I have been worrying over Calvinism. Could you help me understand Romans 9:20-22 and Romans 9:11-16? In verse 13 you can read of Esau being hated which is after verse 12 where you can read about the older will serve the younger. Calvinist may use this to support their beliefs. What is meant in verse 11? What is the election? In verse 20 what is meant by "Why have you made me like this?" I have read from the "NKJV." I know there are verses that can be used against Calvinism and have read them. I also think that the Bible should be look at as a whole. I don't want to worry about this any more. I don't want to be tossed and fro by different doctrines. I want to be 100% assured.
I have a simple question for you: When did God say He hated Esau?
What happens is that people make assumptions and read more into verses than what is actually stated. Calvinism, for the most part, is rooted in the assumptions. Calvinism requires that Esau was hated before God made the world, but the statement doesn't come until well over a thousand years after Esau lived. Jacob basically followed God. Esau basically did not. Thus, it makes sense that God loved His follower and was against the one who was against Him.
I have looked at the stuff on your site. The statement about Esau was after He died. Why is this stated in Romans 9:13 after verse 11? Could it be referring to the same time? In verse 11 it seems one was chosen not having done any good or evil that the election might stand. What election is it talking about? Could you explain verse 18? Could you also explain verse 20-22? In verse 20 what is meant by "Why have you made me like this?" Does God harden whom he will? Why?
"And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!" (Romans 9:10-14).
Paul is referring back to the births of Esau and Jacob. While Rebecca was pregnant, she noticed something odd and asked God about it. "But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If all is well, why am I like this?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her: "Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger"" (Genesis 25:22-23). Calvinists want to say that Jacob was picked to be a righteous man and Esau to be a wicked man. However, read the prophecy closely. It says nothing about righteousness or wickedness -- that is being read into the text. God said that from the two children in her womb, two separate nations would develop. Because they struggled in the womb, the implications is that these two nations would not get along, but they would not be equal nations. The one descending from the younger child would be a more powerful nation than the other, and the nation descending from the older child would serve the nation from the younger child.
Included in this prophecy as well is that of the two children, the younger son was to receive the blessing as head of the family. This eventually led to problems as Isaac wanted the older child to have the blessing.
So even though neither child had shown the type of man he would become. Even though they had not yet done anything good or evil, God picked one over the other. That is what "election" means. The Greek word ekloge means a selection or choice. Why did God choose one brother to have a stronger nation descend from him? Paul's point was that the choice wasn't based on moral character. It was simply and solely God's decision in order to demonstrate that when God decides something is going to happen, man doesn't change that decision.
Esau could have chosen to be a righteous man and Jacob to be a wicked man. God's will would still have came out the same. However, Esau turned against God. "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal" (Hebrews 12:15-16). Notice that Esau's downfall was his bitterness. I suspect that he was bitter against God because God didn't pick him. We see that with many people. Because they weren't born rich, or talented, they blame God for not giving them privileges.
Notice that God did not decide against Esau. Esau was given the knowledge that he would found a nation. But God decided to give additional blessings to Jacob and Esau found fault with that. The choice continued down through their descendents. As a result when we get to the days of Malachi, God noted:
""I have loved you," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" says the LORD. "Yet Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness." Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places," thus says the LORD of hosts: "They may build, but I will throw down; they shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, and the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever"" (Malachi 1:2-4).
The original question is from Israel (the descendents of Jacob). God says He loved Israel. Now you have to remember that at the time this was written, Israel just came back from seventy years of captivity where they saw their nation totally destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people die. Israel's response was basically, "If you love us Lord, you have an odd way of showing it."
God's response was take a look at what happened to Esau's descendents. Their nation got completely wiped out. The remaining people thought that they would rebuild, but God said it wouldn't happen. Israel might be smarting from the punishment God gave them, but at least they still have a nation. Like a father disciplining an unruly child, God showed love to Israel (Hebrews 12:5-14).
Why has God been against Edom (the descendents of Esau)? God says it is because of their wickedness. Their land, God said, would be known as the territory of wickedness.
Paul mentions this because some would look at the situation and conclude that God was being unfair. "Of course Israel turned out better than Edom, God gave Jacob the better blessing." But Paul's point is that Jacob was not picked because he was better or because God looking through history knew Jacob's children would be better. In fact Moses said their being picked by God had nothing to do the Israel's moral character. "Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land'; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (Deuteronomy 9:4-5). God had His reasons for picking Jacob and latter Israel, but they could not say it was because they deserved it or were a better people.
In Romans 9-11, Paul is detailing why Israel was cast down as God's chosen people only to be replaced by the Gentiles. The Jews thought they were the blessing to the nations. They were righteous and the whole Gentile world was wicked. So why is God giving blessings to such wicked people? The answer is because this was God's design. His choice was not based on people earning His favor, just as Jacob did not earn God's favor while still in the womb. If anything, it is about God being against wickedness. The Israelites gained the land of Canaan because God was driving out the wicked inhabitants. The Gentiles gained favor from God because God was punishing the wickedness of the Jews. It isn't a matter that the Gentiles deserved salvation more than the Jews. God gave the Gentiles extra blessings, but it didn't mean the Jews had to turn bitter about God favoring others.
