ROMANS 9:18 (1)
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 5/24/09 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Please turn in your Bibles to the book of Romans chapter 9. I'll be reading verses 6 through 24:
Romans 9: (6) Not, however, that God's Word has failed. For not all those of Israel [are] Israel, (7) nor because they are Abraham's seed [are] all children, but in Isaac a Seed shall be called to you. (8) That is: Not the children of flesh [are] children of God, but the children of the promise [are] counted for a seed. (9) For the Word of promise [is] this, According to this time I will come, and a son will be to Sarah. (10) And not only so, but also Rebekah conceiving of one, our father Isaac, (11) 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 the [One] calling, (12) it was said to her, The greater shall serve the lesser; (13) even as it has been written, I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau. (14) What then shall we say? [Is there] not unrighteousness with God? Let it not be! (15) For He said to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will pity whomever I will pity. (16) So, then, [it is] not of the [one] willing, nor of the [one] running, but of the [One] showing mercy, of God. (17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, For this very thing I raised you up, so that I might display My power in you, and so that My name might be publicized in all the earth. (18) So, then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. (19) You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? (20) Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the [One] forming [it], Why did You make me like this? (21) Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? (22) But if God, desiring to demonstrate His wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, (23) and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, (24) whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also out of nations.
Thus far, we've gone through verse 17. We've seen that God unconditionally loved Jacob and unconditionally hated Esau. We've seen the objection that would naturally come from the carnal mind regarding this truth - namely, that God is unjust for loving and hating unconditionally. We've seen the answer to the objection, which is that God will have mercy on and have pity on whomever he wants. We've seen the conclusion that favor with God has nothing to do with what man wills or works out, but purely by God's sovereign mercy. And last time, in verse 17, we saw that Paul used the example of Pharaoh to make the point that God uses people and causes people to do things for His own glory. In the case of Pharaoh in particular, God raised up this Pharaoh at this particular time and then hardened Pharaoh's heart in order to display His power and publicize His name, namely through the plagues, culminating in the final plague that resulted in the Passover, and through the miracle of dividing the sea to let the Israelites cross and then making the sea return to drown those pursuing the Israelites. This was all decreed by God from before the foundation of the world and caused by God in time to make His glory known.
And I want to emphasize that this was ALL decreed and caused by God, INCLUDING the hardening of the mind of Pharaoh. And that's what our current text is all about, which is verse 18. Here's what God the Holy Spirit says through the apostle Paul:
Romans 9: (18) So, then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens.
Now notice the similarity and difference between this verse and verse 15. Verse 15 says,
Romans 9: (15) For He said to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will pity whomever I will pity.
The similarity is that both say that God has mercy on whomever he wants. The difference is that verse 15 doesn't say anything about those on whom God does NOT have mercy, while verse 18 DOES say something about those on whom God does NOT have mercy. So verse 18 gives additional information that verse 15 didn't give. What is that additional information? It is that God HARDENS whomever He wants to harden. So now we have the complete picture. God has MERCY and PITY on some, and He HARDENS some. And in the context, especially verses 21 through 24, those on whom God has mercy and pity are the ELECT, who are called "vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory," and those whom God hardens are the REPROBATE, who are called "vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction." The ELECT are those whom God chose from before the foundation of the world to be regenerated and go to heaven. The REPROBATE are those whom God chose from before the foundation of the world to be hardened and go to hell.
From verse 15 to verse 18, Paul shifts from God's mercy toward the elect to God's hardening of the reprobate. This is what we'll be focusing on today, the Lord willing.
