Who’s Really in Charge?

Do you believe in Predestination? Do you think that God has already planned your entire life and that no matter what you do, it is already set out? Is it true that you are either saved or condemned to hell before you are even able to determine right from wrong?

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And while we’re asking questions, do you believe that God is in charge? Is God really running the show, making the decisions every moment of every day, and ensuring that all he wants anyone do to is being done, just the way he wants it?

I don’t believe in predestination, and I’ll tell you why: God told Cain that sin is crouching at his door and he must master it (Genesis 4:7), so it is clear that when it comes to what we do, it is our decision. God didn’t say to Cain, “Sin is waiting for you and you can’t fight it- you’re chosen to be sinful and you have no way out of it. Sorry ’bout that, but that’s how it goes for some people. I spin the dice and you pay the price.”

Don’t worry- that’s not how it works.

God gave us all Free Will, the right to choose what we will do and say, and throughout the Tanakh God lets us know that whatever we decide to do, it is our choice. When we do what is right (in his eyes, not our eyes) we will be blessed, and when we choose to reject his instructions, we will be on our own. The world is a fallen and cursed place, under the dominion of the Evil One (remember that Satan was thrown to the Earth) and when we reject God, we lose the kippur, the covering, of God’s protection.

God doesn’t curse us when we disobey, he just leaves us unprotected from the world.

So, nu? If God gives me the right to choose what I do, then is he really in charge?

Yes, and no.

Yes, God’s plans will be fulfilled, and the way he wants them to be fulfilled, yet while we are waiting for that day, we have the ability to do what we want to do.

I once heard that God is the captain of a ship that is going from here to there, and along the way, the ship stops at many different ports. We are able to get on the ship or off the ship every time it stops. In fact, we can even “jump ship” between ports. Eventually, the ship will land at its final destination, and obviously, you want to be on the ship when it gets there.

I was in a position of management for most of my career, and when you are in charge you learn that you need to allow those under your authority to learn, and the way to do that is to give them the freedom to be in charge of themselves. The really good Boss is the one who can let people make their mistakes, and still correct those mistakes before the mission is compromised.

Being in charge often means ceding authority to others so that they can become leaders in their own right. Micromanaging never works out well for anyone, and God is the absolute best manager of all, for he knows everything you will do before you know it yourself, but he is willing to allow you the freedom to do it, even when it may result in pain. He can always soothe the injury and heal us, but if we are never allowed to burn ourselves, we will never learn to be careful around fire.

God is in charge, but you are still the only one who is responsible for what you do and say. If something bad happens, don’t blame God, and don’t say that you are under attack. Of course, you may be under attack (from the Enemy) at times in your life, especially if you are doing what is good and helping to advance God’s kingdom, but for the most part (if you ask me), when bad things happen to good people, it’s just that the good people may have slipped a bit, or as the saying goes, “Stuff Happens.”

We live in a fallen and cursed world; every now and then bad things will happen. You can’t walk through a field of sheep and not end up stepping in something, now and then. And according to the Bible, it will only get worse, so remember that you are the only one who you can blame for what happens to you.

The answer to today’s question is that God can be in charge of everything whenever he wants to be, but when it comes down to your life he will take charge only after you ask him to do that.

In the end, the one who is really in charge of you is YOU!

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages and check out my books. If you like what you read here, you will like my books, as well.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Shelach Lecha 2018 (Send out) Numbers 13 – 15

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The people have been travelling in the desert for a little more than 2 years and have come to the border of the Promised Land. Moses, per God’s command, sends out spies to reconnoiter the land; one member from each of the 12 tribes. They come back 40 days later and of the 12 men, only Caleb from the tribe of Judah and Joshua from Ephraim give a favorable report. The other’s announce that they saw fortified cities and the Nephalim there (giants who were traditionally fallen angels) and that they could not possibly conquer those peoples. They spread fear and disappointment among the Israelites to the point where the people wanted to stone Moses. God tells Moses he will destroy these people and make a new nation out of Moses, but Moses intercedes (again, as usual) for the people. God relents what he was thinking of doing and decides to kill the 10 men by plague who started this rebellion, and that everyone over the age of 20 would die in the desert for their part of the rebellion. The people decide to attack anyway, and get their tuchas waxed. The parashah finishes with a man gathering sticks on Shabbat being stoned for his blatant disregard for God’ commandment, and the wearing of ztit-ztit  (fringes hanging on four sides of the garment) so that people will see this on other’s garments and remember to obey God.

