Romans Chapter 9
In Romans 9 through 11, Paul deals with the problem associated with the condition of Israel. What does it mean that Israel has missed its Messiah? What does this say about God? What does it say about Israel? What does it say about our present position in God?
Paul first expresses his grief over his lost Jewish brothers who have rejected their Messiah. It had to be very difficult for Paul to fully believe that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, and yet see his brothers reject this truth and thereby reject the potential that accepting that truth held for them.
Do you similarly mourn for the lost today, especially people you are close to? If so, have you ever attempted to share the life-changing good news with them? If you haven’t, maybe you are the one God has always intended to share the gospel with that person.
Paul then responds to a concern that people then must have had. If the Jews are God’s people, and yet they have seemingly been rejected by God, then how can the Gentiles have confidence that God will not similarly reject them.
Paul makes the point that the nation of Israel has not been rejected as a whole. There has always been and always will be at least a remnant remaining. Just because someone is a member of the nation of Israel does not not mean they are necessarily a follower of God. Similarly, not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is truly following Christ. If such an individual is missing out on the promises of God, it is not because God is a promise breaker.
Beginning in verse 14, Paul explores the topic of God’s mercy. It is important to remember what mercy is. Mercy is to not get what we deserve. God is merciful to us every day that he does not smite us down for whatever sin we have just committed. At the same time, God is never less than fair with anyone, but fully reserves the right to be more than fair with individuals as He chooses.
But if God uses the disobedience of someone like Pharaoh to fulfill his plans, then how can God still find fault with Pharaoh? Did Pharaoh have freewill or not?
It is tempting to want to question some of God’s decisions. How foolish. There is an old song with the following chorus:
You don’t tug on superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don’t question God’s choices.
OK, I changed the last line. But that is Paul’s response to the previous question of freewill. I will expound upon that and say that indeed we do have freewill. But God will allow the direction of our heart to be used for His glory, even if that direction is away from Him. And He doesn’t need to explain himself.
We should all aim to be used for God’s glory due to the goodness of our hearts, not the hardness.