Search Engine

Provide a keyword or phrase below to find blog entries relevant to your search:

Results For

No Results
©Laura Haverkamp

Chapter 9:14-18 (ESV)

Posted on January 03, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 9:14-18 (ESV) - What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Question to consider: What are the two measures of Justice?

Today’s passage is one that tends to get used as a pretext for debates regarding the sovereignty of God. Before we attempt to apply a passage to a specific circumstance or argument, I believe we should understand that passage according to the intention of the author and how it would have been received by the intended audience.

Paul had been talking about the Spirit of God who dwells in us and helps us to rightly pray to the Father and endure the trials and tribulations of this world through the love of the Father given to us by Christ. These trials and tribulations were primarily imposed by Jews who had been hardened to the gospel when it went out to the Gentiles. It broke Paul’s heart to know that his own kinsmen had become enemies of God by persecuting Christ in the same way he had done before encountering Him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9), but he pointed out that not all who descended from Israel belong to Israel. Our relationship with God was established in faith and not according to fleshly ancestry, and Paul proved it by pointing out that Isaac was the promised son of Abraham, and yet of his two sons, God only blessed Jacob.

Thus in today’s passage, Paul raised a potential objection by the Jewish Christians in the Roman church. Does God's choice to bless Jacob and curse Esau mean that He is unjust? I say this would have been raised by the Jewish Christians because Paul pointed the reader back to God’s word to Moses in Exodus 33:19. Just as Moses had asked God to blot his own name from the book of life in order to show mercy to the people of Israel who had sinned against Him, so Paul expressed his willingness to be separated from Christ in order for his kinsmen to be saved.

God’s mercy does not depend “on human will or exertion”, and thankfully so, for if it was according to our “will or exertion”, the number of people who would receive mercy would be a small group indeed. Think of Jonah who spoke out against God for His mercy to the Ninevites, and yet God responded, “should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11)

God may have hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but it was done out of mercy for the millions who were able to be spared in the Exodus. Remember that God’s justice is satisfied with two measures: judgment and mercy, and it is evident throughout scripture that God desires that we choose the way of mercy.


Dear heavenly Father, You are merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and while You will by no means clear the guilty, we thank You for sending Jesus to bear that guilt on the cross. May all who read this seek Your mercy while it may be found. Amen.