“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.’ Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Romans 9:14-18).
One of the essentials of persuasion is anticipating objections and knowing how to answer them. Because of Paul’s many years of reasoning with the Jews in the synagogues scattered throughout Asia and Europe, he was quite knowledgeable of their objections to the gospel and the Scriptural answer to them. Romans 9-11 is a compilation of these objections and their inspired, devastating rebuttals.
The first objection is “The word of God has taken no effect” (Romans 9:6-13). In other words, If the gospel with the new covenant replaces the Law and the old covenant, then God has failed to keep His word; His word has fallen, not stood. This is “Certainly NOT!” true, because Jesus—the Messiah—is the son of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The only reason Isaac and Jacob are in the Messiah’s genealogy is because of God’s Word!
The second objection “There is unrighteousness with God” (Romans 9:14-29). In other words, “That’s not fair!” According to the prejudiced Jewish mind, God could never reject the Jews as His chosen people without being unrighteous; they had an ever valid “Get out of hell free” card. Therefore, the gospel is completely unnecessary and thus, rejecting it is obligatory.
Paul’s rebuttal to this false thinking is to quote Jehovah’s words to Moses in Exodus 33:19. When it comes to divine salvation of human beings, Jehovah alone is the One who determines the plan. Since it is His mercy and His compassion which are essential to the plan, He will decide the plan and its terms.
In Moses’ day, when God brought deliverance from Egyptian bondage to the Jews, the Jews did not object to this arrangement. Was it unfair? Was God unrighteous to raise up Pharaoh to bring about the deliverance/salvation of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
If God had the rightful authority to raise up Pharaoh so that His power and name could be declared in all the earth, then He still rightfully has the authority to do so 1,500 years later. If the Jews have no objection to God’s deliverance of one nation from the bondage of physical slavery, they have no legitimate ground for objecting to God’s deliverance of the entire world from the bondage of spiritual slavery!
Rejecting God’s plan of salvation for all humanity via the gospel of Jesus Christ by objecting “That’s not fair!” is irrational for all Jews…and Gentiles.