I would highly suggest that you give much prayer time to the topic of this letter before you read what is written here, for the subject I am about to present is difficult, to say the least. It can put questions in the mind of the newly saved, those who have just begun their walk with our Lord, questions that have no answer to put on the blank space behind the words “How could a loving God…” For those who have been saved for quite some time, but are not studying the Scriptures on a daily basis, who believe that the Sunday morning service is enough, this subject is an avoidance, an obstacle they have no desire to attempt to breach, for there are certain truths in the Word of God that do not fit into their ideology of what they want God to be.
For those of you that are spiritually mature, that are walking with and seeking the Face of God daily, you are aware of this subject matter, you have, as I have, pondered it at length, yet not continuously, for we will be speaking of the mind of God, and in this particular theme, you know as well as I do that “The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17) We are not going to be addressing the topic of a precious baby born in a manger, but a righteous, judging King who will return to punish sin, not a loving Lord who walked in the garden of Eden with our first parents, but a Sovereign Lord who molds the clay of every soul as He desires.
We serve an Almighty God, and He will do whatever He pleases, to whomever He pleases, and our response in all that He does is to be “Amen.”
For the first part of the subject at hand, let us look at the book of Exodus. In chapter 7:3, the Lord God says, “I will harden Pharaohs heart,” and in versus 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8 and 14:17 this statement is repeated by God in nearly the same words, “The Lord hardened Pharaohs heart.” I am sure that you have learned from many much wiser than myself that when something is repeated in the Scriptures, we should pay particular attention to it, for God wants us to recognize it as important. Those that have been brave enough, as it were, to broach this subject address it in as many ways as there are colors in a prism, for the subject matter, the Potter and the clay, has led many astray, has created entire false religious organizations, and has bred confusion in many others, but remember, Satan is the author of confusion. (1st Cor. 14:33)
This subject matter, that God raised up Pharaoh for His own purpose, that God hardened his heart, is a thorn to some, for they say that Pharaohs heart was already hardened and that God just showed him who he really was deep down inside, that He brought out to the surface who Pharaoh was and showed it to him, a delusional human who had deceived himself into believing he was a god. Yet, for me personally, I tend to believe directly what the Scripture says, it means that what God has written down for us is exactly what He wanted to say. The word of God needs to be studied as a whole, for no single verse (prophecy) is of private interpretation, (2nd Peter 1:20), and much prayer and supplication is needed when addressing a topic as volatile as this one.
When the Lord God says that He hardened Pharaohs heart, then we should believe what He says, that He manipulated this man’s heart to do His will.
Read Exodus 7:4, “But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgements.” God does not look through time into the future, my friends, God is present in every time, all the time. Not a blade of grass moves unless He says so, nothing surprises Him, nothing is new to Him, so for us to think that He would leave anything to chance, that He would not manipulate anything He desires to at any time for His own goal and Glory, is ridiculous. This is not to say that He has set up a “play” or a theater production, and everything is pre-programmed, for that would negate one of the greatest gifts that He has bestowed on every living soul, free will. What it does mean is that if He wants to harden the heart of a man, that is what He is going to do. “Therefore, hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.” (Rom. 9:18) And herein lies the crux, the crucible of our conversation.
In Exodus 33:19 God first makes this declaration, few greater facts of His complete control and Sovereign will are shown in the Scriptures of His majesty over the souls of men. When our Lord shows mercy towards us, He is not giving us what we rightly deserve, punishment for our sins against Him. No greater example of this is the Cross of Christ in this area. Yet, when He hardens a mans heart, He is forcibly exerting His will within this particular person to show His glory, and I do not believe I am mistaken when I say that it rarely goes well for that man when our Lord does such a thing. He is manipulating a mans free will to achieve his goals, and most generally the goals of this man are not God’s goals.
