Are the past, present, and future already written in stone?

(Today's post by Keith Senator)

1 Samuel 10:17-11:15

In Samuel 10 we see how the Israelites finally get what they think they want, a king. God has always been there for them, he has always led, has always saved them from oppression and gave them victory in battle. Why now do they want a king?

17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.”

How is it that a group of people can actually persuade God to do something He really doesn't want to do? It is clear God does not think it is a good idea. But still He grants them the desire. I see this as many things in civilization.

For example, we wanted the life support system? God says, you know I have always been in control of this and have done pretty good job. But it seems you want to be involved in this. Well, as long as you take responsibility for it and know that each one of these gifts will bring about more and more gray areas in ethics, you can have it. So we invent life support. Now many wish we had never done this. Does it afford some benefits? Sure it does. Sometimes a person can be saved and it gives doctors time to figure things out where before the time constraints would limit much from being done at all.

The same could be seen with airplanes, weapons, the iron/bronze age, etc. Each brings with it a shift. This may seem like a pretty loose interpretation, I would agree. But the fact is that God does interface with us. He is interested in an exchange, not just a top down leadership model.

Saul Rescues the City of Jabesh

11 Nahash[a] the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you.”

2 But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.” Saul heard this, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. He cut the oxen into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one. He then tells the people that by the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued. When the messengers went and reported this to the men of Jabesh, they were elated. 10 They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.” The Lord gives Saul victory. It is clear that God can be in control while allowing others to be in control.

Saul Confirmed as King

12 The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.”

13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel.”

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

So the people ended up getting what they wanted, a king. Let's see how the story unfolds.

Have you ever asked God for something? I call it making a deal. Little if/then statements, you know like we actually have the ability to alter the divine plan. But I think God does it all the time. I think He is more a part of the fabric of our lives than we could ever imagine. We have this illusion of control.

The entire story makes me really stop and think of the character of God. Many people really need for God to have made all of the decisions for all times at creation and now we are just like windup toys and are just living out the plan. Other think our free will is so hugely important that God wants to respect us, giving us control over our own destinies. But with this it is really hard to know how God already knows how it ends.

It is clear to me that truth lies somewhere in between and it is a great mystery that somehow He really does know how it ends. He is so amazing, a God who enables us to petition Him, to alter the course of all that is, while somehow maintaining the balance, somehow keeping everything lining up completely and totally to all of the prophecy in the Bible. We serve an amazing God, regardless of who is President of the USA. Regardless of the policies that get put in place, God is still over it all…and always will be.

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  • Jeff Morton

    Well that was a great interpretation of something I have been unable to put to words….. Really like the picture that accompanied it. Nothing is written in stone….. Written in stones! A picture is worth a thousand words!

  • Brad Bacon

    Good post Keith. I once heard this dilemma described this way: are you free to choose or does God determine everything? Imagine you are standing on the outside of a wall. There is a door over which it reads “you may freely enter.” When you walk through the door you find salvation inside. You turn to look back to look at the doorway, and above it reads “I always knew you would come.” Nice illustration of the free will God gives while always truly knowing and being in control.

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