Thesis:God's expansion of His "vessels of mercy" efforts to the international community had a significant theological backdrop in the rebellion of Israel.
Introduction:In our studies of Romans 9, where the bottom line is the answer to the question of whether the Word of God is "trustworthy", we have come to Paul's explanation for God's decision, in regard to His plan to build a community of "vessels of mercy", to expand that community into an international group. So that is where we are going to be this evening.
Before we go there, however, I wish to reiterate the point that Paul's burden in Romans 9 is to establish the trustworthiness of the Love-based Word of God. That is to say, it is not his burden to establish the likeability of that Love-based Word. The issue of what a person "likes" has far too much to do with his/her perception of both what constitutes "living" and what actually promotes it. Men are beyond notorious for getting both the objective and its means wrong so that Paul simply does not attempt to get them to "like" his doctrine. What he does do is attempt to get them to believe that God means what He says without regard for whether we "like" it, or not.
So, having said that, we are now going to look into Paul's explanation of God's decision to reverse Babel and return to a global, international plan for bringing into existence a Queen for His Son's Kingdom.
I. God's Problem.
A. On the one hand, He is intent upon establishing Himself as a Just Author of Life.
1. This is necessary in a cause-and-effect universe where actions have so much of an impact upon what it going to be the final result.
a. On the one hand, actions have a tremendous piece of the overall pie.
b. On the other hand, actions are generated by the combined force of the Love and Faith of the actors.
c. So that, if the actors get the feeling that God is not "Just", their own reactions will sponsor consequences that promote Death.
2. This is accomplished by the development of "vessels of wrath" and their subjection to the results of their choices and actions.
B. On the other hand, He is intent upon establishing Himself as a Merciful Author of Life.
1. This is necessary in the cause-and-effect universe because the "causes" have "causes" in the midst of an already fallen setting where Justice only breeds despair.
2. The post-fall reality is that only "mercy" gives any "hope" and "hope" is essential to the production of the "causes" that will result in the Final Effect (the Kingdom of God among men).
3. Thus, we read of God's determination to generate a "class" of human beings to be known as "vessels of mercy".
C. And the "problem" is not permitting either to "get out of control" so as to destroy the needed balance.
II. God's Solution.
A. Babel had created an intolerable imbalance.
B. The turn from the international scene to the one man, Abraham, was God's method of addressing the imbalance.
C. But, over the time required for the processes to work, a counter-imbalance set in and began to develop.
1. What was "mercy" in the beginning was gradually turned into a basis for the hardness of arrogance.
a. Being "specially selected by God" was turned from an awareness of a total lack of merit for such benefit into a cockiness rooted in a growing sense that "I must have done something good to be in this position" [Shades of "Butterfly Kisses"].
b. Once the seed of self-congratulation was planted, it soon took over the nation and its theology and Death set in.
2. When the arrogance of hardness reached its peak, there was a need for a divinely imposed counter-balance.
D. God's "solution" became a reversal of Babel and the humiliation of the Nation.
1. Isaiah announced the causes and the result.
a. On the "cause" side was the nation of "unclean" people.
b. On the "result" side was the declaration that though the number of the sons of Israel become as the grains of the sands of the sea, only a remnant will actually enter into the "mercy" extended to Abraham.
2. Isaiah announced the explanation also.
a. God was going to "do the word" upon the earth.
b. Though this involved His dealings with the "sands of the sea", the focus was upon His mercy and His development of that group to be known as "vessels of mercy".
1) Justice must have its place and demonstration.
2) But Mercy must be exalted.
c. The "procedural" issues of "doing the word" were two: He would use the processes to bring about the intended result; and, once the result is in, He will cut those processes off (thus, there will be none of the processes that allow evil in the New Universe).
3. Isaiah "nailed the lid on the coffin" of the doctrine of "I must have done something right to deserve..." by his reference to Sodom and Gomorrha.
a. He invoked the most potent of titles for God.
b. He attributed the existence of the remnant to this God's action.