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.