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By Edward O'Hara: Some people get really confused about some of the things they read in Rom.9. I know I did when I first read it for myself. But, since then I have learned that my confusion was caused because I was trying to interpret it according to the false original sin and sin nature doctrine that I was first taught. While also knowing that God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son.

This happens because we do not follow the golden rule of Bible study that is context, context, context. A context we need to understand in this chapter that begins where Paul shows his love for his brethren in the flesh by saying he would give his own life for them if it meant they would be saved.

We see here that he is still speaking as he has been throughout all of Romans to his Israelite brethren.

Once more confirming for us that this is to whom this letter is written. Paul does this so that when we read it we will know why he says what he says. And to whom he is saying it. So that whatever truth we glean from it for ourselves, though we are not Jews, will be understood in this context.

Now by not recognizing the context when they read where Paul says that God has mercy on whom He will, and hardens whom He will. Many mistake this to mean that man has no choice to make in regard to whether he will be saved or not. When what Paul is actually teaching here is exactly the opposite.

Because what Paul is actually showing us in this chapter is that the reason Israel after the flesh are not God's people just because they have been born Israelites. Is that God's children are only those who come to Him by faith without works by their own choosing. Paul says this plainly in vs.8. And again in vs.30-33.

This is what in His sovereignty God chose in eternity past would be the means by which men are saved, ie how they are shown or receive mercy. And the rest who will not come to Him by faith without works are hardened by their own choosing as by their own free will "the builders reject the stone that God has made the head of the corner", as the Psalmist so eloquently wrote.

So after Paul tells his brethren in the flesh how much he loves them. And reminds them that they are only God's people when they choose to trust in Him and not simply by their being born Israelites. He then shows them how they have been specially blessed by being the recipients of God's favor. By saying it is they who have received "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."

This is the same thing Paul taught them in Heb.6:4-8 when he told the Hebrews that having been blessed in all these ways, if they do not trust in Jesus without works now, it is "impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

So in these first few verses Paul gives us the context for everything else he will say through the rest of ch.9. And it wouldn't hurt for us to remember that in ch.8 Paul went to great lengths to show how much God loves His creation. And how those who have trusted in that love can never be separated from His love by works or any other way.

So going forward we will remember these things so that what he says is kept in the context in which he meant it to be understood. This is how we exegete the scriptures. Rather than isogeting them by making them say what we want them to say because of some pre-conceived notions like those I was taught early on about God, Jesus, and His atonement.

Now in vs.6 and following we see Paul describing how God worked through history to bring mankind to this point of New Covenant grace. He writes now how Israel according to the flesh are not all Israel. But, that only those from Isaac and Jacob are Israel.

He then refers to Abraham and his relationship to the promise. To show that only those who are related to God through faith without works as Abraham was are His children. And not those who are of Israel by the flesh through Isaac if they do not have faith toward God. That is, through Jacob. Meaning that Israelites who trust in Jesus without works are the true Israel of God and are of Jacob or the promise. Just as gentiles who trust in Jesus are. Because true Israel is through Jacob who symbolizes the promise or faith, not through Esau who symbolizes the flesh or works.

This is why the hardening of Pharaoh Paul speaks of in vs.8 happened because of his own repeated refusal to acknowledge God as God after God's longsuffering with Pharaoh through the plagues that were meant to show Pharaoh God is who He says He is. And that his gods were not God. This is how hardening takes place for everyone. Just as mercy comes for those who will of their own free will trust in God.

In vs.9 Paul teaches that the promise was that Sarah would have a son to show us that it is by promise that all men would be saved or shown mercy. And even though God has shown special favor to Israel through "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises". Only people who have come to God by promise, which is to say by faith without works, are His true people. His children.

And in vs.10 Paul narrows it down to by faith and not by works even further(which is what this chapter and all of Romans is really all about and what makes it so abundantly clear that he is writing specifically to believing Jews) by showing that it is through Rebecca's child with Isaac that the promise would come through the child Jacob. Again showing the requirement for being a true Israelite is to be by faith without works. By trusting in the promise that Jacob symbolized, and not by trusting in the flesh or works that Esau symbolizes.

This is why Paul then speaks of the younger Jacob being served by the older Esau. And not the other way around as was customary in those times. Because the children of the promise symbolized by Jacob, that is the children of faith, are God's children.

While the children of the flesh symbolized by Esau, that is those who trust in works or the flesh, are not the children of God. Because they that are of the flesh have rejected Jesus. And they that are of the promise have trusted in Him and His resurrection.

