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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 9:19-29 (ESV)

Posted on January 04, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 9:19-29 (ESV) - You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
    and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
    we would have been like Sodom
    and become like Gomorrah.”

Question to consider: Why was God willing to endure a world full of dishonorable vessels?

Because it is our nature to rebel against God, we have a tendency to think that God needs to act in the way we think He should act, and if He does not meet our expectations, He owes us some kind of explanation. The idea that God has the authority to show mercy and compassion according to His own will is anathema to us, for we would like to think He needs our approval or that our accusations of injustice hold any kind of power or meaning. 

So the question from yesterday about justice inevitably leads to today’s question about fault. How can we be judged if we cannot resist the will of God? Paul treated this objection as absurd and compared it to a lump of clay giving advice to the potter on how it should be used and which vessels were fit to be honorable and which dishonorable.

God’s plan was enacted in a world that was corrupted by sin. As the apostle John wrote, “Whoever believes in [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:18-19)

We were already facing judgment, and God intervened in the world to keep everyone who calls on His Son from being condemned. Those who were persecuting the church did so out of anger that God would extend mercy to the Gentiles and allow them to also become “sons of the living God”. 

Those who rejected the gospel because of God’s mercy to the Gentiles were not the honorable vessels they thought they were. It was only by God’s mercy that a remnant even existed. If the Lord had not relented on His judgment against Israel, they would have become like Sodom and Gomorrah. It was because of His plan of mercy and compassion for the whole world that a remnant existed to fulfill the promise of Christ’s coming.

Today, people consider themselves worthy to stand before God and give their opinions about salvation. They foolishly lay accusations against God for not providing multiple ways of being saved. The real question is not why some who reject the mercy of God will receive the judgment due them, but why God would save anyone at all when none are deserving of it? The world is entirely filled with dishonorable vessels. Christ, the only honorable vessel, became dishonorable so a multitude of dishonorable vessels could become honorable. The only logical response should be humility and gratitude.


Dear heavenly Father, help us to reveal Your acts of mercy and compassion in the world, even to those who despise us, so that those around us may turn from certain judgment and receive Christ’s gift of life. Amen.