One of the great ongoing debates in Christianity is Predestination vs. Free
Will, also known as Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Calvinists see themselves as the
defenders of God’s sovereignty, while Arminians see themselves as defending His
character. One of the central passages in this debate is Romans chapter 9.
However, when we carefully examine Romans 9, we see that the subject is not the
election of individuals to salvation, but the election of nations to a
particular purpose. The story of Jacob and Esau is not just the story of two
brothers, but the story of a conflict that spans some two thousand years.
God’s predestination is always based on His foreknowledge (Rom. 8:29), and in
His foreknowledge, He knew which of the two brothers would produce the line best
suited to bring forth the Messiah. In His sovereignty, He had and has the right
to choose that line. He also has the right to choose when and how to fulfill
His promises. Just as His promise to Jacob that he would inherit the Land was
put on hold because of Jacob’s sin in deceiving Isaac, so His promise to the
children of Jacob, the nation of Israel, has been put on hold because of the sin
of rejecting their King.
He also has the right—and because of the Covenant promises to Abraham, the
obligation (not imposed by anyone else, but mandated by His own nature)—to bring
about the restoration of Israel, a restoration that we are blessed to see in our