Romans 9:16-29

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 3, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.' Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
One of you will say to me: 'Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?' But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? 'Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea:
'I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,' and,
'In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
'Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.'
It is just as Isaiah said previously:
'Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.'” (Romans 9:16-29)

This is a pretty long passage this week, but it’s all connected together with one overall theme: God’s sovereignty. What is sovereignty? It’s essentially having supreme power or dominion over something, and being in control. God has the supreme power and dominion over the entire world, and He is in control of it.

This passage starts out with “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort…” The “it” referenced there is God’s justness, mercy, and compassion, which we saw in verses 14-15. God does not depend on human effort, and we’ll see why that’s true in the rest of this passage.

In verses 17-18, Paul quotes from Exodus 9:16. The point of life is not the human being (Moses, in this case), but the point is God’s glory. It’s not about us; it’s all about Him! God can and will do what God wants to, according to His purposes. We saw that recently in Romans 8:28.

I enjoy knitting and crocheting, which is essentially creating things out of yarn. If a blanket I’m crocheting started talking back to me, I’d sure be more than a little surprised! Similarly, as God’s creation, we have no right to “talk back” to our Creator. The Creator is sovereign and has power over His creation, and He can do what He wants with it (verses 19-21). We do have free will and the ability to make our own decisions of course, but we are still God’s creation. He’s in charge and we are not.

Normally when Paul poses a question in his writing, he also provides an answer. But, Paul moves on in verses 22-23 to some questions that don’t seem to have an easy answer present in the text. Who are we to even consider questioning God’s authority? God’s greater purpose is not for us to understand everything, but to make His glory known.

Paul loves contrasts, and here he makes one between objects of wrath and objects of glory. The issue here is salvation, and our choice to be saved by Him or not. God is in authority over all of us, but we each have the choice to decide whether we desire God’s salvation or not. We can choose to help God in His mission of making His glory known, or we can choose to be destroyed.

In verses 24-26, we see how God calls both Jews and Gentiles. We even see that the Old Testament affirms that God calls both; the Jews used to be God’s chosen people, but it’s not just them anymore! Like we saw last week, Paul is reminding the Jews that they’re not all just in by default now. All people need to choose for themselves between destruction or God’s salvation. As N.T. Wright says, “What counts is grace, not race.”

Throughout this passage in Romans, Paul has quoted a lot of verses from the Old Testament. Why? He’s showing the believers in Rome (and us) that he’s not just making this stuff up. He’s building upon the foundation that God has given through the Scriptures and showing them how Jesus has fulfilled that and how every person is invited into God’s glory now.

God can (and will) do what God wants to do. God chose to include all people into His family through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so shouldn’t we take Him up on that offer?

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