only 10 pages this time, but there is soooo much depth to this, i dare not shorten it.
Romans Bible Study #32
The God of Esau
14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As He says also in Hosea,
“I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, ‘MY PEOPLE,’
AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED, ‘BELOVED.’”
26 “AND IT SHALL BE THAT IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, ‘YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,’
THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD.”
27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL BE LIKE THE SAND OF THE SEA, IT IS THE REMNANT THAT WILL BE SAVED; 28 FOR THE LORD WILL EXECUTE HIS WORD ON THE EARTH, THOROUGHLY AND QUICKLY.” 29 And just as Isaiah foretold,
“UNLESS THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT TO US A POSTERITY,
WE WOULD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, AND WOULD HAVE RESEMBLED GOMORRAH.” NASB
14-18Is that grounds for complaining that God is unfair? Not so fast, please. God told Moses, "I'm in charge of mercy. I'm in charge of compassion." Compassion doesn't originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God's mercy. The same point was made when God said to Pharaoh, "I picked you as a bit player in this drama of my salvation power." All we're saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill.
19Are you going to object, "So how can God blame us for anything since he's in charge of everything? If the big decisions are already made, what say do we have in it?"
20-33Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, "Why did you shape me like this?" Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn't that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:
I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
I'll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, "You're nobody!"
they're calling you "God's living children."
Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:
If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
and the sum labeled "chosen of God,"
They'd be numbers still, not names;
salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn't count us; he calls us by name.
Arithmetic is not his focus.
Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth:
If our powerful God
had not provided us a legacy of living children,
We would have ended up like ghost towns,
like Sodom and Gomorrah. The Message
I know we are on the right path in this study because every bit of this is against the pride of man.
Psalm 106:8 Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name,
That He might make His power known.
Barth and others
At the depth of this truth lies “the transformation of our misery.” Barth
Wherever men are serious, the scandal of predestination must be set forth and received. Barth
“The more a man finds these texts to be harsh, the more is he wedded to his own righteousness. Inasmuch, however, as he is able to live quietly with them, his heart rests altogether in grace.” Steinhofer
If we conceive of God as conformed to our human ideas, as one cause in a series, as one factor among other factors, He is not the Cause, the Absolute, the Eternal, Personal God-- but rather the “No-God’ Barth
Verse 14 Our minds are still bending and creaking under the weight of Jacob I loved, Esau I hated, and in our man-centered thoughts we cannot get around the question, Isn’t that unfair? Most of those who comment on this section and agree with the premise of this question, say that it cannot mean what it plainly says because that would make God to be a capricious God. A God subject to whim, and erratic in His behavior, the opposite of steady and constant. What they are missing is, God is being faithful to Himself in this, Faithful to His Total Freedom to do what He knows needs to be done to “fulfill all righteousness.” He is the definition of righteousness, not any idea we might have. Most often those who could not handle the Jacob-Esau thing said that Paul was talking about the nations, but he spoke of the two in Rebecca’s womb, and said specifically before they had done anything, so there is an aspect where this truth is ‘national’, but you cannot escape the other meaning that is strongly indicated. Two lives were forming in the womb and one was chosen. We cheapen this section if we do not notice the struggle indicated in verses like this one. This is a battle for the mind, to transform and convert us from a lifetime of man-centered thinking. The fact that we all know to be true is those who have been through a lot are kinder, more humble and more mercy giving. So our wisdom, which would be; avoid trials and struggles, is shown to be shallow and in a word, “wrong.” This and many other examples demonstrate that we have no right to question God, and HE agrees as we can see in HIS answer to the question, “Is there injustice with God?”
Verse 15 His answer is no answer it is a restatement of an unchangeable fact. I will decide, I will decide.The fact that it is “I” who am doing the deciding means that there is no unrighteousness. My freedom to do as I please, leaves Me totally free to do the righteous thing. Because I am God, my definition of righteous is best and highest. And that definition is, whatever brings glory to My Name. Mercy and compassion will be shown because that is Who I am, and it will be shown to whoever I decide because, only I know how to make My plan work out for My the glory of My Name.
In the context, the phrase Paul quotes here is connected to God’s name. This event from the Jewish Bible’s book of Exodus is the closest we come in the Jewish Bible to the innermost nature of God (Dunn 2:562).
“Exodus 33:19 is a statement of God concerning Himself, it must therefore be looked upon as inconvertible and unexceptional doctrine.” James Morison
Verse 16 God is not afraid to keep beating the same drum from an unlimited number of angles, so this statement looks at this truth from the angle of, ‘how much does man have to do with Your decision God?’... um... nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing. Is your pride rising up yet, does the fact that you are in line to get absolutely no credit for all of this crawl under you skin and cause you to protest, if it does, then that is proof that you are really beginning to understand the depth of Grace and the height of God. No chest-thumping, “look what I did” allowed, probably be a big sign at the entrance to heaven, “You had nothing to do with your getting here.” Your ‘will’ had nothing to do with it and your ‘do’ had nothing to do with. Bow, bend the knee, and enter as a ‘victim’ of My Mercy.
