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The Mystery of Blindness and the Sovereignty of God

April 5, 2012

There is a principle that begins in Genesis 1:1 and runs throughout the whole Bible. That doctrine, teaching, principle is the sovereignty of God in all things. The Book of Romans chapters 9-11 give us great insight. It also brings us face-to-face with why we must rejoice in God’s sovereignty even when we don’t fully understand it. There is a mystery to life, and God’s ways are often “past finding out” (Romans 11:33).

Even a casual reading of Romans 9 causes questions in our minds (Romans 9:13). It is crucial that we understand the O.T. as more than old stories of God’s power in dealing with sins of the past. We must know the O.T. in order to understand the N.T. (Romans 15:4)! Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, Moses and Pharaoh, Jews and Gentiles are reminders to us of God’s sovereignty in the affairs of men for His eternal purpose.

Look at the potter and clay illustration that Paul uses to explain God’s dealings with men (Romans 9:14-24). God is the potter and we are the clay. God taught Jeremiah this lesson too (Jer. 18). Isaiah says that we are created by God as a potter molds the clay (Is. 64:8). We must come to grips with the fact that we are made like we are by a loving, sovereign, all knowing God.

In keeping with our theme of “the mystery of blindness”, let’s look at the word “hardness” (9:18). The Greek word for hardness is the base of our English word “sclerosis”. The medical term multiple sclerosis MS refers to the multiple scars on the myelin sheaths (fatty layers) surrounding and protecting the neurons which carry brain and spinal cord information.

We know how debilitating MS can be. Thinking spiritually, imagine what happens to the human heart when God hardens it (Ex. 4:21)! We use the word “stubborn” for a person who refuses to respond or change his ways. That is exactly what happened to Pharaoh when he wouldn’t let God’s people leave Egypt. But the dilemma we face is that God was the One hardening his heart!! The problem and answer are given in verses 18-24.

Do you want to be a Moses or a Pharaoh, a Jacob or an Esau, a hardhearted or a humble-hearted person?? Both bring glory to God and both show His power (vv 22-23). But both have drastically different results and destinies. The blindness (hardening of heart) that people experience (in particular Israel) has its ultimate source in God. Even Jesus Christ is a stumbling block to those who refuse to believe (Romans 9:33; compare with Matt. 21:42).

What could/should be our response to this difficult subject? Let me suggest a few “could be’s”: confusion, anger, doubt. A few “should be’s”: fear, awe, reverence, gratitude, humility.

Whenever I read something in the Bible that I don’t understand, I try to remember that God always does what is right. His ways are perfect (Ps. 18:30). Job never received a complete answer to his suffering, but he did see God more clearly (Job 42:1-6). I want to see Him more clearly; don’t you??

If you don’t have a church home and would like to go deep in the Word of God, join us at Eastwood Baptist Church, Tulsa!

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