1. A MIXED NATION
a. Describe the longing that Paul had for the salvation of his nation, and the reasoning behind it. Romans 9:1–5.
“It was no ordinary desire that the apostle felt. Constantly he was petitioning God to work in behalf of the Israelites who had failed to recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah. . . .
“The Jews were God’s chosen people, through whom He had purposed to bless the entire race. From among them God had raised up many prophets. These had foretold the advent of a Redeemer who was to be rejected and slain by those who should have been the first to recognize Him as the Promised One.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 374.
b. Ever since the Hebrew people began as a nation, what had God always observed existing among them? Romans 9:6–8.
2. AN ANCIENT EXAMPLE
a. What should we learn from the Lord’s message to Rebekah about the future of her unborn twins? Romans 9:10–12; Genesis 25:22, 23.
“There was no arbitrary choice on the part of God by which Esau was shut out from the blessings of salvation. The gifts of His grace through Christ are free to all. There is no election but one’s own by which any may perish. God has set forth in His word the conditions upon which every soul will be elected to eternal life—obedience to His commandments, through faith in Christ. God has elected a character in harmony with His law, and anyone who shall reach the standard of His requirement will have an entrance into the kingdom of glory.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 207.
b. With regard to the birthright, what was the desire of Esau, the firstborn—and Jacob, the second son? Genesis 25:29–34; Hebrews 12:16, 17.
“Esau, as the eldest, was the one entitled to the birthright. But Esau had no love for devotion, no inclination to a religious life. The requirements that accompanied the spiritual birthright were an unwelcome and even hateful restraint to him. The law of God, which was the condition of the divine covenant with Abraham, was regarded by Esau as a yoke of bondage. Bent on self-indulgence, he desired nothing so much as liberty to do as he pleased. To him power and riches, feasting and reveling, were happiness. He gloried in the unrestrained freedom of his wild, roving life.”—Ibid., p. 178.
“It was by his own deliberate choice that [Esau] was separated from the people of God. Jacob had chosen the inheritance of faith.”—Ibid., p. 208.
“Jacob had learned from his mother of the divine intimation that the birthright should fall to him, and he was filled with an unspeakable desire for the privileges which it would confer. It was not the possession of his father’s wealth that he craved; the spiritual birthright was the object of his longing. To commune with God as did righteous Abraham, to offer the sacrifice of atonement for his family, to be the progenitor of the chosen people and of the promised Messiah, and to inherit the immortal possessions embraced in the blessings of the covenant—here were the privileges and honors that kindled his most ardent desires. His mind was ever reaching forward to the future, and seeking to grasp its unseen blessings.”—Ibid., pp. 178, 179.
3. FAIR AND COMPASSIONATE
a. What reveals God’s justice in honoring Jacob? Romans 9:13, 14.
“There was no arbitrary choice on the part of God by which Esau was shut out from the blessings of salvation. The gifts of His grace through Christ are free to all. There is no election but one’s own by which any may perish. God has set forth in His word the conditions upon which every soul will be elected to eternal life—obedience to His commandments, through faith in Christ. God has elected a character in harmony with His law, and anyone who shall reach the standard of His requirement will have an entrance into the kingdom of glory. Christ Himself said, ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life’ (John 3:36). ‘Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 7:21). And in the Revelation He declares, ‘Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city’ (Revelation 22:14). As regards man’s final salvation, this is the only election brought to view in the word of God.
“Every soul is elected who will work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He is elected who will put on the armor and fight the good fight of faith. He is elected who will watch unto prayer, who will search the Scriptures, and flee from temptation. He is elected who will have faith continually, and who will be obedient to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The provisions of redemption are free to all; the results of redemption will be enjoyed by those who have complied with the conditions.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 207, 208.
b. What timeless principle did God unveil to Moses about His compassion? Exodus 34:5–7; Romans 9:15, 16.
“We must not think of God only as a judge ready to pronounce sentence against us. He hates sin; but from love to sinners He gave Himself, in the person of Christ, that all who would might be saved and have eternal blessedness in the kingdom of glory.
“The Lord Himself declares His character that Satan has malignantly set in a false light. . . . [Exodus 34:6, 7 quoted.]”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 633.
a. How are all to observe the peril of Pharaoh’s attitude when Moses presented to him the divine command to release Israel from slavery? Romans 9:17; Exodus 5:1, 2.
b. Why did Pharaoh’s heart become harder and harder—and how is this a warning for all? Exodus 7:3, 4; Hebrews 4:7.
“God destroys no man. Everyone who is destroyed will have destroyed himself. Everyone who stifles the admonitions of conscience is sowing the seeds of unbelief, and these will produce a sure harvest. By rejecting the first warning from God, Pharaoh of old sowed the seeds of obstinacy, and he reaped obstinacy. God did not compel him to disbelieve. The seed of unbelief which he sowed produced a harvest of its kind. Thus his resistance continued, until he looked upon his devastated land, upon the cold, dead form of his firstborn, and the firstborn of all in his house and of all the families in his kingdom, until the waters of the sea closed over his horses and his chariots and his men of war. His history is a fearful illustration of the truth of the words that ‘whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’ Galatians 6:7. Did men but realize this, they would be careful what seed they sow.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 84, 85.
“There was no exercise of supernatural power to harden the heart of the king. God gave to Pharaoh the most striking evidence of divine power, but the monarch stubbornly refused to heed the light. Every display of infinite power rejected by him, rendered him the more determined in his rebellion. The seeds of rebellion that he sowed when he rejected the first miracle, produced their harvest. As he continued to venture on in his own course, going from one degree of stubbornness to another, his heart became more and more hardened, until he was called to look upon the cold, dead faces of the firstborn.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 268.
“Just what took place in Pharaoh’s heart will take place in every soul that neglects to cherish the light and walk promptly in its rays. God destroys no one. The sinner destroys himself by his own impenitence. When a person once neglects to heed the invitations, reproofs, and warnings of the Spirit of God, his conscience becomes seared, and the next time he is admonished, it will be more difficult to yield obedience than before. And thus with every repetition.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 120.
5. IT’S TIME TO DECIDE
a. How does Inspiration convey the solemn reality facing every mortal? Romans 9:18–20.
“Now is your time to seek a preparation and readiness for the fearful test which is before us—that holiness without which no man shall see God. Let none say, My way is hid from the Lord; God taketh no knowledge of my ways. Now it may be it is not too late. Now it may be you can repent. But even if pardon is written against your names, you will sustain terrible loss; for the scars you have made upon your souls will remain.
“Oh, how can any who have the light of truth, the great light given them of God, defy the wrath and judgments of God by sinning against Him and doing the very things God has told them in His word not to do? How can they be so blinded by Satan as to dishonor God to His face, and defile their souls by sinning knowingly? Says the apostle, ‘We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.’ Will these sinners—shall I call them hypocrites?—in Zion inquire, In what manner am I a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men? Answer for yourselves, By my abuse of the light and privileges and mercies God has given me, by unseemly actions which corrupt and defile the soul. Professing to know God, do I put Him out of my thoughts, and substitute an idol? Do I lead other minds to regard sin lightly by my example?”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 447.
b. What picture should ever remain vivid in our minds? Romans 9:21–23.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How do we know that blood lineage does not guarantee salvation?
2. Why did Jacob find more favor in God’s sight than did Esau?
3. What do the experiences of Jacob and Moses teach me about God?
4. How can I avoid the step-by-step spiritual suicide Pharaoh chose?
5. How do choices I’m making right now influence my eternal destiny?