Because this sermon was not recorded for your listening experience, I am putting together a short summary of Roman’s 9. I think the Apostle Paul is trying to express God’s perspective, when we so often look at life from our perspective. His main concern is his fellow Jews, who have rejected the message of Christ, which was predicted and proclaimed through the Old Testament time and again.
Romans 9 begins with emphasizing the “privilege” that the Jews experienced because God chose them. (vv.. 4-5) He prepared them with a supernatural birth that began with Isaac, as Abraham and Sarah were well beyond the age to have a child.(v.9) This was a foreshadowing of another supernatural birth when Christ was born. We learn that the Jews thought they were ok because of their pursuit of the law, which was based on human effort. (vv. 31-32) We learn that in the Book of Romans that the Jews, as well as all people, fall short of God’s standard because we all sin. Israel also stumbled over Christ, who is called the rock or stone. He was meant to be the fulfillment to all the promises that were expressed in the Old Testament. The Jews missed it. Even as we read in verse 27, only a remnant will be saved, which is describing Israel. Only a small portion would actually humble themselves and receive God’s mercy through his provision of Christ, the Messiah.
A crucial point in the chapter is when it says that God chose Jacob instead of Esau. But the point is that Jacob didn’t deserve it any more than Esau did, but it was because of God’s mercy that Jacob was selected, or elected. The question that we have as human beings is, did the Jews have any choice at all? He uses Pharaoh as his example. In Exodus 4:21 it says, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.’” This is clearly God’s choice. He is the One who makes this happen. But how about this statement in Exodus 5:2: “Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.’” This is clearly Pharaoh’s choice. He hardened his own heart. It is his own choice. So is it God’s choice or man’s choice? I even gave the congregation a vote on that question. It was 50/50 until I said that there is a third choice – that BOTH are at work at the same time. How can that be? Well we as human beings have not been able to understand or articulate an adequate description of defining God’s choosing and man’s choosing at the same time. Do you know why? It is a divine mystery.
The Apostle Paul emphasized the fact that God is the potter and we are the clay. That pretty much says it all. The fact is, one of the strongest points in the whole chapter is about everyone deserving God’s wrath. In verses 22 & 23 he really gets at the heart of the chapter when he says that God is patient toward those who are objects of his wrath. Even though they continue to disobey in sin through their unbelief, our God is patient, and he wants people to respond to him. You and I get stuck on him choosing some and not choosing others. The main emphasis of this chapter is that he chose you! He chose you even though you didn’t deserve it. By nature, we are objects of wrath, but by God’s grace we have become objects of mercy because we trusted Jesus Christ the Messiah. It is not based on anything we do; only on what he has done. In fact, I read this, “The fact that God bypasses some people to their own demise and actively chooses others to be the objects of mercy is an undisclosed and divine mystery.” It will only be understood in heaven.
Two points of application surfaced to me in this Scripture. Do you anguish over lost people like Paul did? He was heart stricken because his own people had rejected Christ. He said he would give his own soul if that meant his fellow countryman would come to faith in Jesus Christ. What are you doing to reach people who need the Lord? And secondly, do you realize that God chose you to receive mercy? It is an amazing fact. You and I deserve the opposite, but he gave us mercy through Christ. Don’t be like the Jews who say, “I deserve it because of how well I have followed the law.” Rather, be a person of humility who says, “Thank you God. You are the One who carried me home.” Romans 9 is a fascinating chapter which challenges us to see things from God’s perspective as best we can. This will deepen our trust, cause us to surrender and move us to worship Him wholeheartedly.