Standing Firm: Walking Through Romans – Chapter 9 part 3

Welcome home, everyone! And Happy Grandparents Day!
It’s great to be Back in the House of the Lord, Amen? It’s great to be here live and in person with all of you, our Living Water Church Family! And it’s great to be with all of you watching online as well.  We pray that you are all well and in good health, Glory to God!

This Friday we commemorated the 19th anniversary of the terrible attack on World Trade Center, Pentagon, And Flight 93 bound for San Francisco where Americans fought and refused to allow that plane to be used as a weapon against the American people . We know of course that Flight 93 forced its crash landing into the fields of Shanksville Pennsylvania. Among those lost were 8 EMT/Paramedics, 60 Police Officers, 343 Firefighters, and 2997 Civilians.  Many of us promised that we would never forget those who were lost. With many days behind us and many days ahead we are keeping our promise to remember. In those days I remember many who’s faith was challenged as the question of why began to be asked. Some blamed God or at least religion and yet others turned to God for comfort and understanding.

Last time, we looked at Paul’s anguish regarding his lost Israel. The truthfulness and reliability of God’s word. And we talked about God’s Sovereignty in his choices and plan. Today we will continue in this vein of thought as we expand on what we can know about God, His character and the freedom of His sovereignty of his choice relating to His creation.

My one big idea today is this: Our Relationship With God Is Defined By Our Response To His Revealed Choice And Plan. My prayer today is that by hearing this message, together you and me, that we would be able to see and accept God’s sovereignty from the perspective of the creation and not as a critic. That we would remember that we are in no position to judge God’s character. If you have your Bibles today will you join me as we turn to Romans chapter 9, starting with verse 14.

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
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 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Romans 9:14-18

I have separated my thoughts into 2 sections/points in order to share them with you today. Let’s take a look at my first point.

God’s Sovereign Choice Is Just

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!

Romans 9:14

Immediately, Paul knows that someone will call God’s character into question. Because, when things don’t go our way the first thing we do is look for someone to blame. Right off the bat, Paul is like, I know what you’re going to say. Don’t even think about it. Because you know that justice is part God’s character is and he cannot act in any way that is not just.  His actions are just because His motive is His glory.

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 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Romans 9:15 & 16

God chooses who, how, and when as far as his mercy and compassion.  We can pray as ask God to intervene… We can pray as ask God for favor in a situation… We can pray and ask God for healing and many other things. But God chooses how and when based on His will and His plan. He decides because He is the only one who can see that far. His plan is to use us to bring Him glory. And because His glory is the motive, He is Just in His choice. How is your response to God’s selection defining your relationship with him?

I have built many things in my life.  The things I have enjoyed building the most are things like cars, trucks, and motorcycles. What I have learned is that with choosing each piece of the project, the builder must decide what purpose needs to be met and what is the stress level being put on that part and with what frequency. As the builder, I’m the only one who is uniquely qualified to answer these questions. I’m the only one because I alone possess the vision for how I want to use this vehicle. If I need a part to handle a bunch of stress and frequent use, then I know that I need to choose a material that is strong with lots of support. God builds us the same way.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

His choice for you is good. Imagine, God says, “there’s my servant Thomas,” “I need him to endure a lot of stress and hard work.” So, God makes me with certain attributes to so I can do the work He has planned for me. This is how I will glorify Him. God is making you special exactly for His plan in your life. God often uses mercy and compassion to enact his desires. How are we responding to what is happening in our lives?

“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making? Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?

Isaiah 45:9

God’s mercy, compassion is purposeful in His plan and he doesn’t need your permission. How are we responding to God’s sovereign choice?

God’s Mercy Is An Expression Of His Compassion

For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Romans 9:17 & 18

Earlier our text made the connection between mercy and God’s compassion for us. So what does God’s Choice to harden Pharaoh have to do with mercy and compassion? I’m glad you asked. A loving and compassionate father gives his children a boundary.

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:5-6

A clear boundary is how a child knows right from wrong. It is again the whole reason why God delivered the Law to Moses. In this portion of our text we see two opposing points of view.

  1. God showing mercy and compassion to the Hebrews.
  2. God is hardening Pharaoh’s heart.

I think the 1 is fairly self-explanatory. But 2 is a little trickier. Pharaoh witnessed God’s favor on the Hebrews. But he also suffered under the hardening of God’s wrath. God is demonstrating once more that He is true to his word. I have never seen God harden someone who was already compliant and in reverence to Him.
Where is something important to remember, God is revealing himself to the Egyptians at the same time as the Hebrews. God could have allowed Pharaoh to continued believing he was a god. One the other hand, Pharaoh was defiant to the word of the Lord through Moses.  One was compliant and the other defiant.  At this point the most impactful thing God could have done was to set it all straight. We may not always see things clearly in the moment, especially when bad things are happening around us but we can be sure that God is working. He working out His sovereign plan in a way that we can know something about him and that will bring Him glory.  
In Daniel Chapter 4, Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream;

29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

Daniel 4:29-34

His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

This is my question for you today:

What Is Our Response To God’s Sovereign Choice? Have you inserted yourself into God’s position? Have you become God’s critic? Or are you in God’s sovereign favor?

Will you open your hearts to Jesus, the Son of the living God, and receive what your heavenly father has for you? Will you call on him today? Will you trust in his ability to do what He said He would do? Will you believe today? Many of you need a fresh touch from God today. Is there some form of unbelief or a fracture of trust as it relates to God in your life today?  God wants to redeem and restore those areas of your life?  He wants to restore Joy and hope for you today. You’re hearing this now and the Holy Spirit has brought someone or something to mind. He wants to speak life into this today. He wants to bring healing in this area today.   There are areas of deep regret when it comes to your relationship with God and you have rejected Christ as your savior …It’s not too late. It’s not too late to humble yourself before him today, hold out your arms and open your hands to receive from him today. Will you say yes to Jesus, today? Will you bow your heads with me?  Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today. If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here. Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life.  If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. Remember, it’s just you and God here.

 Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me. Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and on that 3rd day, you rose from the dead. I ask you to come into my heart today. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.

 “‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26