think we often loss sight of God's great mercy, when we are wrestling with the hard truths of scripture. What we always need to remind ourselves of is, who God is (refer back to beginning of this post), who we are (or are not), and trust him.
I think we need to stop there and take up the rest in another post. The more I read verses 19-24 the more I know it needs further study.
Question 1: Do you often find yourself questioning God or his motives?
Question 2: Do you see how great His mercy is towards those who he has “prepared beforehand for glory?”
Question 3: Do you also see his “great patience”?