“But it’s not as though God’s word has failed. Not all who are descended from Israel are part of Israel. Not all of Abraham’s children are called Abraham’s descendants, but instead your descendants will be named through Isaac. That means it isn’t the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children from the promise who are counted as descendants. The words in the promise were: A year from now I will return, and Sarah will have a son.
Not only that, but also Rebecca conceived children with one man, our ancestor Isaac. When they hadn’t been born yet and when they hadn’t yet done anything good or bad, it was shown that God’s purpose would continue because it was based on his choice. It wasn’t because of what was done but because of God’s call. This was said to her: The older child will be a slave to the younger one. As it is written, I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.
So what are we going to say? Isn’t this unfair on God’s part? Absolutely not! He says to Moses, I’ll have mercy on whomever I choose to have mercy, and I’ll show compassion to whomever I choose to show compassion. So then, it doesn’t depend on a person’s desire or effort. It depends entirely on God, who shows mercy. Scripture says to Pharaoh, I have put you in this position for this very thing: so I can show my power in you and so that my name can be spread through the entire earth. So then, God has mercy on whomever he wants to, but he makes resistant whomever he wants to.” (Romans 9:6-18 CEB)
Now think about this we me.
- God can, and will, do whatever he wants to do.
- God cannot be manipulated or even completely “figured out.”
- What God does is right.
While you’d be hard pressed to find a Christian who disagrees with any of those three statements, no small number of Christians have a hang-up with those same thoughts applying to who can experience God’s salvation and how. But God’s Spirit moved Paul to write these words to remind us and bring total clarity to things:
“He says to Moses, I’ll have mercy on whomever I choose to have mercy, and I’ll show compassion to whomever I choose to show compassion.” (vs.15)
Such was the case in the way God provided physical children for Abraham and Issac and it is, Paul says, equally true in the way he makes spiritual children of his own today.
It depends entirely on God … thank God!
Father God, I thank you that you are not like me! You are wholly beyond finding out in totality. I don’t want or need a God I can completely get. I need a God bigger than me, superior to my way of thinking and far, far greater than my heart. And such a God you are! You must be the true and living God, for you do what you will and yet, you stoop down to rescue those who have repeatedly let you down! Such mercy and compassion, I can hardly fathom, but I gladly accept, rejoice in, and will tell the world about! I thank you that my rescue doesn’t depend the impossible – me getting everything right. But I praise you for you always being right and caring for me, though I am so very often in the wrong. I will tell others often of this mercy that comes from you, and so, may like mercy flow through me, in Jesus’ name. Amen.