Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Romans 9:19-26
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Romans 9:19
v19: Paul anticipates someone arguing that God would be unfair to judge the actions of a person He had hardened. In this case, the underlying question being asked is, how could He find fault with Jews who had rejected the gospel and violently persecuted its preachers because He was using their anger to spread the gospel. Though He certainly didn’t cause them to reject the gospel, after they did He used them to serve His purpose. In looking back on the past 25 years of church history it was clear to Paul that God had a plan and was directing events so they would fulfill that plan (Ro 11:25). But if He was guiding events how could He blame those He used when they did something evil?

Monday: Romans 9:19
v19 (continued): The same question can be asked about Pharaoh which is why Paul brought him into the discussion (v17). Did God hold him responsible for the plagues Egypt suffered since apparently, without God’s miraculous gift of courage (stubbornness) he would have released Israel sooner? As we listen to Paul respond in the next few verses (vs20-24) he doesn’t answer that moral question, but argues that God has the right to use rebellious people to serve His higher purposes. However, he assures us that “there is no injustice with God” (v14), and were God to sovereignly turn someone’s will to make them do evil and then punish them for the evil they had done, that would be unjust. In fact, He could only do such a thing if He didn’t love sinners or want them to be saved.

Tuesday: Romans 9:20, 21
vs20-21: Paul’s defense of God’s right to “harden” the heart of Pharaoh or of those Jews who rejected the gospel is not based on the principle that “might makes right.” When he asks, “...who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?”, he is not admitting that God has done something unloving and cruel and warns us not to challenge Him because we are only weak little lumps of clay in His hand. His point in using this illustration of the potter is to ask us to remember that God sees the world from a very different perspective than ours. He knows far better than we what is just and loving and needed in a particular situation, so we would be wise to humbly trust Him, rather than question His character.

Wednesday: Romans 9:21-23
vs21-23: It’s significant that Paul pictures this potter making “vessels of wrath” (v22) and “vessels of mercy” (v23) from “the same lump” of clay. He didn’t merely make two kinds of vessels, he made two kinds of vessels from one lump of clay, and that one lump can only mean Israel. Paul is using this illustration to explain the Jewish reaction to the gospel. Wherever the gospel was preached those Jews who rejected it had been left hardened. Their decision to reject Christ brought with it terrible repercussions. They had refused the atonement offered them by their Messiah and insisted on pursuing righteousness by works (v32), and that choice changed their relationship with God (Mt 13:14, 15). It hardened their hearts and left them exposed to further deception, and in some cases turned them into violent opponents of their own Messiah.

Thursday: Romans 9:21-23
vs21-23 (continued): But on those who believed the gospel, God poured out “the riches of His glory,” meaning the indwelling Holy Spirit (Eph 1:18-21; 3:16). By choosing to receive by faith God’s righteousness (v30), they became partakers of a great plan which He predestined before the world was made (Ro 8:29, 30). From one family, the descendents of Abraham, God was molding two different kinds of vessels. Those with faith became vessels of mercy, but those who trusted their own good works became vessels of wrath. And over the decades, while this dividing was taking place, God patiently allowed believers to suffer. He didn’t intervene to punish their persecutors. He sent His people to preach the gospel “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Mt 10:16).

Friday: Romans 9:21-24
vs21-23 (continued): And there was a reason He “bore” their hostility with such “long suffering” (literal), and the reason is not that He is unwilling to punish His opponents or use His power to protect the righteous, He was withholding punishment because in the midst of this turmoil people were being saved, both Jews and Gentiles. v24: God started with one lump of clay, but His saving work quickly, expanded to include both Jews and Gentiles. All who heard God’s “call” to believe the gospel became “vessels of mercy,” and Paul includes himself in this new group by using the pronoun “us.”

Saturday: Romans 9:25, 26
vs25-26: The church of Jesus Christ was rapidly filling up with people who deserved wrath but had received grace. Paul quotes from the prophet Hosea (Hos 2:23; 1:10) to show that God’s welcome of such people was part of His predetermined plan. Hosea originally spoke these words as a message of hope for the ten northern tribes of Israel. They had been unfaithful and judgment was approaching rapidly, but judgment wasn’t God’s final word to them. Someday the Messiah would restore their covenant relationship with Him (Hos 2:14-23). Even as He prophesied wrath, God still loved them and had already made plans to bring their descendants back to Him. By choosing this passage from Hosea, Paul is saying two things: First, the gospel of Jesus Christ is part of God’s fulfillment of this promise to restore His people, and second, the same heart that pursued these undeserving tribes of Israel also loved undeserving Gentiles and had planned for the same measure of grace to be given to them. 

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