2 Chronicles 15:9-16:14; Romans 9:11-24; Psalms 20:1-6; Proverbs 9:13-18
NT: “What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! For he tells Moses, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then, it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. For the Scripture tells Pharaoh, I raised you up for this reason so that I may display my power in you and that my name may be proclaimed in the whole earth. So then, he has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy and he hardens whom he wants to harden… And what if God, wanting to display his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction? And what if he did this to make known the riches of his glory on objects of mercy that he prepared beforehand for glory — on us, the ones he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:14-18, 22-24 CSB)
In chapter 9 of Romans, Paul began dealing with the issue of Israel’s rejection of Christ and the gentiles’ acceptance of Christ – and whether that was right or fair. After all, wasn’t Israel God’s chosen people? Had God set that election aside to now build His church with another people? God’s election of Israel was not based on anything that Israel had done. It was not because Israel was more righteous than the other nations of the world. Israel had not earned their elected status. In fact, in spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God over the years, God maintained their elected status. Israel’s elected status was based on God’s sovereignty and nothing else. Sovereignty has to do with having supreme power and complete autonomy. God as Creator and Sustainer of all has supreme power and complete autonomy. He in His perfect righteousness and wisdom is free to show mercy to whom He desires and is free to have compassion on whom He desires, for no other reason than He desires to do so.
Another factor at play, along with God’s sovereignty, is human responsibility. God is sovereign, but He also gave humanity a free will. God can show mercy to whomever He desires, but man can choose to reject His mercy. Paul used the lives of Moses and Pharaoh as examples of both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Moses and Pharaoh were both sinners… both were murderers. Neither was deserving of God’s mercy. God revealed Himself to Moses and Pharaoh. Moses responded to God with fear, humility and obedience. Pharaoh responded to God with pride, arrogance and hard-heartedness. As a result, Moses was shown mercy and Pharaoh was strengthened in his hard-hearted rejection. Pharaoh could have responded in humility, and he would have been known as one of History’s greatest emancipators – but instead, he hardened his heart and God used him as an example of God’s great power. Either way, God’s purposes would be fulfilled and His name glorified.
Men and women often have their own ideas of what is fair and just, and that idea of fairness and justice is based on their limited understanding and their own unrighteous state. Yet they arrogantly believe themselves to be more fair, more just, more righteous than God and get angry with God when He doesn’t meet their standards. God is incapable of being unjust or unrighteous, and in His sovereignty, many times He endures peoples’ unrighteous and arrogant behavior in order that His glory would be more fully known and His mercy more fully displayed to those He has called and chosen. Instead of judging God’s fairness, we should be judging our response to His revelation of mercy and glory. Are we responding in humility and faith, or are we hardening our hearts in rejection?