Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 24
ROMANS 9:6-9 AND GENESIS 32:27-28
Now back to Romans Chapter 9, and I thought I was going to finish this chapter today, but it doesn’t look like we are even going to get close. At the close of our last lesson God had been dealing with Pharaoh, and how God put him in that position for the purpose of magnifying His own name. Now in verse 18 we come down to this whole concept again of the mercy of God.
“Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”
Now the word `hardeneth’ in the Scripture is usually translated `heavy.’ In other words, when Isaiah spoke of a burden that was heavy it was as the same Hebrew word here translated hardeneth. In other words, the more Pharaoh tried to oppose God the more God’s wrath weighed down on the man. Now here’s something that we have to understand. Pharaoh, like anyone today, came to that place of hardening his own heart, not because God made him do it, but because God put him in a place of either accepting or rejecting, and by rejecting he hardened his own heart. Even though the Scripture says that God hardened his heart.
Again I have a quote today that goes like this. “Men are not lost because they are hardened, they are hardened because they are lost.” Do you hear that? Remember I coined my own phrase a few lessons back that went like this. “We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.” And we’re sinners because we’re born of Adam. So when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart as the Scripture says, it wasn’t that Pharaoh didn’t have a choice. It was that when God put him on the spot Pharaoh grizzled up and said, “I’ll not let those people go.” And so he really hardened his own heart.
“Thou wilt say then unto me, `Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? (Remember God’s Sovereign) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?'”
In other words could Pharaoh turn around in the face of God, and say, “Why did you make me what I am?” No, he had no right to say that because he of his own volition rejected God’s offer of taking Israel out of Egypt. Now verse 21, and this is a tough one. We have to realize that this is God’s Word, and every one of these verses is for us.
“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump (of clay) to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:”
Let’s go back to the Book of Jeremiah Chapter 18 for a moment, and again in years gone by I would struggle with this, but I no longer do because I can just see that all we’re dealing with is a Sovereign God. But a Sovereign God Who deals in mercy, and we appropriate that mercy by His Grace. So we don’t have to struggle with this like Paul just said, “Well God, why did you make me the way I am?” Because He’s Sovereign, absolutely He made me the way I am. You know I made the statement years ago, “Don’t ever complain to God about how you look, or how you are physically put together.” Hey that’s not our prerogative. God made us the way we are for His purpose, and we are to accept what we are as we are. And it’s the same way with our gifts and our talents, it’s not for us to complain, and say, “Well God, why didn’t you give me this gift. Why didn’t you let me sing like that person can sing.” God’s Sovereign, and it’s the same way with wealth, and all these other things. A lot of us are prone to say, “Well God, why couldn’t you make me wealthy?” Well it’s not in His will necessarily that I have wealth. So we should always realize that He’s the potter, and He has control of the clay.
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, `Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. (He was working a lump of clay) And the vessel that he made of clay was marred (it had a fault) in the hand of the potter:…'”
So what does the potter do? Have you ever seen one? Up comes that clay, and he’s spinning it, and all of a sudden if he doesn’t like the looks of it, what does he do? He just pushes it down on the plate again, and starts over. This is exactly what happened here as Jeremiah is watching the potter making a work, and all of a sudden a fault develops so he just pushes it back down into the lump.
“…so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. (Have you got the picture?) Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying. O house of Israel,(Remember Jeremiah is a prophet of Israel, so this is written to the Jews of that day.) cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
Now then you know where I have a problem? And it’s still hard for me to comprehend. Since God is in such control of the Nation of Israel, why did they not accept the Messiah when He made His appearance? And why, since He was in control, did they cry out to crucify Him? The only answer that I have is in Ephesians Chapter 1, and then we’ll go to II Timothy, because comparing Scripture is the only way we can reconcile some of these things. And I’m not going to let you lose sight of the Sovereignty of God. Everything began with Him, and everything is in His control even today.
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated (same as elected or called) according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of (Who’s will?) his own will.” Do you see that? Everything comes together according to His divine purpose. Let’s turn over to II Timothy. What is is His divine purpose under His Sovereign will?
II Timothy 1:7-9
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me (Paul says) his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, (We didn’t deserve it, we didn’t run, and will to the place where God said, `All right I’ll take you.’) but (He has called us) according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
That’s almost unbelievable. Especially from the human element, but by faith as soon as we become a child of God we can look back and see, “I was chosen before God ever created Adam.” God already had you and I positioned in the Body of Christ. This is why Paul could say in Romans Chapter 8:
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature (or creation) shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Why? Because we were already His before anything was ever created. How in the world can people say, “Well I’m not secure, I have to work, I have to live so that I don’t lose all this.” No you don’t. You have been called with a purpose in God’s mind, and we rest on that. Now that doesn’t give us license. My, if I have one favorite cliche that I use over and over it is, “Grace is not License.” Just because we’ve entered into this tremendous mercy that was poured out on the Cross, and it was precipitated by the Grace of God, and I appropriate it by faith, that doesn’t give me license, that doesn’t give me the right to go out and steal, commit adultery, and all the other things. But it’s all in His divine purpose that we are called, we are elected, we’re His. Now come back to Romans Chapter 9.
