Romans 9:1-29, Psalm 50
Though Romans 9 is famous for its defense of God’s right as Sovereign of all the universe to “have mercy on whom I will have mercy” (Romans 9:14), Paul is not primarily defending God’s justice in predestining some for mercy and others for wrath. Rather, the main argument Paul takes up in this chapter is that we should not be surprised that God chooses to, give salvation to many Gentiles. Romans 9 begins with Paul telling us that he wishes he could be “cursed” so that His people, the Jewish people, could receive God’s salvation en masse (Romans 9:2). Then Paul declares that God’s promises haven’t failed the Jewish people by arguing, yet again, that the true children of Abraham are “not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise.” (Romans 9:8) This means both Jews and Gentiles can receive the promised blessing to Abraham through faith. But if you put yourself in Jewish shoes, as one who has been “faithful to the the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises” (Romans 9:4), you might wonder if God is unjust just to welcome Gentiles completely into the covenants without a more extensive purging of years of evil. Yet Paul explains that just like God was completely just to show favor to Jacob the second born over Esau, the oldest, so God has the right to bless a people by the blood of Jesus that have been lost for hundreds and thousands of years. God’s mercy is the ultimate point Paul wants to drive home to an audience probably suspicious of so recklessly welcoming Gentiles into full fellowship. God’s grace is always held in contempt by the perverted notions of justice we hold, for so many of us take for granted our own righteousness while recognizing the evil of others. Paul wants to insist no one deserves such lavish mercy and promises, so why be upset with God when our Lord shows kindness to anyone. For indeed we can cry Hallelujah that God has mercy on whom the Lord will have mercy, for we know we would be lost without our God’s kindness.