Is God Unjust?

Romans 9:14-29

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 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.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:

“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”

26 and, “In the very place where it was said to them,
‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”

27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:

“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
only the remnant will be saved.
28 For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

29 It is just as Isaiah said previously:

“Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”


For Eight chapters Paul has been explaining and celebrating the good news about Jesus Christ. The New Testament views Jesus as the culmination of God’s saving work through the nation of Israel. But for the majority of the Jewish people of Jesus’ day, did not recognize this good news. You can especially see this tension when Jesus talks about the destruction of the Temple in passages like Matthew 24.


The Jewish people in the last century before Christ and the first century after Christ were looking for Messiah. And from BC 100- AD 135 there were many in Israel who claimed to be Messiah. The common expectation was that Messiah would come, drive out the Romans, allow for the Temple to be rebuilt according to its Solomonic glory, the idea was that they were not actually returned from the exile from Babylon. They did not have self rule. They were not left to make the laws that they wanted so the promises made to them in their covenant about the land, the temple and the blessing of God remained unfulfilled.


The Christian understanding of Jesus is that He was the Messiah, the Son of YHWH. He came as a Messiah who served as a prophet and priest like Moses and like a king and priest like David. As such, Jesus has fulfilled the law and instituted a new covenant. There is no longer any need for the temple rituals, the idea of the land has changed, the identity of the people of God has changed and so on. And most of the Jewish people did not accept Him as such. Jesus instituted a new covenant. What happened to the Old Covenant? And how could so many who sought God miss Him?

And so the first question:

Has God’s word failed? V. 6

It’s not the children born of human will or descent that are the chosen ones. It is the children who are “born of God” or the children who are “chosen by God.”


10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

If God has chosen one over the other before they are born, how can this be fair? And this is the issue discussed in our passage of Scripture today.


Read the passage.


Our passage is about God’s acting in history and is founded on His being the Creator. Since God is the Creator, He has a purpose for what He has made. And He is also able and willing to act in His Creation according to His intention and will.


But His will is not always understood, so Paul is setting out to explain how the rejection of Christ by the Jews is not an indication of the failure of the Word of God or the justice of God.



  1. Mercy is Not a Matter of Justice v.14-16

The issue of justice is raised because of what Paul says in v.10-13

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”


And this verse is in reference to the idea that not all of the physical descendants of Israel are “Israel.”


And so the question is:

Is God allowed to choose Jacob over Esau before they are born?   Can this be just? God’s response: “I will have mercy on whom I        have mercy. I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.


  1. What is the “It”? v.16

It is too late for people to deserve to be the people of God.


Being the people of God.

Having a Covenant relationship.

Having the Promise of peace. Example of Luke 2:


Peace on earth, good will toward men on whom His favor rests!


God is not Santa.


  1. Is God able to act?


Is He allowed to be Himself in His world? If so and we cannot see         Him, then what we really need is humility and revelation. God’s    message on the Mt. of Transfiguration.


In these last days He has spoken through His Son.


The New Testament authors constantly refer to OT prophecies as         indicators of God’s plan in sending Jesus.


  1. Hardening is a matter of justice

Whenever we demand justice, we are calling for our own     condemnation.


We make assumptions about ourselves that are not true.


Because God has been gracious, we can easily assume that we    are better than others. Look at Israel’s history. Are they better than others? Combine that question with the fact that to whom       much is given, much will be required.



  1. Humanism is a Flawed Philosophy


  1. Judging the judge

        Genesis 1:1 is foundational for our world view!

God is creator. God is judge of what Creation’s purposes are. We are created. We are not the judge.


This is a meaningless pursuit!


If there is a real judge then His judgement is all that matters. If   you are not the judge, then your judgements of the judge aren’t      valid. You have no authority.


If you do not like the way that the local government and police    manage the traffic laws and so you decide to drive however you       see fit, you will be judged.


A perversion of the image of God. We have abilities, but they are twisted because of sin.


  1. Creator and the right to rule

Whose world is it? This is such an important issue.


Being a Deist is not good enough. Is God active in the world? Is   God active in your life? What does that look like? Would you like for God to be more active? Would you like to walk by sight       instead of by faith?


Eternity in their hearts. What are we responsible for? To whom    are we responsible? Many people with every advantage do not        follow Jesus!




  1. God’s gracious choice



God has the right to do as He pleases in His world. We see that    He is gracious and loving. We see that He is also the judge. When we look at the Cross and Jesus’ suffering and death we      have a clear picture of both the mercy of God and the judgement        of God.


Is the Cross fair for Jesus? Is it just for Him? No. He is providing mercy. Apart from Christ is there mercy for any? No, there is only separation from God because of our sin. What do we deserve?


Paul’s testimony. God acted graciously in Paul’s life. But what about other people who don’t get the same thing? Is God being unjust by not acting in the same way in everyone’s life? You can’t go there. It sets aside the definition of mercy and grace and moves into the issue of justice.




III. Biblical Historical Descriptions


  1. Gentiles as God’s people


Examples from OT

Ruth, Rahab,


Examples from the gospels

Magi, Centurion’s faith, Soldier at the Cross etc.



  1. Remnant of Israel as God’s people


OT issues of obedience and disobedience.


Modern day remnants. There are fewer people who are saved      than who think they are saved.


Many will come to me in that day and say, “Lord, Lord…

Matthew 7


  1. Israel and God’s grace and mercy

God has been consistent all along. Whose perspective are we       going to adopt? Ours or God’s?


God made promises. God keeps His promises in His timing.


Is God’s grace necessary? How great a need for humility do we    have?