“Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this [is] the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only [this;] but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac; For [the children] being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? Let it not be! 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” (Romans 9:6-16; underlining mine).
Romans 9:6 addresses the presumption that God desired to save all of Israel without exception. Paul answered, no, God’s desire is to save only SOME within Israel (“children of the promise”). If God’s (alleged) desire to save all without exception in Israel was not accomplished, then the word of God had taken none effect (i.e., had failed). “Not, however, that God’s Word has failed” (Romans 9:6).
If it’s not according to God’s electing purpose, then it’s according to the sinners’ works or efforts (see Romans 9:11). This is God’s unconditional purpose to elect. Paul contrasts unconditional election with works salvation — “not of works, but of Him that calleth.” Thus if one does not believe in unconditional election he necessarily believes that it IS “of works.” And those who believe in works salvation (no matter that these works, efforts, or conditions are prefaced with the phrase “graciously-enabled”; cf. Rom. 11:6) are unregenerate (Romans 10:1-4).
“For [the children] being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? (Romans 9:11-14; underlining mine).
[Please note Paul’s “what shall we say then?” in response to God’s unconditional hatred of Esau (and by extension, all reprobate or non-elect). Consider WHY the Romans 9:14 objection would even come up.]
God’s unconditional electing purpose (not of works, but of God who calls) necessarily includes unconditional reprobation (or non-election). God’s electing purpose involves God loving Jacob unconditionally and hating Esau unconditionally. And if this is denied then it’s of works. Thoughtfully consider why a denial of God’s unconditional election and unconditional active reprobation is necessarily an affirmation of works salvation.
God’s unconditional hatred of Esau, Pharaoh (and all the reprobate by extension) is not a hating of innocent persons. It is God’s sovereign and unconditional purpose to create vessels of wrath in order to show in them His power, demonstrate His wrath, and declare His name throughout all the earth.
“And in very deed for this [cause] have I raised thee up, for to show [in] thee My power; and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).
“For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show 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. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed [it], Why hast Thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? [What] if God, willing to shew [His] wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles” (Romans 9:17-24).
It’s interesting that God the Holy Spirit through Paul (2 Tim. 3:16) alludes to Old Testament passages that do not explicitly or directly mention God’s hardening. And yet what follows Paul’s “therefore” is: to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. Of course there is a surrounding context:
“And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name. And he said, I beseech thee, shew me Thy glory. And He said, I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And He said, Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, [there is] a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:17-23; underlining mine).
Moses desired to see the glory of God (Show me Thy glory). What follows is a revelation of God’s desire to unconditionally mercy. The deliverance from Egypt, the hardening of Pharaoh, the mercying by the blood of the Passover Lamb — this is the glory of His name. These verses in Exodus and Romans reveal some of what it means to be God (compare Exodus 3:14 with the verses that reveal God’s determination to dispense wrath and mercy according to His own purpose and glory).
How truly wonderful are the essential gospel truths of efficacious atonement, unconditional election and active hardening, that are pointed to by Paul in God’s delivering His people out of Egypt (Romans 9; Exodus 4-14).