What are the first two words of verse 18? "So then." The Greek phrase is AR-ah OON. Interestingly, the KJV translates this phrase "So then" in verse 16 and "Therefore" in verse 18. Why the sudden change in the translation of the same words? Because the KJV translators liked to "vary the phrase" to make it more pleasing to the ear rather than to be consistent. But both of them should be "So then," as the LITV has them. "So then" is a connector phrase. And as we look at the connector words and phrases in the whole passage, we see the interconnectedness of it all. We see "however" in verse 6, "that is" in verse 8, "for" in verse 9, "and not only so" in verse 10, "for" in verse 11, "even as" in verse 13, "then" in verse 14, "for" in verse 15, "so then" in verse 16, "for" in verse 17, "so then" in verse 18, and "then" in verse 19. God is logical, and His truth is logically connected. It's really important to pay attention to those connector words and phrases. In our passage, what does "so then" mean? It means that we can make conclusions based on what was said before. We can look at what was said further back, and we can also look at what was just said. Further back, we see the unconditional love of Jacob and the unconditional hatred of Esau. And what was just mentioned before this sentence is God's using Pharaoh. "SO THEN," based on what was said before, God shows mercy to whom He desires, and God hardens whom He desires.
In light of this, let's first look at the hardening of Pharaoh. As we saw last time, God hardened Pharaoh's heart, which included Pharaoh's thoughts and desires. God made Pharaoh NOT WANT to let the Israelites go, and, as an extension of this, God made Pharaoh NOT LET the Israelites go. God MADE Pharaoh disobey. Did you know that this is controversial among professing conservative evangelical Christians? Now how can something so straightforwardly biblical be controversial among those who say they believe every word of the Bible? Well, this shouldn't surprise us, since even the concept of an atonement that actually atones is controversial among this same group. But please don't misunderstand me - these things are NOT controversial among true Christians. But they ARE controversial among the false religionists who come in the name of conservative evangelical Christianity. And they are even controversial among the false religionists who call themselves Calvinists, who claim to uphold the absolute sovereignty of God, who say that God is in control of everything. Like the Arminians, most Calvinists will say that God is IN control of everything, but not that He CONTROLS everything. And they concoct all kinds of theories to try to have a god who is IN control of everything while not CONTROLLING everything. Try figuring that one out - how God can be IN CONTROL without CONTROLLING. As we've seen so many times before, the lie is much more complicated than the truth.
We've already seen God's control of Pharaoh's sin. Let's read some other passages that show God's active control of men's sins. Let's first look into the story of Joseph and his brothers. Do you remember what happened? It wasn't too long ago that we spent some time on this in our family devotions. Joseph's brothers hated him and plotted to kill him and throw him into a pit and tell their father Jacob that a wild animal killed him. But Reuben convinced his brothers not to kill Joseph but instead to throw Joseph alive into a pit, intending to rescue Joseph later on. But a caravan of Midianites came by, and Judah convinced his brothers to sell Joseph to the Midianites. The brothers then killed a ram and dipped Joseph's robe in the ram's blood and went back to their father and showed him the robe, and Jacob concluded that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, who was a chief under the Pharaoh of Egypt. (Now this was a different Pharaoh than the Pharaoh who was in power during Moses's time.) Then came the false accusation of Potiphar's wife, and Potiphar threw Joseph into prison. While in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of the chief baker and the chief cupbearer. The chief baker was executed, just as Joseph's had said, and the chief cupbearer was released back to serve Pharaoh, but he forgot to mention Joseph until Pharaoh had dreams that no one could interpret. So Pharaoh then called Joseph to interpret his dreams, and Joseph interpreted them to mean that there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, and he advised Pharaoh to appoint someone to oversee the storing of a fifth of the food produced in the good years, so they would have enough food for the bad years. This impressed Pharaoh enough that he appointed Joseph to be that overseer. Then, during the time of famine, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, and they had to buy it from Joseph, whom they had sold to the Midianites years ago. Then came the time when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. This led to Jacob and his sons living in Egypt, and after they died their descendants increased in Egypt, and this led up to their slavery in Egypt and the raising up of Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.
Now just think - was God controlling all the thoughts and actions of everyone during this time? Of course He was. How could He not have been? God had a plan, and He executed that plan by controlling everyone's thoughts and actions. Just think if one thing would have gone differently. Just think if Joseph's brothers didn't want to kill Joseph. Just think if they ended up not following Reuben's advice and killed Joseph. Just think if the caravan hadn't come along at that particular time. Just think if Potiphar's wife wouldn't have falsely accused Joseph and Joseph had not gone to prison. Just think if the chief of the cupbearers and the chief of the bakers had not been accused of something wrong and had not gone to prison at the same time Joseph was there. And I'm leaving all sorts of thoughts and actions out, aren't I? Everything had to go a certain way in order for God to accomplish His purpose, and in order for it to go a certain way, God had to be in control of everyone's thoughts and actions.
