In the Hebrew scriptures, God chose the Jews not because they were a piece of God, not because they were humble or because they were better than any other nation. He did it because that is what He wanted to do. In Romans 9, in contrast, the main emphasis is on the election of individuals – Jew and Gentile. The election of Israel as a nation is not the purpose of Romans 9. Both Jacob and Esau were Jewish (both father and mother), yet God rejects Esau and accepts Jacob. Here’s the hard part: God’s choice had nothing to do with foreseeing who was going to be good and who bad. Both of them were rotten. Jacob was a heel (a pun in English), a deceiver – that is what his name means – yet Jacob was chosen as the channel of the promise.
The majority of Christians, except those of the “Reformed” (the Reformation) movement would say that Romans 9 is not about individual Christians but about the Jewish nation or a remnant of the Jewish nation, for to admit that God “mercies” (verb in the Greek) individuals – all of whom merit damnation – those he wants to mercy, implying that salvation is a unilateral sovereign act of God, is just not fair. (God’s election. No not of a Mormon president)
How to discuss and preach “election.”
“The doctrine of election we profess to hold, should not be a mere abstraction of theology; an article of faith which we find it necessary to adopt in order to insure a consistent and scriptural body of Divinity, while we ignore and deny its practical application. It is perhaps the most solemn and awful of all Scriptural revelations. It certainly can only be discussed and preached effectively by us in those rare states of mind when the exquisite balance has been reached between tender adoration of the sovereignty and holiness of God, and pathetic sympathy with the helplessness and sinfulness of man.”
(“Second coming of Christ: Premillenial Essays,” by Nathaniel West, 1879).