Romans 9:15


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” Romans 9:15

Again, Paul returns to Scripture to make his case. He asked the question, “Is there unrighteousness with God?” He then answered, “Certainly not.” To show that this is true from a scriptural standpoint, he goes to the account of Moses as he led the Israelites in the desert. In Exodus 32 came the account of the golden idol. After their great and grievous sin, Moses pled with the Lord for a blanket forgiveness of the sins of the people; it was refused –

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.'” Exodus 32:33

However, Aaron sinned in regard to the calf and yet he continued on as the high priest. Although not explicitly stated, this then must be indicating that the sin was one of continued disbelief, not just the sin of the golden calf. In chapter 33, the Lord first states that because of their rebellion, His presence wouldn’t be in their midst as they made their journey to Canaan, but rather His Angel would go before them.

Moses then pled with the Lord for Him to go with them. The reason was that if He didn’t, then how could there be a distinction between them and the other people of the world? What better way could His grace be demonstrated? And so the Lord, after having so tested Moses in this way, agreed. At this point, we see the following exchange –

“And he said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.’ Then He said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.'”

It is this statement from the Lord which Paul cites to demonstrate that there is, in fact, no unrighteousness with God. In order to understand this, both grace and mercy should be defined in a simple to understand manner –

Grace – getting what you don’t deserve
Mercy – not getting what you do deserve

Whether “grace” or “mercy” is being described, the same concept applies. God demonstrated mercy where it wasn’t due and he bestowed grace where it wasn’t due as well. Not destroying the Israelites for their unfaithfulness was a demonstration of His mercy. And the bestowing of His goodness continuing to go with them was a demonstration of His grace. Neither of these could be claimed, only accepted.

Likewise, the gift of His goodness passing before Moses was separate from any merit on Moses’ part. Moses asked for something he didn’t deserve and it was granted. Further, when he asked to see His glory, the response was that the Lord would “make all My goodness pass before you.”

The “glory” requested is in fact pure goodness. This perfect goodness wasn’t seen to Moses before this; it had been withheld. If this is so, and the display was unique to Moses, then how could someone else claim they deserved it? If they couldn’t do this, then how could they claim that God is unrighteous? If He has unbounded goodness which is unseen to human eyes and which is undeserved to those eyes, then any display of His mercy and grace which would reveal a portion of that goodness is also unmerited.

We stand on planet earth and have been given life. No guarantee was given when we were born and whatever our lot is came about apart from our will. We don’t deserve more, but because of the conduct of our lives, we certainly deserve less – either a withholding of His grace or a withholding of His mercy. All of this is seen in this one verse.

God is sovereign and whatever goodness He bestows upon us is completely unmerited. We have no right to make a claim on anything beyond what we have, whatever it is that we have. Try going outside and yelling at the sky, “I demand to be rich.” What do you think the result will be? Now apply this to our salvation as humans. Who are we to demand heaven? Who are we to “earn” heaven? And who are we to “claim” heaven based on our human lineage?

If we can’t make a claim against God based on any of these things, then how can we find unrighteousness in God? Jew or Gentile, we are actually all in the same boat.

Life application: Moses asked to see the glory of the Lord. The Lord responded that He would cause all of His goodness to pass before Him. Moses’ eyes beheld the Lord’s glory by beholding His goodness. Now, on this side of the cross, we have that same honor. John 1:14 says, ” And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The glory of the Lord is revealed in the person of Jesus. All of the goodness of God, His grace and truth, is seen in Jesus. How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? And how can we make a claim against God when He has so revealed Himself to us?

How could I, a human being, claim that You are unfair? Do I exercise authority over You who created me? O God, forgive me when I question those things which have come about by Your will. Though I struggle with the trials, losses, and woes of this life, I know that I have no right to hold my fist up in defiance of what You have ordained. I am man, You are God. Your will be done. Amen.

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