Part II: Predestination vs. Free Will

Romans 9 – A Sovereign God
A commentary by Rav Sha'ul

Romans 9 is a stark illustration of the sovereignty of God over His creation specifically the destiny of every human ever created.  You are either a son whom God has known before the creation of the Universe (Rom. 8:29-30)… or you are not.  The Bible tells you to seek the answer with fear and trembling… it is the most important answer in this life:

  1. Psalms 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
  2. 1 Cor 7:15 “how with fear and trembling ye received him.”
  3. Philippians 2:12 “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

First, lets clear up exactly what sovereignty means so there is no confusion as to the extent to which God is in control of His creation:


Main Entry: sov·er·eign·ty
Variant(s): also sov·ran·ty /-tE/
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
Etymology: Middle English soverainte, from Middle French soveraineté, from Old French, from soverain
Date: 14th century
1 obsolete : supreme excellence or an example of it
2 a : supreme power especially over a body politic b : freedom from external control : AUTONOMY c : controlling influence
3 : one that is sovereign; especially : an autonomous state

From the Webster’s dictionary, we clearly see that for God to declare Himself a Sovereign God, He must have SUPREME EXCELLENCE, SUPREME OR ULTIMATE POWER over creation, He must be FREE from any form of external influence or control, and He must exert CONTROLLING INFLUENCE over His creation.

In other words, for God to be Sovereign, there cannot be a battle between Himself and Satan, He cannot be contained within the realm of time, and He cannot be at the mercy of so-called “FREE WILL” of man waiting to see the outcome of history.  In fact He must exert supreme controlling influence over His creation… called PREDESTINATION

Let’s look at exactly what God declares concerning His sovereignty:

Isaiah 45:5-7
5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded (protected) thee, though thou hast not known me:
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Sounds like a sovereign God has spoken!  There is nothing that occurs outside of God’s predestined ordinances.  No free choices outside of God’s sovereign will. 

The truth is that everyone ever created by God was done so for a purpose… You see, God’ purpose in creation was to govern the Universe under the authority of His King… Yahusha the Messiah.   And to train His son known as the Saints for service in that Kingdom.

So, during a 7,000-year period on Earth, God ordained a time when He would introduce His sons to His creation and TRAIN THEM. 

Romans 8:19 – “creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God”… vs. 21 “when creation will be set free form slavery and come into the glorious freedom of the sons of God”

To train the Saints who will inherit, liberate and rule over creation for eternity, God ordained that He would create the damned to live side-by-side in a predestined order with His sons.  So that the gifts, calling, and glory of God may be adequately demonstrated to His sons by comparison to those damned He created for His sons to live among.

That is what Romans Chapter 9 is all about, as we will now examine these truths.  We see Paul bring out God’s sovereign choice of man, ask the hard questions, humble humanity, and then give the ultimate reason behind predestination.

Romans  9:6-9

In the first few verses, Paul summarizes the point he has been making in the previous chapters.  That point is this:

1.      God’s people are not defined by bloodline, but by the faith they display in His promises!

2.      These people are called by the name “Israel” because they believe in the promises of God passed down through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not because they are physical descendants of Jacob.

Now Paul defines God’s people as being chosen before BIRTH and throughout this life by a Sovereign God.

Romans 9:10-1
Example #1 – God predestines BEFORE Birth

Paul gives the example of Jacob and Esau.  Illustrating that God’s choice of every human is made before birth.  Paul illustrates through Jacob and Esau that God’s choice for your life (either Heaven or Hell) depends solely on God’s Will and is not made due to your good works or your choice of Him.  And that choice is made before you are even born.  Before you have had a chance to do any “good works” or “bad deeds”.  Simply put, your destiny was sealed in the Messiah (or outside of Him) before you were even created and you have no say in it.  And you cannot change it.  But you can “know” it.  So seek that answer with fear and trembling before an AWESOME GOD!

That is the definition of a Sovereign God… the substance of predestination.

Romans 9:14 – Question: “God is not unjust is He?”

Deciding destiny without consulting mankind?  What happen to our right to “free will”!  This is a violation of humanity, destruction of humanism! 

First of all, I don’t remember God ever giving us a right to “free” will.  That term cannot be found or justified in the Bible. 

Second, remember that to be a Sovereign God, He must exert CONTROLLING influence over His creation.  And He must be FREE from ALL forms of external influence.  Specifically including sinful human will.  Man’s will is not and has never been “free”.  That is a false teaching to begin with.  Mankind is slaves to SIN.

What Paul is describing here is a Universe where God is the measure of all things… not humanity.  Humanism (man is the measure of all things) cries foul at this concept!  Where is justice?  Where is our pride in choosing God?  Where is our place in the salvation process?  I suggest if you have these feelings… REPENT of your humanistic pride and fall before a sovereign God.  Fear and trembling come to my mind.

Remember 1 Cor 1:29-30? Predestination is designed to eliminate man’s ability to BOAST that he had anything to do with his salvation.  Pride is the root of evil.  

Concerning “justice”, Paul clears this up pretty fast. 