Now let's look at what Joseph said to his brothers. Turn to Genesis 45, and we'll read verses 4 through 8:
Genesis 45: (4) And Joseph said to his brothers, Now come near to me. And they came near. And he said, I [am] your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. (5) And now do not be grieved, and let no anger be in your eyes because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to save life. (6) For the famine [has been] in the midst of the land for two years. And [there are] still five years in which no plowing and harvest [will be]. (7) And God sent me before you to put a remnant in the land for you, and to keep alive for you a great deliverance. (8) And now you did not send me here, but God. And He has placed me for a father to Pharaoh, and for a lord in all his house, and a ruler in all the land of Egypt.
Joseph said that God used his brothers' sin to save life, to put a remnant in the land, to keep alive for them a great deliverance. He said that it was God, not his brothers, who was the ultimate cause in sending him to Egypt. Now let's look at Genesis 50, verse 20:
Genesis 50: (20) And you, you intended evil against me, [but] God meant it for good, in order to make it as it is this day, to keep a great many people alive.
Do you see what he's saying? The evil intentions of the brothers was meant for good by God. God CAUSED the evil of the brothers to fulfill His good purpose. It couldn't have been any other way. And had this not happened, then the Israelites would not have been in Egypt, would not have been enslaved, would not have seen God's power in the plagues, would not have had the Passover, would not have crossed the Red Sea, and on and on. There would have been no deliverance. And tell me, when in history does God NOT have a plan? When in history is God's decretive will NOT done? NEVER, of course. God is ALWAYS in control of EVERY thought and action of EVERY single person.
Let's look at some more examples from the Bible of God's active control of the wicked thoughts and actions of people to accomplish His purposes. First, let's turn to Deuteronomy 2:24-30:
Deuteronomy 2: (24) Rise up; pull up [stakes] and cross over the Arnon River; behold, I have given Sihon the king of Heshbon, the Amorite, and his land into your hand. Begin to possess, and stir yourselves up against him in battle. (25) Today I will begin to put your dread and your fear on the face of the people under all the heavens, who will hear your fame, and will tremble and writhe because of you. (26) And I sent messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to Sihon the king of Heshbon [with] words of peace, saying, (27) Let me pass on the highway through your land; I will go on the highway; I will not turn aside [to] the right or the left; (28) you shall sell me food for silver, and I shall eat; and you shall give me water for silver, and I will drink. Only, let me pass through on my feet, (29) as the sons of Esau who live in Seir, and the Moabites who live in Ar, have done to me, until I have crossed over the Jordan, to the land which Jehovah our God [is] giving to us. (30) And Sihon the king of Heshbon was not willing to let us pass by him, for Jehovah your God had hardened his spirit, and had emboldened his heart, so as to give him into your hand, as [it is] this day.
God made Sihon, the king of Heshbon, REFUSE to let Israel pass through. This refusal was CAUSED by God in order to accomplish His purpose. And what was the immediate purpose? In order to give the Israelites Sihon's land. Note that Moses had first told Sihon to let the Israelites pass through his land. Since this was a command from God, it was God's PRECEPTIVE will. And it was God's DECRETIVE will that Sihon would disobey God's command. God CAUSED Sihon to disobey His command. Had Sihon obeyed God's command and let the Israelites pass through, then the Israelites would not have had that land. Also, as we see in verse 25, God's purpose was to cause the peoples of the earth to dread and fear the Israelites and hear of their fame and tremble and writhe because of them, for the glory of God.
Now over to Joshua 11:18-20:
Joshua 11: (18) And Joshua made war many days with all those kings. (19) There was not a city that made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites, [ones] living in Gibeon. They took all in battle. (20) For it was of Jehovah to harden their hearts, so that they should come against Israel in battle, so that they might be destroyed, so that they might have no favor, but that He might destroy them, as Jehovah commanded Moses.
