“Wrestling With Romans”
God’s Not Forgotten to be Merciful (Romans 9 Verses 1-18)
The promise of God stems from the mercy of God (vv14-18). Far from being unjust, God is love (1John 4.8), and in the abundance of his great love (Ephesians 2.4), he extends his mercy and bestows compassion on a people who don’t deserve it (v15). As Paul has previously shown us, just and the justifier of those who believe. When God says he will have mercy, he means he will not demand works, and if that’s not grace then what is? Because if God demanded works righteousness then none would ever have his mercy. Grace (mercy) and works exclude each other (Romans 11.6), it’s either one or the other. God had compassion on us, knowing we could never work ourselves right with him, in our wretched and miserable condition he stretched out his hand and gave mercy. It is because there is mercy in the heart of God that we have a gospel of compassion to declare to others, to a world of suffering, a world of pain and sorrow, a world alienated from it’s Maker, the very conception of the gospel in the divine mind displays for us what is in the heart of God. It is the great mercy of God that is the focal point here, it’s not that he has mercy on only a few of the wretched and lost, and none for the masses, and simply without compassion hurls them into eternal damnation.
God will not allow anyone to restrict his exercising of mercy and compassion, that would be injustice. God in his sovereignty so displays the sweetness of his mercy in the gospel, and in its proclamation desires it be embraced to the utmost amongst the people to whom it is extended. And believe it, his mercy extends far beyond anything your finite mind could ever conjure up, it is extended even to those without the desire for it, or power to run and get it (v16). You limit it and narrow it down to the detriment of yourself, your loved ones, and the world around you. God will exert his sovereign will of mercy to it’s recipients, and no one will hinder him from doing so, not even king Pharaoh, who tried hard to do just that (v17). This tyrant with incredible hardness of heart was simply brushed aside in an awesome display of God’s power (v17), and the story is still told today throughout the world (v17b). In Pharaoh’s hardness and refusal of God’s mercy, he tried to close the door of mercy to others, but God would not permit that (v18). Some things never change (Matthew 23.13). This world needs the love, and mercy of God, let us not keep it from them, but preach it in it’s fullness, without discrimination to all men. The Lord knows them that are his. Our business is to preach the gospel as he has commanded us.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)