Sermon: God Does as He Pleases With His Creation (Part 2) Romans 9:19–29

God Does as He Pleases With His Creation (Part 2)

Romans 9:19–29

Truth Taught- God has determined to use His creation to show His glory.

Introduction:

Last time we looked at Romans together we learned some really amazing truths. Beloved, these are not easy truths but they are vital truths. As we enter into the doctrine of God choosing some and not others, namely the doctrine of election we find ourselves really challenged. The reason is this doctrine goes very much against human reasoning.

The reality is that God can do whatever He wants to do without our endorsement or approval. He does not operate on an approval rating like a Politian. He doesn’t have the fear of man but does absolutely anything He decrees without hesitation.

Specifically, last time we looked at two examples to answer the accusation that God is not just in electing whomever He chooses. Paul took us to two Exodus events to explain that really for those who think God is unjust in determining who He places His eternal love upon He is not unjust at all. The reality is we look through sinful lenses at what God does and initially some of His actions may seem unjust. He is perfect and entirely sinless so some of what He does will not make sense to us. However, He is always right and good in all He does.

We looked at the Golden Calf Event, which was what was quoted in:

Romans 9:15 (ESV)

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.”

The main truth there was that none of those who left Egypt in the Exodus qualified to receive God’s mercy. In fact they were idol worshippers through and through. Yet God chose to spare them not because they were worthy of mercy but simply because He chose them. So if God is unjust, He’s unjust in the sense of showing unjust mercy not unjust judgment. God does this to receive praise and glory by saving those who do not deserve to be saved. God is glorified in redeeming undeserving sinners.

The second Exodus event Paul used to prove God is not unjust was to show us the reality of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. We learned that Pharaoh had initially hardened his own heart and God was simply solidifying the direction Pharaoh was already going. He hated God and was a polytheist (worshipped many gods). So, what God did was harden what was already there for His own glory. God doesn’t tempt or make anyone sin but will use their sin for His glory.

Romans 9:17–18 (ESV)

17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Paul concludes that in one moment in time there were the undeserving Israelites whom God chose to show mercy to…

Romans 9:15 (ESV)

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.”

There was also Pharaoh who God raised up to serve Him in his sin.

What’s amazing is that in both cases God received glory.

So the objection from last time was answered, God is just and when He is unjust it’s to save someone not to judge someone.

  1. Objection: God Can’t Hold the Lost Accountable

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Here is the human objection stated: If God hardens Pharaoh, it seems a bit to rough to blame him for being hardened, when he couldn’t help it because it was God’s doing not his. But the problem with this objection is a clear understanding of Pharaoh’s heart condition. We learn that God doesn’t take a person who would really wants to serve and love Him and harden his heart against Him. Pharaoh did not really want to love God and God wouldn’t let him. Pharaoh hated God and loved his power and position and the worship of the people. So what God did was to harden Pharaoh’s heart in the direction he was already going.

Paul, at this point, could have went back to Exodus and showed how in the beginning it was Pharaoh who hardened his own heart…

Exodus 8:32 (ESV)

32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.

The reality is Paul doesn’t go there. He simply and powerfully says basically, who do you think you are to question God? 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?

Paul then uses an OT example from a time when God was greatly angered because the Israelites were questioning His sovereign will and acting like they knew the future and could control events.

Isaiah 29:16 (ESV)

16    You turn things upside down!

       Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,

       that the thing made should say of its maker,

“He did not make me”;

       or the thing formed say of him who formed it,

“He has no understanding”?

Paul uses this example to make his point.

Jeremiah 18:3–6 (ESV)

So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

God is clearly the Potter who can make whatever and whomever He desires.

Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

To challenge God’s right to control the universe and everything in it is to make a play for His throne. It’s literally to turn things upside down. To question God’s right to do as He pleases is to seek to dethrone God and sit on His throne. It’s really satanic because that is exactly what Satan tried to do.

Isaiah 14:13–14 (ESV)

13    You said in your heart,

‘I will ascend to heaven;

       above the stars of God

I will set my throne on high;

       I will sit on the mount of assembly

in the far reaches of the north;

14    I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.’

God has the sovereign right to make clay pots for various purposes. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses were made to bring God glory through His mercy. Ishmael, Esau, and Pharaoh were clay pots created to bring God glory through His justice. He is God and we are not.

Here’s where we need to be careful. When God hardened Pharaoh’s heart He was taking Pharaoh’s sinful will and cementing it further. In other words, He did not make Pharaoh do something he didn’t already want to do. God handed him over to the consequences of his state of sinfulness. Pharaoh hated the God of the Bible and God simply solidified his current state. Pharaoh is responsible for his actions and will be held accountable for his sin.

Where hardening keeps a person in his current sinful state, election takes us from that state of being God’s enemies to being God’s people.

I must also make something else clear: No one will be condemned who truly desires to be saved. One of the tragic characteristics of those who are condemned is that they do not desire to be saved.