This means that the working out of God’s strategy in human history doesn’t depend on human effort. The phrase "desire or effort" in v. 16 describes the totality of our human capacity (Dunn 2:552). God’s strategy in human history isn’t dependant on human effort.
Verse 17 Pharaoh is brought in as exhibit A that God’s freedom, includes the freedom to harden. God raised Pharaoh up, to demonstrate His power and to proclaim His Name in all the earth. So that ties in to what we know to be true about righteousness, God’s Name receives glory. So man is not the pinnacle, the ultimate thing in the universe, God is, and His Name receiving glory is, and in fact, if we give our lives for anything else, we will begin to sense that an emptiness and the question, ‘Is this all that there is?’ will mercifully creep into our consciousness. There is mystery here still, Pharaoh is held accountable and the scripture says both God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and Pharaoh hardened his heart, but significantly, God tells Moses He will harden Pharaoh’s heart before Moses has even gotten to Egypt. So again, there is mystery here as to how our will, our choice fits into this, but we do know it is not the foundation, God’s call and election is.
Verse 18 is the conclusion of the previous verses and many, many ‘good’ Bible commentators, run in all sorts of directions to make this verse not say, what it clearly says. Let’s read it. “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” Very straightforward, very unapologetic, very clear. Two reasons why people run from the truth of this verse. If they forget that God has a grounding, foundational motive of bringing glory to His Name, then they say that this verse makes it seem like God is capricious, acting on a whim, impulsive, unpredictable, given to errors in judgment, the opposite of faithful and reliable. The second reason to try to twist this verse to mean something else, is it says God was in control when sin was happening. What Pharaoh did was “sin.” That is “outside of the box" for most people, God ordaining that sin take place. But I want God to be in control at times like that. I want Him to be in control of satan, as He was in the story of Job. This verse in Isaiah, backs up what Paul is implying here. Isaiah 54:16
“Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals And brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin.”
Our definition of the man Moses as elected and of the man Pharaoh as rejected is repellent, meaningless, and utterly incapable of proof. The election of the one and the rejection of the other have meaning only in the freedom of God and by the miracle of revelation, and the very purpose of the occurrence is -- to show My Power, and that My Name may be declared throughout all the earth. In order for the church or the individual to become ‘elect Moses’ it must recognize and ponder the fact that it is Pharaoh, and Esau. Barth
Verse 19 makes it even more obvious that the clear and simple interpretation of verse 18 is correct, because Paul knows exactly where such a clear and simple interpretation would lead: directly to this question. Again there is an unexplained mystery here, beyond our ability to comprehend. The question is why does it surprise us that some things would be ‘mysteries’ beyond our comprehension when we are talking about God, and that is where Paul is going with His answer.
Verse 20 Listen it is nice and good and true, that Jesus is our friend, as well as Lord and Savior, but that does not negate the fact that God is also a “totally other” being and we stand in relation to Him, not as lesser person to greater person, but as inanimate object, “clay”, to all-wise, all-knowing Creator “potter.” “O man” is in this verse for a reason, to contrast with “God.” Romans spent many chapters on the ‘bad news’ before we ever got to the ‘good news,’ and this is just a little reminder, the separation, between you and God is permanent and solid, UNLESS, God acts. The ridiculous picture is of a piece of pottery, clay, dirt, sitting there, rising up in all its greatness, (really get a vision of how ridiculous this is) and calling into question, the motivation, the skill the wisdom of the potter!! It is hilariously stupid, but it is an accurate picture.
‘So it is precisely the knowledge of God’s freedom and power and grace which does NOT throw men wholly out of gear, because such knowledge is indissolubly one with the knowledge that they are men and not God. It is precisely the man who respects God as God who will have no occasion to object, for he will neither fear nor desire the dissolution of his responsibility: such a man will become NOT insane, NOT immoral, NOT criminal, NOT a suicide. '
‘On the one side stands the purposeful master of the universe and on the other side stands the material which serves His purpose and becomes His work.’ Barth
Verse 21 If we begin to recognize who we really are and who God really is, then we will not be so stupid as to second-guess His choosing, and we are growing in our understanding and appreciation of His wisdom through these 3 chapter, and of course, Paul ends the chapters with a “bursting out in song to God” because he begins to see the amazing wisdom of God.
Verse 22 God can only be seen in one of two ways, the first and most common is to compromise His justice and wrath, and to 'make up’ a god who fits nicely into our categories. The other is to see that He is truth, and justice and love and to know for a fact that we are incapable of obeying Him and are destined to die at His hands. It is only revelation from Him that reveals this to us and opens us up to the revelation of His mercy, only when Jacob wrestles with the truth of God is He renamed Israel, and only in accepting and repeating his name as 'Jacob’ deceiver, cheater, can God change his name to Israel.
Verse 23 Vessels of mercy, definitely gives the picture not of a container that is meant to sit on a shelf, but of a vessel to be used to pour out, what it has received on others! You can’t have truly known your own need of mercy and the miraculous receiving of mercy, without also wanting to “tell somebody.” This truth that it is all God and “being chosen," does not create haughtiness, but just the opposite, it creates in us ‘humility.'
Verse 24-29 We cannot truly appreciate here what an amazing thing the Holy Spirit is doing through Paul and how it would have stunned the early hearers. The Jews were God’s people, with the promises and all that was stated at the beginning of the chapter. The Gentiles were the outsiders. Even these verses Paul is quoting would have been seen in there original context as promises to the Jews that whereas God had rejected them for a time, He was now accepting them again. There was nothing here for the Gentiles, there was no “leftover” blessing to give to Esau, it had all been given to Jacob. So it is stunning, that the Holy Spirit is now saying, see, there is a two-fold hidden meaning here, a mystery is being revealed, this was also referring to the gentiles.
The time of the gentiles has come, the blessing of God is on them too, His mercy is shown to them too. The same mercy that preserves a remnant of the Jewish people, is performing a gathering of the gentile people. Without God, without His mercy, this chosen people would have become like the worst of the “non-chosen.” The knowledge of this mercy, this revelation, as the one and only source of life, makes of us not arrogant but humble people. The “apostle to the gentiles” was a “Hebrew of Hebrews.” Why? because he of all people could explain where this “Faith” had come from, what the connection is and how amazing it is that God worked it all out.
Piper thoughts and mine and others.
Some will glorify God’s mercy and grace; others His justice and wrath. Either way, we all fulfill our purpose according to how the Lord has decided we will glorify Him. The manner in which we glorify God is largely dependant upon that in which we trust. If it is earthly – people, money, soldiers, strength – we will likely experience and glorify God’s wrath. If it is spiritual – God and His Word alone – we will likely glorify his mercy and grace. If God is veiwed as a many faceted diamond, then as we grow to know and appreciate each angle, His beauty and majesty will increase in our eyes. “Magnify the Lord with me,” the psalmist says, we can not of course make Him bigger, but we can so focus on His greatness from every angle (including wrath and justice) that His “bigness” is more real to us.
This is about the hardest, truest, deepest statement you will ever read about going through pain and loss.
‘In reality our pain and losses are always a test of how much we treasure the all-wise, all-governing God in comparison to what we have lost,’ John Piper
Piper gave a few examples of people who had experienced tragic losses, who found comfort in the fact that God is sovereign in all things. Some would think, just the opposite, that in tragic circumstances people would only be comforted by robbing God of His sovereignty and saying that “event” was out of His control, but that now He was here to comfort, but such is not the case.
The deepest reason this is right, Paul says, is that it displays most fully the glory of God, including His wrath against sin and his power in judgment, so that the vessels of mercy can know Him most completely and worship Him with the greatest intensity for all eternity.
Jonathan Edwards, answering the question why a good and holy God would decree that there be hardening and evil.
“It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent [=radiant], that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all. . .
Thus it is necessary, that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.
If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. How much happiness soever he bestowed, his goodness would not be so much prized and admired, and the sense of it not so great . . .
So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect. (Jonathan Edwards, "Concerning the Divine Decrees," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), p. 528)
So I ask, "Is God less glorious because he ordained that there be real evil and real guilt and just punishment?" Paul’s answer is, no, just the opposite. God’s glory will shine the more truly and brightly for having decreed and governed this universe as we know it. The effort to rescue God from his sovereignty by denying his foreknowledge of sin or by denying his ultimate control over sin is destructive for faith and hope and worship. It is a great dishonor to his word and his wisdom. Christians, if you love the glory of God, look well to the teaching of your church and your schools. Test them. But most of all look well to your souls.
The point here is that even though the Egyptian Pharaoh defied God and hated the people of Israel, God had actually raised Pharaoh up for to fulfill God’s purpose. Even in his hatred and rebellion, Pharaoh serves as a witness to God’s greatness and glory. When human beings react against God, they think they’re acting on their own, and they think they can short circuit his plans, but actually God is using their very resistance to accomplish his purposes. God used Pharaoh’s resistance to display his power and make his character known.
Paul’s point here seems to be that even God’s enemies serve God’s purposes in the world.
Found this when searching through many other people’s opinions on these verses.
We can trust in God’s fairness because GOD IS MOTIVATED BY MERCY.
Often even when we can’t understand someone’s action, we can accept the action if we trust the person’s motive. When my third son was two years old he had to be admitted to San Antonio Hospital because he had severe croup. I’ll never forget when they put an IV line into my two year old son’s arm. He screamed so loud and fought so hard that he had to be physically restrained. He didn’t understand why I would allow people to do such a painful, horrible thing to him. He looked into my eyes like I was betraying him, yet he also cried out for me to comfort him because he still believed that I loved him. He didn’t understand the action, but he trusted my motive.
I think we’re a lot like that in our relationship with God. When God allows things to happen that seem painful and don’t make sense, we cry out because we don’t understand. But we can trust that he’s motivated by mercy and compassion, not cruelty and vindictiveness. As we struggle with God’s fairness in how he works out his plan, it helps us trust God when we remind ourselves that he’s motivated by mercy.