Again, we see that God hardened the hearts of the kings, CAUSING them to come against Israel in battle, in order for what? So that they would have NO FAVOR and that God would DESTROY them. And in verse 23, we see that more land was given to Israel.
Now let's read 1 Samuel 2:22-25:
1 Samuel 2: (22) And Eli was very old and had heard all that his sons did to Israel, and how they lay with the women who served [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (23) And he said to them, Why do you do things like these? For I am hearing of your evil doings from all these people. (24) No my sons, for the report which I am hearing is not good, causing the people of Jehovah to transgress. (25) If a man sins against a man, then God shall judge him. But if a man sins against Jehovah, who shall pray for him? But they did not listen to the voice of their father because Jehovah desired to put them to death.
Why did Eli's sons not listen to their father? Because GOD WANTED TO KILL THEM. So many commentators twist this verse to say something other than what it plainly says. They want to reverse the order, to make it say, "Jehovah desired to put them to death because they did not listen to the voice of their father." It's like in John 10:26, when they want to reverse the order to make it say, "But you are not my sheep because you do not believe" and reverse Acts 13:48 to say, "All who believed were appointed to eternal life," instead of the truth that "you do not believe because you are not my sheep" and "all who were appointed to eternal life believed." In this passage, God CAUSED Eli's sons to disobey BECAUSE He wanted them to do evil and to be put to death for it. He wanted to use Eli's sons as an example of what happens to wicked people, in order to show His holiness. And we see later on in 1 Samuel that Eli's sons were killed.
Now let's turn over to 2 Samuel chapter 17. I'll be reading verses 1 through 14:
2 Samuel 17: (1) And Ahithophel said to Absalom, Please let me choose twelve thousand men, and I shall rise up and pursue David tonight. (2) And [I ] shall come on him, and he shall be weary and feeble handed. And I will make him tremble, and the people with him shall flee. And I shall strike the king by himself. (3) And I shall bring all the people back to you when all return, except the man whom you [are] seeking. All the people shall be in peace. (4) And the thing was pleasing in Absalom's eyes, and in the eyes of all the elders of Israel. (5) And Absalom said, Please call for Hushai the Archite also. And we shall hear what is in his mouth, also he. (6) And Hushai came in to Absalom. And Absalom spoke to him, saying, Ahithophel has spoken according to this word. Shall we do this word? If not, you speak. (7) And Hushai said to Absalom, The counsel Ahithophel counseled is not good at this time. (8) And Hushai said, You have known your father and his men, that they [are] mighty men. And they [are] bitter of soul, like a bear bereaved of cubs in the field. And your father [is] a man of war, and shall not stay the night with the people. (9) Behold, now he is hidden in one of the pits, or in one of the places. And it shall be, at the falling among them at the beginning, that whoever hears even shall say, There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom. (10) And also he, the son of valor, whose heart [is] as the heart of the lion, shall utterly melt. For all Israel knows that your father [is] a mighty man, and those with him sons of valor. (11) So I counsel [this]: Gathering, let all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, as the sand that [is] by the sea for multitude. And you in person shall go into battle. (12) And we shall come in to him, in one of the places, there where he shall be found. And we shall fall on him as the dew falls on the ground. And of all the men who are with him, not even one shall be left. (13) And if he is taken into a city, then all Israel shall bear ropes to that city. And we shall draw it into the torrent bed, until there shall not be found even a pebble. (14) And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite [is] better than the counsel of Ahithophel. And Jehovah had ordained to break down the good counsel of Ahithophel, for the sake of bringing the evil of Jehovah to Absalom.
