Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Does God cause man's choices?

When one biblically and theologically accepts the idea of a sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God, it often taxes our feeble thoughts to reconcile the idea in the human mind. One question that may come to mind is, "Does God cause man's choices?" This make take the form of wondering about all of, some of, or any of man's choices? Here are a few Bible incidents to think about.

Deuteronomy 2:26-35 And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying, Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left. Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet; (As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the LORD our God giveth us. But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land. Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain: Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.

Did God cause Sihon to choose to refuse the Israelites passage? Did He do so that He might bring judgement on Sihon and Heshbon? If so, was Sihon still responsible/accountable?

I Kings 22:20-23 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.

Did God send a lying spirit to Ahab's prophets that they would prophesy falsely? Did He do so as the means of leading Ahab to his death? If so, are the prophets still responsible/accountable?

Exodus 7:13; 9:12; 10:1,2,20 And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said...And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses...And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him: And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD...But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.

Did God harden Pharoah's heart so that he would not agree to set Israel free, and also as an that God might bring judgement on Egypt and their gods? If so, was Pharoah still responsible/accountable? [Also, compare Psalm 105:25]

BTW, if you object to God directly causing men's choices, do you feel better about it if He instead uses means to do so? For example, Exodus 23:28 - And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. Human philosophy has created an idol called free will. To many, human free will cannot be touched by God; it has an almost independent existence. To some, more moderately, God has chosen to leave free will inviolate. The problem with either theory is that they are not consistent with the complete record of God's word. Some will admit to allowing God to cause man's actions indirectly -- as in sending hornets to change their will -- but won't allow God the right to directly or without mediation cause man's actions.

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