When Moses was dealing with Pharaoh God was actively involved. God used the heart hardening tendencies of Pharaoh to create such unbelief in him that the Lord was glorified by showing His power in disciplining him. In the gospels and in the book of Acts we see the hardhearted unbelieving Jews who rejected Jesus and the Good News. Jesus told parables so they would not understand. Why? God chose to harden their hearts, close their ears, and blind their eyes. Why? That was God’s will. I will repeat this one more time. Not everyone is elect.
14 What shall we say then? Is there any unrighteousness with God? May it never be! Romans 9:14 (LSB)
The natural mind, plagued with selective rationalization, demands that God be fair in His dealings with all humankind. Fairness speaks of justice. One of the tenets of our republican form government in the USA is a right to a fair and speedy trial before one’s peers. A person on trial for a crime may or may not truly want justice. They may be guilty so their desire is not justice, but grace. If a judge in a criminal trial declares a defendant guilty, but then defers sentencing in lieu of probation or “time served” then he has extended grace to the guilty party.
All descendants of Adam are born spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1-3) This fact makes all humankind guilty before God. They are children of wrath. God, the creator of everything, would be well within His rights to do nothing to save any one of us. If He had done that, no one could argue and say God was not being fair by dooming all humankind to an eternity in Hell because of their sin. However, God is gracious. He has “elected” to save those whom He loves. That is not everyone. He has also “elected” not to save some. What criteria did He use to determine whom He elected and whom He did not? It is a mystery of His will, according to His purpose. (Ephesians 1:9) We do know it was His choice and our behavior, personality, abilities or any other trait had nothing to do with it. (1 Corinthians 1:25-29)
As we see in Ephesians 1:3-12 and Romans 8:29-30, before the foundation of the world, God foreknew those whom He elected for salvation. This foreknowledge was an act of God setting His love and gracious actions upon those specific people. Because of this love, God predestined those elect for a specific purpose. In Ephesians 1:5, we see that he predestined His elect for adoption. In Romans 8:29, we see that God predestined His elect to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. Then we see in Romans 8:30 that the result of this process is the glorification of the elect. The purpose of salvation, therefore, is for those whom God set His affection towards to become His children who are conformed unto the image of His Son. This transformation results in their glorification.
We see the purpose of salvation. The problem is the natural mind still cries foul. Our sense of fairness, albeit corrupted by selective rationalization, raises a red flag and yells, “but, that’s not fair!” I have heard many, in their rejection of the doctrine of election; say something like, “my God would never do anything like that.” Of course, their God is a figment of their selective rationalization. Their knowledge of God comes from that rather than from His revelation of Himself in scripture. Their Bible knowledge is shallow and intermittent. Their relationship with God is nearly non-existent since its basis is self-focused religiosity. The Semi-Pelagians and Arminians had to create their shaky theologies because they had to create a way for people to be saved by choice. That means all people are eligible. Of course, these doctrinal beliefs must do logical gymnastics and scriptural eisegesis to bend the Bible to say what they want it to say.
Election was not the creation of John Calvin or Augustine. It is found throughout the Bible, however, the greatest argument for the doctrine of election is found in Romans 9.
1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. Romans 9:1-5 (LSB)
In these five verses, we see Paul’s anguish over the lost condition of the Jews. Even though they had the advantage of having a religious system in place that pointed them directly to God they had rejected Jesus. Jesus taught in John 4:22 that salvation is from the Jews. He did not mean that all Jews were saved. The work of salvation was revealed in the Jews and their religion. This religion was based around the Old Covenant. They had a huge advantage over the gentiles because in their religion they worshipped God. However, many were simply religious and did not know Him. The act of choosing Israel over all other tribes of peoples was an act of election. These people did not deserve this. God chose them by an act of His will for His glory.
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s seed, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR SEED WILL BE NAMED.” 8 That is, the children of the flesh are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are considered as seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that the purpose of God according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER SHALL SERVE THE YOUNGER.” 13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” Romans 9:6-13 (LSB)
Not all natural descendants of Abraham are part of spiritual Israel. In addition, God elected one of Rebecca’s sons over the other before they were born. In fact, God loved one and hated the other. The loving of Jacob and hating of Esau by God is an example of the doctrine of election. The Greek word translated “hated” means “to detest.” The Greek word for “loved” is “agapao.” This form of love is the active directing of one’s will to find joy in doing what is best for the one loved. If we look in Genesis at God’s dealing with Jacob, we see that clearly. Some say the word “hated” can mean to love someone or something less than someone or something else. If that were the case then why did Paul follow this verse with the following verses?
14 What shall we say then? Is there any unrighteousness with God? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” Romans 9:14-16 (LSB)