Romans 9:20


Monday, 26 August 2013

But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Romans 9:20

This verse is speaking of the sovereignty of God concerning His creatures. This is obvious when looked at from the surrounding verses and even when quoted in its entirety. However, far too often, only a portion of it is cited in a way which twists its meaning and intent, “Who are you to reply against God?” This is done in order to buttress one’s preconceptions about a matter, perhaps the doctrines of the Bible. Example –

Sergiopolous – “Predestination means that God chooses us and that we have no say in the matter. Free will is excluded.
Dwyerinius – “That’s simply not correct. Predestination in no way negates our free-will; in fact, it highlights it.”
Sergiopolous – “Who are you to reply against God?”

If you hear someone quote this verse in this way, ignore his argument. You will never change his mind when he believes he is speaking for God, on God’s behalf. The argument will merely follow this useless path until frustration takes over.

This verse, as noted, is speaking of the sovereignty of God concerning us. On Judgment Day, Pharaoh won’t be able to use an argument against God’s sovereign decisions which related to him. He may say, “You raised me up and hardened my heart in order to demonstrate Your glory. And, in fact, You were glorified through me. Therefore, You owe me… big time. You can’t condemn me.” Just as this won’t work with Pharaoh, the same will be true with all of God’s wayward creatures.

Paul begins with, “But indeed.” This is in response to the proposed statement of verse 9:19 –

“Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”

To show that this argument will go precisely nowhere, Paul’s next words are “O man.” The conversation is one between a finite, fallen being and the infinitely wise and glorious Creator. Which has the right to question? Which has the right to rule? Which has the authority to judge as is fitting the position? “Certainly not you, O man. Who are you to reply against God.”

Job, the man of patience and one who walked in a blameless and upright manner before God, thought he had a reason to question the Almighty. However, God addressed him at length with questions to which Job had no answer. Finally Job exclaimed –

“Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” Job 40:4, 5

But God continued to challenge him, showing him that He has a right to conduct His affairs as He sees fit and good. After this second line of questions, Job responded again –

“I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2-6

If Job, whom God recognized as one who is “blameless and upright” had no right to challenge God, how much more any others who willfully reject Him? There is no challenge, and no right to challenge, which can stand up against the sovereign Creator. This includes the question, “Why have you made me like this?” God chose our time, place, and position for His reasons. We merely have to accept that those things were beyond our control.

It is He who formed us and therefore He has the right to do so in whatever manner, location, and time that He so chooses. As humans, we are unqualified to understand the subjects of the questions. He is infinite in wisdom and therefore we can only understand Him in His being in a limited way. He is infinite in His existence and therefore we cannot understand His plan as it is conceived from beginning to end. And He is infinite in His power and so we cannot understand Him in the force which He exerts when executing His plan.

He is God; we are man.

Life application: Be careful how you question God. If you don’t understand what is happening and you desire to ask, do it in humility and without words of accusation or condemnation. Such words can only turn around and highlight your own sinful nature.

Lord God Almighty, there are things which happen around me which I simply don’t understand. I feel frustrated and don’t see why You have allowed these things to happen. Oftentimes, they make me feel helpless, out of control, and yes – even angry. But I also understand that You are God and I am man. In my frustration, I will wait on You. Through my trials, my hope remains in You. Amen.

Leave a Reply