Destiny, Random Allowed, Intervention or Punishment …Sovereignty?
When anything happens, good or bad, do we ask ourselves, did that happen because of destiny, that our future was already written? Is getting married, having children from DNA of parents, divorce, re-marriage altogether due to destiny without freewill?
While everything is known to God from even before fetal development as in Jeremiah 1:5 and onwards, are all our day-to-day-activity, education, profession, job, spouse, children etc., already “set for each and everyone of us” ..,or only to some people but not to others, every time or some of the time? Or, did any of it comes randomly, sometimes and specifically? Was it because of God’s intervention? Or, was it allowed to happen by God, or actually a punishment? Which one is it?
Very challenging issues, indeed. Ultimately, only God knows, yet many preachers go one way or the other in interpretations and presumptions. Any middle-ground or another concept? Let us then take this difficult but important issue together with an open mind and with all humility we can muster. Remember, no human has a monopoly on what is right. But, we learn from God using a Berean principle(Acts 17:11) of “trust but verify”.
It is well-accepted by believers that nothing happens without God’s knowledge. He knows the past, present and future, thus the descriptive name I AM. He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He is beyond the measure of time. Got it.
But, does sovereignty mean “all steps are ordered”? That, nothing happens “by chance”? That, anything that happens is because God wills it to be or merely “allowed it“. Certainly, when God says, then it happens as in Genesis1:3-31. And, biblical references proved God intervenes in the affairs of man as in the blazing furnace set for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3:8-18) and prophesied destiny of earthly kingdoms in Daniel 2. Moreover, who can forget what God did to the northern 10 tribes and 2 southern division of Israel? (See also https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1551/jewish/Israels-Enslavement.htm And, there are other examples of destiny, intervention and punishment.
Is this really what sovereignty means? Did Adam and Satan sin because God allowed that to happen for a “grand purpose”, as many of us can assume? Where is and what happened to their freewill? Why fault Adam or Satan for their sins without them having freewill? It certainly is not God’s will for anyone to sin against him. That being said, if he just allowed what he did not like to happen, although he could intervene, isn’t that being complicit? In which case, God could be blamed?
However, the Scriptures say, he could not be faulted nor can he do anything wrong (Job 34:12) because “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD( Isaiah 55:8). So, how could this comport with God’s sovereignty? In Ecclesiastes 9:11 it says:
“I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.“
The preceding states that the winner of a race, or having food, wealth or favor is not necessarily because of “destiny, intervention, allowed or as a punishment “. It really “depends on situations”. And, “time and chance happen to them all.” meant it can happen “randomly”. It is no longer “chance” if it is already “written in stone”, as it is no longer hope if the outcome is already known(Romans 8:24).
Even the narrative of Jonah was not forced on him in a way that he did not have free will and could not say no. Instead, he learned “wisdom to choose” from right or wrong. For who wants to die again in a ghastly death swallowed by a big fish? He could but he chose wisely, not to.
God does not have to allow, intervene or act as punishment, when anyone gets into an accident, exposed to inordinate risk or got into throes of death. After all, it was said, Hebrews 9:27
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment“(ESV).
As everyone will experience death(reversible), God already has a plan for any permutations. Randomness is still within the purview of God’s sovereignty. A soldier with freewill to volunteer and fight is a better soldier than when conscripted or forced by events. A supreme example of “freewill within God’s sovereignty ” was shown by Jesus.
As EL SHADDAI, YHVH or LOGOS, he consented to become incarnated to “anthropos-Jesus”(1Timothy 2:5); he was not forced to do that. Being forced and doing it without his consent, takes away the enormity and great value of his sacrifice. As flesh-composed human, he did not sin on his own, as Job. But what the Father required were not “own works“ but works expressed in “fruits of the Holy Spirit“. All his personal “purity/perfection” was through his own (like Job) without the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. As promised, he was the first man to receive this in-dwelling after water baptism in river Jordan as in John 1:32. Then and only then did he “express the empowerment that comes from the Holy Spirit”, e.g., overcoming Satan’s temptation, turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana, making blind see, deaf hear, lame walk and dead Lazarus to be resurrected to flesh–composed life, etc.
Notice, that no miracles did Jesus do prior to the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. The water-to-wine in the wedding at Cana was not the first miracle; it was instead the overcoming of Satan in the wilderness. In the garden of Gethsemane, this man-Jesus still with the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit in him maintained his freewill not to die, but finally (after 3 times seeing truly the flesh is weak) chose instead to follow the “will of the Father” and “not my will“. True, these events were known to the Father from the beginning of time. But, this final action of Jesus was solely based on him, his freewill, the “hope” (Jeremiah 17:7), that he in fact would follow the Father’s will. There could not have been any need to “hope” (Romans 8:20; Romans 15:4 ESV) if the outcome is pre-destined or already known.
Although prophesied and predestined as Passover, Jesus was not forced to be a Savior of mankind. Still, he had to bring it to fruition himself as empowered by the Holy Spirit. He did this as an freewill expression of his love that flows out from the love of the Father for the world as in John 3:16 True love shows by giving your life for another as in John 15:13.
God is sovereign. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. His “thoughts are not our thoughts“. We were given freewill but he can also intervene, allow things to happen or punish for a purpose as well as execute his predetermined overall plan. He can do anything He wanted, even removing and forgetting our sins forever as in Psalms 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.“
He is so supreme, the “God of gods and Lord of lords”, that he has even the power to include “randomness” with his own sovereignty, depending on his unique wisdom. Contrary to the common assumption, randomness (like having “hope“) does not diminish his sovereignty; it magnifies it.
But, more importantly he has a plan for all regarding our salvation that will come in the future. All have their own time as all are given a chance, in this lifetime prior to the Millenium and beyond, according to his timeline. However, the final outcome depends on our freewill to act, much like Jesus did, to follow the will of the Father and “bear fruits of the Holy Spirit“. Freewill is not ignored, marginalized or delegitimized by God’s sovereignty; it even magnifies it.
Accordingly, the tree that does not bear fruit will be cut off and burned(Matthew 7:19). So, rejoice for the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Helper of our “weak flesh“, as our God is supreme, loving, full of grace and is merciful. Our “ultimate destiny within the context of freewill “ is secure.
Original post: May 29, 2019
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