Text: Romans 9:4-29
Theme: God is sovereign and has the final call.
Key verses: “God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them…He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises” (v. 4). “Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people!” (v. 6). “This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children” (v. 8). “In the words of the Scriptures, ‘I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.” Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! For God said to Moses, ‘I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.’ So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it'” (v. 13-16). “So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen. Well then, you might say, ‘Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?’ No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ (v. 18-20). “In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory” (v. 21-23). “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality” (v. 27b-28).
What God said to me: Good morning, Dwayne. I am glad you are making time to journal your time with me today. This passage is one of the most stark and matter-of-fact writings in all of Paul’s letters. He doesn’t do much in the way of prefacing his readers for his bold words. As usual he doesn’t pull any punches or beat around the bush, so to speak. The writer of Genesis begins with the words, “In the beginning, God…” He makes no attempt to explain why I was in the beginning or how I got there. In much the same way, Paul doesn’t try to explain my actions or try to answer all the looming, inevitable questions the reader will no doubt have. To calmly resign oneself to the idea that “it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it” seems so stoic, fatalistic even. Most writers might feel compelled to try to explain away that statement or somehow soften its blow to the reader. Not so with Paul. He just puts it out there as fact, as raw and realistic truth. His readers can take it or leave it; they can believe or reject it. Either way, it is still true, and nothing they think or do can change or affect the truth in the slightest way. Dwayne, regardless of what you think you believe about my sovereignty, regardless of whether you feel justified or intellectual in your beliefs about my kindness and mercy and election of the saints, the bottom line is that I make the final call on each and every person. I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. Sound harsh? Perhaps, but in my economy and government (which is the only one that ultimately matters) I am the One in charge. I am King and Lord over all. Be grateful, be very grateful, I have chosen and called you out of darkness into my marvelous light. Thank me each and every day for saving your children and for giving you a ministry to my saints. Go out of your way to tell everyone you can about my love and my plan of redemption. As far as you are concerned, “whosoever will, let him come” is my mantra for mankind, and it’s your marching orders to invite them. I did so love the world that I gave my one and only Son that whosoever believes in me will not perish but have everlasting life. That is all you really need to understand and hold to in this life. You will understand it all better by and by. Rest in the knowledge that I am patient, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. Be certain I will cause the riches of my glory to shine on those to whom I show mercy. For now, you shall be my witness, both in your Jerusalem and Judea, in your Samaria-like regions and to the uttermost parts of the earth. That is your calling and your privilege. Be thankful and humble and joyful to do it.
What I said to God: Holy Father, thank You so much for meeting with me this morning. Your presence is so powerful and refreshing to my soul. I can’t imagine going through life without You walking with me, guiding me, and communing with me as friend with friend. I did not, could not choose You. I am blown away that You would choose me and my family to follow You and worship You and work for You in Your Kingdom. Please help me to boldly share the truth in love with those I come in contact with today and each day.