Truth, Understanding, Insight

Free will | Predestination

20th January 2013, hej


2) Famous Examples

Joseph was disliked by his brothers as he saw visions and the brothers thought to kill him. But by Providence (God's arrangement) Ishmaelites came along and he was sold to them be a slave in Egypt. We can see the truth of Joseph's statement to those brothers who did this,

And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:7-8)

The will of the brothers was manipulated at that time by the range of choices being increased by an opportunity. We might wonder, with little profit, how and why the Ishmaelite traders were sent to achieve that goal to raise Joseph to lord in Egypt.

The most famous example is a comment on how God works with rulers and is in relationship to the Pharaoh of Egypt at the time of the Exodus.

And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. (Exodus 4:21)

This is the apostle Paul's comment,

For he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore has he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens. (Romans 9:15-18)

Note how specific the work was. In the whole nation only Pharaoh was hardened. The account reveals it was Pharaoh's own will to not let Israel go which may be determined by comparing Exodus 5:2 with when he is shown evidence and he is first 'hardened' (Exodus 7:13). But he hardens his own heart as he sees respite (Exodus 8:15).

Paul also speaks of Jacob and Esau,

And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calls;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Rom 9:10-15)

Rebecca was barren (Gen 25:21) so Jacob and Esau were both children born by miracle. In context we can understand that God knew what type of person Esau was genetically. For many reasons, possibly including God's will to shape Jacob, he made Esau. To Jeremiah it was said,

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou came forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

There are instances, such as Isaac, Jacob (Hebrew, Yacov), Esau and Jeremiah where they were formed by Yahweh in the womb. In each case it was for a specific outcome. It does not mean every human is formed from the womb, though everyone is given life.


The scriptures indicate that rulers may be more subject to their will being moved,

"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turns it whithersoever he will." (Proverbs 21:1)

Elihu, who is not rebuked, tells us some information we can know is correct.

For God speaks once, yea twice, yet man perceives it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.(Job 33:14-17)

Thus it is explained just how rulers and shakers have an idea in their head, which somehow achieves the purpose of God. The Hebrew name of Yahweh “He will be” expresses 'will', purpose and intent. None of the people or rulers are doing anything against their will. But there is an unseen player via a few instructions, a limiting of choice, or an increase of choice with an attractive option.

Jeremiah writes of a time where specific nations in that area become warlike after Jeremiah delivers a message to them in symbol.

"For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them.(Jeremiah 25:15-16).

Daniel is shown some working of the Angels, and how the will of leaders might need to be worked with,

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me [the Angel] one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. (Daniel 10:13)

In a few cases leaders are directly influenced by God, as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel.

The book of Esther records that on a critical night when the Jewish people are in danger, King Ahasuerus cannot sleep (Esther 6:1). Because of this Mordecai is remembered and honoured, and in this way begins a rise to political power, and aids the deliverance of his people.

In each case we see divine ad-hoc intervention to human will. In each case whether in sleep or lack of sleep, the ruler's course is changed by changing their will to achieve Divine will.

Possibly the most important understanding is revealed in creation.

The beginning

The first interaction between God and man was in the creation of man. We will draw attention to the Hebrew word for 'God' and its literal meaning as it explains what might otherwise be a contradiction,

Elohim (Mighty Ones) said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So Elohim (Mighty ones) created man in his own image, in the image of Elohim created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

By inference we see the Elohim are male, yet encompassed also the female. Later they are called Angels, or Messengers. Angels look like humans in every instance (see here). Also we learn later that God is spirit (John 4:24), when shown to Moses the Holy One had no form, only glory, and also that people are condemned for representing God as a man (Rom. 1:23). The account in Genesis 2 gives some more detail and we see the name 'Yahweh Elohim', not just 'Elohim' and the description of the making of the female (v21-22). Every word has a precise purpose. Further detail is provided in a revelation to Job,

Then Yahweh answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who has laid the measures thereof, if thou know? or who has stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of Elohim shouted for joy? (Job 38:1-7)

At creation there were Elohim / Mighty Ones who shouted for joy. 'All the sons of Elohim' might indicate a large number. The picture is of Yahweh and all the sons of Elohim working together as one, with Yahweh as Spirit 'laying the foundations'. This also explains why it is important to remember Elohim 'rested' when Yahweh is said to work on the 7th day (John 5:17).

The humans, made in the image and likeness of Elohim, are given a task to have dominion over the fish, birds, cattle and creeping things. They are not given dominion over the sea or air, only the earth. We were created to do a specific job.

And Yahweh Elohim took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And Yahweh Elohim commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eat thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

The first humans had no choice in where they were to live. Each day might be varied but with in limited parameters of tending the garden. They were also given boundaries in terms of what they were to eat. The garden was made for man, and man was made for the garden.

If you did not have ideas of free will or predestination, it might be seen as the will of Yahweh, the work of Elohim and the willing acceptance by man of working within parameters of choices in an overall situation he has no control over. Adam is able to name the animals. He is able to shape the garden. He can eat certain things, and not others. But it seems he is not free to roam the earth. Indeed he was given the ability to make choices, or will, but it was never free.