One of the harder concepts to grasp in the “religious” world is that of Predestination- if God knows what will happen and His plans will always be fulfilled, then how can anyone really have Free Will?
Jeremiah 1:5 says God formed him in the womb, as David also said in Psalm 139:13. David also said he was born into sin. In fact, the whole idea of Original Sin is a form of predestination, is it not? When we think about it, we have no choice about whether or not we are born innocent or guilty because the choice is already made for us.
I once read (and don’t believe everything you read) that the Jewish way of understanding the dichotomy of Free Will and Predestination is that God is the captain of a ship, sailing from here to there, and when you sail aboard this ship you are expected to perform your duties (obey the Torah); by staying aboard you get to the final destination. However, you always have the opportunity to get off at any port you wish to. If you perform a certain duty (have a calling) and jump ship, someone else will fill that position. This way, the ship gets to where it is going, the captain is always in charge, and the crew may turn-over any number of times, but there will always be a crew with enough people doing what needs to be done for the ship to arrive at its final destination. Its up to each of us if we want to get on, and its up to each of us if we want to stay on.
The best example I can think of that shows this is in the Book of Esther (Hadassah) 4:12-14 when Mordecai tells Esther:
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
God’s plan will be accomplished, period. If He calls you to do something and you refuse, then He will call someone else. If no one can do what God wants them to do, then He will do it, Himself.
Salvation? Yeshua? Hello? Anyone home, McFly? God has already accomplished that which no one else could accomplish, through Messiah Yeshua. And it has been written about over and over… and over. So Predestination is not needed because God is able to do whatever He needs or wants to do.
Free Will is, at it’s very core, the right to choose. Conversely, it is also the right to reject. It is the right to vote, or the right to abstain. It is the right to do good, and it is the right to do harm.
There are legal rights which are secured by human laws, and the right to refuse to work within the limits of those laws has consequences. Jail time, specifically, and the resulting violence in one’s life that is almost inescapable when working outside of the law.
From a spiritual viewpoint, it is not really any different: when we do as God requires (obeying the Torah, which Yeshua taught was valid and necessary) we receive blessings, which are (in fact) protection from the evil and cursed world we live in. When we refuse to accept God’s sovereignty and obey His commandments, we have to deal with the world as it really is.
The times are coming, and sooner than most people realize, when one of the biggest and most important choices we will ever make is going to be upon us- to take “the mark” or reject it. Just as accepting God separates us from the world, so, too, will rejecting the Antichrist separate us from the world, except instead of being teased or ridiculed, we will be tortured and killed.
Big difference. And it is already happening in many third world countries throughout the world- people doing God’s work are being murdered in the name of Yeshua (Jesus.)
If you believe that you have a right to choose, respect the fact that other people have a right to reject. Too often we make a bad impression on people because we tell them what they have to do, just because we believe it to be the right choice. No one has to do anything they don’t want to- that is what Free Will is about, and it is a gift from the Almighty, Himself. God gave us Free Will to choose to accept and love Him, or to reject and hate Him. That translates from believing in God or not, to accepting Yeshua (as your Savior) or rejecting Him, to voting for someone to be President or abstaining, to choosing the salad or the soup as your appetizer. Free Will is the gift God gave to us and when we tell anyone what they should do with that gift, we are interfering in God’s plan for that person.
“But Steve- what if God wants us to interfere? How do we know what we are doing isn’t part of God’s plan?”
We don’t- that’s a good point, so I guess what we are left with is to respect the right of someone to make their own decision, and when we want to help influence them to choose what we believe is right, we can tell them why we choose this way, and then demonstrate in how we live and treat others the value of our choice. In other words, don’t tell people how they should act but show them how by the way you act!
“Live and let live” is really a form of apathy- you do what you want and I’ll do what I want. As Believers, that is not what we are supposed to do: we are supposed to live and be an example of how to live according to God’s rules. We all have the right to choose, and we need to respect that right as a gift from God.
“People don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do”- How many time have I repeated this? It is up to us to be the exception to the rule and live as an example of doing what we say.
People have the God-given right to be stupid, to be smart, to be whatever they want to be. If you ask me, most choose stupid, but what the heck! That’s their right, right? What I choose is God, and as Joshua said to the people of Israel, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” Now it is up to me to demonstrate that choice in how I live and treat others.
It ain’t easy.