Should we discuss the importance of the number 40, here in 40 days of spying and 40 years of wandering? Or maybe we can discuss how could people remain so faithless after 2 years of living with wondrous miracles happening every day (cloud, fire, manna)? The faithfulness of Joshua and Caleb is also something that could have deep meaning for us, in that we need to show faith is still alive even when living among faithless people.

I would like to talk about something that we see in this parashah but isn’t actually part of the story.

It came to me as I was reading about how God said he would make a nation out of Moses. My thought went right to: really? Moses is already in his 80’s, and I know that God can certainly give Moses more children at this age. But to make a nation out of him? It took some 400 years living in one of the most fertile areas of Egypt for the family of Jacob (initially numbering about 63 people) to grow into the nation Moses was leading.  Was God really willing to put everything on hold for another 400 years or so before the people entered the land?

As I was asking myself this question I thought about the idea of predestination. First off, I do not believe in predestination, but I do believe in predetermination. The difference is the former implies we have no choice and there is no real free will, whereas the latter means we have been chosen but we have free will so we can choose to accept or refuse. The “glitch” in predetermination is this: if God has chosen me for something and I refuse to do it, then what?

The answer is what Mordecai said to Hadassah (Esther) when she refused to see the king to intercede for the people (Esther 4:14) :

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place,{underlining added} 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 had predetermined that Hadassah would be the means for him to save his people from the enemy of the Jews, Haman. She had the option to do nothing to help, and some people won’t like hearing this but the fact is that at first that’s exactly what she did. Her message back to Mordicai the first time he asked her to intercede was that the king normally will kill anyone (meaning wife) not called to him. Essentially, she was saying, “No way!” Then Mordecai pretty much threatened her with discovery and death herself, and then she realized she didn’t have much of a choice.

Now, back to the parashah. Moses could have told God “Fine with me- I’ll get busy with Zepporah tonight.” And then the bible we know today would be different, but the end result would be the same.

That’s the point. God promised the land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham. It was predetermined that Moses would lead those descendants into the land. If the ones Moses had with him chose not to enter, so be it. God would raise another nation out of Moses to enter, but one way or another the children of Abraham would have that land.

This is the reason that throughout history God’s promise that Abraham’s seed would be in the land has been dependable.  It doesn’t matter when something God wants to be done gets done, the point is that it WILL get done, sooner or later.

How many people do we read about in the bible who refused to do God’s calling and never changed their minds? No one, you say? You don’t recall anywhere in the bible reading about someone who God had determined to do something wonderful but never accepted the calling? Of course not. I am sure there were many who fit that description, but because they did not accept the call, they never made it into history.

God’s will is insurmountable. His will will be done; if you are called to do it and do so, you will receive wonderful blessings for obedience. If you are called to do it and refuse, you just keep on going as you are and someone else will be raised up to take your place.

This is why it is so important for us to keep our eyes open and our ears cleaned out. When we hear God’s calling on our life we need to be willing to answer with “Whatever you say, Lord.” or we will be missing out. This doesn’t mean a faithful worshiper of God will be refused his or her place in eternity- not accepting the call from God doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be damned. It just means that the wonderful things that God had planned for you will go to someone else. I don’t know about you, but I would rather take God’s blessings than give them away.

I confess to you that my biggest fear in life is to not hear or ignore God’s calling, if and when I have one. Right now I believe this ministry is what God wants me to do, and I pray for its success (for his glory) and also that I am right when I think this is his calling for me. I really do fear that I may miss the calling God has for me.