“And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,”
Who’s he talking about? Every believer, whether it was back in Israel, or Christ’s earthly ministry. Those disciples we saw back in John 17, that were given to Christ, those are vessels of mercy. For every born again child of God today we’re vessels of mercy, none of us deserve anything, it’s all of His mercy, but it was poured out at the Cross. And now we have appropriated it by faith. Now verse 24.
See Paul includes himself. Remember Paul is the epitome of a sinner saved by Grace isn’t he? If there was ever a man that God had every right in the world to zap it was Saul of Tarsus, but what happened? Saul didn’t suddenly come to his senses and repent, and say, “Oh God, I’m so sorry won’t you please accept me?” No. Saul was on his way to Damascus to carry out his dirty work. And what happened? God just literally knocked him off his horse, and spoke to him”
“And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
That was what? Grace! Grace! And so we are in that same category with the Apostle Paul, we are saved without ever doing anything on our part. And listen, that’s the way it’s always been. You know I’m always taking you back to Genesis, and the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve have sinned, they’ve partaken of that forbidden tree, and immediately saw their human nakedness, and what did they do? They sewed their fig leaves, but those fig leaves just sort of fell into nothing when they heard the LORD coming down the path, and what did they do? They run and hide, even with their fig leaves they are in no shape to meet their Righteous Creator so they hide. Does the Creator give up, and say, “Well I can’t find them, I’m going back to heaven?” What does He do? He finds them, and He’s see them in their hiding, and says, “Adam where art thou,” and Adam has to respond. But what does God do? He restores them. What is that? That’s mercy. That’s Grace. When I say that we’re in the Age of Grace I never imply that God’s Grace is something that was unknown until we get to Paul. It becomes the great attribute of God with Paul’s epistles, but Grace was already evident in the Garden of Eden.
And as I have already showed you when Israel went after the golden calf, what kept God from destroying them? His mercy and Grace. And when they rejected the Messiah, and they crucified Him, again God had every right in this world to wipe Israel off the map, but why didn’t He? His Grace. And the whole human race tonight – why has God forestalled destroying humanity when we know they deserve it. He doesn’t because of His Grace. And we can never comprehend it.
“Even us, whom he hath called, not of Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.”
That threw a curve at most Jews. I always take you back to Acts, and we did this in Haiti recently where we had the opportunity to teach about 700 people every day for five days straight. One of the verses I used was in Acts 22, where Paul addresses a great crowd of Jews after returning from his journeys to the Gentiles. He comes back to Jerusalem, and he is trying to get these Jews to see that again it was the One that they crucified that had sent him to the Gentiles.
“And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw him (Jesus) saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they (the Jews) will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he (The Lord Jesus) said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” Paul is speaking to this great crowd of Jews. This next verse tells you everything about the Jews’ attitude toward Gentile dogs.
“And they gave him audience unto this word, (what word? `Gentiles’ in verse 21.) and then lifted up their voices, and said, `Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.'”
Why? He dared to say the word Gentile. Now that was their attitude, and now take a verse like verse 24 in Romans 9 in that context and what did that do to the Jews? It infuriated them. Now verse 24 again:
“Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles” This wasn’t a concept of Paul, this wasn’t something that he pulled out of the woodwork. Go to Isaiah 42:
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: (He is speaking of Christ the Messiah) he (The Messiah) shall bring forth judgment (rule, government) to the Gentiles.”
This is an Old Testament concept. Absolutely. God had the Gentiles on His mind, but not until He had finished His work with Israel. Look at Chapter 49, and I’m doing this so you can see this isn’t just a Pauline concept that God was going to turn to the Gentiles. This was all part of the Old Testament Covenant that the day would come when Israel had completed the promises – then God would turn to the Gentile world.
“And he said, `It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: (Jacob was the nation as a whole, but Israel was the believing remnant.) I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.'”
Israel was to have had the opportunity, and they did to a certain extent, because every word of this Book has been written by Jews. But God had even more than that in mind for the nation, but they rejected it in their unbelief. But here was God’s idea that He was going to go to the Gentile world through this Covenant people. There are other passages that I could show you, but we won’t take the time for that today. But I just wanted you to see that God from the beginning knew that the day would come when He would go to whole Gentile world with His Salvation. But when Israel was constantly rejecting this idea, He had to send the Nation of Israel out into dispersion. He took away their Temple, took away their land, and turned to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul in this tremendous Gospel of the Grace of God. Now look briefly at Romans Chapter 9, and verse 25:
“As he saith also in O-see, (Book of Hosea) I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.”
Who were the people that were not His people? Gentiles! Who were the people who would finally come to the place where they would say, “You’re my God,” and He would say,“You’re my people.” Well, you and I now in this Age of Grace. That was all foretold clear back there in the Old Testament even in the Book of Hosea.