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Bible Gem 213 - Paul's Two Examples of "unjust" (Rom 9:15-18)

March 25, 2019


Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! 

For God said to Moses, "I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose." 

So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. 

For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, "I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying My power in you and to spread My fame throughout the earth." 

So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and He chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen. Rom 9:14-18  


In the midst of Paul’s discussion of his rhetorical question “Is God unjust?” he includes two examples for the Roman Christians and us to ponder. 


The first one you may have missed. The second you can’t miss. The second is the example of Pharoah. The first? It's God’s mercy to Israel.

Be careful to read the quotes in the New Testament thoroughly. Remember in the House of the Book (Bible Gemz 27) you were meant to know the Scripture well. So that when a verse was quoted you’re supposed to remember the surrounding context. That is what Paul is doing here. The quote he lifts from the Old Testament is from Exodus 33:19. “For God said to Moses, "I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose."” Rom 9:15  God has just chosen to have mercy on Moses and the children of Israel. And now He states clearly “I will show mercy to anyone I choose” – His prerogative as God. His special right to choose. Remember, while Moses was on the mountain the Israelites had lost it and made golden calf, Even the high priest was involved. While God was showing His glory to Moses Israel was throwing it back in His face. If justice had been dished out Israelites would have burned to a crisp. But God showed His mercy on those who didn’t deserve it. If you want to talk about unfairness then you would have to declare God “unfair” in showing mercy to Israel at that time. Come on God give them what they deserve. But we don’t say that. We only want to talk about unfairness when we think we have been treated unfairly. Never mind all the times when we are recipients of grace. 


Then Paul moves to his second example: let’s talk about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart infers Paul. Exodus 9:12, 10:1, 2, 27 11:10 14:4, 8 and 17. But that is not fair. How can God do that? Why does he blame us if He is the one who sets us on a predetermined course? These are deep theological questions. How and Why indeed? That’s not fair. Oh you want to talk about unfairness? Paul is using the example of Pharoah in an interesting way. He has only clipped a part of it and then he adds “God chooses to show mercy to some, and He chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.” Don’t forget that there is also Exodus 7:13, 14, 22, 8:15, 19, 32, 9:7, 34 and 35 which indicate Pharoah hardened his heart. 


Does this remind you of anything else in Romans? What about “God gave them over”? (Bible Gem 141) It is the same principle that Paul has spelled out earlier coming back in the example of Pharoah. Do you want to accuse God of being unfair? No don’t forget Romans 2:4 in that context. “Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”  



Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.


Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.  Helen Keller

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