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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

“Who Can Be Saved?”

Romans 9:19-29


Paul now responds to the obvious question, “Is God unfair?”  His answer is multi-faceted.  His first point is that none of us is able to question God.  He uses an example from the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 18:1-6).  We of course are in no position to question God.  God is holy.  We are sinful.  God is infinite.  We are finite.  God is all knowing.  Our knowledge is limited.

Yet while we certainly can grant all this we are still left with the question, can God ever be unjust even by our limited standards?  If people are condemned before they have been born (Rom. 9:11), how can that possibly be just?  How could a God of love do that?  Paul has more to say on the subject.

Paul then goes further with the image of the potter and the clay.  He speaks of God enduring with much patience “the objects of wrath.”  He literally then says, “What if God has done this “and in order to” make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy?’  In fact we are all “objects of wrath.”  We are all sinners.  Paul calls us “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

We then need to look at the quote from Hosea.  This is a description of a sharp reversal.  Those who were not God’s people will be called his people.  This also fits with the reality that Jacob and Esau are not polar opposites.  They are finally reunited (Gen. 33:1-17).  Paul may well be saying here, in his forced grammar (“and in order that”) that finally the objects of wrath become the objects of mercy.  This hasn’t happened yet.  As Paul goes on to say, the present Israel is not the true or even complete Israel.  Yet a remnant remains as a guarantee of God’s faithfulness.  Paul in his lament over his people, the historical Israel, is reflecting on their past, present and indeed future.

God is not done with Israel.  He is not done with us either.

Eternal and faithful God I know I can trust in your promises which never fail.  Give me greater confidence, hope and faith in your service.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.