Timeless truths about God hardening hearts. The context of Romans 9-11 is Paul’s presentation of the Gospel to the church in Rome. He clarifies that God has not broken His covenant with Israel. Our section today brings us to another challenging passage. Does God harden the hearts of people?
Paul states that God is just in choosing Jacob over Esau. He then quotes God, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” This is a quote from Exodus 33 as God prepares Moses before He reveals His glory to Moses. God is letting Moses know that in His mercy He is going to protect Moses from being killed by hiding him in the cleft of the rock and putting His hand over him.
Man does not determine the works of God. Man does not decide what God will or will not do. Now, some will point out the illustration of Pharaoh in this passage as proof that God hardens the heart of those He predestines for hell. However, if you read Exodus 7-10 it is clear that Pharaoh hardened his heart against God and that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. So who hardened Pharaoh’s heart? BOTH. How? When God gives greater light, neutrality is not an option. One either embraces the truth shown by the greater light or rejects it. In rejecting the greater light, the heart is hardened. Who is responsible? God for giving greater light and the one who rejects the greater light!
“What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE M Y POWER IN YOU, AND THAT M Y NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” Romans 9:14-18 NASB