“Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.” vs18
God is the absolute sovereign, having mercy on whom He pleases and hardening. He is in total control. What is going to happen to you? If you believe in His mercy, then you will be saved.
First, there is no injustice with God [vs14-15]. “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Certainly not!” He can have mercy on whomever He pleases. “For He says to Moses: ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” If He withheld justice, THEN He would be wrong, but withholding mercy is no blot on Him. It is His mercy, and He can show it to whom He pleases. If He rejected someone who came to Him, THEN He would be a liar, for He has said, “Him that comes to Me, I will in no way cast out.” Yet, it is not injustice that He draws whom He pleases.
The sinner rejects mercy, so how can he blame God? God simply tells us the truth, forbids no one from coming, and hardens by allowing sinners to make up their own minds and choose this world. Jacob WANTED the blessing: he obtained mercy. Esau WANTED a bowl of beans, valuing temporary pleasure above his immortal soul. He was hardened and left to his own decisions, despising mercy until the day he died.
Secondly, mercy does not depend on us. “So then, it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy [vs16].” Mercy depends upon God alone, and everyone He shows it to will be saved, so it is not up to will power! Salvation is NOT to the fittest, the strongest, or the wisest; it is to the sinner. There is not one reason that we’re saved, except the mercy of God, so He will have all the credit and the glory.
Men are infuriated at this, but they need not be troubled. Take mercy, and you shall have it! Be the sinner, and God will help you. Have no willpower and no running ability, and He will provide all for you.
Thirdly, some people are raised up to be destroyed. Let us not conceal it. “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth [vs17].” Let us proclaim this fact and warn. Many are afraid of confusing sinners, but how could setting my danger before me confuse me? I need to know that God’s wrath is serious. I must be warned not to harden my heart. I need the fear of the Lord, so I don’t delay. He says, “For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the LORD [Prov 1:29]. I need to know God has wrath, and He wants to show it: He wants the world to know that He’s furious against sin, sovereign, and punishes. He wants everyone to know that He is not to be played with.
These are hard things. Who can understand God’s wrath? Who can give Him His due? “Who knows the power of Your anger? Your wrath matches the fear You are due. So teach us to number our days, that we may present a heart of wisdom [Ps 90:11-12].” We ought to tremble, and yet we challenge Him. We ought plead mercy, and yet we go on indifferently. Man is the most foolish of all creatures to reject mercy against all evidence. They hardened their hearts when He performed His miracles, and He hardens sinners now. We ought to fear being an EXAMPLE of His wrath and judgment.
Finally, He hardens whom He pleases. “Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.” Don’t let it happen to you. The only safe place is to believe. Do not wait another hour. Come. Know that you’ll be received, but come with fear and trembling, knowing this is the only hope you have, and you must have it.
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