EXPOSE’ ON ROMANS 9: 18-23

By Brother Eric Nelson

"Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt then say unto me, why do he yet findeth fault? For who has resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hast not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory."

Romans 9: 18- Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and who he will he hardeneth.

Romans 9: 15- For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Exodus 33: 19- …. And I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

In Romans 9: 18 Paul is referring back to Old Testament scriptures where God is referring to NATIONS not individuals.

Exodus 33: 13-20: This is what Paul is referring to in Romans the 9th chapter.

Romans 9: 1-4: Paul is talking about the nation of Israel NOT personal/individual salvation.

Romans 9: 18: {Exodus 8: 15; Exodus 8: 32; Exodus 9: 34; I Samuel 6:6} These scriptures tell us that Pharaoh hardened his own heart against God. Other scriptures say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. These are not contradictions, but rather, figures of speech very closely associated with language constructs known as metaphors. For example, when we speak of reading Shakespeare we mean that we read his writings or plays. In Hebrew active verbs can express permission not only direct action. These are idioms that the Jewish people Paul was writing to would have understood clearly. It would be like greeting someone in our culture with the expression “What’s up?” We certainly don’t intend for them to look up towards the sky in an effort to answer that question----because all we are really asking them is: how are you doing? God in His infinite manifold wisdom used Pharaoh’s willful stubbornness against him in order to bring about His own purpose. God did not initially make Pharaoh stubborn so that He could crush him later. God simply used what was available to Him at the moment to bring about His glory----by causing His name to be declared among the nations (Romans 9: 17).

In truth, Pharaoh's heart was hardened a total of ten times; seven times Pharaoh hardened his own heart; three times God hardened Pharaoh's heart----but only after Pharaoh had blatantly chosen to rebel consistently against God Almighty. This is the same algorithm God uses throughtout scripture. God will eventually turn a person over to the evil they so so desperately desire. In the case of Pharaoh, after Pharaoh made it abundantly clear that he had no respect for God Almighty nor for God's people Israel----God then used Pharaoh's willful stubbnorness to cause the glory of His name to be declared among the nations.

Was God’s name proclaimed in all the earth as a result of His dealings with the nation of Egypt/Pharaoh?

[Exodus 15: 5-16; Joshua 2: 8-11; I Samuel 4: 7-8]

Romans 9: 19-22---This passage of scriptures is referring to nations as a whole not individual salvation.

Romans 9: 21 & Jeremiah 18: 1-11---Paul is once again making reference to an Old Testament idiom (the potter and the clay). God is dealing with the nation of Israel as a whole, but He makes reference to the individuals who make up the nation repenting on an individual basis so that the nation as a whole will not be judged by God.

Romans 9: 22---The vessels (or nations of dishonor) were not originally prepared for wrath by God, but in their stubborn, consistent rebellion(s) toward God (just like God turned on Pharaoh and used his own willful stubbornness against him) God prepared Israel as a nation fit for destruction. The temple was destroyed in 70 AD. In that great siege over 1 million 1 hundred thousand Jews were slaughtered and then Israel was promptly dispersed amongst the nations.

II Timothy 2: 19-21---The responsibility as to whether a person will be a vessel of honor or dishonor remains with that individual person not God. Timothy is referring to the second phase of salvation known as sanctification NOT justification. Justification is the first phase of salvation where God delivers a person from the penalty of sin----which is an eternal death sentence that starts in hell and then later empties into the lake of fire. When dealing with nations, if God can get a majority of the individuals within that nation to repent He can restore that nation. From that perspective when God deals with a nation as a whole He will target the individual members of that nation in order to get the entire nation as a whole to repent. If that nation refuses to repent God will use their stubbornness against them and prepare them for judgment. On an individual basis God does not pick and choose who is going to go to Heaven or hell.

Romans 9: 7-9---Abraham had other children by Hagar and Keturah, but his first wife Sarah bore him a son named Isaac in whom the children of the promise are counted as the supernatural seed that will bless ALL nations (not just the nation of Israel). Abraham's other children were not in the spiritual lineage of the seed blessing.

Genesis 17: 15-16---Sarah is blessed with the privilege of starting the lineage of the supernatural spiritual seed that will bless ALL nations of the earth.

Genesis 22: 17-18---Abraham is blessed to bring forth the supernatural spiritual seed that will bless ALL nations of the earth. This ties in perfectly with Romans 9: 7-9.

Genesis 48: 13-22---Jacob (aka. Israel) blessed Ephraim with the BIRTHRIGHT blessing----which is a natural/physical land inheritance blessing. The birthright blessing is not to be confused with the seed blessing. The birthright blessing went to Ephraim and his descendents. The seed blessing went through the lineage of Judah and his descendents.

I Chronicles 5: 1-2---This explains perfectly how the birthright went to Ephraim, while the genealogy of Christ {the supernatural spiritual seed that would bless ALL the nations of the earth} flowed through the lineage of Judah. {1

Chronicles 5:1-2
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Descendants of Reuben
5 The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel. (He was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed his BIRTHRIGHT was given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel, so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright; 2 though Judah became prominent among his brothers AND A RULER CAME FROM HIM, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph.)

The birthright has to do with land inheritance. THE SEED (aka. supernatural genealogy) of The One and Only Jesus Christ Himself----is a supernatural spiritual blessing where ALL nations of the earth will be blessed. The birthright is strictly for the Jews.

Malachi 1: 1-5---Was written around 400 BC----long after Esau and Jacob were dead. Malachi 1: 1-5 occurred 1600 years after God told Rebekah that 2 nations were inside her womb in Genesis 25: 23. In Malachi 1: 1-5, even though God was referring to twin brothers (Esau and Jacob) He was talking about the nations (Israel and Edom) that would come through their perspective lineages. True to His word, God destroyed Edom. God was using an idiom aka. figure of speech when He said that He hated Esau. Jesus uses a similar idiom in Luke 14: 25-26. Calvinists use Romans 9: 18-23 to say that God picks and chooses who will go to Heaven or who will go to hell. This is an incorrect assumption because Romans 9: 18-23 is not about individual salvation it is about NATIONS (Jeremiah 18: 1-11).

Luke 14: 25-26---Is an idiom Jesus uses where He talks about hating your father, mother, wife, children, brother & sisters. This is not meant to be taken literally the way we use the word hate over two thousand years later in our modern day western culture. Remember, that in Greek they always had----and still have----different dialects with different definitions for the same word. 1 John 3: 15, proves that we are not to literally hate our loved ones.

Malachi 1: 1-5---Even though God was referring to individuals by name (Esau and Jacob) He was using them as an idiom in reference to the nations of Israel and Edom. God was not referring to individual salvation. Even when God told Rebekah that 2 nations were in her womb and the older would serve the younger, no where in Jacob and Esau’s lifetimes did Esau (the older) serve Jacob (the younger). If anything, Jacob spent a great deal of his lifetime hiding in fear of his brother Esau. Clearly God was referencing their individual genealogies.