The Sovereignty of God and the Audacity of Man.
Read Romans 9:6-26
“Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?”
Like Ephesians 1, theologians struggle to fully understand the sovereign work of God in relationship to free will as Paul discuss the operation of God’s sovereignty in human history. In discussing the outworking of God’s redemptive plan, Paul points out that the selection of Jacob over Isaac to the be the avenue of God’s redemptive promise was not based upon any intrinsic worth of Jacob over Isaac. It was grounded solely in God’s sovereign purpose. But this not just seen in the selection of Jacob, but also in working in history. While showing mercy to Israel, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to remain unmoved by Moses’ appeal. The end result was that Israel was delivered while Pharaoh and his armies destroyed. Naturally this raises an objection by some that God is being unjust in showing favor to one over the other. If God is just, how can he show mercy on some and bring judgment upon others?
To answer the question Paul does not delve into a deep theological or philosophical discussion regarding God’s sovereignty and the interplay it has with our freedom of the will. Instead he goes to the real heart of the issue and addresses the real question, “Does God have the right to exercise his sovereignty as he pleases or is he accountable to us? Just as the case in Ephesians 1, so also here, in the midst of debate we can lose the forest for the trees. To understand and worship God for his sovereignty, we need to come to grips with the reality that God is God and we are not. Just as the clay does not have the right to tell the potter what to make, so we do not have the right to question God and tell him what he can and cannot do. God exercises his sovereignty according to his purpose, not according to our wishes or mandate. We want a God who is sovereign, but only in the areas we want. He can do as he pleases—as long as he acts in a way that is consistent with what we want or desire.
This is the audacity of humanity; we want the freedom to determine our own destiny and govern our own life. We make our plans, sent our goals, plot out the path of our life and then ask God to bless it. When he interrupts our life, when his Word conflicts with our desires and perspective, when he sovereignly changes the course we chose by interposing life-altering circumstances, we question God and find fault with him. But God is not an all-powerful God who exists merely to respond to respond to our bidding. He is a sovereign God, enthroned in heaven, who directs the universe and our life to achieve his purpose. His ultimate goal is not in doing what pleases us, but in revealing the riches of his glory by demonstrating his mercy (22).
It is one thing to affirm his sovereignty when he acts in ways consistent with our plans. It is quite another to affirm his sovereignty when he acts contrary to our plans. To learn to truly rest in the comfort of his sovereignty we must recognize his right to do as he pleases in our life. It is to surrender completely to his work. To affirm his position as the sovereign king is to humble ourselves before him, to place ourselves in complete submission to his will. If God is truly sovereign, governed by his love, empowered by his omnipotence, acting according to his infinite knowledge and wisdom, then the only proper response is to relinquish the pursuit of our will and submit to his. Anything less is to attempt to usurp his position as the universal king. Today, ask God to completely impose his will upon yours, to enable you to allow him to guide your footsteps without question and find complete joy in fulfilling his purpose.