Pray that you hear the calling God has for you, and even more so, pray for the strength to accept and fulfill that calling if, and when, you hear it. It’s one thing to hear the phone ringing and another thing altogether to be willing to answer it.

Without God There Cannot Be Free Will

Free Will and Predestination are two of the topics that we hear about a lot in “religious” discussions. They are considered polar opposites, since one states we can make up our own minds and the other says we have no choices since everything that will happen throughout our life is already set in stone.

These discussions are usually between people who have one very important thing in common- they believe in God.

What about those that are unsure, or reject the existence of God? Many of the Atheists and Agnostics I have talked with seem to have the belief that they are in charge of their lives- no one makes them do anything, no superior entity or power rules their life. They are in charge of their destiny!

Let’s work with that idea for a moment: if there is no God, no all-powerful, all-knowing eternal presence in the Universe that created and formed everything, then where did it come from? It must have been created randomly, by trillions upon trillions of chaotic collisions between sub-atomic particles that, every now and then, resulted in some newly formed atom, which banged into another atom that was electrically compatible, which banged into another, until eventually there were enough compatible atoms to form something. A planet, a rock, flesh, whatever- eventually, out of total chaos, you get enough random collisions between enough things (let’s throw in some climatic events, just for fun) and Viola! We have the Universe as we know it today.

If this is how we were created, the universe and everything in it, all the life-forms, the stars, etc., then everything that is, or will happen, also has to result from the same process, right? That means there is no control at all, from the sub-atomic level all the way up to making personal choices. Everything that happens is from randomness, which excludes any means of control. Therefore, if someone rejects God, that person rejects (at the same time and for the same reason) the idea that they have Free Will, that they can control their life, or that they can form their own destiny. They can’t because everything that happens is based on a random event.

However, if we accept that there is a God, an all-powerful, all-knowing spiritual entity that created everything and is in total control, we can have Free Will. That’s because God makes the choices about what happen, and all He has to do is decide to allow us to have the right to decide what we will do. The good news for those that want to be in total control of their lives is this: God does give us Free Will. More than that, when we need or want something, and we ask God to help us, if what we want is keeping in His will for us then we have the most powerful ally anyone could ever want to help us get what we ask for. Isn’t that the epitome of self-control? To have the ability to get what you want? There isn’t anything that is or might ever be that God cannot give to you.

And because God grants you Free Will if you choose to reject Him, He will let you, although that means you will be left with no means of control over anything because God will not interfere with your life. Well, maybe that’s not exactly accurate…God will interfere, in a subtle way, to help you find Him and come to Him- but only of your own free will. He will send angels of mercy (human and spiritual) to help you when you are in need, or He will allow terrible things to occur when you go off in the wrong direction, to humble you to the point where your prideful desire to be in total control is weakened enough to seek out His help. He might block you to prevent you from doing harm to yourself, or He may allow it, but He will always intercede with opportunities for you to change your mind. It is sort of like He might give you a little nudge in the right direction, but He won’t grab you by the ear and pull you where you don’t really want to go.

So, there you have it. For those that want to be in charge of their own life and reject the belief in God or a supernatural power that controls everything, what I say to you is: “Good luck! Let me know how that works out for you.”

Actually, don’t bother letting me know because I know already how it will end up.

Hopefully, those that think they are in control and reject God will feel that nudge and accept the leadership of the Lord so that they can, through God’s total control, finally have real control of their life.

What if Moses Had Said, “OK”?

Do you recall reading in Exodus 32:9-10 how God was so angry with the Children of Israel that he told Moses to stand aside so that He could destroy that nation, then make a new nation from Moses? Moses, fortunately for them, tells God why He shouldn’t do that, so God relents and allows the people to survive. It was a pivotal moment in the history of the Jewish people, that’s for sure.

Have you ever asked yourself what would have happened if Moses had said, “OK, Lord- let’s get ‘er done!”?

After all, Moses was not happy that he had to care for this multitude, and to have a nation of your own descendants, well, what’s so bad about that? It’s not like Moses solicited God to do that. On the other hand, maybe Moses was thinking God would want to have another 12 tribes, so for Moses (and Zepporah, too) that would involve some physicality that, at their advanced age, may not seem as enticing as it would have some, oh, 60 years earlier.