The illustration with Jacob and Esau was an example of God giving extra favor to one over another. The point is that just because one is being favored, it isn't an excuse for the ones without the extra favors to turn against God.
Paul then uses Pharaoh as the opposite example. Here was a man God chose to bring down. If God chooses to bring a person down, then what can a person do? Rather than receiving mercy, God hardened Pharaoh. So why did this happen?
God controls the governments (Romans 13:1; Daniel 2:21). So why did God place such a wicked man into power over Egypt? He could have raised up a pharaoh who looked kindly on the Israelites. Who did not give them severe burdens. Who would have freed the Israelites without a fuss. But such a ruler would not have driven the Israelites to willingly follow Moses. Many if not most would have been happy to stay in Egypt under such a ruler. A kind ruler would not have given God the ability to show His power, causing the nations to fear Israel and their God. So God put a wicked man in charge of Egypt and then used Pharaoh's wickedness against him.
Ah! Then someone would say that it wasn't Pharaoh's fault that he was killed and Egypt plundered. He was manipulated by God. It was God's fault! Pharaoh chose to be stubborn, but God put him in a situation where he would be stubborn. Paul's argument is "no." It was still Pharaoh's fault. God just used the evil that Pharaoh chose to do against him. The point being made is that God gets His way with the righteous and the wicked. The wicked can't stand in God's way any more than the righteous.
"You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?"" (Romans 9:19-20).
Going back to the over all theme of Romans 9-11, the question is why are the Jews blamed for the death of Jesus? Wasn't this God's plan? Weren't they manipulated into killing the Son of God? Thus the Jews are railing against God "You can't blame us for Jesus' death because you made us like this!"
The statement is false. "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed" (James 1:13-14). God might make use of the evil, but God never makes anyone evil.
We cannot blame God for our lives. We may not be favored. We may not be blessed. Just as the Jews learned, those blessings are not automatic. The question remains, what do we do with what we are given? God has the right to use us as He sees fit. His use of us does not justify our rebellion against Him. "Why wasn't I born rich, or pretty, or strong, or athletic, or talented?" I don't know, but what will you do with your life as it is?
The Jews had a role in killing Jesus because they clung to their sins. God used that to accomplish His ends, but it didn't excuse the Jews for sinning.
"What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" (Romans 9:22-24).
We often look at situations backwards. We see God hardening Pharaoh's heart, but we miss how many times God gave Pharaoh a chance to change his mind. Have you ever thought why God used ten plagues? Couldn't He have freed the Israelites with just one or two? Why did God put up with so much rebellion from Pharaoh?
How many chances did the Jews have to say, "Wait a minute. This is wrong!"?
God gives abundant opportunities for the evil to change so that He can demonstrate His justice in punishing the wicked and His rich mercy for saving those who do turn from sin. That mercy was prepared in advance. God never planned to lock the wicked away, but laid out a plan to pull the wicked out of sin. A plan that Paul said in Ephesians was laid out before the world even began. And there is that point again: God's plan for saving mankind had nothing to do with men being so good that they deserved to be saved. The plan was established before man even existed so it can never be claimed that it was based on our righteousness. Nor was God's plan stopped by the wickedness of mankind. God saved us despite our sins.
The Jews had not been wiped out. They were given ample opportunity to change. Later Paul discusses the fact that by bringing in the Gentiles into salvation, God hoped that if for no other reason than jealousy, the Jews might be motivated to turn from their wickedness. Yet at the same time, it was their hatred of the Gentiles that locked many of the Jews into stubbornly refusing to become Christians.
God hardened the ones whom He willed -- the ones who would not conform themselves to God's will. God uses the evil of people bent on evil to demonstrate that God knows what He is doing. "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thessalonians 2:11-12). Because many people are bent on believing falsehoods, God gives them what they want. He doesn't make them deceived, they are already wanting to be deceived. God merely uses their own sins against them to make the distinction between the righteous and the sinner clear.
Romans 9-11 is about why the Jews reject Christianity and the Gentiles accept it. It isn't talking about individuals directly, though individuals were selected to illustrate the points. It can be applied to individuals to understand why some people convert to Christianity and other reject the very same message. But Paul is not discussing God arbitrarily picking and discarding people before the world began, that all the world's decisions are already made, and we are just acting the parts in the play that God composed with no responsibility for the results. Paul's very point is that the Jews were responsible for their rejection of Christ because they did have a choice in the matter. God merely used their choice against them to accomplish His purpose. And when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, we will be answering for our choices, even when God might use our bad choices against us to accomplish His purpose.