Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

What if God?

OK, so just to review, I have found in Romans 9 Paul weeping over his people, Israel. He then says that the promised plan is still real... even though not all of Israel had received the Messiah. He says they are not all spiritual just because they are in that nation chosen by God. He futher explains that God makes specific choices in regards to the plan unfolding. He favors certain people and even allows others to go their own rebellious way. He infuences key people in His plan, and all the while he is not unfair in doing this. He uses the rebellious of attitdue for His own purposes to show the world who He is. He has the right to do this and if we find ourselves or others being used in a way that we don't like, we should not sass the LORD about it. We can not imagine that He is less righteous than ourselves.

(more from Romans 9:)22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
What is all this talk about clay and vessels? Do you think Paul knew anything about this passage (Jeremiah 18):

1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! 7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, 8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. 9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.
Interesting! This passage from Jeremiah is talking about God's dealings with Israel. I also have thought that the chapter 9 of Romans has been dealing with the nation of Israel, judging by the opening that Paul gives. I do, however see that we are at a transitional point in verse 23. In verse 22, Paul is talking about the longsuffering of God. Here is the LORD pictured as a very patient LORD. He can't be said to be unmerciful. He can't be accused of cruel meanness here. He puts up with those who are fitting themselves for destruction. Yes, FITTING THEMSLEVES. The Greek middle voice is employed in verse 22, not the passive voice. In other words, the Greek of this sentence is not that something is being done to its subject, but that the subject is doing something. Verse 23 is the passive voice. So these verses are teaching that men actively fit themselves for destrucion, but passively are fitted for mercy. Remeber, it is not of him that wills or runs. Paul is teaching that God has been patient with all those in rebellion, willing to make them again into a better vessel. Either way He will show His power.

Look at the Jeremiah passage again. Is God saying there that the attitidue of the clay has anything to do with how it is ends up? The answer is yes. VERSE 8: "...if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it." God is longsuffering towards us all, (as we are all fitting ouselves for destruction), in order that His mercy might be shown on some as they are re-fitted by Him. In Israel's case, they were to repent of evil. In Christ, we are made a new creation, both Jews and Gentiles and our destruction is taken away because of faith , because of Christ taking on Gods' wrath. He is making His saints into vessels for glory and honor. We all come from the same lump though, so we shouldn't have any pride.

Moreover, I think the point here is really deeper than we might first think. Remember how this whole chapter has been going? The Jews - God chose them, but they have not received their Messiah. What if God allowed them, and endured many of those rebellious Jews so that His plan would unfold as it has... and we would be right where we are right now. His wrath was poured out on this crucified and risen Messiah who is now stretching out His arms to the world - to both Jews and Gentiles so that any might find mercy in His sight and heed the call? What if, just what if God has put up with all of this trouble, all of this marred clay, to make His power known and so that His plan to emit mercy to the nations would come to pass?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Romans 9 is awesome! So much to ponder.

Anybody - jump in! "...made me like [what]?" What is this about?

19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 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?”

I can't get these verses off my mind today. Paul is writing this letter to the believers in Rome. Now, he imagines that one of these believers will ask him, "Why does God still find fault? Who can resist His will?" Paul is not imagining that an unbeliever or a heathen would ask that. A believer in the Messiah of Israel is asking this. Next, Paul chastises for this attitude and says to the believer: "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?”

So ... why would a believer be asking God "Why have you made me like this?" Like what?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Don't Sass God

(More from Romans 9:)17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 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?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
I think I would like to look at the passage where the Scripture speaks to Pharoah. I see the context is in the middle of all the plagues, after the diseased livestock (plague #5) and the boils (plague #6).
But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses. 13 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me, 14 for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. 15 Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. 17 As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go. 18 Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now. (Exodus 9)