We know that the plan, as it is today, started with God creating Adam, who sinned and was sent out of the garden, bringing everyone into sin from their birth. A few generations later Noah was a type of Messiah, in that through him mankind was saved. But there was still original sin, so we fell back into rebellion. Next we have Moses, who is another type of Messiah, saving not the world (as Noah did) but the Jewish people from eventual destruction under Egyptian rule. The next step in God’s plan was Yeshua, the Messiah promised throughout the Tanakh. Yeshua saved more than just the Jews, He provided salvation for the entire world.

BUT…what if Moses had agreed? Would the plan of salvation come from a different angle?  For instance, there were 12 Apostles, but was that because God wanted 12 or only because there were 12 Tribes, initially? If God had made a nation from Moses, since Moses was a Levite, wouldn’t the nation of priests that God said he was creating (Exodus 19:6) be accomplished in one fell swoop? There wouldn’t be a need to have a tribe for kingship (Judah) and one for worship (Levi), but instead we would have the prophet/king/priest role all in one, right from the start. Moses is a precursor of Yeshua in that not only did he free us from slavery, but he was also king and prophet and priest, all in one. That is what Yeshua will be when He comes into His kingdom on earth. So if Moses had been the “new” Patriarch, would we need to have more than one tribe? And would we have had to see the Temple destroyed? Would Yeshua have come sooner? Would the enemy already be subdued and we would all be in God’s presence?

Who knows? I have my degree (undergraduate) in History, and I learned then about the danger of conjecture, i.e., assuming what would have happened “if” things went differently. It is fun to think about “what if…”, but we shouldn’t use conjecture when we are studying history. The same holds true when studying the bible.

The fact is that Moses knew better than to have a nation come from him because the nation was already there. Most will say that God really had no intention of destroying the people- He was only testing Moses. I believe that God does test us, but I also think too often we use that explanation when we don’t understand, or feel “uncomfortable” with the idea that maybe God really did want to do something we don’t ordinarily think God would do. I feel we pull the “God was just testing him” card out too quickly when we don’t understand what God was really planning. Sometimes we just don’t know what God intended; for me, I feel that if He wanted us to know it, He would have made it clear to us.

So what’s the bottom line to today’s drash? It’s that there could have been many different ways throughout history to get us to where we are today, and although it is fun to think about “What if?”, the thing that matters is not what if, but what is. We need to keep focused on the present and work towards the future. I love History and will never stop reading the bible, but I am not concerned with understanding why God did what He did or what might have happened- I am concerned with maintaining my relationship with God today and to strengthen it in the future. We need to understand the past so that the mistakes that have been made are not repeated in the future.

Know the past, but commit yourself to learn what God’s plan is (for you), and appreciate that He knows what is best for all of us. Don’t get stuck in the past thinking about “What if”: people who can’t get past their past have no future.

Right to Choose is Right to Reject

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.



Will I or Won’t I?

Will I or won’t I …what? What is this thing I am supposed to do or not supposed to do?

That thing is: make a choice.

We are all given free will so that we can make our own choices, yet we abrogate that right, over and over. How? By allowing others to make that choice for us.

Do you read the entire bible? I mean, from Genesis all the way through to Revelations? And if you do, that’s good, because like it or not, you are going to be held responsible for everything that is in that book, from Genesis through Revelations.

In the bible God tells us what He wants from us: how to worship Him and how to treat each other. Yeshua said on these two laws, to love God and to love each other, rest the entire meaning of the bible.

Yet, how many people accept what they are told they should do without reading it for themselves? How many people (maybe you, too?) accept from “learned” men and women what the bible means, and what God wants you to do?

Wait a minute! Didn’t I just say God told us how to worship Him and treat each other? If God has said what we should do, then why is someone else telling me something different? If we all worship the same God, then why are there so many ways to worship Him? Why do some religions say drinking is OK and others call it a sin? Why do some people only eat what God said to eat and others ignore it? Why do some people think that it is OK to do some things and others say it is a sin?

