The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise . . . for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. (2 Kefa/Peter 3:9)
God’s Sovereign Decreed and Commanded Wills
Part I – God’s Sovereign Decreed Will
I am indebted to Dr. John Piper for the inspiration to write this two-part teaching focusing on God’s Sovereign and Commanded Wills. First an explanation.
Scripture is very clear – There are two aspects of Yahweh’s sovereign will, His Sovereign Decreed Will and His Sovereign Commanded Will, each of which is supported richly through His Word. My plan is to explore each aspect of His Will and to explain, as much as I can, how each functions in our lives.
In Part I, God’s Sovereign Decreed Will, I have unpacked the meaning of His Decreed Will and how little we really understand about it. All things that happen in our universe, including our little planet, are under God’s complete control. The very beginning of Scripture, Genesis 1:1 begins the creation of the universe, something which was completely under the control of and decreed by Yahweh. The introduction of sin into the world, in the form of the serpent, was also under God’s control, although He does not sin. Let’s spend a moment on this issue of sin. Although God does not sin, He does allow one person’s sin to impact others, for a reason or purpose only He knows. For example, the sins committed by the members of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin, when they ‘tried’ and condemned Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, had a purpose. The execution of our Lord and Master on the crucifixion stake fit within God’s Sovereign Will, even though it was thoroughly sinful.
We witness God’s sovereign decreed will being exercised, throughout the TaNaKh, from creation to the building of the Second Temple, in Jerusalem. There was a purpose for Ya’akov’s family to be placed under slavery, for hundreds of years. Although more than a few modern theologians have expressed skepticism of the slavery experience, archeology has discovered convincing evidence. My assumption is the slavery was real and had a purpose. Israel was not the only aliens living in Egypt; in all likelihood, most of the workforce was composed of foreign nationals, forced labourers. So, why were the Israelites focused on by Pharaoh, for special treatment?
My theory is God had chosen Israel to be His people, His Chosen People. But, as they sojourned in Egypt, they drifted away from their worship of Yahweh and engaged in syncretism, the mixing of different forms of worship. As Yahweh knew this beforehand (Genesis 15), He knew that only hardship would bring these people together. There is nothing like persecution and oppression to unify people. This was God’s decreed will. Notice, Yahweh allowed a sinful practice, slavery, to accomplish His plan.
Many have challenged Yahweh with the complaint, “How could a loving God allow harm to fall on people?” God’s intention has always been and always will be to do good. This is a theme within Scripture, as we see in Matthew 6:31-33 – “So don’t be anxious, asking, ‘What will we eat?’ ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘How will we be clothed?’ For it is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well?” and in Isaiah 41:10 – Don’t be afraid, for I am with you; don’t be distressed, for I am your God.
I give you strength, I give you help, I support you with my victorious right hand.
However, often people confuse Yahweh’s decreed will with people’s behaviour. God has given us the freedom to choose; this freedom includes the right to choose evil and not good, to make poor choices and not wise choices. All human behaviour has a ripple effect and will impact others around. As I’ve mentioned before, the American Cancer Society has declared, through scientific research, 90 per cent of all cancers are caused by environmental factors – pollution, smoking, artificial substances. These are human caused. Why does God allow them to happen, when He could step-in and stop them? By doing that, He would violate His own ethic and that God will not do. Humanity, collectively, must assume the responsibility for our poor and sometimes evil choices. But, God does bring good from these, eventually. We have seen that. Would the State of Israel have been formed, without the Holocaust? Would salvation be offered to us without the crucifixion of Adonai Yeshua?
CONSIDER: If God allows someone else, through greed or malicious intent, to hurt me, what does He wish me to learn from this experience – forgiveness, love for those who wish ill for me?.
ACT: As Rav Sha’ul wrote to us, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua, there is a purpose for everything which occurs to us, even though we may not understand this purpose, at the time. This purpose will eventually reveal itself and you may be surprised.
PRAY: Abba Father, thank You for providing me with everything I need to live the life You wish me to lead; thank you for your provisions, even though some, at the time, do not seem helpful but harmful. I trust everything You allow will have a positive outcome, eventually. I need to be patient and wait for Your revelation, which will help me in understanding. In Your precious Name, I pray.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.