God's Will and Plan: Part 2
Feb 22, 2007
When God spoke the Ten Commandments to Israel, they did not have ears to hear or eyes to see, and so they ran away in fear rather than draw near to God in faith. The story is told in Exodus 20:18-21. It was obviously the will of God for the people to draw near to God, according to Moses' words in verse 20,
"And Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin'."
Did you catch that? Moses tells them not to be afraid, and then says that God came "in order that the fear of Him may remain with you." There are obviously two kinds of fear here, one good and one not so good. Good fear is better translated as awesome respect.
But what is more remarkable is what Moses said nearly 40 years later, just before Israel was to enter the Promised Land under Joshua. In Deut. 29 God made a second covenant with Israel and illustrated it with the Book of Deuteronomy, which means "The Second Law." Verse 1 says,
"These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb."
In one sense, this second covenant prefigured the New Covenant, which is the second covenant relative to the Old Covenant. But I also understand a deeper significance of this Deuteronomy Covenant. It is the double witness of the Exodus Covenant, and together they established the Old Covenant.
I see this as having a direct parallel to the New Covenant, where Christ died on the Cross to establish the New Covenant at the beginning of the 40 Jubilees of the Church in the wilderness. We are now at the end of the 40 Jubilees, and God is giving us a double witness of the New Covenant to establish it by the law of two witnesses. The first witness was accomplished at the fulfillment of Passover and Pentecost; the second is accomplished at the fulfillment of Tabernacles.
In connection with this second witness of the covenant, Moses says in Deut. 29:4,
"Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear."
This explains the underlying reason why the Israelites were unable to draw near to God at the time of the first covenant in Exodus 20. Their hearts were hardened in the same manner as Pharaoh's heart was hardened while they were still in Egypt. Their wills may have been "free" to draw near to God and to hear the rest of the law in Exodus 20, but without hearts to know, eyes to see, and ears to hear, there is no way that they would actually do so.
This shows us that men will not fulfill the will of God until God's appointed time. Yes, they will indeed do His will, but NOT UNTIL time has passed in which God's purposes are fulfilled. In this case, God's plan (boulema) was for Israel to spend 40 years in the wilderness, even though it was His will (thelema) that they enter the Promised Land much earlier.
If God had given Israel ears to hear at the time of that first Pentecost when He gave them the Ten Commandments, it would have meant that Pentecost was sufficient for our perfection. The people would have heard His voice, and since faith comes by hearing, they would have had the faith to enter the Promised Land in their first opportunity. But this would have been too soon.
The fact is, the Canaanites' cup of iniquity was not yet full (Gen. 15:16). It was not yet time to bring judgment upon Canaan.
The judgment upon the Canaanites was actually set a long time earlier when Noah laid a curse upon Canaan in Gen. 9:25-27,
" (25) So he said, 'Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.' (26)He also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. (27) May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant'."
In my book, Secrets of Time, I showed how this curse was laid on Canaan in the year 1660 from Adam, just a few years after the flood in 1656. Canaan's descendants thus came under judgment for that curse 2 x 414 years later in the year 2488, the year that Joshua led Israel into Canaan.
But if Israel had had the faith to enter Canaan 38 years earlier when the 12 spies gave their report, they would have brought judgment upon Canaan 38 years too soon. The fact is, Canaan's grace period was not yet complete. God certainly knew this and took it into account from the beginning. So this was one reason why God did not give Israel eyes to see and ears to hear the voice of God at Horeb in Exodus 20. God's actions ensured that Israel would NOT have the faith to bring judgment upon Canaan before their time.
This is a very good illustration of the difference between God's boulema-plan and His thelema-will. It was God's will that Israel enter Canaan in Numbers 13 and 14, but it was not God's plan that they do so.
This is deep stuff. I do not pretend that it is easy to understand the mind of God or His motives. To understand the mind of God, we would have to have all of His knowledge at our disposal. No one has this at the present time. We only have glimpses of it as He gives revelation.
In the 16th century, John Calvin argued for the absolute sovereignty of God. Arminius argued his case for free will. But both of them thought that God's judgments included torture ("hell"). This made Calvin's argument look like God was unjust, for by his view, God predestined only a few to have eyes to see and ears to hear--but consigned the vast majority of humanity to the torture pit. God's sovereignty, then, came at the expense of His justice and goodness.
Arminius rejected the sovereignty of God in favor of man's total free will. If anyone was going to hell, he figured, it would have to be his own responsibility, for a good God would not do such a thing. Thus, Arminius attempted to restore the justice and goodness of God, but only at the expense of His sovereignty.
Thus, the Calvinists and Arminians accused each other of doing damage to the character of God, but each in their own way. They both had a point, but the fatal error that they held in common was their view that the wages of sin is eternal torture.
Each side rejected the obvious solution to the problem, which is found in Romans 5. It is the Restoration of All Things. If men had understood Romans 5, they would not have stumbled over Romans 9.
Yes, it would be unjust for a sovereign God to judge men for something that He Himself caused. But God takes responsibility for His own actions, even as He makes men responsible for their actions. And since God's sovereignty always trumps man's authority, God is ultimately responsible for all things that happen in the world. One cannot place all the blame on mankind as if man had total freedom of action; nor can one simply blame the devil, whom God created.
While it is certainly true that God will judge both the devil and mankind according to their level of authority, God holds Himself accountable for His level of responsibility. Ultimately, this is the legal reason why Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world (1 John 2:2). God was taking the ultimate responsibility for His own boulema-plan.
It is all spelled out in the law, explained by the prophets, and made clear by the apostles. The laws of liability teach us these things, as I explained in the final chapter of my book, Creation's Jubilee. Understanding the Restoration of All Things is the key to understanding how a sovereign God can also be just.
This is the final part of a series titled "God's Will and Plan." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones