Saturday, 13 May 2017

Vessels of Wrath & Mercy

22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

God was willing to show His wrath against the wicked Pharaoh and his armies in a spectacular way.

But first, God endured Pharaoh for a long time, even though He was already angry with Pharaoh.

(The reason God was angry with Pharaoh was well known from the OT - it was because of their idolatry, pride and their cruel oppression of the people of Israel, including the mass-murder of many of their male babies.) 

Pharaoh was worthy of wrath (a vessel of wrath), and was therefore worthy of and destined for destruction (fitted for destruction) - since the "Judge of all the earth will do right". 

But God didn't execute Pharaoh's judgment straightaway. He delayed his judgment, endured him with longsuffering - even raised him up a level in political office first, for His own purpose.

Similarly, Paul had already proved that the Jews were sinners (chapter 2) just like the Gentiles (chapter 1). They, like all of us, were destined for judgment despite having Moses' Law, because of sin (chapter 3). Now God has revealed His true plan of salvation, but God raised the nation of Israel up first for His purpose irrespective. He endured their wickedness for a long time. God had been willing to do that for national Israel. 

Verse 23, 24:

23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

But now in the fulness of time, after God had endured Israel's sin (He had long 'winked at' the Gentiles' ignorance too) - now, through the Gospel, God had made known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy. 

Now He commands all men everywhere to repent and believe. Through the Gospel God had now revealed the real basis on which He would save - and that was, by grace, for all who believe on Jesus, and without the deeds of the Law. 

What if God had chosen Israel for a purpose, but had now revealed His salvation - that's not unrighteous!

Believers in Jesus have been justified by faith, and are therefore described as vessels of mercy destined for glory! They've received God's mercy, on the basis God had always planned to give it. Whether Jew or Gentile.

It had always been God's plan to save all nations on the basis of faith in Jesus and without the deeds of the Law. It's not therefore now unrighteous of God to be carrying that out, fulfilling that scheme of things, even though God had chosen, endured and raised up the nation of Israel beforehand for His purposes.

Paul told the Thessalonians how we can become vessels of honour, fit for the master's use.

There's nothing in there to even suggest the Calvinist ideas of personal election, predestination, TULIP. The issue dissolves.

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