Here, Absalom seeks the counsel of two people: Ahithophel and Hushai. Ahithophel counseled Absalom that he - Ahithophel - and his army should pursue David and his people, and when the army gets there, everyone will run away except for David, and he would kill David alone. In this counsel, Absalom would stay behind. On the other hand, Hushai counseled Absalom that David's men would not run away but are mighty men, and David would not be as easy to find as Ahithophel said, so the best thing would be for Absalom himself to lead the army and find David were he is hidden and kill him. From verse 14, we see that Ahithophel's counsel was the good counsel, and Hushai's counsel was the bad counsel. But whose counsel did Absalom follow? Did he follow Ahithophel's good counsel? No. He followed Hushai's bad counsel. Why? God caused Absalom to follow Hushai's bad counsel in order to destroy Absalom. When Absalom went out to battle, he was killed. Now just think about God's control here. Here were two opposing pieces of advice, and God wanted Absalom to follow the bad advice in order to kill Absalom. How would God fulfill His desire for Absalom to follow the bad advice? God would CAUSE Absalom to think that the bad advice is good advice. God CONTROLLED the THOUGHTS of Absalom to MAKE him believe the bad advice. Is there any doubt that this is what happened?
Now to 1 Kings 12. I'll be reading verses 1 through 15:
1 Kings 12: (1) And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. (2) And it happened, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard (and he was still in Egypt where he had fled from the face of Solomon the king, and Jeroboam lived in Egypt) (3) that they sent and called for him; and they came, Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel, and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, (4) Your father made our yoke hard; and now you should lighten [some of] the hard service of your father, and his heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve you. (5) And he said to them, Go; yet in three days come back to me. And the people went. (6) And King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had been standing before the face of his father Solomon while he was alive, saying, How do you advise in order to answer this people? (7) And they spoke to him, saying, If you are servant to this people today, and will serve them, and answer them and speak to them good words, then they will be servants to you forever. (8) But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they advised him, and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him, who were standing before him. (9) And he said to them, What do you advise, and we shall answer the people who have spoken to me, saying, Lighten [some] of the yoke that your father put upon us? (10) And they spoke to him, the young men who had grown up with him, saying, So you shall say to this people who have spoken to you, saying, Your father made our yoke heavy, and you make [it] light on us; so you shall speak to them, My little [finger] is thicker than the loins of my father, (11) and now my father laid a heavy yoke on you, and I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, and I will surely chastise you with scorpions. (12) And they came, Jeroboam and all the people, to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had spoken, saying, Come back to me on the third day. (13) And the king replied to the people harshly, and forsook the counsel of the elders which they advised him, (14) and spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I shall add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, and I will surely chastise you with scorpions. (15) And the king did not listen to the people, for the turn of events was from Jehovah, in order to lift up His Word that Jehovah spoke by the hand of Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
This story is repeated in 2 Chronicles 10. Here's another example of someone taking good and bad counsel. In this passage, Jeroboam and the assembly of Israel came to Rehoboam, asking him to lighten the hard service of his father. Rehoboam consulted with the elders, who told him to grant the request of Jeroboam and the assembly of Israel. But he forsook the good counsel of the elders and turned to his friends, who told him to INCREASE the hard service, which was bad counsel. Rehoboam then followed the bad counsel of his friends rather than the good counsel of the elders. Why did this happen? God tells us in verse 15 that it was in order to fulfill the prophecy of Ahijah to Jeroboam. In 1 Kings 11:31, God said this through the prophet Ahijah: "Behold, I am tearing the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and giving to you the ten tribes." Now if Rehoboam had accepted the good counsel of the elders, the kingdom would not have been torn apart. But it was God's plan for the kingdom to be torn apart. And how did He accomplish this plan? By CAUSING Rehoboam to sin in following the bad advice of his friends. And if you look in verse 24, you will see what God says to Rehoboam when he gathered Judah to try to fight to get Israel back:
1 Kings 12: (24) So says Jehovah, You shall not go up nor fight with your brothers the sons of Israel. Each turn back to his house, for this thing has been from Me. And they heard the Word of Jehovah, and turned to go back, according to the Word of Jehovah.
Now let's see some Scriptures that show God "stirring up" or "awakening" the spirit of wicked people to do wicked things:
1 Chronicles 5: (26) And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser, king of Assyria, and he exiled them; even the Reubenites; and the Gadites; and the half tribe of Manasseh. And he brought them to Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the Gozan River, to this day.
