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Volume 28 - Page 142 of 217 Index | Zoom | |
If we have done this, we shall see Rom. 9: in its true light, but if we come to it
independently of what has gone before, we shall probably darken its teaching with our
own shadows. When we read in Rom. 9: that God "hardeneth" whom He will, we shall
remember Rom. 1: 24, where we read: "Wherefore God also gave them up." This is no
mere arbitrary action, however, for the "giving up" of the nations is only consequent
upon the nations giving up God. In Volume XVII, page 132, we set out in parallel
columns what God says of the nations in Rom. 1:, and what He says of Israel in
Psalm 106: There was nothing to choose between them. If God shows mercy to one
nation, and withholds it from others, the question of righteousness or unrighteousness is
not involved. As Shakespeare wrote:
"Though justice be thy plea, consider this, That in the course of justice none of us
should see salvation."
"The quality of mercy is not strained" (Merchant of Venice, 4: 1).
It is contrary to the "quality of mercy" to bring in the question of righteousness at all,
seeing that "all" have sinned, both Jew and Gentile, and all alike are amenable to
The two passages cited by the Apostle in dealing with the objection raised in
Rom. 9: 14 are taken from the Book of Exodus.
In Exod. 33: Moses prays: "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory." The Lord
"I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the
Lord before thee, and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show
mercy on whom I will show mercy" (Exod. 33: 18, 19).
It is important to remember that these words have a context. Anything may be made
of them if the context be ignored, but if we go back step by step to that which led to the
revelation of Divine sovereignty, all debate concerning the possible "unrighteousness" of
God in the bestowing of His grace, or the infliction of His wrath, is for ever stilled. In the
opening section of Exod. 32: we find that Israel had become idolaters, and were
worshiping a golden calf. The Lord calls them a "stiff-necked people" against whom His
wrath "waxed hot". So far from the Lord being in any sense obliged by the terms of His
covenant to endure and bless this people, He says to Moses:
"Let Me alone . . . . . that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great
nation" (Exod. 32: 10).
Consequently, with this passage in mind, Paul could argue that, had God carried out
His threat, He would have been clearly within His rights, even though it meant the
blotting out of thousands of Israelites. Indeed, Moses himself called upon the house of