Time for Some Hard Thinking
Pray for wisdom as you grapple today with very thorny topics: God’s sovereignty and human free will.
Read ROMANS 9:14-29
 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.  For the 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 resists his will?”  But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him 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 noble purposes and some for common use?  What if God, 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, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons 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.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhy does Paul say we shouldn't "talk back" to God?
On Friday we read about how God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau, and in some ways you might be able to see why he did. Now Paul shows how God chose to use Pharaoh’s hard heart to achieve his ends (14-18). Skim Exodus 5-11 for the account of what happened when Moses went to Pharaoh. Do you think Pharaoh made a free choice at any point, especially at the beginning, or did God simply use Pharaoh’s sinful, already stubborn heart?
For Paul, the important thing is God’s mercy. Paul describes God as a potter who creates some people who will always have hard hearts and others who will experience his mercy and are able, presumably, to freely choose to trust him because of that (19-21). In vs. 22-26 Paul applies all this to the outstanding puzzle, especially for Jewish believers: why has God shown mercy to Gentiles who had never previously been included in the people of God? Indeed they were enemies of God, on their way to destruction (22). Paul finishes this section by pointing out that these Gentiles are shown mercy on the same basis as Jews who are really true believers (the “remnant,” vs. 27-29).
Do you think God is fair (14) to people like Pharaoh, the Gentiles, those Jews? Commit your thoughts to prayer.
Lord, I pray that You will always keep my heart soft toward You and ready to follow where You lead.
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