We have to remember that Paul preached from the Old Testament, and he used the story of Israel as his beginning point and then proclaimed that Israel’s long awaited Messiah had appeared as God in the flesh. Because of his teaching style, he wrote Romans 9 to answer one of the most difficult questions he faced from early gentile believers. Understanding the primary question Paul is addressing in Romans 9 is the key to understanding Romans 9-11 in it’s proper context.
God made a promise to Moses in Exodus 34 that His redemptive plan would not climax in the events of the Exodus. He would confront the nations in power again in the future, only this time He would not only deal with one “Pharaoh” – He would confront all the nations of the earth with a greater display of power.
When Israel rejected YHWH in the wilderness and instead gave her worship and devotion to a golden calf, God warned that He would visit in a future day of punishment and not in that generation. In this sober warning, we also find a promise that reveals the depth of the judgment and of the mercy of God. We must understand the promise that is both a promise of judgment and a promise of mercy to know God.
Moses makes one of the most bold and amazing requests in Exodus 33:18-19. Imagine asking the God of the Exodus who has just crippled the most powerful nation on earth and terrified the nation of Israel with manifestations of His presence that you want to see even more of His glory. What gave Moses this kind of boldness? The answer is found in Exodus 33.