It's Not Fair


Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Release within me praise, power, and a great sense of your presence.

READ: Romans 9:6-18

God’s Sovereign Choice

6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[a] 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”[b]

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”[c] 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”[d]

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[e]

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[f] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. Romans 9:6-18


Romans 9:7 Gen. 21:12

Romans 9:9 Gen. 18:10,14

Romans 9:12 Gen. 25:23

Romans 9:13 Mal. 1:2,3

Romans 9:15 Exodus 33:19

Romans 9:17 Exodus 9:16


‘Stop asking so many questions,’ we sometimes say. But questions are a vital part of learning. Paul keeps on asking them and so should we.

The question here is implied (v 6). By promising to be Israel’s God, did God promise more than he could deliver? No. The promises were to the nation, but it doesn’t follow that everyone who belongs to the nation by birth will inherit. Only those whom God calls! Isaac, for instance, and in the next generation, Jacob (v 12).

This leads to another question which you are probably already asking – ‘Is that fair?’ – and Paul answers by introducing a vital word, mercy (v 15). The first piece in our jigsaw. God calls people as an act of mercy, which shifts the argument from ‘Has God left people out?’ to ‘God, in his mercy, calls people who do not deserve his love’ (v 16). Enter Pharaoh! God’s master plan – another piece for the jigsaw – is to extend his love to the whole world, and he uses Pharaoh, a thoroughly nasty character, to further that plan (v 17).

Paul is asking us to stretch our minds to see the bigger picture of God’s character and purposes in order to answer the specific issues that trouble us. This is not opting out of the difficult questions, but coming to them in an attitude of trust. But that is to anticipate the next section of Paul’s argument…


Praise God that because of his mercy you are now his child, an inheritor of his promises.


Heavenly Father, you are the one who shapes time and space, and yet you lend your attention to me. I praise you for your mercy.


Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.