Summary: Our passage for tonight continues the review of God's sovereign activity by presenting another difficulty. If God is acting unilaterally, fashioning each & all according to His own will & purpose, would He not remove the reason & basis for judging man's
ROMANS 9: 19-26-29
THE CREATOR'S PLAN
Before we get started let me state that this is a difficult and controversial passage. If Romans 9 has raised more questions than answers for you, you're not alone. Because of these difficulties many interpretations have been offered. As the Apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 3:16 when referring to inspired Scripture in recognition that some thoughts written by the Apostle Paul were difficult to comprehend ["…His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction."] So as we grapple with the deep truths of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility, though we may not always have full understanding, our great need as always is to trust Him and surrender our lives to Him.
Our passage for tonight continues the review of God's sovereign activity by presenting another difficulty. If God is acting unilaterally, fashioning each and all according to His own will and purpose, would He not remove the reason and basis for judging man's response and responsibility? If man cannot determine his own destiny, make his own free-will decisions, but can only follow a predetermine plan, how can he be condemned? If man could do nothing other than what God predetermined for him, how can man be blamed if he has no self determination or free-will?
A person could look at such actions and conclude that it isn't fair. Even God's choice of Abraham out of all the nations, His choice of Isaac over Ishmael, His choice of Jacob over Esau, His choice of Israel over the other ancient nations, and now His choice of the Church over Israel could be construed as over-ruling man's free-will. So is God fair in the way He's working out His plan?
If God is simply having mercy on some and hardening others, who is responsible or who should be blamed? In resisting God's will is one only acting out a role predetermined by God? And if this be the case, how can one be held morally accountable?
[A careful reading of verses 19-23 erects a detour to understanding that the prevailing thought here is a reference to the final salvation or damnation of individuals, for these verses steer away from that issue. Rather, as verse 24 on reveal, the focus is on God's new people not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles. The subject continues to be the purposes of God from the call of Abraham to the establishment of the church, instead of Israel. [Edwards, James. New International Biblical Com. Romans. Hendrickeson. 1992. p. 239]
I. THE CREATOR'S POWER, 19-21
II. THE CREATOR'S POSSIBILITIES, 22-23.
III. THE CREATOR'S PEOPLE, 24-26.
IV. THE CREATOR'S POSTERITY, 27-29.
I. THE CREATOR'S POWER, 9:19-21.
Again here in verse 19 another question or false assumption is anticipated. "You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"
"Then why does God still blame us?" [The word "then" probably goes with the preceding statement rather than this question, though also makes good sense here.] "For who resists" [anti-hist mi, to stand against" is in the perfect tense meaning, "has taken and continues to take a stand against"] His will? [Will is boulmati, "deliberate purpose."]. If God makes the choices, how can He hold man responsible? For who can maintain resistance against what He does?
It would help to remember that this section addresses God's purpose in Israel rejection of the Messiah and not solteriology or the doctrine of salvation. Paul's objective is to deal with the nature of God's dealings with mankind rather the aspects of human response and responsibility involved in such dealings.
Can man hold His Creator accountable for his own outcome? In reply, Paul first points out the inappropriateness of the created talking back to the Creator (v.20) as though he had sufficient wisdom to judge the Almighty. [The illustration of the potter and the clay (v.21) will show how ridiculous this is.]
Verse 20 asserts that man does not dictate terms to God. "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?"
In response Paul reaffirms God's sovereignty and the impertinence of such questions (Isa. 45:9). "Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?" The address, "O man," is more than dramatic flair; it is a reminder of the wide chasm which separates humanity from God. Man, the created one, has no legitimate right to question God, the Creator. There is a "madness in the human mind" which presumes to fathom God's every purpose and which calls Him to account when it cannot.
Remember that God's ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher are than our minds can comprehend (Isa. 55:). Who can fathom the mind the of the Lord?