On to Romans 9:15-23
v15: He: G-d.
- I will have mercy…: Quoted from Ex 33:19. This portion of Scripture (see Ex 33:12-23) is very significant. It is read, in the synagogue, on the Sabbath day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), as well as on the Sabbath day for the Feast of Tabernacles. The context is that Moses is pleading with G-d for assistance and for blessing. The people had been brought out of the land of Egypt, but G-d had not shown Moses who the Messiah was (“Your Way”) who would lead the people into the Promised Land. Moses was confused. Messiah was not going to come to lead the people into the land of Israel, but He is going to come to lead His people into the Kingdom of G-d. The Kingdom of G-d did not begin when Israel entered into the Promised Land. This entering in was a paradigm, an example, to teach us about Messiah’s future work – what He was going to do the first time He came, and what He will complete when He returns the second time and establishes His Kingdom.
- Mercy: Grace
- I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion: Many people teach that because G-d is Sovereign He simply chooses whom He wants to be merciful and compassionate towards. This is not what the Scripture is saying. Within the original context of this quote (ie Ex 33:12-23) G-d places Moses in a very specific location – on the Rock. It is only when Moses is standing upon the Rock that G-d reveals Himself to him. G-d doesn’t reveal His face to Moses, but only His back. This gives us a foretaste of something yet future. When we are in our glorified bodies, we are going to be able to literally be in the fullness of G-d’s Presence. Many commentators rightly point out that there is a relationship between that rock, that foundation, and Messiah. We can only experience the Kingdom of G-d if we are upon the right foundation – Messiah Yeshua. If Moses had been standing anywhere else, He would not have experienced the Presence of G-d in the way that he did. We are only shown mercy and compassion if we are in Messiah – in the right location.
v16: Wills: Desires. We are not going to experience the Presence, intimacy or promises of G-d simply because we want or desire it.
- Nor of him who runs: Nor are we going to experience it if we work really hard for it.
- But of G-d who shows mercy: What is foundational for us in experiencing G-d’s Presence etc is to be recipients of His mercy/grace. This mercy is not handed out haphazardly to whomever G-d chooses to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to. The gospel has gone out into all the world and G-d’s mercy is available for, and given to, EVERY human being that receives it – everyone who calls on the name of the L-rd will be saved.
v17: For this (very) purpose…: Quoted from Ex 9:16
- I have raised you up: G-d (whose gifts and calling are irrevocable) chose Pharoah for his very prominent position as king in Egypt. G-d’s desire/purpose/intent was to use Pharoah, in this position that G-d had given him, to declare G-d’s name in the earth and for G-d’s power to be shown through him. That G-d was going to use Pharoah for this purpose was an absolute certainty. What was uncertain was whether Pharoah was going to submit and participate obediently with G-d’s purpose. G-d then gave Pharoah a commandment (Ex 5:1). If Pharoah had received this command and sent the people forth, he would have obediently fulfilled what G-d had desired. G-d’s power and Name would have been manifested through Pharoah (which was G-d’s intent), but Pharoah would not have had to go through all the destruction that he did. Instead, Pharoah would have received blessing. G-d does not need chaos and devastation for His Name and power to be manifested or declared in all the earth. Pharoah, however, chose to rebel against G-d. G-d could have used Pharoah’s obedience to fulfil His purpose, but instead G-d had to then use Pharoah’s rebellion to fulfil that same purpose. G-d’s purpose never changes. It can be carried out through our obedience, but (if we choose not to be obedient) it will be carried out just as effectively through our disobedience. The result for G-d is always the same. The result for us is blessing for obedience and destruction for disobedience – our choice.
v18: Note: This is what is determined based on our response to G-d. If Pharoah had been obedient, G-d would have shown him mercy (like He showed mercy to Moses). But because Pharoah chose to rebel, he became a recipient of his heart being hardened. G-d does not harden hearts in a vacuum. In the account of the exodus G-d time and time again revealed Himself to Pharoah. G-d’s authority and character was revealed to Pharoah and Pharoah (and his men) acknowledged it – Ex 8:19, Ex 9:27, Ex 10:16. The problem with Pharoah was that as soon as G-d removed the consequences of His judgments from him Pharoah became defiant and again showed a lack of submission. Those who encounter the revelation of G-d, but they rebel against His truth and refuse to submit to it, the Biblical principle (spiritual law) is that G-d will harden their hearts. This applies to everyone – from kings to peasants. There is an adverse effect in rebelling against G-d’s revelation. Every person, based on their response to the revelation of G-d, is either going to be a recipient of G-d’s mercy or a recipient of a hard heart.
v19: Why does He still find fault: G-d’s purpose was accomplished through Pharoah (His Name was declared to the ends of the earth and His power was shown to all) so why is G-d still upset with Pharoah? G-d is upset with Pharoah because of Pharoah’s rebellion. G-d’s purposes were not thwarted by Pharoah’s rebellion, but they could have been accomplished through Pharoah’s submission and obedience – whereby Pharoah would have then received mercy and blessing – been brought into the family of G-d.
- Resisted: Opposed. Go against. The will of G-d is going to be fulfilled whether we submit or whether we do not submit to Him. However, if we participate with Him in His purpose for our lives we will be blessed. If we reject or stand in opposition to His purpose for our lives, we will not be blessed but we will be judged, condemned and cursed.
v20: Reply against: Argue with. Answer against. Are we going to be someone who answers G-d in a negative way?
- Formed: Made
- Will the thing formed say to Him who formed, ‘Why have you made me like this’: The One who did the forming, or the making, is the One who has the authority and power. The one who is formed is in a submissive position.
v21: From the same lump: This is not talking about dividing the clay into two separate pieces to make two different vessels. Everyone is either going to be a vessel of honour or a vessel of dishonour. Those who respond to the gospel and who are recipients of G-d’s mercy are going to be shaped into vessels of honour – vessels that are able to be used for G-d’s purpose and glory. Those who are rebellious and disobedient will be shaped into vessels of dishonour.
v22: Wanting: Willing
- Endured with much longsuffering: G-d is patient or longsuffering as He is giving these people, who are headed toward destruction, time to repent and to change (2 Peter 3:9).
- Vessels of wrath prepared for destruction: There comes a point when the time runs out. If these people who are walking on the path of destruction do not repent and submit to G-d, then G-d’s glory is going to be manifested through them by His wrath being revealed in them.
v23: Note: G-d, having foreknowledge, has always known which vessels (which people) would be vessels of glory and which would be vessels of dishonour and wrath. G-d always knew this, but G-d did not create them from the beginning to be either one or the other. That SAME lump of clay could go either way. Each person has been given a free will and each of us make our own decisions and choices – for which G-d cannot be blamed. Like Pharoah, G-d has revealed Himself to each one of us – His power, His authority, His character, His righteousness. If we rebel against what G-d has revealed, our hearts will become harder and harder toward G-d. G-d has chosen only ONE WAY for mankind to experience His forgiveness and mercy. If we submit to this way that G-d has chosen –Messiah Yeshua – then after receiving His mercy, we can participate in the purposes of G-d and experience His blessings and be recipients of His good promises.