Recently I was asked if I could help explain from a biblical perspective the concept/theology of predestination. How I thought this either applies or doesn’t to Torah observance. I’m going to be real honest here… this is a topic that is argued and debated over fairly regularly. Which I tend to stay out of. It’s also, for me more of philosophy than anything else. It requires us to speculate to some degree, and there is scripture which could support pro and con to predestination. I am not a philosopher… But, I thought it would make a good topic so, let’s take on the Predestination vs Free Will discussion.
One of the first main points here I wish to make is Father/God is Sovereign. This means He is King, Lord over all, and He is in charge. Man is not the same as Him. Also when I say Him I am relating all of Him as one. The Father, Son, Spirit, and yes even the Word. I get this from John One….
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The “Word” Bible, was with God and was God. Spoken first, written second. We know that the “word becomes flesh” and later in the chapter is identified as Yeshua/Jesus. Thus God is Christ, is the Bible. In Genesis One we see the “spirit” there and in Acts we see the Spirit is given to us. So yeah, the Spirit is also part of that oneness.
Now if we focus on the Bible for a moment we know the Word is the authority over man. Not man over the Word. So if we connect all the Bible together, we get a clear picture that He Is fully Sovereign. We can also know from Job One that even Satan falls under Gods Sovereignty. I’m setting all this up for a reason here. Bear with me. Father/God is so sovereign that He created everything, and rules over it all.
Now I think that since we established that we must ask, what does scripture say about pre-destination?
“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,”
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15:16
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,”
II Timothy 1:8-9
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,”
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,”
“Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;”
Alright, by now I think you can see that there is definitely scripture supporting Father/God knowing and also selecting people. There were many many more verses I could have used here. For the sake of time I chose quickly, eight to represent Yes…. there is predestination talk in our bibles. I would be in error if I tried to say there wasn’t. This gets us into an issue. Predestination vs Free Will…
The issue of predestination presupposes that Father/God who is fully sovereign (like a King) has also established everything for us and we are merely acting out His will. (like a boy playing with toy cars, or like a girl playing with her dolls). The cars and dolls CANNOT act on their own free will. They must perform as their sovereign (the boy or girl) wills them to. They are, after all inanimate objects with no free will. Or no will at all, as they are merely toys. But this helps to explain what I mean here.
The Massive problem we must face is that if predestination is fully true, then you and I are not free to make choices. Every choice was already laid out by God and every action was already prescribed by God. This means we are like Characters in a book, with no free will to make choices. Let me break this analogy down.
The Author, creates everything in the book to sustain the characters, then creates the characters and places them in an environment. Front there, the author establishes every thought, word, deed, feeling, and all else (for the characters ) to create a story. This is all done by the author. At no time do the characters merely do anything of their own free will. Why? Because they are predestined to live only in that story and do what the author says for them to do.
Some say this is exactly the relationship from God to Man. The problem is this whole free will thing, and also the issue of it no longer being love (to follow and worship God) but a simple requirement to do so, because it’s already destined to us. In other words, our “destiny” is set in stone. When we are good, it’s because God set that. When we are evil, it’s because God set that. No matter if we want to be good when He sets us up to be bad, we simply cannot do so. This would mean that, when we want to be good and cannot, it’s because God set it up that way.
There is a problem with this line of thinking that we need to actually digest for a second. How could God “get mad” at us for breaking His ways… (because if predestination is true, He made us break His Will) and punish us for it? This would mean God was not loving, but someone like a narcissist. If God worked this way, He couldn’t really blame us, as after all He prescribed our bad actions. It would be His fault, not ours. This is how the owner of an aggressive dog is responsible for the dog if it bites someone. The dog (like man) under the control of its master becomes the responsibility of the master. It’s technically not responsible for itself. Let me say it another way, if you have a child and set the child up to fail at a task… purposely to be able to tell and punish the child, does that make you a good parent? No, certainly not. It makes you an evil one. So this begs the question… how do we rationalize predestination WITH (not against) Free Will?
Before I can start to answer this, we need to unpack some very important verses. Please bear with me a moment.
“Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.””
If EVERYTHING is predetermined that man will do, why did God give any instruction to Adam? There is no reason to give any instruction, because man cannot act on his own accord. (Remember the cars and dolls) There is already the outcome established by the creator. The problem here is Father/God gives Adam Instructions. Does this call into question Gods Sovereignty as some suggest? NO!!! Certainly Not!!!
Because His Sovereignty does not change when we are good, or break His Commands. He is still our King. Let me explain this.
A King is sovereign over His Lands. Over His peoples He rules. However the people can defy their King. They also can worship their King and Obey their King. He makes Laws and Decrees that His subjects are to follow. If they do not then they face the penalty for their transgressions. They have free will, yet are under the Kings rule and subject to His Laws and Decrees. Thus, predestination AND free will are co workers in human life.
