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Wednesday, August 26 2020

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION: In the conclusion of last week’s study, we touched on the mercy of God. Where the Apostle Paul quoted Exodus 33:19 “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” In today’s study we shall be looking further into God’s mercy. God’s mercy is a gift; seen when He shows compassion or forgiveness towards someone who deserved to be punished.

Verse 16: Mercy is God’s Sovereign Gift

16 So then God’s choice is not dependent on human will, nor on human effort [the totality of human striving], but on God who shows mercy [to whomever He chooses—it is His sovereign gift]. AMP

God’s mercy is not given to us because of what we wish to do (human will), or because of what we actually do (human effort), but simply out of His desire to show mercy. A gift is usually undeserved; it is at the other end of the spectrum of a prize; which is earned.

Verses 17-18: Mercy is at God’s Disposal; He Chooses When and How to Dispense It

17 For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.” (NLT)

These two verses spell out a concept that has confused many. So let’s dig a little deeper.

Firstly, people interpret verse 17 to mean that God created Pharaoh for the purpose of destroying him; so that He could glorify Himself; but that was not the case. Paul was quoting Exodus 9:16. But to understand that verse we must read both verses 15&16 (AMP)

“15 For by now I could have put out My hand and struck you and your people with a pestilence, and you would then have been cut off (obliterated) from the earth. 16 But indeed for this very reason I have allowed you to live, in order to show you My power and in order that My name may be proclaimed throughout all the earth.”

See how different a passage becomes when it is read in context? Does this passage not therefore show God’s mercy on Pharaoh howbeit momentarily?

Secondly. It is not that God forced an “unwilling”, “kind-hearted” Pharaoh to be hard towards Him and Israel. What God simply did was allow Pharaoh’s heart to pursue its natural inclination. Initially, God did not harden Pharaoh’s heart; he was given the opportunity to choose freely to obey God time and time again. Instead, he and the Egyptians freely rejected God’s command to let Israel go. If God had created Pharaoh initially as a vessel for destruction, there would have been no need to harden him later. Hardening only makes sense, if the clay was first soft in the first place. Here is what 1 Samuel 6:6a says:

Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did?

Under God’s longsuffering and patience, He allowed Pharaoh additional opportunity to repent and to let Israel go; but Pharaoh decided (himself) not to. This can be seen in Exodus 7:13 (Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened) 7:22 (so Pharaoh’s heart was hardened), 8:15 (he hardened his heart), 8:19 (But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened), 8:32 (But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also), 9:7 (But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened), and 9:34 (he sinned again and hardened his heart).

However, it was after much longsuffering; after 7 plagues before God finally hardened Pharaoh’s heart; freezing it in its rebellious state. In other words, God made sure Pharaoh could no longer change his mind even if he wanted to. Because, due to the suffering of the next two plagues, he could have let Israel go but it would not have been because he wanted to obey God willingly. Exodus 10:1 (And the Lord said unto Moses, go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart), 10:20 (But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart), 10:27 (But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart), 11:10 (yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart)

Verses 19-21: God’s Decisions Are Unquestionable

“19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still blame me [for sinning]? For who [including myself] has [ever] resisted His will and purpose?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers [arrogantly] back to God and dares to defy Him? Will the thing which is formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does the potter not have the right over the clay, to make from the same lump [of clay] one object for honourable use [something beautiful or distinctive] and another for common use [something ordinary or menial]?” (AMP)

Paul imagines someone asking, “If it is all a matter of God’s choice, then how can God find fault with me? How can anyone go against God’s choice?” Paul replies by showing how arrogant and disrespectful such a question is. Just as the clay cannot (not even should not) question the potter so we cannot question God! Does God not have the same right that any Creator has over his creation?

Verses 22-24: God’s Mercy is a Declaration of His Glory

 “22 In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. 23 He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. 24 And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.” (NLT)

In verse 22, Paul draws our attention to the riches of God’s mercy! He is still very patient with those who deserve His wrath. That is what we saw with Pharaoh (Exodus 9:15&16)

Verse 23 reveals an interesting concept: “He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory.”

When you see what could have happened to you and compare it with what God’s mercy did instead, it simply makes the riches of His glory shine brighter! And if God wants to show mercy to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, who can oppose Him? The Jews were inclined to think that God could not make them anything other than vessels of honour. Paul rejects this view and points out that God does what He wills; making us part of those He selected.

Verses 25-26: Conclusion

25 Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.” 26 And, “Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.” (NLT)

Verse 25 is a magnificent message of hope and joy concerning you and I! Those who were not original God’s people, He now calls us His people! He also now loves us! But this promise also covers Israel. The prophecy of Hosea in Hosea 1:10 says: “Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:12 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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