2 Chronicles 21: (16) And Jehovah awakened the spirit of the Philistines against Jehoram, and of the Arabians who [were] beside the Ethiopians; (17) and they came up into Judah and broke into it, and captured all the substance that was found at the king's house, and also his sons, and his wives; and there was not left to him a son except Jehoahaz the youngest of his sons.
2 Chronicles 36: (22) And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, in order to accomplish the Word of Jehovah in the mouth of Jeremiah, Jehovah awakened the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia, and he caused a voice to pass throughout all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying, (23) So says Cyrus the king of Persia, Jehovah the God of the heavens has given to me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has laid a charge on me to build a house in Jerusalem to Him, that is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May Jehovah his God [be] with him, and let him go up.
Isaiah 13: (17) Behold! I stir up the Medes against them, who shall not value silver. And they shall not delight in gold.
How did God "stir up" or "awaken" these people? By CAUSING them to think certain things and do certain things. Look at Proverbs 21:1:
Proverbs 21: (1) [As] streams of waters, the king's heart [is] in the hand of Jehovah; He turns it wherever He desires.
How does God TURN the king's heart? The heart is what THINKS. God TURNS the king's heart by CAUSING the king to THINK certain things. And this includes thinking and devising EVIL things, as we have seen. Turn over to Revelation 17:17:
Revelation 17: (17) For God gave into their hearts to do His mind, and to act in one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the Words of God shall be fulfilled.
The Greek word translated "gave" can also mean "put." God PUT into their hearts to do His mind. The Greek word translated "mind" can also mean "will." God PUT into their hearts to do His will. And what did God put into their hearts? To give their kingdom to the beast. God CAUSED this in their hearts, their minds.
Now if all these Scriptures aren't enough to convince you that God actively hardens people's hearts and causes them to sin, I'm going to give you one Scripture passage that is so clear that it cannot be refuted by anyone with a sound mind. Turn over to Psalm 105:25:
Psalm 105: (25) He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants.
Do you see that? God TURNED their HEART to HATE His people. God TURNED their HEART to deal CRAFTILY with His servants. Now is HATING and DEALING CRAFTILY with God's people sin? Is it wicked to HATE and DEAL CRAFTILY with God's people? It's a simple question, isn't it? OF COURSE it's sin. So let's replace the last part of this verse with "sin." God TURNED their HEART to SIN. Now what does it mean to TURN someone's HEART? If you look at the ton of places where the Hebrew verb that is translated "turn" here is used, you will see that it is an ACTIVE bending, making, fashioning, forging, causing, and producing. And we know what the HEART is - it is what thinks, devises, imagines, plans, contemplates, ponders, believes, formulates, etc. So there is no getting around what this verse is saying. God ACTIVELY MADE their HEARTS to THINK wicked things and then DO wicked things. And God did not just "leave" them or "permit" them to think and do ANYTHING. He MADE them THINK and DO PARTICULAR THINGS, PARTICULAR SINS. And why did He do this? Well, if you look at the rest of the Psalm, it was to show forth His power in His wondrous and marvelous works so HE would get all the praise and the glory and that His people would worship Him and obey Him.
