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15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”


“I will have [future] mercy on whomever [whomsoever] I will have [present tense] mercy,

The issue of Exodus 33 is the role of God’s plan or system of salvation among God’s elect national entity. God is free to deal with them as He pleases. The terms “mercy” and “compassion” have to do with what He does with that national entity.

“Mercy” is often translated gracious and its noun by grace in the Old Testament (chanan). God is in the business of bestowing unconditional favor or grace. It is important to keep in mind that a core idea of “mercy” in the Old Testament is about one who keeps covenant loyalty. God shows His mercy or lovingkindness by His loyalty to Israel because of the covenants He made with them.

God by grace is faithful to His covenants with Israel. This does not mean that everyone in the nation is a believer. It is the nation to whom God shows mercy, not individuals. He has the prerogative to choose or reject a nation. However, those who trust the covenants within the national entity are believers. The issue is the scheme of salvation rather than salvation of individuals.

The point in questions like this has to do God’s sovereignty. By His position of authority, He has the right to show mercy by His covenant to whomever He wishes. He is under obligation to no one. No one can earn or deserve His mercy. However, the question is whether “mercy” and “compassion” refer to salvation of individuals or something else. It is clear from the context of Exodus that the issue is the nation Israel and not salvation of individuals. The issue here is mercy and compassion toward Israel.

and I will have compassion on whomever [whomsoever] I will have compassion.”

The double emphasis on God’s mercy and compassion focuses on God’s grace. Mercy relates to our active wretchedness and compassion relates to our need.

The idea in the Greek of this phrase is that God will have mercy on anyone, whoever he may be, and that He will demonstrate mercy in the future.


God’s scheme of salvation is not dependent on man but on God Himself.


God is just because he is committed to His glory. His mercy and grace show His greatness. God has the absolute right to determine His purpose in creation and scheme of salvation. No one deserves God’s mercy; it is to His glory that He gives mercy in this way. God’s choice in the way He saves is a merciful one. No one deserves to be in God’s purpose and plan. If God did not consider His mercy toward us, we all would go to hell. Instead He chose to operate in mercy and compassion (love).

Just because God chose His system of salvation by grace, it does not follow that man has no responsibility. God’s sovereignty does not set aside human responsibility to believe (9:30-32).

Mercy has nothing to do with what we have done. Mercy is unilaterally an act of God. God extends His grace to us when we do not deserve it. If God did save people on the basis of their limited righteousness, He would not be just.

God sovereignly holds the right to bless on the principle of grace, and the right to curse on the principle of righteousness or justice. He is consistent in how He executes both principles. God is only free, only because of Christ’s work, to express His love by the principle of grace. He is always responsible toward Himself. God’s attitude toward people is dependent upon their attitude toward His promises and provisions. God did not offer His promises to Jacob because he was good or withdraw it from Esau because he was bad. God always operates according to His standards, not man’s standards.