There was a question someone asked on a blog about predestination vs. free choice. I don’t think I have all the answers, but I thought I’d share the way I think of it. First, let me preface with saying that this is my opinion. You may not agree and that’s okay. Also, I think that my/our idea of what it means for God to be omniscient is too small (I used to think he just knows one branch and that’s all there was). I think of my life like a really HUGE tree (we each have one, but if you try to imagine knowing all of them it’ll make your head hurt). Each choice represents a place where the current branch splits and I can choose another branch. My life starts at the base of the tree and as I age I move closer and closer to the outside of the tree. G-d sees the entire tree. He knows every branch the tree makes, so no matter what choice or branch I choose, He’s been there and has seen every contingency/choice I could make from that point, too. And, since He made the tree, He can make new branches grow to suit His purpose. Are you still following me? It’s not, in my view, that I only have one path from the bottom of the tree to the edge, but many, and no matter what I choose, God already knows all the options from that point and knows how to make things work for Him purposes. So, yes, I have a choice which branch to take, but no matter what branch I take, G-d already know all my options from that point out. He sees every option/choice for every situation I encounter. As I make decisions, the ones I don’t take fall away. It’s kind of complicated to try and explain. I can see it in my head. It’s predestination and choice all mixed up in one, sort of. But explaining it is like explaining eternity (I’ve tried to do that before… to explain the vision I had of it, but it’s pretty darn hard to put into words). What about pharoah or Judas? I don’t know. Obviously, someone had to be the “bad guy.” It could be that God knew their hearts and because they had chosen to become greedy or bitter their choices narrowed to a more predictable point. I believe that if Judas, for example, had made a different choice – chosen to do the right thing – then someone else would have been the betrayer because God’s purposes needed to be fulfilled. Sadly for Judas he made his choice and the rest is history. Does that mean God can’t direct people or harden their hearts or whatever? Nope. He’s God. Maybe He directs some lives more than others. Maybe I’m off my rocker a mile and a half in my view. Ultimately, how I think of God’s omniscience or predestination or free choice is pretty darn irrelevant. It is what it is, even if I don’t understand it. That’s God’s job. I just live and seek and obey. Maybe it’s me, but that’s enough. I don’t have to know it all. Knowing isn’t going to change anything. Does your head hurt? Mine sometimes feels like it’ll explode. I get these images in my head, or impressions, and it’s hard to put them into words (like this one or like eternity). Why must they always be the concepts that are so big? But that’s okay. It’s still an interesting thought. Blessings!
I was reading a note on Skip’s website regarding some of the crazy things that have happened lately – mainly that everything has broken this month (and really, it has) and has been incredibly expensive to fix (and it has to get fixed). It’s things like that that pull at my heart and make me want to do something or give something. And it’s so frustrating because right now we have nothing to give, no comfort other than words that I hope are encouraging. I realize that God knows what He’s doing. He is HOLY. He is sovereign. He reigns over all those details. And they’re important to Him because He knows they’re important to us. But that doesn’t make it any easier when we’re in the middle of it all. I hope that some day my family has enough financial freedom that we can be an extension of the hand of God and pour back a little of the blessing that He’s given us.
Due to wakeful children I’m directing you to a post by Dr. Skip Moen. It’s about Jesus’ statement that His kingdom is not [out] of this world. Our translation vs. the Greek. It’s pretty huge. And it totally changes the meaning of what Jesus said. Check it out.
