I ended last week asking the question: If He knew who would and would not receive salvation, why did He create people He knew would end up in hell?
Either hell and the lake of fire really isn't all that bad, or something else is at work. Let's look at that something else. This is written as 'maybe' because I write of things we cannot know this side of heaven - but it will provoke thought that we may sort out within ourselves what we believe and why we believe it. So some of the possibilities...
Why do we pray, if not to change the future?
Romans 8:29 says this: "Those He foreknew He did also pre-determine (predestinate) to be conformed to the image of His Son". The statement 'Those He foreknew' implies there may be others He did not foreknow.
What if everyone's destiny is not fixed when they are created? What if He created everyone, but just chose to take a glimpse at some who He would know would choose salvation, and kept Himself from knowing the rest? Isn't that why we pray - to change a person's future? Isn't prayer so God may set a person along a path to a different destiny?
What if God knows all, but at times He will withhold from Himself some knowledge?
An example we might understand would be a parent of a teenager who gives the family car to the teen on a Friday night with the condition they return home at midnight.
Because they foreknew their child, they know one thing the kid may do is hang out with other 'good kids' and just talk and eat pizza at someone's house. But they also know they might drive the car up and down the Main Street cruising to see what others are doing. They also know they might try to race a friend with the car and perhaps get caught by the police. That parent also knows another possibility is that some person might attack their child and injure or even kill them, or maybe just a minor wreck.
That parent can think of 100 things their child might do on a Friday night with the family car, but they don't know exactly what decision the kid will make. They could know if they wanted - by GPS tracking or following them at a distance. But they decide to let then go to make their own decisions.
They also know this before they ever hand that child the keys to the car: They will be there for them no matter what destiny their child chooses. They hope the teen will follow what they have been taught and walk through the door by midnight, unharmed and untarnished from the world. But because they love their child if needed, they will go to the police station if they have to bail them out, or to the hospital, or even to the morgue - because they love their child. They know they will be there for their child to care for them to the extent their child's actions will allow them. No matter what decisions their child makes that night, they will be there for their teenager.
Is it possible that our Heavenly Father is like that? Is it possible that because He is eternal and He is light and within all those 'wavelengths' of light there are millions of possible outcomes to decisions we free-willed beings might make, that He withholds from Himself the knowledge of all we might decide so that He might interact with us in real time, with honesty and with real emotion? (Just as He did with Israel when they worshiped a golden calf and He wanted to destroy them, or acting with pity to spare Nineveh, or the same with Hezekiah.)
Quantum physics has proven a light particle can be in two places at once, which proves by science not only that God is everyone, but that whatever 'wavelength' your life is following, He is there. Whatever destiny you choose, He is there.
In quantum physics terms that would be a parallel universe in the life of Hezekiah - one that had him dying of that sickness and another under God's control, where he gets healed and lives another 15 years. And God varies the outcome based and in reaction to man's free will and sets us on another timeline for our lives.
Again: He provides for several possible futures in our lives based on our free will. Thus Hezekiah's life was spared. He has done that for everyone who has ever lived or will live.
A personal example
Because God is Light, let us think of each ray of light, each shade and tint of color, as a path for a person's destiny. We were created from Him, who is all light. So what if our lives are moving along one 'color', one 'ray of light' within His light, but then we make a decision that takes us along a different 'ray of light' in another path. Yet still we are in Him, in His light, and we find He has made provision for us even though we stepped off what we know is His perfect path for us.
When I was a teenager I wanted to be an airline pilot, thinking about going into the military to receive training. But later I wanted to be a Marine Biologist and study whales. If not those, I could have taken over my dad's business, or become employed in my friend's dad's business and have a full career. But I also wanted to serve the Lord in ministry.
When I was a manager for a national pizza delivery chain I was offered franchise opportunities that would have made me very wealthy. I could have done that and continued to walk with the Lord. But my heart was ministry, so I stayed on that path. But either path would have the Lord's provision and blessing, but each would have its own set of consequences.
All of those paths of my life could be considered to be within His spectrum of Light and each path would have its own timeline for my life. If I choose to study the ocean the Lord would bless me in that. If I responded to His call and go into ministry, then His provision would be for that. If I had chosen a career path in my hometown, He would have been there for me. Within each timeline would be His provision and consequences I'd have to live out - with limitless timelines because He is all light, all paths to the future. Whatever path I chose for my life, He would be found in each one.
What if the Lord withholds from Himself knowing a person's choices?
Yes, the Father knows all, and some knowledge He retains within Himself. We are told in Deuteronomy 29:29: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children that we may do all the words of the Law." Let's look at some difficult passages people have contemplated for centuries.
One such passage is Genesis 18 when Christ and 2 angels appear in human form to Abraham. The angels go on to Sodom to rescue Lot and his family, while the Lord stays behind to tell Abraham what was happening. That is the passage where Abraham asks the Lord to spare the cities if He could find 50 righteous, then 40, then 30, then 20, then 10 righteous. And each time the Lord said He would spare them if He could find even that few in number of righteous people.
