Rom 9:14-18 “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, 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. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”
It is often easy for us to forget that God is not man. We want to try and apply the same thought processes and restrictions to Him that we use with each other. It should always be remembered that He has told us He does not think like we do and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). Not only are His thoughts and ways not like ours, but they are superior to ours (Isaiah 55:9).
Whenever we are tempted to think that God is being unfair (unjust, unrighteous), we need to remember Paul’s admonishment here in verse 14. God is not ever unrighteous. His ways might be beyond our understanding, but if we believe the scripture, we should know that we can never ascribe unrighteousness to God. At the same time, we cannot ignore passages of scripture that display His sovereignty and right to make divine choices just because we assume that it makes Him unjust.
God told Moses that it was strictly up to Him to decide who He would show mercy to. It does not matter what Moses, or the Hebrew nation, or we think about it. The fact that God shows mercy and compassion at all should cause us to hold Him in love and awe. If we received justice at His hand, none of us would survive.
God’s mercy is not dependent upon how much we want (or will) His mercy. God’s mercy is not based on how well we run our race (behave) here. God’s mercy is based on God’s will and purpose. When He withholds mercy, it is predicated on the same thing; His will and purpose.
We are told that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in the scripture. Was God unrighteous in this? If it was something done out of simple spite, we might assume so. However, God does not do anything out of spite. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart because God had raised Him up for the purpose of using Pharaoh to demonstrate His power and to spread His name throughout the world.
God does not bestow or withhold His mercy capriciously. He bestows mercy and compassion because He has a purpose in doing so. He also withholds mercy and compassion because He has a purpose in doing so. That purpose often revolves around His will to show Himself more clearly to us and help us understand that He is truly God.
May we realize that godliness is undeniably a great mystery to us, but that never should be taken as justification for us to accuse Him of unrighteousness!