In Romans 9:14-24, Paul is teaching the same lesson that he taught in Romans 8:28. The lesson is that God is working in this world, to save (rescue) his people, and to bring all things under his rule. Some people, including many powerful people, oppose him; but they cannot defeat his plan. The weakness of their efforts only shows more clearly the greatness of Godís power (Psalm 2). The result is that God receives honour (9:17).
In this passage, Paul is teaching that lesson from events in the life of Moses. Pharaoh tried to prevent Godís plan to free Godís people from Egypt. However, God was working in that situation; he even told Pharaoh what he (God) was doing (Exodus 9:16; Romans 9:17).
When Pharaoh refused to obey God, God used that wrong attitude to show his power more clearly. He did not cause Pharaoh to die at once, but dealt with him in a patient manner (9:22). He caused Pharaohís heart to become hard (Exodus 10:1) - in other words, God permitted Pharaohís wrong attitudes to control his life. Pharaoh became unwilling to change his mind as God showed his power.
Godís purpose then was to free his people, who were slaves in Egypt. Now, Godís purpose is to bring his people into their full rights as children of God (8:18-23). When that happens fully, that will free the whole world from its present state of pain and trouble (8:21). To bring that about, God is working in our world - even in the lives of people who oppose his plans.
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© 2017, Keith Simons.