Focal Passage: Romans 9:14-29
Romans 9:15-16 “For he (God) says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
It seems odd at first glance that in response to the rhetorical question regarding God’s justice that Paul answers with pointing out God’s mercy. Why does he answer in this way? What does whether or not God is fair and just in His election have to do with His mercy? The answer is everything! If we have questions regarding our salvation and why anyone receives it, the question is about mercy, not justice. If we want to speak to the justice required for salvation we need only turn as far as Isaiah 53 and read what our Savior endured so that justice would be served. No, salvation for anyone is enveloped in God’s mercy. Furthermore, if we discount God’s mercy and speak only of what’s fair or just, then we forfeit assurance. We cannot earn it and we cannot keep it. Only in God’s mercy and all things in and of Him can we gain salvation and be assured that it is ours for eternity. We must speak of salvation in terms of the correct category, which thankfully is God’s mercy and not the justice that we ultimately deserve.
Study/ Meditation: How is Paul’s answer to his rhetorical question about God’s justice such amazingly good news? How might you explain this to someone else?
*Father, thank You for Your unmerited and complete mercy. Thank You for choosing a sinner such as me to receive it. Amen.
Focal Passage: Romans 9:14-29
Romans 9:14 “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!”
We must first recognize that by asking this question, the Apostle Paul is dealing with election in this passage and not some historical heritage issue between the Jews and the Gentiles. He had just said that God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau according to His sovereign choice and nothing else. The next objection he knew would come up, the same objection many have today, is that this is not fair. Therefore he asks the rhetorical question, “Is God unfair?” to which he answers resoundingly, “Of course not!” He asked the question not out of some need to have it answered but to illustrate the ludicrous nature of even asking such a question. Paul is about to remind his audience that God is God; the beginning of His nature is true justice and goodness which is something we cannot even comprehend. We have no starting point in that realm since our natures begin outside of that. Paul is simply laying the foundation for his coming explanation: God is completely and ultimately just.
Study/Meditation: Why do you think it is so hard for humanity to agree with predestination? Read Psalm 115:3? What does this verse teach you?
*Father, You are our Maker and our Redeemer. I know that You are sovereign and holy. You are mighty and good and just. Amen.
By Dr. Deb Waterbury
My youngest son, Miles, and I have a unique mother/son relationship. We most definitely relate on a familial level, but also he appreciates my counsel. As a minister, much of what I do for women is counsel, but rarely does a parent experience that sort of relationship with her child. Miles, on the other hand, seeks my counsel. And understand, I do not mean simply my advice. At twenty-six, he still comes to me for solid counsel on every topic imaginable.
Needless to say, I love that he does so. However, it has also presented some very touchy situations between the two of us, situations where I have found it necessary to be a little more honest than I would ordinarily be comfortable with when speaking to my son. I know the value of transparency as a teacher and as a counselor, especially in terms of my walk with God, but that transparency recently took on an entirely new level in a recent conversation I had with Miles. (more…)
Focal Passage: Romans 9:1-13
Romans 9:13 “As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”
One of the greatest obstacles to correctly understanding Scripture is coming to it with the sense and foundation of our own humanity. As hard as it might seem, we cannot attribute to God our human characteristics or natures. He is God, and in His “God-ness” He is altogether above and beyond what we can comprehend. (Isaiah 55:8-9) When Paul quotes from Malachi 1:2-3 in this verse, he does so not in the sense of human “love” and “hate.” He does so, as much as is humanly possible, from the sense of God and His electing love. God chose Jacob, not Esau, and as Paul made clear in the verses prior, God did so according to His choice and for nothing either in Jacob or in his circumstances. It was God’s choice. This verse as quoted from Malachi speaks to God’s rejection of Esau and election of Jacob, which was not the cause of Esau being “the wicked country.” (Malachi 1:4) Instead God chose, in His mercy, to display His sovereignty by giving His unmerited love to Jacob and his people while leaving Esau to his own natural wickedness, a wickedness that is also what Jacob and the rest of us would live in were we not chosen in God’s merciful love, too. Our Father doesn’t choose some to send to hell; everyone is headed in that direction. Rather, in His great love and mercy, He plucks some out of this destructive path and brings them to Himself.
Study/Meditation: Read Malachi 1:1-5. What is the context of this quote in Romans 9:13? What does this teach you in regards to God’s sovereign election?
*Father, thank You for plucking me out of my path to destruction and drawing me to Yourself. You are great and merciful and kind. Amen.
Focal Passage: Romans 9:1-13
Romans 9:10-12 “And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call—she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’”
Isaac was the promised offspring to Abraham and Sarah, just as God had said, and now Paul moves even deeper into his explanation of God’s promise-keeping by also further proving that God’s purposes are according to His will and to no one else’s. By using Jacob and Esau as examples, the twins born to Isaac and Rebecca, he is making three distinct points which clinch the argument of God’s sovereignty in election: 1) The boys were twins, thereby equal at birth in physicality and nature as much as is humanly possible, 2) God reversed the small distinction that did exist by having the older (Esau) serve the younger (Jacob) which went against all human law and tradition, and 3) God’s purpose was stated before they were even born. Choosing Jacob over Esau was always God’s choice, a choice that was not dictated by man or law or chance but “in order that God’s purpose of election might continue.” Why? So that it would never be “because of works but because of his call.” God will always be governed by His will and nothing else. He is “I Am.”
Study/Meditation: Read 2 Timothy 1:9. What does Paul explain in this letter is the purpose of God’s election of His children?
*Father, in the weakness of my flesh, help me to accept and see You as God, the Creator and Sovereign One, in all aspects of that nature. I love You. Amen.
Focal Passage: Romans 9:1-13
Romans 9:9 “(…the children of the promise are counted as offspring.) For this is what the promise said: ‘About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.’”
Once again, Paul is disputing any argument that God has forsaken His plans or His promises to His people. He has said that not all of Israel is the true Israel and not all of Abraham’s descendants are actually “children of Abraham.” The promise from God was always according to His will, never according to man or to chance. When Abraham and Sarah conspired to create the “promised heir” through Hagar, God instead did it miraculously and by His will through the barren Sarah thus fulfilling His promise and His plans. Remember that this isn’t the end of Paul’s argument, only the beginning, but in every part of it we can learn something for today. In his point about the promised child coming through Sarah we are reminded that all of God’s people and all of God’s plans are brought to completion by His will and not ours. He is the Almighty Creator, the Holy and Omniscient One. As Proverbs 19:21 reminds us, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
Study/Meditation: Read Galatians 4:22-28. What does Paul teach here in regards to the “children of the promise” as illustrated with Sarah and Hagar? What does this teach you in regards to God’s sovereignty and your salvation?
*Father, You are awesome and mighty and sovereign. You are greatly to be praised! Amen.