Man Opposes and God Disposes

Romans 9:1-18

Jerry A. Collins




*               Can God be unfaithful to His Word?

*               Is God unfair when He chooses one over another?

*               If God turns away from Israel will He do the same to believers?


Today, I have 10000 dollars I am going to give away. The first 3000 people I choose are going to receive $1 each. Once I choose you, I promise to give you that $1. It will be yours to have and enjoy. Then I am going to give away the next $7000 to fourteen people who will receive $500 each. Once I choose you, I promise to give you $500. It will be yours to have and enjoy. Can you imagine what the first 3000 people are going to think when they hear that 14 people received $499 more each than they were given? They will conclude that I was unfair to them. That I owed them what I had given to the others and was obligated to be fair to them. Wasnít it unfair to give only $1 to 3000 and $500 to fourteen? Doesnít it seem unjust to decide to give money away in this fashion? This situation is very similar to the real situation for Israel. A situation being wrestled with and one that raised similar questions. If God is for His elect (8:31) and will never remove His love for them (8:37; 39), why has He set aside His chosen people, the Jews? It certainly looks like something separated them from His love. The gospel makes it clear that many Jews would not be included in Godís promises now but many gentiles would be included. If this were true, isnít God being unfair to them and unfaithful to the promises He had already made to Israel? After all, God had promised that the descendents of Abraham would be recipients of certain blessings. Isnít God obligated to them? Doesnít He owe them? In chapters 9-11 these concerns are being addressed and explained. God is faithful and God is not unfair. God does not owe anyone anything and His dealings with Jews and Gentiles cannot be characterized as unjust. God is always faithful and just.


(1) What is about to be said is hard and disturbing but not out of any animosity 1-3. 2 witnesses to this he tells us are first the truth in Christ and second, his conscience which the HS is affirming. Rather then any sort of bitterness toward the Jews, even tho many of them had persecuted him because of the gospel, he is filled with not just sorrow and anguish but great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart for them. His desire for their salvation so strong vs 3óhe could wish, one that God would not possibly grant, even tho a sincere wishóto be cursed and cut off from Christ for their sake of salvation. Here is an example of how we should feel toward those we know who are separated from Christ!

(2) God showed great favor to Israel 4-5. The Jews are a very special people. Seven spiritual privileges are listed. (1) Adoption as sons. They have special relationship with God. (2) Glory of Godís presence. (3) Covenants (AbeóPalestine, David, New) (4) LawóWord of God. (5) Temple serviceóGodís presence with them. (6) Promisesócommitments God made. (7) Fathersóheritage and family tree. Even Christ had His ancestry thru them making them a special people indeed! However, all of these favors were squandered by Israelís unbelief and rebellion. These favors alone did not guarantee they were right with God. (Cp. Corresponding great favors God has given us in the church today.)


Proof: Isaac and not Ishmael 6-9

(1) The failure of Jews to respond to the gospel of Christ did not mean that Godís Word had failed vs 6. It may have looked so to Jews when they saw Gentiles receiving Godís favor they believed was reserved for them. Word Ďfailedí means to Ďhave gone off courseí as a ship would. Being a physical descendent of Abe does not automatically qualify you as a true Israelite, that is spiritual Israel (2:28-29). Godís promises had not failed but had been misunderstood. Depending on physical lineage to Abe as sufficient to lay claim to Godís promises to the nation was wrong.

(2) Abe had many other children thru Sarah, Hagar and concubines yet none counted concerning these promises 7. This reveals that just being a physical descendent of Abe was not enough. It is not enough to just grow up in a Christian family. Or to just attend a Christian fellowship.

(3) Only one branch of Abeís family was singled out for Godís favor-- thru Isaac 7-9. Godís elective purposes applied only to him and his descendents. So, the only ones regarded as children of Abe are those designated Ďchildren of promiseí vs 8. This means it is not those who are born naturally as Abe other children were but the one born supernaturally as result of Godís power, as Isaac was born to Sarah supernaturally in her old age vs 9. Godís true children are always born supernaturally by faith and become recipients of Godís promises.

Proof: Jacob and not Esau 10-13

(1) However someone mite state that Godís favor would naturally come thru Isaac because he was firstborn of Abe and Sarah. That was not true of Jacob 10-12. Esau and Jacob had same mother/father unlike Ishmael/Isaac. As twins shared firstborn privilege since one conception produced both of them 10. However, God chose Jacob even tho Rebekah bore Esau first. As in case of Isaac God made a choice between them before birth. Their birth supernatural too since she was barren. God chose Jacob before any deeds or character showed him worthy of this. Fact that Jacob became less admirable person than Esau emphasizes Godís choice was not due to Jacob himself. None of us deserve Godís favor. Godís favor always based on His choice. His grace. Whether $1 or $500.

(2) Here then is confirmation of Godís choice 13. Godís love for Jacob revealed in his choice for him in line of promise and hatred of Esau seen in rejecting him in the line of promise (Mal 1:2-3). God did not owe his favor to either or to us.


(1) The question naturally arises, Is it fair that God chooses one person over another? How can this be just vs 14? The charge of unfairness and injustice in flatly denied. It is not possible for God to be so.

(2) The reason is because it is not an issue of justice but of sovereign decision vs 15. God has the right to show mercy to whomever he chooses. In fact, He is not under obligation to extend mercy to anyone! If in my kindness I give you $1 or $500 no one can complain because no one is owed anything. Everything they received was undeserved and a matter of sovereign choice and mercy!

(3) This choice does not depend on any effort or desire on my part vs 16. No one deserves or can earn Godís mercy.

(4) God also has the right to harden anyone He chooses, such as Israel. Pharaoh is an example of this vs 17. God mercifully spared Pharaoh up to moment he said these words to him, thru 6 plagues in spite of his opposition to God. If God could harden Pharoahs heart for this purpose after Pharaoh had hardened his own, did not God have right to do same with Israel who had also hardened their own hearts against God (10:21) vs 18? In Romans 1 God gives people over to their own evil desires as a form of punishment for their sins. This is how God hardens peoples hearts. He lets them have what they want. God was not unjust because he allowed the hardening process to continue. Rebellion and disobedience does not stop the plan of God from happening. God simply uses it and itís consequences to reveal greater glory for Himself. (1) Donít forget how God has shown His favor to you in the past. It may keep you from turning against Him in the future. (2) Godís discipline of me does not mean Godís denial of His promises to me. (3) Thank God when He chooses not to give me what I deserve.