March 30, 2003


Romans 9:15-24


   Paul had explained God's mercy shown to Israel even after they had indulged in worship of the golden calf at Sinai and His hardening of Pharaoh through the ten plagues brought upon Egypt and concluded, "Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy and whom He will He hardeneth." To these remarks some might argue, "Why does God yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?" (Romans 9:15-19)

   Rather than answer, Paul counters, "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?" (9:20-21 NKJV). God's claim is no more than that of a potter, the right to make vessels as He chooses. God surveyed the human race and brought the world of Jews and Gentiles before His bar of justice and pronounced them guilty and without excuse (Romans 3:19). Who would suggest that a convicted felon had the right or boldness to challenge the bar of justice?

   But God's statement of His right to form and create does not mean that He controlled and caused events to turnout as they did with Israel and Pharaoh. One cannot take the figure of clay and argue against man's freedom to act. Man is very different from a lump of clay. He is a responsible moral being. He can be put under law and rewarded or punished accordingly. Even so vessels made from clay suggest whatever service the potter intended. Such an illustration in no way bears on the issue of salvation but does bear on God's choosing the vessel of His choice to carry out His plan and purpose.

   Again the question, "Who hath resisted His will?" How about Pharaoh? Did He resist God's will? Was he not resistant and belligerent in the extreme! What about Israel ? Did they resist God's will in the matter of the golden calf? What of Moses giving all sorts of excuses and reasons he could not fill the role God called him to serve such that "the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses" (Exod. 4:14). The Bible abounds with examples of men resisting the will of God. But God will accomplish His plan and purpose, all contrary wills not withstanding. How about you? Is your will aligned with God's will?


Ivan L. Burgener