What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!
Paul used a debater’s technique to anticipate the objections to the anthropopathisms of the previous verses. How can you be fair if you hate? Hatred implies bias. How can God be God and how can God be just and give all to one twin and nothing to the other as was the case with Jacob and Esau?
A rhetorical question introduces a debater’s technique to emphasize the perfection of God. The question is taken from the anthropopathism (assigning to God characteristics that He does not have) of hate. God does not hate. This antropopathism is used so that mankind can understand the policy of God with regard to possessing His righteousness.
Since God’s righteousness demands equivalent righteousness and God’s justice can only execute what the righteousness of God demands, any judicial decision from the justice of God cannot be unrighteousness. It follows that any judicial decision from the justice of God could not be unrighteous.
When an unbeliever rejects Christ as Savior he also rejects the righteousness of God. The alternative is judgment. Scripture expresses it as the difference between love and hate (something a human being can understand).
The statement that God hates Esau raises a question with regard to God’s integrity, especially as related to His righteousness. It also raises the question regarding the justice of God in loving Jacob and hating Esau. Jacob possessed the righteousness of God and therefore God was able to bless him. Esau did not possess the righteousness of God therefore God could only judge him. It was a matter of policy.
For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Paul quoted this verse from Exodus 33 because he understood the real implications of this passage. Why does he quote it? He was saying in effect that what was in the decrees of God had become history. The golden calf incident, which the passage in Exodus is about, was now history, but God knew in eternity past it was going to occur. Moses wanted to see God’s glory and he was one of the few who did. He understood the divine attributes and how they relate to decrees. He saw the glory of God every day by means of the doctrine that was in his soul. God answered the request of Moses on the basis of Who God is and not on the basis of who Moses was.
We also have the opportunity of seeing that same glory of God, but it requires learning doctrine. The secret to life is the content of the soul, not the shape of the body, the pleasantness of the personality or the various functions of life. The secret in the soul is what you think.
Moses, the writer of Exodus showed that one act of mercy led to another act of mercy. And, since God had been gracious to the Jews in the days of Moses, God will be gracious to us in the day in which we live. The failure of the majority of the Jews in the Exodus generation did not stop the justice of God from imputing blessing in the days of Paul nor even in the day in which we live. God always blesses His people in every generation and in every dispensation. The blessings that you have now confirms the fact that you have seen (experienced) the glory of God, but these blessings are nothing compared to the eternal future.
So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God Who has mercy.
The function of human volition in desire is not the source of blessing from God. You can wish for blessing, desire blessing, beg for blessing, be sincere for blessing and still be farther from blessing than when you started. The source of all blessing from God is His divine justice. If you possess the righteousness of God, you will be blessed. Desire represents thought and running represents the action of the body. Neither the thought of the soul nor the activity of the body will bring blessing from God.
Therefore, there is a way to see the glory of God at work in your life: maximum doctrine resident in the soul. The justice of God is the source of blessing. Two adjustments to the justice of God are necessary for blessing and Esau had neither: 1) salvation 2) spiritual advance. He did not have salvation adjustment and he did not have maturity adjustment to the justice of God. Esau hustled, cried, wept, was sincere, reformed, did everything but believe in Christ. Desire, resident in the soul, is no substitute for doctrine resident in the soul. God has a plan, He has revealed His plan and you must follow God’s plan if you want to see His glory, which is simple because it is a grace policy.
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”
The verse Paul quoted was Exodus 9:16 and converted it into a very special message for all believers. Up until this time, Pharaoh had always hardened his own heart through negative volition. Then there came pressure from the plagues and this caused him to finally say “yes” to Moses’ demands to let the Jews leave Egypt. And, as soon as the pressure was off, he said “no” again to the demands of Moses. That is called Pharaoh hardening his own heart from his own free will because that was what he wanted to do.
But when we get to the seventh plague we suddenly read, “And Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he (Pharaoh) did not listen to them [Moses and Aaron].” God took Pharaoh’s “no’s” and demonstrated His power, not only to the Egyptians but to the entire world. As a person with free will, Pharaoh used his own volition as the ruler of the Egyptian empire to say no to God. He hardened his own heart through negative volition, negative self-determination. When the Scripture said that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart it meant that God gave him the opportunity to carry his negative volition to the maximum. This man had developed remarkable scar tissue of the soul. He had been exposed to the truth and he had rejected it time and time again.
The justice of God gave Pharaoh maximum opportunity to express negative volition by keeping him alive. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart by giving him more opportunity to say no than is ordinarily permitted. Again, God preserved Pharaoh alive with his great human power as ruler of Egypt to demonstrate that divine power is infinitely greater than human power and human authority. In fact, legitimate authority is an extension of divine authority, a delegation of divine authority.
So then, He has mercy on whom He desires and He hardens whom He desires.
God desires to show mercy to those believers who appropriate grace blessing through the perception and the accumulation of doctrine in the soul. To the believers with capacity there is grace blessing from the justice of God. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were qualified under grace. To those who continually reject Jesus Christ as Savior, God allows them to become hardened by their own free will choice.
The racial Jew has a great spiritual heritage but the great heritage has no meaning until he is justified, he is adopted as the heir and an adult son through faith in Jesus Christ. To be a son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is nothing until a Jew becomes a son of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). Israel has an eternal future but a Jew must be adopted as an adult son. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob believed in Jehovah and therefore God willed to have mercy on them. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob advanced to spiritual maturity, therefore God desired to show them mercy by the imputation of blessing from the justice of God.