Romans 9:15-16
Answer: “No, justice is relative to GOD… not man”

Paul declares, “may it never be” vs. 14.  Then goes on to say in vs. 15 and 16 that God declares He will have mercy on whoever He desires… and He will harden whoever He desires.  And that decision DOES NOT depend on man’s will (you cannot chose God), or man’s deeds (you cannot “run” or strive toward God).

But the decision is in the hands of a God who is SOVEREIGN over this Universe.  You had better work out your salvation with fear and trembling and pray for mercy.  This is a serious matter. 

Romans 9:17
Example #2 – God predestines the entire course of life, with no option to change course.

Paul then brings out Pharaoh to illustrate that no matter what “evidence” of God is put before your very eyes… if you are NOT chosen you do not have eyes to see, ears to hear, or the ability to seek God.  Your fate is sealed.  Look at the miracles Moses performed in the name of God before Pharaoh.  Any logical human with “free will” would have conceded to God somewhere along the way if faced with the mighty acts of God that Pharaoh faced.

But Pharaoh stands as an example that the choice of God seals your destiny throughout your entire life.  You cannot depart from the path of predestination.

Romans 9:19
Question: “Why does God still hold to account those who He hardened when they had no free-will to chose Him?”

Paul didn’t shy away from the hard question all this begs.  How can God possibly sentence to Hell those He hardens?  They really are not going against God’s will, but simply living His will out!  They were predestined to do everything they did.  

This makes God sound like an unmerciful, unjust God.  How can He predestine someone to not even be able to know Him, then punish them for not coming to know Him?  Where is the justice and mercy and love in that?

The truth is that God loved every human he ever created.  And gave every human a most wonderful gift known as … a life on Earth.  We love it so much we fear death more than anything else.   We don’t want it to end.  It is a wonderful gift.

The Bible is clear that only those “sons of God” predestined before the foundation of the Universe to be conformed to the image of His son… obtain the gift of eternal life.  Those “others” or the “vessels of wrath” were created to serve a very specific purpose on Earth then “destroyed” vs. 22.  John 3:16 says they “perish” or “cease to exist” after dying the second death by fire.  In other words, their physical bodies are resurrected, but they have no eternal spirit (their spirit was never born again).  And their bodies are subsequently destroyed by the fires of Hell.  They die twice and the second death is final.  They cease to exist, they do not “burn” in Hell forever.  They were never eternal being to begin with.

So if you truly understand the plan of God, you find nothing unjust at all about any of this.  The damned live a life on Earth.  During which time they do WHATEVER they want, live it to the max… and the Bible says THAT IS THEIR REWARD.  They opted for the temporary… not the eternal.  That’s it.  They then are resurrected to meet God and then die again and cease to exist.

The blood of Yahusha saves the sons of God from the second death.  And we live eternally to rule the Universe under the authority of Yahusha the Messiah.  The sons of God SACRIFICE this life and give it up… to live eternally.  That is our reward.

So everyone ever created is rewarded.  With life!  Some temporary, others eternal.

Romans 9:20,21
Answer: “Justice is relative to God… not man.  You are in no position to ask that question”.

While Rav Sha'ul attempted to shed light on this topic… Paul did not.  He completely HUMBLED humanity with his reply. 

In verses 20 and 21 Paul made it clear that we are but CLAY in the hands of a SOVEREIGN POTTER.  We simply do not have the right to question God.  It is His divine right as the sovereign creator of the Universe to do whatever He wills.  Again… fear and trembling come to my mind.

Romans 9:22
Question: “Why does God even bother.  Why create predestined people whose destiny is to perish for eternity?”

Now Paul gets to the very meat of this issue.  Why?  What is the purpose of creating people to save and people to damn?  Vessels of wrath vs. vessels of mercy?

If we don’t have a choice in the matter, and we don’t live this life to prove our worthiness to God… why not just skip all this and let’s all just go to heaven!

Fair question I think.

Romans 9:23
Answer: “God created the damned to illustrate to His Saints the value of being sons of God by comparison/contrast”

Paul finally sheds some “light” on this confusing topic.

The reason God endures with much patience the damned who resist His will (vessels of wrath) which He prepared beforehand for destruction…

Is to illustrate to the sons of God (vessels of mercy) prepared beforehand for GLORY the value of a relationship with God.  Because we literally witness by comparison and contrast the difference by simply observing the damned as they live out their existence on Earth. 

Remember, the Angels skipped all this and God went directly to creating them in Heaven.  Now a full 1/3 ARE going to burn in Hell for eternity.  Why?  Because they REBELLED, became full of pride, and they ARE eternal.

No wonder God went to great lengths to eliminate the ability to boast.  To discipline us through a life on Earth.  To demonstrate to us “the other side” by creating the damned to live with us.  WE ARE BEING TRAINED for eternal service in the kingdom of God.  It is that simple.  And the damned are “props” just like Pharaoh was in the training of the sons of God.

Summary – A Sovereign God Predestined Every Human Created

Ephesians 1:4  “He chose us in Him BEFORE the foundation of the world”

Ephesians 1:5  “He PREDESTINED us as sons through Yahusha the Messiah, according to the kind intentions of HIS WILL”

Ephesians 1:11 “we have obtained an inheritance (the Universe), having been PREDESTINED according to His purpose WHO WORKS ALL THINGS after the counsel of HIS WILL”.



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