The answer is: God has no religion, but people do. People created religion in order to further their own goals, to make you do what they want you to do, and to gain power and authority over you that they should not have.

Will I or won’t I? Will you or won’t you? That’s the question: will you accept what you are told to do and follow whatever form of worship you have been raised with, or will you read the word of God, the ENTIRE word of God, and accept only that whatever God said, in the old and the new, is what He wants from us. If you can start with this, just make a choice to read what God says and willfully accept that His words are just as valid today as they were that day when the Israelites heard Him on the mountain, then you are beginning a journey that will bring you closer to God, gain you more blessings on Earth (when you start to obey all His commands) and help to secure your salvation.

I am not saying to disrespect your spiritual leaders, but I do ask that you remember they are human, and just as full of human weaknesses as we all are. They are also just as willing to accept what they have been told (or maybe I should say, just as unwilling to question what they have been told) as you are.

The people who worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been led astray from the pure word of God. When God showed Himself to the Israelites, and (consequently) the world, there was only God’s laws or paganism. That was it. And for the next 1600-1700 years or so, there were Jews that worshiped God and there were the pagans. After the resurrection of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), the pagans began to convert. Not to Christianity- there wasn’t any such thing then. They were converting to Judaism, or more accurately, they were converting to the belief in a single, all -powerful God whose commandments about how to live were in the Torah. They were learning how to worship God as He said to.

Then all heck broke loose- the government took over the religion. The Jews became separated from the converting pagans, and out of the midst of that confusion came Christianity. Government regulated, government decreed and government ran. Worship of God became state-run religions: Italy and Spain are Catholic, Great Britain is Protestant, Germany is Lutheran, …must I go on?  Yes, and Israel is Jewish, but there is a difference- Israel has always been Jewish because that is where Judaism began and because that is what God decreed. God didn’t come down from the mountain and tell Henry VIII to separate from the Roman Catholic Church, Henry did that so he could divorce his wife.

I could go on, but the point is being lost in the history- you have to make a choice. Like it or not, you are going to be held accountable for how you worship God, and that will be weighed against is what is in the Torah. It is not going to be based on what your Priest, Minister, or Rabbi told you is allowed, and when you try to use that lame, childish excuse, “But that’s what they told me to do” you will not get very far with that, at all.

I am very concerned for people. I am intolerant of what I call “Programmed Stupidity”, which is people misusing their gift of free will to freely choose to not choose but be told. Faith is all about making a choice. We all choose what we will believe, and that choice will follow us not to the grave, but beyond the grave to the Throne of Judgment.

They say you can’t take it with you, and they are right, except for one thing: the choice we make about God. That will follow us past this life into the next. You can’t tell me I am wrong, anymore than I can tell you you are wrong, because neither of us has died and come back from beyond the grave. However, I respect your right to make your own choices and you should, at least, respect my right to do the same.

Will we or won’t we? We are all in this together- there is only one planet, only one species dominating the planet (the different colors and facial formations don’t matter- they are only skin deep), and there are many, many different religions, each with it’s own god. Even within Judeo-Christian religions, each religion has it’s own god, because the god of Lutherans says to do things differently than the god of Jews, than the god of Western Orthodox, than the god of Latter Day Saints, then the god of….well, you get the picture.

One God, one way to worship, one way to treat each other- what God told Moses, Yeshua told His disciples- nothing new, nothing different, just a more detailed and thorough explanation of the same thing. God told us what do do, Yeshua showed us how to do it.

That is what I have chosen to believe, and that is what I will take past the grave. When I present myself to God, I will be able to say, if nothing else, that I tried to follow what He told me to do from the commands He gave us.

Will you be able to say the same thing?

free Will or predestination?

I was reading (in the New Covenant writings) some of the Epistles to the Messianic Communities in the Diaspora this weekend and noticed how Shaul (Paul) and Kefa (Peter) write in a way that seems to indicate God has predestined those who will be saved.