The setting of this is a struggle between two nations. Pharoah of Egypt wants the Israelites to remain his slaves, but Moses has been given the vision to free these people and lead them out of this existence. The Bible says that God "hardened" Pharoah's heart in this matter. God helped him to be set in the course he was going and to stick with his intentions and not waver.
Q.: Why?
A.:Because God was showing His power to the world.
If Pharoah had let the people go and this struggle between these two leaders (and peoples, respectively) had been short-lived, would it have gotten much press? Certainly not. However, who hasn't heard of this great event? Cecil B. Demille even made a movie about it! The Jews became well known partly because of these events. So what is Paul saying by quoting this? Is he saying that God chose to harden Pharoah's heart so He could send him to everlasting torment for the glory of God? Certainly that is not the point Paul is making. (We don't even know that Pharoah did not repent. He may have. If I remember correctly, we don't know that he died in this struggle, so he could have had a chance for a change of mind and a turn in faith to this God that he had gotten so much exposure to during this struggle.) I think Paul is saying that God has moved in the hearts of men to direct the affairs of this nation of Israel - and other nations - for His glory. He just got done telling us in Romans 9:14-16 about God showing mercy to the people of Israel after these events with Pharoah, whom He hardened (remember - it was Exodus 33 Paul was quoting before he quoted this passage of Exodus 9).

It occurs to me that this is all a very Jewish discussion going on here. I am having to look up many old testament passages and they all seeem to be having to do with the formation and the trevails of this people, Israel. Paul is still talking about that which he brought up in the opening verses of this chapter - the people of Israel and the question of what is God doing with them? - God chose them, but they, as a nation have not received their Messiah. He is answering that. God wants the gospel message to go out to the Gentiles and has a purpose for the Jews being set aside for the time being. God moves in the hearts and affairs of men to accomplish what He wants in this world. He wanted His name to be known, so He hardened Pharoah's heart and He brought this people out with great signs and wonders.

Next we have an objector asking, "Well, why does God still find fault if He hardens and has mercy based on His will to shape history?" Paul answers the objector by telling him not to accuse God of anything unjust. There is no unrighteousness with Him. God is the potter. He is shaping the world and he has different purposes for different peoples. He moves in the leaders' hearts. If some coutries are blessed (like the USA) and others seem to be cursed (like Somalia or Sudan), God has a purpose and a right to make some for honor and others for dishonor and this is done for His sovereign purposes, ruling in the affairs of men. The Pharoahs, Sadaam Husseins, Fidel Castros and the Kim Jong Ils of the world are all going to play into His perfect plan for this planet. If the nation of Israel has had relatively few converts to Christianity, it will all make sense as to why. God knows. We usually don't know the purpose while it is happening, but some day it will all be clear. At the end of the day, God will never, ever appear to be unjust, unloving or unrighteous.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Are You Headed Toward Atheism?

From the Head of the Moor: Quotation Friday: Lawson on Calvinism

I have to comment on this. Jonathan (God love him) has posted a ground-breaking quote. Steve Lawson basically says that if the church is not Calvinist ... (drumroll please) it will eventually become a nest of atheists!

Sometimes posts from Calvinists get me irritated and annoyed, but I have to say, this one was very entertaining to read!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Don't Tell God What to Do

(More from Romans 9:)14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
Paul is saying that we cannot accuse God of being unrighteous or unfair just because He chose to do something great through Jacob and that he made Essau Jacob's servant. They were both seed of Abraham, but Edom (Essau's descendants) was not deserving of any favor, (and neither was Jacob!) that's for sure - that nation turned out to be so wicked that God later said He hated them. It is God's choice the places that we have in our world. He has a plan for this planet and it is not unrighteous or unfair, not by any means. It is not that He had abandoned the Jews, because there were many Israelites who were receiving the Messiah. If He had totally abondoned His chosen people of Israel, it could be said that He had broken his unconditional covenants that He made with them. But that can't be said, so said Paul in previous verses. He told Moses that He will dispense favor the way He deems fit. Let's look at that passage quoted by Paul in the above passage in the blue. It is from Exodus 33. The chapter starts this way:

Exodus 33:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ 2 And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” 4 And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. 5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you.
(just to give us some context)
Interestingly, this was the third time that the LORD had called the children of Israel a "stiff-necked people." He threatens to not go with them. Surely He was communicating that if they were favored, it would not be because they were superior or because they were behaving well. Moses keeps reminding God that Israel is His people and expresses concern over their reputation and the reputation of God if the Presence of God goes not with them. God reassures Moses, takes back His threat of removing His presence and tells him that He will go with them because Moses had found grace in His sight. Moses then asks a similar question to that of Philip, "Show us the father" and Paul, "That I may know Him" - he asks to see God. God then says:

19 “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
Isn't it interesting to see this verse that Paul quotes in its original context? God tells Moses that He will indeed reveal Himself to him. The overall context is that Moses has been asking God to do what Moses thinks He should do, reasoning with God about the reputation of God etc. God says Moses has found favor is His sight. Moses then asks for more: "Show yourself to me." God answers Moses, in effect saying: "I will go with the people because I will to do it" ... "I will show you my glory because I will to do it" ... "I will do what I want" ... "Moses, don't purport to tell me what to do."

Am I off here? I don't think so!

Paul, by referring to this passage is saying that God will choose whom He wants to reveal Himself through. He chooses His servants, He chooses His vessels, He chooses the measure of revelation that each gets. Up to this point of Paul's writing it was Israel, in the present time it is through the church, this unique body of people from every tribe and nation, including, but not limited to (hallelujah!) Israel of Israel.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming for ...
Some of my Designs

I wanted to share some of the stuff I do with the readers here. Over the last few years, I have designed these covers for the sermon series that our senior pastor has been preaching. We package these up (after the series are complete) and make them available to those who come into the church. I use Photoshop to create these designs. Some use photos I have taken myself, while others are borrowed images that I combine and alter to form my designs. Some are a combination of my own photos and a borrowed image.

All of these sermons can be heard by clicking on my church's website:

Sadly, Pastor De Courcy will be leaving our church at the end of this month; he has taken a church in California. I think these sermons will be available to listen to until that time.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Jacob I have loved; Esau I have hated

(More from Romans 9)10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
The reference in purple is this here below from Genesis:
23 And the LORD said to her:
Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25)
And the reference in blue is here, from the opening chapter of Malachi:
1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. 2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the LORD. “Yet Jacob I have loved; 3 But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness.” 4 Even though Edom has said, “We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places,” Thus says the LORD of hosts: “They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever (Malachi 1)
What is Genesis 25 saying? It is talking about two nations. The nation that comes from the elder shall serve the nation that comes from the younger. Romans 9 is telling us that this was not because of anything that either of the fathers of these nations did, because they haven't done anything yet! (They were still in the womb!) But God, in His sovereign choice, chose to make Himself known through Jacob and his seed, rag-tag group that they, in some ways, ended up being. God chose Israel, not Edom. Jacob was conniving sometimes, but God had foreordained to reveal Himself through Jacob in spite of his character flaws. It was not because Jacob was such a great man, it was because of God's choice. Period.

(This is one of the great things about the Bible - isn't it? It is so honest about its characters - they are not exalted and their flaws are not covered over, but God shows how he uses them anyway. My husband, the Earnest Contender, covered this in a post. The Bible is unprejudiced.)

Now the Malachi passage - what is that saying? It is saying that God loved the people of Israel. This is the last book we have in the OT. This was written at a time far removed from Jacob and Essau. God says he favored these people of Jacob and purposed in his heart to show them favor in the their world from the get-go. He chose them over Edom - they were to be a light to the Gentiles, but they were not serving very well. They were not discharging their responsibilities faithfully. Yet "I have loved you." He says. He favored them for His revelation. And - what do you know? About 400 years after Malachi, the Messiah came from Jacob, even though they had been unfaithful. He was still born from Jacob, these people described in chapter 1 of Malachi.

Up to this point in Romans chapter 9, this is all about the nation of Israel and it's past purpose in God's plan and the fact that He chose them for no reason in and of themselves. Some of them are faithful even though many of them are not. But God is faithful. God is sovereign and has a purpose in election that is bigger than a relationship with individuals. He has a global purpose that He is executing.


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