What if God?
(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.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.
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.
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?