Read Romans 9:1-18.
“Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden” (Romans 9:18).
At the beginning of Romans 9, Paul begins to reflect on the fact that his kinsmen, the Jews, are rejecting their Messiah. As he considers the judgment they will face, he cries out in anguish, “I would do anything for them to come to know Jesus. I would even give up my own salvation!”
In Romans 9:6-13, Paul makes it clear that though many of the Israelites had rejected Jesus, God’s sovereign will never fails. “It is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring,” Paul explains (v. 8), meaning those who have faith in God and His Messiah are the true people of God—the true Israel. Likewise, today God’s salvation is promised not to those who simply attend church, but those who trust in Jesus Christ.
Grappling with why, in God’s sovereignty, some of physical Israel should reject their Savior, Paul recognizes God is not obligated to save anyone. Though humanity questions God’s actions, asking, “Is it fair?” Paul brings us back to reality: “The question is not whether God is fair; the question is: Why does He have mercy on sinners at all?”
God owes humanity nothing except judgment—for all have sinned. But in His merciful, sovereign will, He has chosen to save the undeserving. Therefore, let us rejoice in His mercy and humbly plead with Him for the lost, for our God is “[t]he Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, . . .” (Exodus 34:6).
Prayer: God, You are a gracious, merciful God. Help me to see and experience the depth of Your love for me—the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice for the undeserving. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.