Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | January 27, 2022

“So then it (salvation) does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 17:15-22.

“Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.  I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her.  Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations;  kings of peoples will come from her.”  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old?  And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”  And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!”  But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac;  and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you;  behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly.  He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.”  When He finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.”  Genesis 17:15-22.


Although Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, and if inheritance was based on law each would have received an inheritance, God designated that inheritance would be based on His promise.

“For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise;  but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.”  Galatians 3:18.

In the following Scriptures, Paul felt “great sorrow and unceasing grief” in his heart why not more descendants of Abraham, his “kinsman”, were saved (Romans 9:1-5), but he recognized that, as today’s Scripture as highlighted above in bold italic font teaches, the promise was made with Isaac, not Ishmael.  

The importance for everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike, is that salvation is solely dependent on God’s “Unconditional Election”. God saves “according to His choice”.  Salvation “does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  In other words, salvation is not based on man’s works;  salvation is not even based on man’s alleged free-will. 

“But it is not as though the word of God has failed.  For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;  nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but:  “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.”  That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise:  “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.”  And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac;  for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”  Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there?  May it never be!  For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:6-16.

We should not rebel against God having the right to choose whom He will give an inheritance.  This is not a foreign concept.  Through our Last Will and Testament, we are not required to give an equal inheritance (or any inheritance) to each of all of our children.  Only if we do not have a Last Will and Testament, and thus do not make a choice, will the law apply to give an equal inheritance to all of our children.    

Continuing with this Romans chapter 9 Scripture and the theme of salvation, some may think it is not fair, but it is still God’s right.

“For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault?  For who resists His will?”  On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?  The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?  Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?  What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?  And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”  Romans 9:17-24.


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