Herein we come to one of the most debated, and for some the most frightening, passages in all of Scripture, for they show that our Lord is in fact Sovereign, and in complete control of all of his creation, including the souls of men, for some though, the words “free will” seem to be taken out of the equation. “Shall the thing formed say to Him who 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 honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessel of wrath fitted for destruction: and that He might make known the riches of His Glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto Glory.” (Rom. 9:20-23)
The question does not lie in the words “Vessels of wrath fitted for destruction,” for these vessels, these unrighteous, unrepentant souls have made a decision for the entirety of their lives here to reject Christ and His atonement for our sins on the cross at Calgary. Nor does this statement infer that God has made people predestined for hell so that those who have accepted His saving Grace, the vessels of mercy, will know the riches of His glory because they can see the inverse of that, His wrath on the lost. “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)
Every human being, every single soul that God has created has been given a choice, a free will to make their own decision for or against Christ, to either submit willingly or rebel openly. God has not made anyone specifically for hell or heaven. How then do we justify the verse that tells us from the womb I knew thee (Jer. 1:5) Here is a statement to ponder; Does foreknowledge infer interdiction?
“Hath not the Potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor.” There, my brothers and sisters, is the verse that those who truly desire to seek the face of God, to know the mind of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit will ponder, for it is one of the deepest sayings in all of Scripture. “I am in complete and total control of everything,” God is saying here, “and I will do as I please and what brings glory to my Name at all times.” “The Lord hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of destruction.” (Prov.16:4)
Are you beginning to understand my opening statements concerning this subject, are you starting to realize why this is not a topic brought up in any frequency in the pulpits around the world, why most Christian radio hosts shy away from these verses, why every other commentary on the Word of God varies drastically on the matter at hand, if they touch on it at all. Can anyone question the actions of the Potter, will you stand in front of His eternal, majestic Throne and demand an answer, will you attempt to force a reply from Almighty God of why He made you a vessel of mercy, yet hardened the heart of one that you love? “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 55:8)
Look at the life of Paul after his conversion on the road to Damascus, the man that the Lord used to instruct us what His church is to be, how His called-out ones are to live. Before our Lord even began teaching His disciple, He spoke to the prophet Ananias and said, “Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great thing he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16) The important thing is not why our Lord chose Paul, for God is no respecter of persons, (Rom. 2:11) it was not Paul’s zeal for God that made Christ think, “Wow, he would be a great apostle,” for all that Christ calls are to do all that He sets before them, nor was it even the great suffering he was to bear for our Lord’s Name sake, “For all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2nd Tim. 3:12)
It was that Christ chose him, as I believe all of God’s children are called, becoming by the will of God chosen vessels. “No one comes to the me unless he is drawn by the Father,” (John 6:44) yet not all that are drawn are chosen, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt.22:14) All are called, every single person ever born, where then is free will in being chosen, for those who have seen “The invisible things of God…” (Rom. 1:20) yet continued in life unrepentant and died in their sins, free will is the answer as to why they will spend eternity in torment separated from the love of God forever. Therein again lie the unknowable riches and truth of the Word and will of God, do the chosen have free will. Read John 18:9, it says “of those that you gave me” not those that chose me.
No one who is going to spend all of eternity in the glorious bliss of the presence of the Lamb will ever desire that it would have been the opposite for them, but for those who hate and despise the Name of our Blessed Savior, they would find no joy or peace in His Kingdom.
Think on the man that was cast out of the feast into outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth because he did not have the proper wedding attire on. (Matt. 22:1-14) Perhaps our submission and acceptance to the revelation that God is sovereign in all matters, that the love that Christ showed for us on the cross for all of humanity He would have shown even if you were the only person ever created so that you could be with Him for all of eternity is the fulcrum point of our conversion, when we opened the door of our heart that He had been knocking on for so long. Perhaps the clothing of our free will is the knowledge of these truths, the revelation that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom. 5:8) and these unmitigated truths are the way that through our own free will that He has so mercifully blessed us with, is the reason He chose us.
This subject matter resides in the heart of God, it is a mystery that He has chosen not to reveal to us, and perhaps never will. As a servant of God, I have felt compelled to write this, and as an heir to the Kingdom of God, I give Him all the glory. If I have misinterpreted His will and Word in this, or any other letter that I have written to you, I beg for your forgiveness and for His mercy upon me.
Fulfill your obligation, quit you like men, come to His Throne of Grace boldly, asking for guidance and strength to serve, to be filled with the knowledge of His will for your life. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” (Micah 6:8)
Always remember, never forget, the just shall live by faith, allow the potter to mold you as He best sees fit, for He alone is trustworthy and wise.