This will be a continuation of the subject of Godís sovereignty from the earlier message. We left off at verses 10-14 of chapter 9 of Romans. Verses 10-29 continue to illustrate Godís sovereign right to chose whom He will. The birth of Esau and Jacob is the first illustration.
Romans 9:10-14: "And not only this; but when Rebekah also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid."
In the case of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah, even before these children were born, before they had sinned or done any good, God said, in Genesis 25:23, "The elder shall serve the younger" The reason for this statement from God had nothing to do with works, it was so ďthat the purpose of God might stand.Ē(Verse 11) It was in Godís program and it is Godís right to choose whom He will.
In the case of Ishmael, some might claim that he was set aside, because he was born of a slave girl, but that argument canít stand when you review it along side the case of Esau and Jacob. These boys were twins.
This decree went much further than the persons of Esau and Jacob. Genesis 25:23: "And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger."
Look at the history of the two nations that came from these brothers. God was right. One nation became stronger than the other. The Edomites descended from Esau, and Israel from Jacob.
The Edomites were a continual thorn in the side of Israel, but Edom only maintained itís status as a nation until they were conquered by King David of Judah. After that they were dominated by the kings of Judah for periods of time until they finally ceased to be a nation and were mostly incorporated into the Jewish nation. The last Edomite we know anything about was Herod the Great who was nominally an Edomite.
God has stated that He loved Jacob (Israel) but He hated Esau. Thereís no need to soften it or make it say what it doesnít say. Itís repeated several times in the Bible. God rejected the Edomites for their wicked ways and because they worshipped idols. Jacob worshipped God. Thereís no need to try to explain away what God has said. Let His Word speak for itself.
Malachi 1:1-5: "The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel, by Malachi. I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation forever. And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel."
Romans 9:14: "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid."
Paul knew there were those who would accuse God of unrighteousness in His dealings with Esau and I can almost hear him shouting ďGod forbid."
Remember in Romans chapter one, "The just shall live by faith." This faith is faith in God. Faith canít for one split second tolerate the insinuation that there is or could be any unrighteousness with God. His will and actions are not subject to or influenced by any other power. The clincher for this statement comes in verse 15 of Romans.
Verse 15: "For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
Paul quotes from Exodus 33:19 and points out that even Moses, who we might suppose could attain grace on the grounds of his position before God if anyone could, couldnít attain grace on any grounds other than God's unmerited favor. God gives mercy because itís God's divine will to do so and itís His right to bestow grace on whoever He will.
This is a deep spiritual truth and the only way to understand the deep things of God is accept what God says by faith.
Verse 16: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."
Godís mercy is given according to God's divine purpose and will. This excludes all human element. He has mercy on whoever He will, simply because He is God.
Romans 9:17-18: "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, (Paul quoted here from Exodus 9:16) ďEven for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth, Therefore, hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth."
The scriptures record that Pharaoh refused God ten times. Paul points out that it was by Godís purpose, program and will that He overthrew Pharaoh.
Donít question the actions of God. Believe in the sovereignty of God. I canít explain it. If I could, I would be equal with God. The word ďsovereigntyĒ means absolute power. ďAbsoluteĒ means there is none greater or equal. That describes God.
There are a lot of things about God that I canít understand and canít explain. You canít analyze God in a laboratory or under a microscope. God is sovereign. God knows the end from the beginning. He knows every little detail about every person who has ever been born, or ever will be born until the end of this world comes. Thatís kind of scary to me, to know God knows what Iím thinking and He still sent His Son to take my place in judgment. One of my favorite hymns is about the love of God that is so rich, so free.
When the Children of Israel were slaves in the land of Egypt and wanted to leave, God hardened Pharaoh's heart in order that the divine power of God might be seen by the world.
If Pharaoh had willingly allowed the people to depart, God couldnít have shown the miracles in Egypt and of the Red Sea crossing. Until that time, the known world didnít know of the power of the ďGod of Israel.Ē Israel has estranged themselves from Him at this time but Godís fame from those episodes still endures, and it will endure throughout the eternal ages. Israelís "911" continues at this time. The Great Tribulation years will be much worse but in the end, God, in His mercy and grace, will restore His people as the Nation of Israel here on this earth. God hasnít forgotten His people.
God knows the end in the beginning, and God is sovereign, and He prophesied through the New Testament writers that in the end of the age of grace, evil men and seducers would wax worse and worse, deceiving people and being deceived. Without a doubt that is going on all around us today. Peter wrote that in the last days there will be scoffers, and they are here today.
If God had dealt with Israel in righteousness, there would be no Israel today. Not because they were any more wicked than other nations, itís because they were chosen by God to be His People but they rejected Him. In His sovereignty, He spared whom He would.
If God had dealt with Israel in justice when they made a golden calf and set it up as a god to worship, He would have destroyed them all right then and there. No one could have faulted Him if He had. Instead, He dealt with them in sovereign mercy.
Every person, from Adam to the last person who gets saved, will enter the Kingdom of God solely as a benefit of God's sovereign grace.
Man can only stand justified before God through the Grace of God sending His Son to shed His innocent blood as an atonement for their sins. We are justified through that blood.
Pharaoh appears as an example of God's judgment. Pharaoh was the enemy of God. He exalted himself and said, "Who is God, that I should obey Him? I will not let His people go!"
It scares me just to think about someone defying God that way. Pharaoh thought of himself as equal to God and challenged God, and God used Pharaoh as an example of His power and judgment that will come on all who act in the spirit of Pharaoh.
God shows mercy to whom He will, and God hardens the hearts of whom He will. There isnít one solitary thing that man can do about it. Almighty God has a blueprint and His will is going to be carried out. In spite of this biblical fact, men still criticize God.
