ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 203

R o ma n s
his wonderful promises. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and
Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And
he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise!
Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all
who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people!
Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too. This
means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children
of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s
children. For God had promised, “I will return about this time next year,
and Sarah will have a son.”
This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave
birth to twins. But before they were born, before they had done anything
good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that
God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but
not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son
will serve your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob,
but I rejected Esau.”
Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! For God said
to Moses,
“I will show mercy to anyone I choose,
and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”
So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor
work for it.
For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for
the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame
throughout the earth.” So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some,
and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.
Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”
No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with
God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it,
“Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay,
doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though
God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with
those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does

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