Did God really set up Adam and Eve to fail so He could punish them? for me the answer is a clear NO. He gave them Instructions. Told them not to eat of certain fruit and explained what would happen if they chose to break that Instruction. If this was all predetermined, God would NOT have to give them any direction at all. It would again be like the characters in the book, or the toy cars, or the dolls. Let’s continue…
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.””
“You may eat of all the trees but these two” tells us He gave Adam and Eve the ability to make a choice to Obey Him or Disobey Him. This is “Free Will”. Father/God set a choice before them and explained “you will die” assigning death will result in making the choice for disobedience. Adam and Eve knew the issue of choice, heard the warning on the outcome yet… still chose wrong. So if God predetermined them to be wrong, made it so Adam and Eve couldn’t make a right choice… that wouldn’t be an act of love. Man would also not have been handed choice. We would just be like the characters in a book. “Written that way”.
We know Eve makes the first “bad choice” then so does Adam. From this we learn death results. We must all die, and our flesh is against God. The thing is, Adam and Eve had free choice. They chose wrong. But this is just the start….
We know in Chapter Three God punishes the two. So either He caused them to be evil, voiding choice. Just to punish them for fun. Or He gave them choice, when they violated that… He carried through the punishment. Making Father/God “JUST”. Which they were warned to choose wisely. The thing is we know they were warned and had free choice. However there is one more thing I wish to point out here.
We see in Job the day came when the “heavenly court” went in before God. We know Satan was also required to go. We pick it up as God and the devil are having a chat about Job being obedient.
“Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person. ” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” Job 1:8-12
Satan basically argues that Job only is Obedient to God because He is doing everything for Job. In other words, “because you do everything for Job, Job is Obedient”. Basically accusing God of not letting man make free will choices. God twice over allows the devil to beat down Job. Establishing Job’s Obedience was not based in predestination, but free choice. Job was not ordered to be obedient and endure. Job also had free will to choose to walk away from his faith, or persevere through the pains of his trials. We know God rewards Job at the end of the Book for all He endured.
“Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.” Job 42:12-16
Job gets restored. Why was he rewarded for only doing what was already predetermined? That makes no logical sense. Job however gets rewarded because of His Obedience which is a clear and visible choice. Free Will and NOT predetermined control.
I wish to provide two more examples here.
“So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”” Genesis 4:6-7
Let’s say that predestination is in full effect here, why would God even need to discuss with Cain anything? There is no need to, like the toy cars and dolls. A child doesn’t have to explain anything to the toys. Just manipulate them. If there was no free will, God would not need to waste His time telling His Creation anything. After all it’s already set in stone right? This is exactly the problem.
The last example I want to use here is this…
“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Genesis 6:5-8
Alright, lastly in our lineup I want to explain this clearly. When God saw the wickedness of man upon the earth it distresses Him. Why? If everything is predetermined it’s Gods Will they became that way. After all He caused this Himself. That’s the thing, He created everything and people. But He gave people free will, as demonstrated above and also here. God would NOT be able to be sorry, distressed, hurt, or angry by man’s actions if they were like the characters in the book, or like the toy cars or the dolls. It again would be His fault this bad thing happened. Nobody would be to blame. However since man has free will to make choices of Obedience and disobedience to God, Father/God could rightly have these emotions and man was equally free to reject Him. Which would actually cause Him pain, because man was to blame and not God.
Wait…. “Michael, I meant predestination toward Salvation”… you might be inclined to argue this point also. Alright my friend let’s apply it into that direction as well.
IF, and I really mean IF God predetermined all who are saved and all who are not, before all was created, this hands us other issues to deal with.
The first is that He only chose a certain number, called them based on His choice. This means that man doesn’t have any choice to go to the Kingdom of God or the Lake of Fire. This means salvation is forced upon those who desire to hate God. God is no longer just.
How do we know we have the choice to choose salvation or reject it?
In Deuteronomy we read a chapter on Blessings for Obedience and Curses for Disobedience to God. Why warn us and them to be obedient if it’s not our choice to do so? Again a logic hang up.
““Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.”
We are told if we choose obedience to God we are blessed and the opposite if we violate by disobedience. In fact we are warned about punishment called curse. Again if God is moving you around and making your choices for you, He already has assigned your salvation or damnation based on His choice. Meaning He already assigned it to you, even if you lived by His commandments all you life, unless He changes His mind you’re still damned. That is unless free will is involved. Once free Will is involved if you REPENT guess what?
If you repent and stop your sins Father/God returns to us. How do we know?
““The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the LORD of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.” ’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the LORD.”
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”
Instead we see the Father and Son repeatedly asking, for people to repent and keep His Commandments. Why would God or Christ have to demand, ask, beg, and cry out for us to walk in His Ways? If everything was already set, He wouldn’t be asking us anything.
“Be careful to obey all my commands, so that all will go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and pleasing to the Lord your God.”
““If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.”
