Romans 9:13-21 (NKJV)
As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the 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.
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?
We know that God has the power and the authority to do anything He wants; it’s His universe.
But that doesn’t mean it’s right. How can these things be reconciled with what the Bible teaches about God’s goodness?
Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way. — Psalm 25:8-9 (NKJV)
We all have an innate sense of justice; it’s part of the image of God in us. If you’re troubled by the fact that God has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills, you should seek an answer.
This not one of those topics where the answer is something like, “Well, it’s just a mystery.” These questions have real, specific answers. They’re just not simple.
First off, let’s be honest about what this says. It begins with, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” Paul then builds on this, noting God’s authority to favor whoever He wants, climaxing with, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
But, if everything depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, we’re left to wonder, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” The answer is blunt. Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
But we are more than lumps of clay. Justice for a lump of clay isn’t justice for a person. This is hard for people to get their minds around. Yes, we’re much more than clay, but God is much more than a potter.
Once again, God’s image in us provides a clue. The next two lessons will look at responsibility and justice in different realms.
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