Predestination or Free Will

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the Lord had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.

Exodus 35:29 (KJV)

Willing – My premise is this. If God knows and has seen every choice we will ever make, then we have no choice, no free will. If I am presented with a choice of A or B, and God has already seen that I will choose B, then I cannot possibly choose A, otherwise, I make God a liar.

Boethius, a 6th century philosopher, makes this exact claim.

For if God foresees all and cannot in any way be mistaken, then that must necessarily happen which in his providence he foresees will be. And therefore if he foreknows from all eternity not only the deeds of men but even their plans and desires, there will be no free will; for it will be impossible for there to be any deed at all or any desire whatever except that which divine providence, which cannot be mistaken, perceives beforehand. For if they can be turned aside into a different way from that foreseen, then there will no longer be firm foreknowledge of the future, but rather uncertain opinion, which I judge impious to believe of God.

Boethius, Consolation, Book V, Part III, P. 395

In agreement with this premise, someone who believes in predestination shouldn’t have any problem saying that God has seen all our desires and choices, and therefore everything is predestined to happen according to how God has seen it happen.

So now let’s turn to Exodus 35. Moses invites the people to bring a “willing” or “free will” offering to the LORD… of a “willing” or “free willed” heart.

The Hebrew word from Exodus 35 is ( נָדַב ) or nadab. It’s the root of the freewill offering we read about in Leviticus 22. So now let’s think about this. How can there possibly be a free will offering if it’s all predestined? In the case of predestination, we have no free will according to the premise above. So the free will offering must also be predestined because there is no free will.

The root is defined in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament as “an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service.” If it’s uncompelled, then there is no force, or spirit, or predestined foresight behind the desire.

The word in the Aramaic is used in Ezra 7:13, 15, 16. It’s the Hebrew equivalent and bears the same definition.

So how do we know this Hebrew word is not compelled by an outward force? Because this is the same word used for God Himself in Psalm 68:9 where God sends rain by His own nadab (free will). Surely God was not predestined to send this rain. He was not pushed into that choice by an outward force. He chose to do it of His own free will. The application of this word toward God is the same way we must look at its application toward us.

In fact, free will is the definition of “made in the image of God.” Our free will to make decisions and choose right or wrong is what it means to be created in the image of God. Regarding this, the Berakhot says, “Man has free will to serve God or not […]” and Rabbi Meir Simcha ha-Kohen states, “The image of God refers to man’s ability to choose freely without his nature coercing him, to act out of free will and intellect […]”

So the logical solution must be that free will exists, which naturally results an unknown future – not even known to God. But this seems unreasonable, so without limiting God, another way to say this is that God knows everything that can possibly be known. Ah, but there is the gift of prophecy, right? Prophecy signifies events of the future. Or what about the book of Revelation? Let’s remove ourselves from the Greek pattern of thought. God can dictate that certain events will happen. As the ultimate contingency planner, He can bring about these events. He can prepare contingencies in such a way that the outcome will happen. But the choices that we make to get there are our own free will.

It’s important to understand the Jewish worldview during the 1st to 2nd centuries over the church fathers or reformists who were raised on antisemitism, Hellenism, and Greek philosophy.

A great book to read regarding this is God, Time and the Limits of Omniscience by Skip Moen.

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