It has always troubled me a bit where the Bible says in Romans 9:18 that God "hardens whom he wants to harden."
Why then, I ask - as Romans 9:19 asks - does "God still blame us? For who resists his will?"
Paul explains that the potter has the right to do with the clay whatever he wants, and that is certainly true. God is the potter and we are the clay, and I am able to accept that God is all-wise and if he hardens the hearts of some, well, I don't get it, but he knows best.
But in rereading Romans I noticed something else, something that had eluded me before.
A couple chapters further on, in Romans 11:25, it says that "Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved."
That "until" struck me. The hardening in the case of Israel was not permanent. It is only for a time, and then "all Israel will be saved."
I thought back to Romans 9 with this in mind, and wondered if the hardening spoken of there might also a temporary measure used by God for some specific purpose. And I wonder if it may be the case most of the time that there are times when God temporarily hardens the hearts of people, but then when his purpose is accomplished he removes that hardening to allow them to be receptive to his love.