Last week, we ended with: Romans 9:20-21 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor?
We pick up this same train of thought, God’s absolute sovereignty, today: Romans 9:22-24 (HCSB) And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? And ⌊what if⌋ He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory — on us, the ones He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? The first thing that we ought to take note of, because it’s first in Paul’s train of thought and because it goes against the prevailing false view of God that is so popular in our time. The apostle posits the idea that one reason Creator God raises up and hardens some (such as Pharaoh) is to display His wrath and make His power known. For many people, their only religious creed is “God is love” – they know nothing about God other than He is love, and that’s all He is in their view. We know from Romans 8:1 that we who are in Christ are not subject to His wrath, free from condemnation. When we read that verse, do we contemplate those who are not in Christ, what their doom is? That is one thing Paul is getting at here: God intentionally pours out His wrath on the children of disobedience – now and in the age to come. He desires to have attention focused on Himself by the display of His power. We see the positive side of this in those familiar stories such Gideon and his army, which I touched on last week. When ancient Israel would rightly boast in YHWH – some put their trust in horse and chariot, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God! (Psalm 20:7) – they were doing the same thing. But we also saw in Romans 2 how people who are not repentant are storing up wrath against themselves to be revealed on the great and terrible day of God’s judgment against the people of this world. While God’s wrath is not the gospel, we should not be shy about talking of it. Neither the Lord nor His apostles shied away from this topic. The stiff-necked and rebellious people need to be warned to flee the wrath to come!
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