Let us end with the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Was it God's plan from before the foundation of the world that Jesus Christ be crucified? We've already seen in past sermons that it was. This is the focal point of world history. This is the reason why God created the world, why God caused Adam and Eve to fall, why God caused everything in history up to this point, and why He caused and continues to cause everything in history beyond this point. So could puny man stop this event from happening? Of course not. Now let me ask you this: Did Judas sin by betraying Jesus to the chief priests and elders? Did the high priest, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders sin when they looked for false testimony against Jesus and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate and incited the crowd to call for His crucifixion? Did the false witnesses sin in bringing charges against Jesus? Did the servants and officers of the high priest sin when they spat in His face, beat Him with their fists, and slapped Him? Did the Jews sin when they called for His crucifixion? Did Pontius Pilate sin when he sent Jesus to Herod? Did Herod sin when he sent Jesus back to Pilate? Did Pilate sin when he set Barabbas free and delivered Jesus to be flogged and crucified? Did the soldiers of the governor sin when they stripped Him, smashed a crown of thorns down on His head, mocked Him, spat on him, and struck Him? Did the soldiers sin by nailing Him to a cross to die? Were these not heinous, wicked things? Were not these things against the commands of God? Yet which one of them would you dare say was not ABSOLUTELY CONTROLLED by God Almighty? Which one of them would you dare say was not CAUSED by the God who decreed them before the foundation of the world? Would you dare say that God did not CONTROL the events of the crucifixion, including all of the thoughts and actions of these wicked people? Would you dare say that God just "left" them or "permitted" them to do anything? This is the crucifixion of Christ we're talking about here. Without the crucifixion, there is no atonement. Without the atonement, there is no salvation. Yet the crucifixion was, in and of itself, a wicked thing that people did to Jesus Christ. But it was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. It was ABSOLUTELY CONTROLLED and CAUSED by GOD ALMIGHTY, to show His glory in the salvation of sinners. Would you dare deny this?
Turn to John chapter 19, verses 10 and 11:
John 19: (10) So Pilate said to Him, Do You not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to crucify You, and I have authority to release You? (11) Jesus answered, You would have no authority against Me, not any, if it were not given to you from above. Because of this, the one delivering Me to you has a greater sin.
Jesus Christ told Pilate that GOD gave Pilate authority against Jesus. Now turn to Acts 2:22-23:
Acts 2: (22) Men, Israelites, hear these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a Man from God, having been approved among you by works of power and wonders and [miraculous] signs, which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know, (23) this One given [to you] by the before-determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, [you] having taken by lawless hands, having crucified [Him], you killed [Him].
Jesus Christ was given or delivered to be crucified by what? By the BEFORE-DETERMINED PURPOSE AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD. This was no accident or chance event. This was PURPOSEFUL. This passage says that lawless, wicked hands crucified and killed Jesus Christ. And yet it was CAUSED BY GOD. Now turn to Acts 4:27-28:
Acts 4: (27) For truly both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the nations and [the] peoples of Israel, were assembled against Your holy child Jesus, whom You anointed, (28) to do whatever Your hand and Your counsel before-determined to be done.
This passage says that Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Jews, and the Gentiles were all assembled against Jesus Christ. What were they assembled to do? They were assembled to do the wicked things that I already mentioned, including crucifying Jesus Christ. Yet every single one of these wicked things was determined by the HAND and the COUNSEL of God Almighty. The COUNSEL of God was what God determined to happen before the foundation of the world. The HAND of God was what actually CAUSED these things to happen. It was the POWER of God. God caused these wicked things to happen by His sovereign POWER. As Joseph said to his brothers, "You intended evil, but God meant it for good." Those who were involved in the crucifixion of Christ were doing evil. Yet God CAUSED them do this evil so that the greatest good in all the history of the universe would come to pass, which is the atoning death of Jesus Christ. CAUSING all things is the way God keeps His promises. If God does not CAUSE all things, including evil, then He cannot keep His promises. And if He cannot keep His promises, there is no gospel. Thank God that He caused wicked people to think and act wickedly so that His Son would be crucified. Thank God that He blinded these people's minds to the fact that Jesus Christ was the Lord of glory, or else they would not have crucified Him, according to 1 Corinthians 2:8. Without God's active control of wicked people, then there would have been no atonement. But we who are believers KNOW that God actively controlled all the thoughts and actions of the wicked people so that it was GUARANTEED that Jesus Christ would be crucified and would make an atonement for His people.
Because of what God decreed from before the foundation of the world and then caused to happen in time,
mercy and truth met together; righteousness and peace kissed each other. Divine justice and sovereign grace came together in the atoning death of Jesus Christ. Thank God for His wondrous works and His most wondrous work in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to be taken by lawless hands and to be crucified,, to make atonement for His people, and to rise again the third day having offered perfect satisfaction to God's law and justice, all as He had beforehand determined to be done and as He caused to be done. Amen.