b) God Selects whom He has Mercy on, and whom He Wills He Hardens (Romans 9:14-18)
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? May it never be! 15 For he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I caused you to be raised up, that I might show in you my power, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then, he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires.
From the Lord’s revelation to Moses in Exodus 33:19, we find that God has the authority to have mercy on a certain person and to continue in his mercy, whether this person has sinned or not. Therefore, the selection of God does not depend on the works of man, but only on the mercy of the Almighty; and the salvation of man means his justification without merit, because of the limitless grace of God.
We also read in the same sense in Exodus 9:16 that the holy Lord said to Pharaoh, the mediator, who was filled with the spirits of Egypt: “But indeed for this 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”. This divine declaration inspired Paul to write: “Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Romans 9:18).
This is right because of the holiness of God. However, God is not a dictator, but he desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). If someone has opened his heart to spirits opposite to God, or has descended from a family, a clan, or people filled with thoughts contrary to Jesus, it is understood that God allows a harmful leader to oppose his orders openly, but God can also prove his eternal power with respect to such great a denier.
In reply to the aforementioned verse of Paul’s epistle, some say that Islam adopts the idea that God misguides whom he wills, and guides whom he wills, for God, according to his holiness, has the right to mislead all men, since none is righteous. Yet, God does not behave in this manner, as other religions say, for he has mercy on everyone, and whoever accepts Christ participates in his own choice, for Christ is the only one who never sinned.
But he who binds himself to the devil, the father of all lies, and loves money more than God, must not be astonished if the Holy One allows him to fall completely, and be unable to understand the word of God, as Jesus says in his gospel according to the evangelist John (8:43-45). God is free in making this decision, but man partakes in the responsibility, depending on whether he has repented sincerely or not.
To clarify this point to the reader, we indicate that Paul sent these reflections not to the Gentiles, but to the Jews in Rome, to overcome the hardening of their hearts. He clarified to them that God would misguide them, though he had chosen them, if they did not open their hearts to his guidance in the gospel of Christ. This epistle of Paul does not present a philosophy to everyone, but it shows us how he treats the hardheartedness of the Jews.
PRAYER: O heavenly Father, we worship you because you chose us sinners in the selection of Jesus Christ, and you granted us the right of becoming your children, though we are not worthy of your selection. We praise you and glorify you for your continuous mercy and thank you with all our hearts because you did not harden us or reject us, in spite of our sins, but drew us to you by your excessive holy love.
- Why is no man worthy to be chosen by God? What is the reason for our positive selection?
- Why did God harden Pharaoh? How does the hardening of individuals, clans and peoples appear?