{7}          Is God unjust? (Ro 9:13-15)

Romans 9:13-15
Just as it is written: ďJacob I loved, but Esau I hated.Ē What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For He says to Moses, ďI will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.Ē

Problem:

         Is God fair? Does he treat us unjustly? Passages like, ďJacob I loved, but Esau I hatedĒ provoke from us the question: but why? What did they do to deserve either Godís love or hate?

         Our sense of injustice increases when we read in Ro 9:11 that decisions about Jacob and Esau were made before they were born and had done anything good or bad. Did God choose us before we were born?

         These passages raise other questions about predestination, personal accountability for our sins, the fate of the Jews, and the election of the Gentiles.

Context:

         Paul is concerned with the fate of his own people and the election of the Gentiles to receive Godís promise. In Ro 9:1-5, Paul says he would give up his own salvation if he could save his Jewish brothers (v.3).

         Not all of the Jewish nation are the sons of the promise. God has chosen Isaac over Ishmael (v.6-9), and Jacob over Esau (v.10-14). Clearly God has made choices and will continue to do so (v.14-15).

         God chooses people to serve his grand design, eg. hardening Pharaohís heart (v.16‑18). Why then are we held responsible if God is in control? (v.19) Are we like Job guilty of questioning Godís ways?

Explanation:

         Love and Hate: Love and hate are used in the New Testament to describe a situation where we have to make a preference. To hate our mother and father and to love Jesus does not mean a hostile attitude towards our parents. Rather, it means to prefer Jesus above our parents. Clearly God has a preference for Isaac because he was the son of the promise, the promised child of Sarah. However, it is also possible that Isaac became the son of promise because God foreknew that Isaac has faith.

         Prophesy: Esau was the father of the Edomites who would be defeated in battle by the Israelites of whom Jacob was the father (having been blessed by Isaac). We are told in Genesis that the older will serve the younger. God has prophetic knowledge of these events when he chose Jacob over Esau in order that his plan of establishing the nation of Israel may be carried out.

         Godís Free Will: God clearly has free will just as man has free will. He is free to elect whom he will call and has foreknowledge of the events that will occur. If God followed only manís rules, then he would not be God. God can bless who he pleases.

         Assumptions: Many of manís assumptions are based on man-made laws such as the law of primogeniture which assumes the first born son will receive the inheritance of the father. Clearly this is manís law, not Godís, and God can choose who he pleases.

         The Israelites: Not all of the descendants of Israel are Godís children. God elects who he will use to build a nation. Isaac has been chosen, not Ishmael; Jacob has been chosen, not Esau. Israel has the duty to take the message of Godís love and sovereignty to the nations, but they have clearly failed to do. As a result, God let their hearts be hardened and the message of the Messiah was taken to the Gentiles. Paul is convinced that the Jews too will be reached someday.

Application:

         It is not our place to question Godís will because he answers to his own logic, not to manís. Godís mercy and compassion are absolutely free and at his disposal. No one can earn it or deserves it. On one hand, God is free to choose. On the other hand, we are also responsible for our sins.

         The purpose of the hardening of the heart of the Jews is that the gospel might be proclaimed throughout the world. We are called if we accept his mercy as a free gift and to assist him in carrying out the Great Commission. This we can do through our personal testimonies, prayer, and participation in the support of missions. It is clearly Godís purpose that his gospel be spread.