What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.…
But was not this free election of God an unrighteous thing? Nay, verily. For, if they would think of it, the very antithesis of character which stood out so boldly at the threshold of their natural history, and in its results had made them what they were, was a conspicuous example, even according to God's own showing, of this electing liberty. Moses, the man after God's own heart, was chosen by God freely for the salvation of Israel from Egypt, and the consequent salvation of the world; and Pharaoh, the great antagonist of Moses, was chosen as freely by God for the working out of his purposes.
I. MOSES. Next to the Christ, perhaps none has played so conspicuous a part in the history of the world's salvation as Moses. Prepared from his birth for the great work of his life: trace his history with this in view. Called forth at last to step into the arena; and, when the antagonism was past, set forth by God as the great legislator for his race. And here, for his inauguration into the great work, the vision of God's goodness (Exodus 33:19). But, while God would thus equip him and make him strong, had he a claim upon God's call and fashioning and favour? No; it was all of God's free choice. Another might have been chosen - another called, equipped, and blessed. God had his reasons, doubtless, but these are in the background here. The question is one of freedom. Can God select whom he will for his saving purposes, or is he tied by any supposed claims on the part of individuals or of peoples? There is only one answer that God is perfectly free in this matter: "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy," etc. Surely, if God showed this freedom in the case of Moses, he might show it equally in the case of the "remnant," and of the Gentiles.
II. PHARAOH. God's great purposes were to be wrought out the more effectually by antithesis; even as all his purposes are wrought out by the antithesis of good and evil. Moses was the great deliverer; Pharaoh was the great resister.' And as Moses set forth judgment and mercy from God, Pharaoh set himself against God, and hardened his heart yet more and more. And at last his own conspicuous overthrow must publish abroad to all nations and all time that with a mighty hand God had set his people free. And could Pharaoh rightly complain that God made him play this conspicuous part, against his own will, in the salvation-purposes of God for the world? No, in truth. As an individual, he had perfect liberty of choice, and God undoubtedly willed his salvation; his sinful resistance of God was not ordained by God. But God, foreseeing the sin, determined to make even the wrath of man to praise him; and though Pharaoh's co-operation with Moses would have achieved the object well, yet his resistance of Moses, as God's messenger, was so overruled as to redound to the effectuation of God's will. God certainly had the liberty to make his self-hardening tributary to the fulfilling of his own designs. And if he had the right to reprobate Pharaoh from a voluntary co-operation, and yet control his resistance to the same end, might he not equally reprobate unbelieving Israel from a voluntary co-operation now, and - for this truth now comes into the foreground in their case - make even their reprobation to subserve his designs? Let us remember that God will use us, whether we will or not, for the work of his kingdom. But let us seek to be used as willing instruments, and, as we have no claim to be used in this way or that, seeing that God's purposes are sovereign, let us pray, "What wilt thou have me to do?" T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.