Paul is not saying here that Esau was not a believer. He is saying that in his willingness for the moment to forfeit the blessing he was to receive from Isaac as the elder son, Esau trusted in the flesh. And that it was this instance of trusting in the flesh that God says He hates. Because of what it does to a man in regard to eternity if he dies trusting in the flesh or works.

This is why Paul said in vs.13, "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Because Jacob represents the promise. The one who is joined to Jesus by faith without works. While Esau represents the man who is joined to God by his works. That is, by the flesh. Because he has no regard for the promise or blessing.

This is why God is not unrighteous as a respecter of persons by having designed the covenant this way. That from before He made the world salvation would be by grace through faith, not of works or the flesh. And hardening would happen to those whose trust is in the flesh or works.

This is why it is not unrighteous of God to show mercy to whom He will. And to harden whom He will. Because in God's plan, His will, that was made so that men could choose of their own free will whether they would have fellowship with Him or not, His mercy or salvation is for those who trust in Him without works. So that as Paul said in Eph.2:8,9 no one can boast that works have any part in his salvation.

This is also what Paul was describing when he wrote in Rom.4 saying, "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

This is the promise of which Paul speaks in Rom.9 when he says God has mercy upon whom He will. And He hardens whom He will. Because it is by the righteousness that is of faith that God has determined men will be saved or shown mercy.

And not by the flesh or works. Because in eternity past the Godhead conspired together to make a being they could have true fellowship with. And that true fellowship is only had by this righteousness that is by faith and not of works.

This is why God told Rebecca that the elder shall serve the younger. This is why God said Jacob have I loved but Esau I have hated. Because Jacob symbolized the promise or faith and how this joins man to God for eternity in His kingdom. While Esau symbolized the flesh or works that results in eternal separation from God. This is why Paul said "by works shall no flesh be justified" or righteous.

So it is because God hates what being in the flesh does to mankind that He said Esau who symbolizes the flesh have I hated. He did not hate the man Esau. He hates the trust in the flesh that he symbolized when he forsook the blessing for a bowl of food. Because in God's plan men are saved by faith without the works of the flesh. And God said He loves Jacob because he symbolized the man who believes as Abraham did and is righteous. Jacob symbolizes the promise and true fellowship with God for which man was created.

Peter shows us that God loves all men that have ever been conceived when he wrote in 2Peter3:9 that "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

So having mercy on whom God will is in relation to those who have come to God by faith or the promise. And hardening whom He will is in relation to those who choose to made acceptable to God by the works of the flesh. And has nothing to do with predestination as Augustine defined it. Or as Calvinism defines it saying that men who go to hell do so because God made them, or predestinated them, for hell. And the few that go to heaven do so because God made them, or predestinated them, for heaven.

This kind of thinking comes from one who attempts to interpret the Bible by the flesh. By their own natural mind. The mind that Paul says in 1Cor.2:14 can not perceive the things of the spirit for they are spiritually understood.

This is why Paul says here in Rom.9 in vs.16 and following, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." Because in God's plan from before He made the world it is by faith or by promise, and not by works or by flesh, that men will be made righteous unto eternal life.

If it seems that I am repeating myself here it is because that is exactly what I am doing. I must because I want this to sink in. So that you do not allow satan to steal or destroy the truth that God loves you. So much so that He planned from before He made the world that all men would be saved by an answer from their own free will to believe the gospel when it is preached to them.

This is why Pharaoh could not have such a relationship. And was used by God to show that by the flesh shall no man be justified. Because in his attempt to fight against God he was then used by God to show us this truth. Which is why God says "Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth." Because by this example of the most powerful man on earth being brought to his knees by God men can see and know that they have no power in and of themselves to be saved.

Paul goes on in vs.18 and following showing us that the mercy God shows is according to His plan that men are saved by grace through faith and not of works. So that men can not complain that the potter has made them what they are.

Because the man that refuses God's grace can not be saved by works. No matter how unjust they think it makes God that they go to hell after they have been so good and deserving of His acceptance. Salvation has nothing to do with "deserve". And it has nothing to do with how good we are. But, only with whether or not we know Him and trust in His love.

Because it is in spite of God's longsuffering, as Peter said in 2Peter3:9 is meant to save them, that the vessels "fitted to destruction" by their own choosing end up there. God did not choose them for destruction by some perverse notion of predestination. They do this to themselves by rejecting God's plan of how to attain His mercy by His plan that men who are some made to honor and some to dishonor would be saved by faith and not of works.

So it is because they try to attain salvation by works that they make themselves to become vessels fitted to destruction. And not by a perversion of predestination that says they have no choice in the matter. They are not born that way.