What God did, in an amazing act of sovereignty, was to use Pharaoh’s rebellion against Him to make His power known throughout the land. God passed judgment on wicked and idolatrous Egypt and received glory for Himself all at the same time.

This is true of God in whatever He does. He works in ways that a single act may, in fact, do a thousand different things. That’s why Paul tells us that we are the clay and God is the Potter and He can do whatever He wants to do with what He has created. We are not the Potter we’re the clay.

The truth is that even clay in the hands of the Master Potter can become a vessel not for wrath but for service to Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

We must fight against the sinful desire we have to be the Potter and be thankful that God has saved us and we can now, as clay pots or as Paul calls us, vessels of mercy, serve the Creator for His glory.

  1. God is Patient in Order to Show More People His Grace

22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

       “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’

and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ”

26    “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’

there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

       “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,

we would have been like Sodom

and become like Gomorrah.”

Now Paul is asking an amazing question. His question gets to the heart of the issue. If we are to ask God questions concerning His sovereign choice of some and not others, they should be along the lines of his question.

His question is not why some and not others but why does God endure with much patience those whom He will not show mercy to?

In other words, why didn’t God simply judge Egypt immediately without the plagues? Or why did God bear with unbelieving Israel in the wilderness for 40 years? Why does He do it patiently and slowly?

Let’s hear Paul’s two answers:

  1. Enduring with Much Patience Shows More of His Power and Glory to His People

Because the Exodus happened slowly and multiple plagues were displayed more of God was made visible. It’s been said that each of the plagues were against a god the Egyptians worshipped. They worshipped the Nut- the goddess of the sky…God rained hail and fire from the sky. They worshipped Hapi the god of the Nile River…the Nile turned to blood. Etc. At every point God was showing His power over the false god’s of Egypt.

22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,

  1. Enduring with Much Patience Shows More of the Riches of His Grace

23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and endured with patience vessels of wrath so that His glorious redemption would be seen. He hardened Pharaoh so that…
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’

and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ”

Here’s the amazing truth Paul wants us to see. He shows us this by quoting from Hosea where God declared through the prophet that His people would not be His people. In other words, He declared them literally to be Gentiles.

So that we really see what God is doing here its important to look for a moment at the Book of Hosea.

God had been utterly forsaken by His people and raised up Hosea as a prophet to warn Israel of her idolatries. He tells Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer. The intention is to cause Hosea to feel the pain and betrayal God has felt. So Israel’s adultery and Gomer’s adultery would be compared.

In the midst of Hosea and Gomer’s relationship three children were born.

Gomer’s moral unfaithfulness to Hosea provided a vivid analogy to Israel’s spiritual unfaithfulness to God. By His sovereign design and provision, she would bear Hosea a son whose name means “God sows” (referring to the scattering of seeds, as well as to the place where Jehu murdered Ahab’s sons). Hosea then had a daughter whose name means “not pitied” or “not having obtained compassion,” and another son whose name means “not My people.” Those three names represented God’s attitude toward Israel, His chosen but disobedient people. For a divinely determined period of time, they would be scattered like sown seeds, unpitied by the world, and forsaken by God.[1]

The Lord goes on to promise, however, that His people will not be permanently forsaken. Applying the analogy to unfaithful and spiritually adulterous Israel God says, “I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her,” and speaking to Israel, He adds, “And I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion” (Hos. 2:14, 19). Just as Hosea protected and supported Gomer, even during her harlotries, and one day bought her as a slave on the block in the open market, naked and full of shame, so God someday will redeem Israel.

Until that time, God not only will treat Israel as not being His children but will treat Gentiles, who were not His people, as His people. It is that converse truth, found in Hosea 2:23, that Paul paraphrases:1

Here’s the reality by using Pharaoh and rebellious Israel God allows sinners to go their own way sometimes He warns them sometimes He hardens them but He never refuses the sinner who comes to Him by faith in repentance.

But now because of events like the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart Gentiles (those who are not My people) will be declared My people. Gentiles who God calls are declared His people. So let’s say it like this, because God hardened Pharaoh’s heart some of Pharaoh’s descendants (Egyptian Gentiles) are now counted as God’s people. Gentiles from all over the world are counted as God’s people because His power was seen through the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.

Conclusion

So we conclude with Paul that God is not unjust in judging sinners and if He is ever unjust it’s in saving undeserving sinners. We also conclude with Paul that God is right in passing judgment out to unrepentant sinners. Like Pharaoh, they do not desire salvation through Jesus Christ but would rather go their own way and God will exercise justice upon them.

We also conclude that God works in a way to receive maximum glory, He is longsuffering even with sinners to receive maximum glory. He is longsuffering with His people so that He will also receive maximum glory.

We finally conclude with Paul that we are the clay and God is the Potter and God has the right to do whatever He wills with all His creation.

The reality is if we are believers today, its because…

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’

and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ”

 

 

 

 

 

**Resources Used…

John Stott on Romans

Christopher Ash teaching Romans

John MacArthur on Romans

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Ro 9:25). Chicago: Moody Press.

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