Well this is not a great way to start a Monday morning. I went to prepare my blog and blogger is down for maintenance. Do you think that would work if I called in to say I was unavailable today due to maintenance? Probably not. There are some Monday mornings when it is harder to get moving than others. This morning we have to be at the school by 6:30 am to get everything set up. So, here we go.
As we move on to Romans 9 we have here a brief glimpse into the heart and passion of Paul’s heart for his people. He states if it was possible he would gladly face condemnation in order that Israel would be saved. Fortunately that is not possible. Every person stands or falls according to their own decision. No other person can sacrifice for our salvation. The Father alone paid the price for that salvation and any other sacrifice falls short of what he offered.
This chapter 9 was written so that we might understand what God has done through Israel. If they had accepted Jesus as the Christ, as the Son of God, we may never have been presented with the gospel. God used their hardened hearts to have the gospel spread throughout the world. It was not just a matter of Israel rejecting Jesus, they tried to stamp out his teaching completely. It was through this persecution that the Church was scattered and wherever the members went to hide the gospel was spread.
Now, in explaining this situation to his readers Paul also pointed out something that many people find disturbing about our God:
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. vv. 14-16
Paul uses the example of Pharaoh's hardened heart that caused God to send the plagues which revealed God to the world for the first time. God was revealed as he rescued his people from a cruel existence. This made possible because of Pharaoh's refusal to let Israel go. Pharaoh was lost in order a nation could be saved. How do we reconcile this in our own thinking?
To add to it Paul continues:
Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. v.18
Paul asks the question for us:
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? vv. 19-21
That's a hard answer, isn't it? Only if we try to make God after our own image. It is hard for us to understand all the details of our Father. Our little minds would not be able to process even a fraction of the information if it was given to us but we can understand one thing. When our Father speaks of mercy he is not paying lip service to a concept. His mercy is real and should never be taken for granted.
The fact is that none of us deserves to receive salvation. We deserve death. So the fact that we have been included in his plan of salvation should cause us to rejoice everyday and we should be showing our appreciation with thanksgiving hearts. Unfortunately we act like rich, spoiled children who believe we deserve every privilege available to us. We deserve death. What we received due to the Father's mercy is life and we should be celebrating that life every day. It came to us freely but was paid for dearly.
So instead of starting this day off with complaints and groans let us enter into it with praise and thanksgiving, that we have a Father who chose to love us and has shown us such great mercy.
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."(Lamentations 3:19-24)