So the "vessels of mercy" Paul speaks of in vs.23 are those who have by the promise attained unto eternal life. By the predestination Paul speaks of that has predestinated all men who have ever lived for eternal life. By the free will choice to trust God as Abraham did to be righteous. And not by trusting in the flesh or works for that righteousness that makes them become a vessel fitted unto wrath.

In vs.24 Paul shows that this mercy is for all men saying, "not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." To show that God has made salvation available to everyone who will believe without works as Abraham did. So that through the promise of faith men are joined to Jesus for eternal life.

Saying also that Hosea spoke of the other nations when he said, "I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God."

This is what Paul is referring to here when he says mercy on whom He will and harden whom He will. Because it is God's will that none should perish. But that all men, Jew and gentile, would come to repentance. A repentance that joins them to Jesus by faith without works. A repentance that if Pharaoh had chosen it he would have been saved. And if the Jew or gentile chooses it will also be saved.

Paul sums this all up showing in vs.30-33 the message of love for Jacob(the promise/faith) and hate for Esau(the flesh/works), and mercy and hardening, he has conveyed here saying,

"What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."

When Paul says "the law of righteousness" he is referring to the Israelite trusting in works of the law for righteousness. And that this is why he "has not attained to the law of righteousness". Because the latter use of this phrase refers to the righteousness of faith. And they do not attain it because they try to attain it by works. Or think they have attained it by birth as Israelites.

So we see from Rom.9 that everything Paul says here is in relation to the righteousness of faith vs the righteousness of works or the flesh as it relates to Israel. That which comes by grace through faith vs that which comes by works of the flesh. Showing us that the true Israel of God are those people from all nations who have trusted in Him as Abraham did for righteousness.

And that this is the only righteousness that the plan of God has determined will bring the mercy of salvation to us.

And if we trust in works, anyone's works from Jesus' works to our own, we will become the "vessels fitted to destruction" that Paul spoke of in vs.22. Otherwise why would God act in longsuffering toward these people since it was His plan for them to be fitted to destruction apart from any choice of their own? He would not.

But, because being fitted to destruction is something that happens by their own choosing because like Esau they would not receive the righteousness that is of faith. But, traded it for a bowl of food to satisfy his flesh. Paul says God longsufferingly works with them through life's circumstances to change their mind. With the desired end being that they would ultimately repent by turning from trusting in their own works to trusting in Jesus without works for eternal life or mercy as Paul puts it here.

So this is what Paul taught in Rom.9 is all about. The righteousness that is of the promise or of faith vs the righteousness that is of the flesh or of works. Jacob symbolizing the promise or faith. Faith that joins us to God by the birth of a spirit in us that we never had before. Born again and made a spiritual being that makes us heirs to God's kingdom.

And Esau symbolizing the flesh or works. A flesh that remains the same as Adam's was when he was made. With no spirit to make us God's children. All this is expressed in the few words in vs.8 where Paul said, "That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Promise is the spirit birthed in us. Flesh is no spirit birthed in us.

If you have been trying in your own strength to be a good person. Or if you have been deceived to believe that works, whether your own or Jesus', have anything to do with how you are saved. Then you are fitting yourself to destruction just as those Israelites Paul taught about in this chapter.

Because your works or anyone else's works can not save you. Even Jesus' works of the law have nothing to do with your salvation.

His works or anyone else's if we attempt to make them necessary for salvation are the filthy rags righteousness that Isaiah spoke of in Is.64.

Not because they were not good works. But, because works, whether good or bad, no matter who we believe has done them, have nothing to do with the righteousness that is eternal life.

It is by grace through faith that we are righteous unto eternal life. Because it is God's grace that brought Him to become a man just like us so that He could die a man's death. To join with mankind in our mortality so that by His resurrection He could conquer it for all men. So that by our free will when we say yes to the gospel we are given the gift of faith by which we receive the gift of eternal life.

So if you will trust in the promise that Paul shows us that Jacob symbolized, without any regard for works or the flesh, you will be righteous unto eternal life. If you will believe in Jesus as He believed the Father you will be righteous just as His faith made Jesus righteous.

If you will confess Jesus is Lord and believe He has raised from the dead you will be saved.

Saved from mortality to immortality. Saved from being only natural as Adam was when God made him. To being spiritual like Jesus was when He was made to be a man when He lived among us on earth.

If you will do this then you will have eternal life. If you will do this then you will be a child of God and heir to His kingdom. If you will do this then you will receive a glorified body at the resurrection. The wedding clothes needed to attend God's banquet.

If you will do this... then I will see you there or in the air!

This message can also be heard at: https://rumble.com/v2wxl69-jacob-have-i-loved-....-but-esau-have-i-hated.-rom.9.html

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