Numbers 4:6 Then they shall put on it a covering of badger skins, and spread over [that] a cloth entirely of blue; and they shall insert its poles. A cloth of blue. It’s not really blue. It’s tĕkeleth. The definition is a violet stuff, violet thread or fabric. The other definition is blue, but it’s a spectrum from “brilliant red through deep purple.” Looking further at Gesenius’ Lexicon, he remarks that it’s a type of muscle whose blue shell is ground up to make the dye for cerulean purple cloth. The author of a website  says this about the cloth: Craftsmen were supernaturally filled with the requisite wisdom and were commanded to weave this dyed, blue linen or wool fabric into specific designs for various details of the tabernacle. Some of these included the covering for the Table of the Presence, veils and curtains, coverings over hides of sea cows, clothing of the priests and the fringe of the prayer shawl. In Exodus, you can read about the craftsmen working furiously to create with consummate skill, embroideries in this rare and unusual blue. Somehow, despite being in the desert, they not only had access to this precious color, but also the skill to weave it into the precise patterns, as commanded by God. (Ex 29-39) God used color, in this case that elusive blue, to impart one more subtle truth, one that fills me with awe at its precision in usage. The exact color of the fringe of the prayer shawl remains a mystery, but is often described by some Rabbis as resembling the blue of the sea, reflecting the sky, and resembling God’s seat of glory. That’s pretty interesting… He also adds that this color is seen in the book of Esther, as well as extensively throughout the instructions regarding the tabernacle and, later, the Temple. If this author is correct, it’s pretty amazing that these wandering Israelites had this dye (which was apparently pretty rare and quite expensive) and knew how to work with it (which seems to have been quite an art form in and of itself). Another mystery of God’s provision. If He required it to be used in His tabernacle, then He would provide the resources and the skill needed to do Him will. That’s pretty cool! According to another source  blue was symbolic of divine contemplation and divine beings (since it is like the air or the sky). In religious art it often represents truth, constancy and fidelity. The reference to truth comes from the idea that the sky is always blue when the clouds blow away, which suggests the unveiling of truth. Whatever the reason, God went into a lot of detail and chose colors appropriately suited to His magnificence! I think that’s kind of cool! Reference:  http://www.christian-artist-resource.com/prayer-shawl.html  “The Color Blue: Its Use as Metaphor and Symbol.” Vivian Jacobs and Wilhelmina Jacobs. American Speech, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Feb., 1958), pp. 29-46. (article consists of 18 pages) Published by: Duke University Press.Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/453461
Numbers 3:49 So Moses took the redemption money from those who were over and above those who were redeemed by the Levites. The Levites were chosen by God to take the place of the first born sons. So instead of the firstborn males being used as redemption, being given back to God (?), the Levites were to serve Him. When they figured this out numerically, there were 273 males who didn’t have a “redeeming” Levite to cover for Him, so God told Moses to redeem those firstborn males with money. This is what he did in the verse here. I don’t know if this tradition continued every time they did a census or if it was a one time for everyone kind of deal. I just think it’s interesting how God used every day things to help Israel understand concepts, and when they were obedient, He used gentle ways to remind them of His sovereignty. We are blessed because the One True God’s own Son took our place, redeeming us, in the same way that the Levites were took the place of the firstborn males of Israel. That’s pretty cool. We are SO blessed!
Numbers 2:9 “All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces with Judah, one hundred and eighty-six thousand four hundred–these shall break camp first. Once again I am reminded of how detailed God’s love for us and knowledge of us is. Here He gives instructions for how the people of Israel were to live and how they were to break camp. Can you imagine the chaos of about a million people (well over 600,000 fighting men… so add to that at least the same number of women, plus children, plus elderly, plus any servants…) all trying to pack and leave an area at the same time? That would be nuts! But God’s got a solution to make things orderly, safe, and simple. It’s a good reminder that God’s got instructions for how I should live my life (the Torah and His Word), and His plan has an order and purpose to it. He doesn’t ignore the details of my life. If He had a plan to make moving easier, I’m sure He has a plan for all those other little details in my life. Of course, I have to learn to hear Him as He instructs. That’s the tricky bit. But, even though I have weaknesses, that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t have a plan for everything. It’s kind of like the way that God knows every hair on my head (and at the rate I shed hair, that’s saying something). Nothing is too small for His notice. What a blessing that is!
Numbers 1: The Census I started reading Numbers with the vague notion that it would be SO much fun to read all the genealogies. But within minutes I noticed something interesting. God instructs Moses to take a census and to take with him the head/leader of each tribal family. And then He does something interesting… He names them. I know that seems stupid. But, He didn’t have to name them off. Moses could have called them out and then learned their names. But God knew their names. Out of the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Israelites, He knew the names of each of the tribes’ leaders. Granted, there are only 12 tribes, but I still think it’s pretty darn cool that He just rattles off the names of the leaders of each tribe. He knew His people. He knew everything about them. He knew who their fathers were, and in many cases, he also tells us who their grandfathers were! I think that’s awesome! The implication, obviously, is that in all the millions (billions?) of people on this earth, God knows my name, too. We say that all the time, and while it’s true, seeing God specifically name 12 men (and their lineage) out of the entire nation of Israel makes it hit home a little more. P.S. – it’s also pretty amazing that each person twenty years-old and under could recite their own ancestry.