Topic:Let God Be God
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
I do not know how you react to that, but it is clear what it says. It does not say that salvation is based on human effort choice — it is God who chooses. The ultimate reason for God’s choice of anyone is that he chooses whom he wants. This is the truth about God which people dislike the most. We must face the fact that God is a sovereign being. He is not answerable to anyone. We don’t like that, because to us sovereignty is always connected with tyranny. To trust anyone with that kind of power is to put ourselves into the hands of someone who might destroy us. We fight that in our national life, we fight it in our family life and we fight it in our individual relationships. We do not trust anyone with absolute power over us. It is no wonder that when we are confronted by a God with absolute power, we are troubled by this. But if God had to give an answer to anyone, that person to whom God had to account would really be God. The very core of God’s nature is that he does what he pleases. What we must do is get rid of the idea that his sovereignty will be destructive to us. As we will see, his sovereignty is our only hope!
God declares his own sovereignty. God says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Exodus 33:19). Moses was an example of God’s choice to bless someone. Who was Moses that God should choose him? He was nobody; a murderer and a fugitive from justice, who for forty years lived in the desert. But God chose him and made him his messenger and gave him a name that was known throughout history. Why? God chose to do so.
On the other hand, God demonstrated his sovereignty with Pharaoh as well. He took a man who was no better than Moses and put him on a throne and gave him authority and power over all the nation of Egypt. Then, when Moses confronted him, God allowed Pharaoh to continue to resist God’s will. God could have stopped him, but he didn’t. He allowed him to do what all men do by nature — resist God. So Pharaoh held out against God. And God allowed this so that he might demonstrate his power and attract the attention of men everywhere to his greatness.
That bothers us. We think anybody who boasts about his greatness, who tries to get people to think about how great he is, is conceited. We don’t like such people. But in our tendency to think of God as nothing but an enlarged man, we attribute to God our own motives. When a man does this, he is destructive and must necessarily put others down to elevate himself. But what God does is necessary to the welfare and benefit of his creatures. The more we understand the goodness and glory of God, the richer our lives will be. So when God invites us to think about his greatness, it is not because his ego needs to be massaged; it is because we require that for our own welfare. Therefore God finds ways to do it, and he uses people even to resist his will so that there might be an occasion to display his greatness and power.
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Sovereign God, thank you for your place on high, above all, for your plans to make yourself known through humankind, and for your right and perfect justice.
The very concept of God must recognize him as the ultimate authority. Can we trust the sovereign authority of God who is Love?