One of the great mysteries about God is His ability to foreknow the future and even predestine future events. At the same time, humans, whom God has given free will, can be caught in the middle of His Divine will and may find themselves wondering if everything they do Is already foreordained.
What do you think? Has God already decided your fate? Is it predestined that you will be saved or lost, good or bad, happy or sad, or do we have a real choice in the matter?
If choices were already predetermined, would it be reasonable for God to ask people to choose? At Deuteronomy 30:19 God says, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
If God lovingly warns us of certain dangers and asks us to choose life by obeying Him, can we rightly say He has already foreordained our success or failure? Why extend the invitation in Revelation 22:17 for anyone to take life’s water free if everyone was not actually free to do so?
When the Israelites entered the promised land, Joshua told them, “choose you this day whom ye will serve.” — Joshua 24:15. Do you believe humans can choose to serve God or not, or are we all predestined to a certain fate?
Perhaps a more relevant question is this: Can God already know the choices we will make and foretell them in advance? That seems to be the case of Pharaoh when Jehovah instructed the Egyptian king to let His people go in Exodus chapter 4. How do we know?
In Exodus 3:19-20, God said He already knew Pharaoh’s bad attitude about releasing His people, stating, “I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.”
Since God foreknew Pharaoh would be stubborn and not release His people, He made a startling statement that caused many to wonder if God does not preordain our actions.
At Exodus 4:21 God told Moses concerning Pharaoh, “I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.”
Does this mean God would force Pharaoh to be stubborn or could His way of dealing with the king bring out the worst in him, thereby hardening Pharaoh’s heart? In what sense did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Let’s look at the facts.
God had already foreseen Pharaoh’s attitude even before He said He would harden the king’s heart. What was Pharaoh’s attitude every time Moses and Aaron delivered God’s message to him? Exodus 18:10-11 says Pharaoh “dealt proudly.” Isn't pride before a crash?
According to Exodus 7:8-14:8, every time Moses spoke with him, Pharaoh’s pride only worsened. Have you ever seen proud people get set in their ways and act worse the more you tried to reason with them?
God’s mercy by lifting one plague after another did not soften Pharaoh’s heart. It only made him more stubborn. Could this be how God was hardening Pharaoh’s heart — not by force, but by giving him repeated opportunities to reveal what was firmly fixed in his unyielding heart?
Exodus 8:15 clearly shows where the blame is laid — not with God, but with Pharaoh himself. It reads, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.” Notice it does not say God hardened his heart but that he hardened his own heart.
To emphasize who was responsible for Pharaoh’s actions, Exodus 8:32 says, “And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.”
Could sending Moses time after time to Pharaoh with a warning message, be the sense in which God was responsible for hardening Pharaoh’s heart? This can happen to anyone proud at heart. 1Samuel 6:6 aks, “Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?”
It reminds me of what God told Isaiah at Isaiah 6:10: “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”
Did Isaiah literally make people’s heart fat, make their ears heavy and shut people’s eyes? No. The people themselves did that by being unreceptive to God’s message that Isaiah preached.
But since Isaiah delivered the message, he was said to have made these things happen. So how about us? Can we blame God when we do wrong? Is it due to fate or do we have a choice? You decide. Unless, of course, you feel it’s already been decided. Your choice.
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