We have Ephesians 1:5 (“Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,…“) and Romans 8:29-30 (“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”)

Even in Psalm 139: 16 it says, Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

There are other verses in the Bible that seem to indicate we were chosen beforehand, that we are the elect, the special ones who have found favor, yadda-yadda-yadda. It got me wondering if there really is something to the idea of predestination, which says God has already made His decision about who will go and who will not.

But then I came to my senses. I thought that if we are predestined, then the prayers for my children, and everyone else’s prayers for those who are not saved to be saved, are useless. The divine commission to make disciples is a waste of time because those who are chosen will become disciples without us and those who are rejected , well, tough luck! Why waste my breath, why “kick against the goads”  to make Believers out of non-believers if those who are to be will be and those who are not to be are already screwed?

Ridiculous, isn’t it?  All these verses don’t mean that an individual is chosen and another individual is rejected, it means that God has formed the way for everyone to find salvation through Messiah Yeshua. It means that what He has done is to choose life for us and provide the means for us to take hold of it.

In Ezekiel 18 God says that he doesn’t want anyone to die and that He wishes all sinners would turn from their sin, and live. God isn’t a liar, so if He wants people to turn from their sins, then he must have made it possible for us to make our own decisions about what we do or don’t do.

Ergo: Free Will.

Another argument for free will is that God owns everything, He is in control of everything (although that doesn’t mean He does control everything- He can, but He chooses what to control and what to leave alone) and yet, there is one thing that He cannot control or have unless we give it to Him: our love, faithfulness and obedience. If we have the ability to choose to give God our love and faith, then we have the ability to choose to reject Him.

Ability to choose is called Free Will.

Next time you run into a Calvinist, or anyone who says that God has predetermined or predestined those who will be saved, enlighten that person with Ezekiel 18 and the above argument for free will. You can even throw this in, if it comes down to it: if God has chosen who will be saved and who won’t, then why did He need to send Messiah Yeshua to die for our sins?  After all, those chosen are already in and those rejected have no chance, so why provide a means through which your fate can be changed?  If your fate is sealed before you are born, then why tell us that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved?

Without free will, this whole Messiah “thing” makes absolutely no sense.

God has given us free will: it was evident in the Garden, it is clear throughout the history of the Jewish people and the writings of the New Covenant. It is clear from the many times God has stated through the Psalms and the prophets that He wants us to turn from our sin so that we can live. Why ask us to turn if He has already decided?

I’ll tell you who really doesn’t want you to have free will- religion. That thing called “religion” is dogmatic, stoic, and enabling. It doesn’t want you to think, it wants you to follow. It doesn’t want you to question, it wants you to obey, blindly. It doesn’t want you to decide for yourself what is the truth, it wants you accept without question what it tells you is the truth.

God has no religion, only rules. He tells us how to worship Him, and how to treat each other. And we have the right, the God-given right, to decide for ourselves if we will do what God says or not.

Free will is a two-edged sword: it cuts both ways. Do as God says and the world will hate you, do as the world says and you have to reject God (He still loves you, but His judgment will be righteous.) So, whatever you choose, understand that it is your choice. If you choose to do what you are told by religion, without question or investigation, that is a choice.

We all have been given free will to make out own choice- better make sure it’s the right one!

Why Predestination Doesn’t Work

The answer is found in Ezekiel 33. This chapter, similar to Ezekiel 18, is where God tells Ezekiel that he, Ezekiel, is like a watchman on a tower. When God tells Ezekiel of upcoming doom for the sinful, like a watchman blowing the shofar to warn people when the enemy approaches , he is to tell them what God says so they have warning and time to turn from their sins. If Ezekiel warns them, he is free of their blood. Therefore, God is saying that people can choose to turn from their sin, or choose to die in it.

God tells us that He takes no pleasure in the death of a sinner while still in his sin:

11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

The gist of predestination is that the elect are chosen already, and we don’t have any choice. God has designed and determined everything that will happen. There are some things in the Bible that can be used to make this argument; for instance, God told Jeremiah he was chosen to be a prophet and that God knew Jeremiah when he was still in the womb, Moses being chosen, Gideon, Samson, and there are others. All of these Prophets, Judges, and Saviors of Israel (oh, yeah- don’t forget Esther, who was where she was “for such a time as this”) were determined by God to do His will.