Consider that for a moment. As it was, Sodom was on a timeline to be destroyed. But God would have spared the city had He found 10 righteous people in it, which would have put them into another timeline, another destiny. And for each person they would lived at least in this life, without ever knowing God had spared their lives.
But the Lord also said this in v21: "I will go down now and see if they have done according to the outcry which has come to me, and if not, I will know it."
I've examined that verse in every way in every Hebrew version I can find, and it is accurate by all accounts. The King James Version is spot on. If God knows everything, why did the Lord have to come down to see Sodom for Himself in order to know how bad it was? Also, why was Jonah later sent to Nineveh if the Lord knew they would repent and He was not going to destroy them? If God is Truth, then perhaps He didn't know how they would react to Jonah because He kept that from Himself so He could deal honestly and in real time with them?
If He knew Hezekiah would cry out to Him when he was told to set his house in order for he was about to die of his sickness, why did He change His mind within minutes after Hezekiah prayed? He told Isaiah He changed His mind and added 15 years to Hezekiah's life before Isaiah even left the palace. (II Kings 20:1-6; Isaiah 38:1-5)
Another situation was that at the Burning Bush the Lord told Moses to tell the people they would go to the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey - yet after 10x rejecting the Lord along the way - He judged them, telling them He would give them what they wanted, to die in the wilderness rather than face the giants in the Promised Land. (Numbers 14). Why go through all these things if He knew before what would happen?
Is it possible a person's future is not set, and is in fact totally determined by our free will - even if that means hell for some - and God has made provision for every possible decision we would ever make? He provided hell for those who reject Him. He provided heaven for those who want Him.
Is it possible He had seen all the timelines before He ever made this universe, because all timelines would be within His Light and Life - and made provision for all the possible timelines in our lives? Is it then possible He withholds from Himself the knowledge of what decisions we might make along the way, and sometimes our decisions slide us over into another destiny with a different outcome? Hezekiah was going to die of his illness, yet the Lord slid him into another timeline that gave him 15 more years.
Have you looked back on your life and thought something like: What if I had married ____ my life would have been so different? or, What if I had gone to _____ school I never would have met ______. ? or Why did I get into that car that night, it changed my life forever?
Do you know that whatever timeline, whatever destiny you decided for yourself, the Lord is still there for you? What if we make decisions and He adjusts according to the myriad of possible outcomes He saw before He ever made us? And Jesus died for all those millions of decisions we make and have made and will make that take us down the paths of life. Amazing.
What if because we are eternal beings, all those amazing things He saw a possibilities of your life, will come to pass in the ages to come? What if you will answer that call to ministry in the Millennial age, and discover other gifts and talents and desires in your heart, all of which are possible directions you could go in the ages to come? What if He made provision for every single possible decision you would ever make, but withholds from Himself some things so that He can honestly act and react to your decisions and decision making process?
Interesting to think about, yes?
Romans 8:29 says for those He knew before He prepared salvation. That doesn't infringe on anyone's free will, and it provides salvation as a possibility for everyone - which is why Paul said He wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth - even though He knows only some will receive salvation.
But because of all those possible outcomes, He provided salvation for all. I'm putting out a possibility theologians have talked about for centuries to find a way to explain difficult passages. My point in my Weekly Thoughts is in part to provoke thought, so that we might give an answer for our faith to those who ask those difficult questions.
I do believe this however: God the Father sees all the possible outcomes, all the universes, and equally occupies them all. Israel worshipped a Golden Calf, and He wanted to destroy them for it. That was real emotion He showed. Real anger and hurt. But Moses interceded and got Him to change His mind. Sodom was marked for destruction, but the future could be changed by the Lord if at Abraham's request, He had found but 10 righteous. Nineveh was marked for destruction, but when they repented a new future was opened to them. Hezekiah was set to die of his illness, but his deep intercession moved the Lord and a new timeline for his life appeared.
Have we not had similar experiences? What of the person who says as they know they are headed to hell and an early grave: "Lord, if you get me out of this I will serve you!", and He rescues them and sets them on a different destiny. Weren't we headed for hell until we changed our destiny by giving our hearts to Jesus? Provision is made for either decision - heaven or hell - but some He foreknew and determined to provide salvation.
The Father provided for each outcome. Why did He make everyone if He knew some would reject Him? Maybe because each person's destiny is totally up to them to decide, and He has kept Himself from knowing what path we would choose until the time we make it. Maybe He who knows all, stepped back from knowing everything like that parent of a teenager on a Friday night with the family car, that He might protect free will and act and react honestly to our decisions.
Either way we know He provides for several possible futures in our lives based on our free will. Our free will determines which time line, which path within His light we choose. So yes, for those He foreknew He did predetermine they would be conformed to the image of His Son. But that does not infringe on the free will of anyone, and according to their free will, any number of paths in life and eternity are possible. So He provided heaven for those who want Him, and hell for those who don't want Him. That's the only fair thing to do. If you step in front of that bus, you will get hit. It's not predestination at work, its your free will at work. The rest...well there are those secret things that belong to Him...
Interesting topic - but that should get you thinking for quite a while! New subject next week, until then,
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