If it’s all predetermined and already set in stone who is saved and who is not, keeping the commandments isn’t needed. Doing good isn’t a requirement. Certainly Yeshua/Jesus would not have to ask His Father Anything… they are one (John 1), and no advocate would be needed. Why? Salvation is already assigned. Doesn’t matter what you do.
“Alright alright alright already. Michael…. how do you rectify the verses supporting predestination with all the verses saying free will”?
“But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”
““My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”
Ok, perhaps our physical worldly thinking cannot quite wrap our minds around what I’m going to say next. At some point faith has to kick in and we stop trying to prove or disprove and simply have faith or drop faith. Look, let me clarify something before I explain what I believe about Predestination and Free Will.
If we look at scripture we can see it’s not God or Christ… it’s Both. It’s not Grace or Law…. it’s Both. It’s not Predestination or Free Will… it’s also BOTH!!! I firmly believe that it’s both, because of scripture and the amount of it. There seems to be support for both. Not just a verse here or there, but multiple verses pointing out predestination yet also pointing out free will. Perhaps the problem isn’t the Bible saying two things one or the other. Perhaps it’s on us to interpret correctly.
We can see that there is this word predetermined used a fair amount. However we can easily tell we have free will. The major issue here is we are approaching this subject like so many others. We are trying to understand spiritual things in physical ways. It’s like using orange juice on your cereal instead of milk, or smelling the color blue”. It just doesn’t add up. So how do we rationalize from a biblical perspective?
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” I Timothy 2:3-4
First, if God just moves people about and controls them like a child with the toy and doll or the author of a book… why would God have to “desire” all be saved. They would just be all saved. Second, who does He desire is saved? All humans. Everybody!!!
This is echoed in the following verses…
“Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “ and not that he should turn from his ways and live?” Ezekiel 18:23
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
II Peter 3:9
Again, He would NOT have to desire all to be saved. He would just save them. Man however has free will to choose to Obey or Disobey God.
On the predestined front however there is also, equally those who are predestined and predetermined. So there is both.
We know there are SOME people who are pre chosen. Some verses are the following:
Matthew 22:14, John 6:37, 44, 65, 8:47, 10:26-29, Romans 8:29-30, 9:6-23, 11:5-10, 1 Corinthians 1:26-30, Ephesians 1:4-5, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, and James 2:5.
So there are Some who are predestined. Others who are not. We know that this is NOT a one and done like some think it is. If it were, we would not see supporting scripture to both. Let’s take for instance the 144,000. Clearly they have been set aside and have the in. Does that mean only 144,000 will be saved? NO!!! We also have been set aside, those who walk in the Law and have faith in Messiah, does that mean only those will be saved? NO!!!
Some are predestined others are not. Those who are not come to salvation via the Messiah/Christ. Yet others from the past who ONLY HAD THE LAW, they too by their observance of it and dedication to it have that in. Those who are blood born have an in. Those who are grafted into Israel (like us) have that in. Those who believe in Messiah/Christ have that in. Etc.
I would maintain that just because you’re not in a “elected” group doesn’t mean you can not or will not be saved. It means you’re not elect or predestined, but you still have a way before you. For me, I see this not as a Predestined vs Free Will debate. But I see it as two options set up, by our Creator. Some are “Predestined” while others are not. Those who are not “like us” have to make that choice. It’s our “free will” to choose Him or reject Him. There appears to be two groups of people in that. Just like there are Blood Born and Grafted In for Biblical Israel. The reality we need to remember is that scripture never lies.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
II Timothy 3:16-17
So if this is the case (and it is) we need to remember that, scripture telling us “Free Will” is real, and scripture telling us “SOME are Predestined”, must tell us that both are true…. each in their own way. If scripture says it… it’s the truth or the whole bible is a lie.
In conclusion, I would add that the narrative is NOT all are predestined. Some clearly are by scripture. Those who are, are the blood born, the 144,000, those chosen by Him before birth etc. The rest however are left to make the choice. The Free Will choice to Follow Him through His Son, His Law, and such. Some have to choose to Follow and be Obedient to the Most High. Some are fulfilling their destiny. Regardless of which group you fall under we need to grasp Father/God is…. IS SOVEREIGN, and is KING over all. He created everything and you must choose to be obedient to the King or reject the King at your own peril.
One thing by this study is clear to me, some are predestined for different reasons and purposes. Those who are not must make the choose for or against Him. Those either predestined or choose Him get His Kingdom, those who are Not predestined and reject Him and live sinfully wicked lives perish in the Lake of Fire. Regardless of predestination or choice, stop bickering and fighting over who’s right. After all you’re in, not being destroyed like a log on the flame within the Lake of Fire.
I hope this helps explain how it’s not one or the other for all people. But it’s really a combination of both. Some “special groups” are Predestined yet others have to exercise their Free Will….
Shalom and God Bless
Question? Email is: messianicmichaelm@gmail. com