Does that mean they didn’t have a choice? Jonah had a choice, and even though he did get a lot of “encouragement” to turn back to Nineveh when he ran away, he still could have fought off the calling. He probably would have died, and we would not read the Book of Jonah at Yom Kippur services; maybe it would be the Book of Bob, or the Megillah of Myron? In any event, if Jonah had turned from his calling, or Gideon, or even Moses (remember that God almost killed Moses as he was first going back to Egypt), God would have still raised someone up to do His bidding. Even Yeshua, when He was praying before capture, asked if the cup could pass from Him let that be so. Even the Messiah clearly could have changed His mind about what He was to do. That’s not predestination, that’s free will in action.

You can’t make an argument from nothing (this is a very important lesson to remember when interpreting the Bible) but we can never know how many babies were pulled form the Nile. Perhaps there were more than just one baby saved during the Pharaoh’s decree, so if Moses hadn’t chosen to fulfill the role God had for him, there might have been others available to God to serve His purpose.

Ezekiel isn’t the only place where we can see people have had choices, and God has given them that right. We do have free will, we do have the opportunity to chose God. Really, when you think about it (something most religions seem to want you to avoid doing), predestination can’t be God’s plan because if the Lord already chose what and who, then why bother allowing evil in the world? If God knows who will be in heaven, then why put billions of people through the Tribulation, or make innocent people die? Why even tell Ezekiel to warn the sinners? Why send the Prophets? If God has determined, ahead of time, who will live and who will die, why even give those destined to die life?

None of it makes any sense. Not that we can be expected to understand God, but really? God making billions of people go through life for what is, essentially, no reason other than to die is… ridiculous. That makes God out to be a young boy with a magnifying glass digging up ants just to incinerate them. Or creating the ants to watch them die (Oy- that’s even worse!)

God is the captain of our lives, and His ship will sail from Creation all the way to Salvation on Earth, a new Earth, where the people who have chosen to choose God (through Messiah Yeshua) will live in eternal joy and peace.

Those who have chosen to ignore God’s existence and choose sin will suffer eternal damnation.

The bottom line is that it is a choice, and it is our choice. It is your choice, and you are the only one responsible for that decision. You can’t blame your parents, your Priest, Rabbi or Pastor. You can’t say your favorite teacher taught you that God is dead, or that you just don’t know what to believe.

Not believing is a choice. And, take it from me, it’s the WRONG choice!!

Yeshua said that those who are not against Him are with Him. Not accepting or believing is being against Him.

Also, accepting what others say without confirming the truth for yourself is, well, it’s just plain stupid! You are going to have to answer to God, and He will not give you a break because you were too lazy to read the Bible and ask for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to lead your understanding so that you can make up your own mind. And he won’t buy the, “But that’s what I was taught” line, either.

I will talk about God with anyone, believer or atheist, and if I don’t respect their choice, I respect their God-given right to make that choice.

Make your own choice, and do that with the knowledge that comes from reading the Bible for yourself. There are some parts that are boring and tough to get through, but get through it. Please- at least once in your life do this so that you  have a real chance at having life eternal. It may take a few days or weeks, or even months to get through it- the whole thing, from Genesis through to the end of Revelations. If you are Jewish, read the New Covenant writings, also (it will help if you get a Messianic version of the Bible) and if you are Gentile, read the Old Covenant writings first. You may be surprised at the fact that Jesus did not say anything new. Same thing for the Jewish readers of the B’rit Chadashah: Yeshua taught Judaism, He did NOT invent a new religion.

God has determined what will happen to mankind- no one who says the Bible is true can argue that point. However, because the fate of mankind is settled and already determined, that doesn’t mean the fate of any individual man (or woman) is already determined. The ship is sailing, it will reach it’s final port, and we all have the right and the freedom to decide if we will sail with this ship or not.

It is your choice, so make it a good one.