There are those who say that grace is not enough, that free grace doesnít save, that you have to add works. Others teach that itís wrong that we suffer because of Adam's transgression six thousand years ago. It really doesnít change anything what man thinks or says about God or God's Word. It has been settled in Heaven in eternity past that God's will shall be done, regardless of what anyone says or thinks.
Romans 9:19: "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?"
When man makes a statement like this, he is charging God with injustice or that Godís justice is open for questioning. The next verse gives a quick rebuttal.
Verse 20: "Nay but, 0 man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?"
Paul is asking, ďWho would dare question the God who created you?Ē You were created by God, in His Own image, youíre the recipient and beneficiary of God's power, not your own. Do you think that you, a created being of Almighty God, might have a case against the God who made you? If it were possible for man to prove God unrighteous, then man could destroy the entire program of God. But there is no reason to worry about that. Man canít bring any accusation against God!
Verse 21: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"
This chapter is actually written to the Nation of Israel but Gentiles arenít exempt from Godís sovereignty. Paul uses the example of the potter and the clay. We all know that the potter has the right and the power to make whatever he so chooses out of the clay and the clay is powerless to change that. Jeremiah 18:6. ďO house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.Ē
Verses 22-24: "What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"
God has the perfect right and power to destroy every ungodly person on the face of the earth, but He also has the right to share the riches of His glory with those He prepared to be the object of His mercy, those He knew would trust Jesus for their salvation and that includes both Jews and Gentiles. God is righteous, holy, true. God is never wrong.
Verses 25-29: "As He saith also in Hosea, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Isaiah also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Isaiah said before, Except the Lord of Saboath had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrha."
This is a difficult passage in the King James translation so I will paraphrase it, taking from other translations on occasion.
Concerning the Gentiles, God says in Hosea that those who were not My people, I will now call my people. And I will love those I didnít love before. At one time they were told, "You are not My people." But now God will say, "You are children of the living God."
Concerning Israel, Isaiah wrote, "Although the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand on the seashore, only a small number will be saved because the Lord will carry out his sentence on the earth quickly and with finality." It will be just as Isaiah said previously:
"Unless the Lord Almighty had left us some descendants, we would have become like Sodom and Gomorrah."
Paul quotes from Isaiah that it is only by God's free grace that even a remnant out of Israel will be saved. Itís not because they deserved it, but because God ordered and willed it.
Hosea prophesied God would save a people, namely the Gentiles, ďwho were not a people.Ē They were strangers to the covenants, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, without hope, and yet, through God's sovereign grace, He called a people His people who were not His people because they put heir faith in Him. Hosea's prophecy is being fulfilled today in this wonderful day of grace.
Paul asks another question in verses 30-33: "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed."
The Gentiles who attained righteousness, gained it only through the sovereign grace of God. This has nothing to do with the free will of man: Romans 9:16: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." Later in this epistle it is definitely pointed out why God called the Gentiles.
Israel, as a nation, failed to reach the place of righteousness or holiness that the law demands. They said, "All that Jehovah hath spoken we will do" (Exodus 19:8) but when it came time to obey the law, they did just the opposite; they broke every commandment God gave them. Just read the history of Israel in the Old Testament.
Paul asks, "Why did Israel fail? Why didnít they reach the state of righteousness the law demands?Ē The answer is: "They sought it not by faith, they sought it by works," that is, they sought it by the law which they couldnít keep.
Israel stumbled over the Stumblingstone (Christ) because they were not walking by faith; they were not seeking righteousness by faith, but by the works of the law.
I Corinthians 1:23: ďBut we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness.Ē
The Jewish rulers refused to recognize the Messiah, Jesus Christ, when He was here on earth, even though it was plainly foretold in many of the Old Testament Scriptures. The proof of Who He was is there and we can read it today, but they still refuse to acknowledge Him. What a stumbling block that has become to the Nation of Israel ever since that time! And yet, God has given the individual Jew a way out here in verse 33. ďAnd whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed."
In chapter nine, weíve seen the test of real saving faith. Trusting in God is faith. It takes faith to believe that God is all-powerful, that He is ever present and that He knows all things, that He is righteous and holy and is never wrong, even in the smallest detail.
By faith we believe that itís impossible for the Judge of all the earth to do wrong. He is God, He has the right to harden the heart of whom He will, and soften the heart of whom He will. These things are beyond human reason and human understanding, but human reason and understanding have no authority over true faith.
Faith believes God without seeing, feeling, or tasting. Faith believes God because God is God! If we walk by faith in the dark, even though we canít see God, we know Heís there. Human reason fails to understand a virgin birth or a resurrection from the dead but God-given faith believes in the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of the dead, and the personal return of Jesus to this earth again.
If we walk by sight, thereís no need for faith. We donít need faith to believe what we can see, or feel, or taste. We have our God-given senses to recognize those. We need faith to believe God without question. God said it several times over in the Scriptures and Iíll quote it here again. ďThe just shall live by faith.Ē
God is invisible, and yet we know Heís there. Itís wonderful to walk by faith and not by sight. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have that saving faith. We donít know what tomorrow will bring but we can know the Christ who first loved us and who knows all our tomorrows.
In the month of May, we get many invitations from young people to help celebrate their graduation from high school or college and as a rule, there are some weddings as well. Itís a time of rejoicing, a time to celebrate something great that has come into their lives.
I have an invitation I would like to extend to you today if you have not yet trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you accept this invitation, I guarantee it will be cause for the greatest celebration of your life and that celebration will continue all your life and for all eternity.
The following invitation is to ďwhosoever.Ē
Romans 10:9-13: ďIf you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
God wants you to accept this invitation
and recognize the Lord Jesus as your Savior.