Show Me Your Glory, part 6: And Now…
“And Moses said to Yahweh, ‘See, you said to me, ‘lead this people up.’ But you did not reveal to me who you were going to send with me. And you said, ‘I have known you with a name and you have found favor in my eyes.’ And now, if I have found favor in your eyes, reveal to me your ways so that I may know you and so that I may find favor in your eyes. And understand that your people are this nation.’”
And now, in the spirit of another covenant mediator (Abraham, see Genesis 18:22-33), Moses begins to argue, based on God’s words, seeking to ensure God’s presence with the people. We must ask the question at this point, was Moses successful in changing God’s mind? Some would argue, based upon the text, that Moses did change the mind of God. Yet, this is something we must flatly reject. God is eternal and the history of creation was written long before God began speaking creation into existence.
So how should we explain what it is that we see? God’s interactions with his people involve the people in the process of history. In other words, God’s foreordination does not necessitate either fatalism or determinism. We still act and perceive ourselves to be choosing freely, even though our actions are brought about according to God’s perfect plan. God conforms our will to his own, either through molding and sanctifying our hearts or through hardening. The fact that we perceive ourselves to be acting freely leaves us accountable, though God has still ordained all things. It is God’s plan that Moses interact with him in this way, and this kind of testing of Moses’ faith (this is, indeed, a bold action on Moses’ behalf), will better equip him to lead the rebellious people of Israel through the wilderness. In addition, it testifies once again to the great grace of God, that he would accompany a people who had rejected him by their sinful actions.
Beloved, there is another difficulty that comes out when we begin to reject God’s absolute sovereignty over history and see God as interacting with us through history, but not really having foreordained the path the world takes. When you do this, you essentially place your own will as being sovereign over that of God’s. This is the end result of John Wesley’s position (a form of what is called Arminianism), where he believes that the human will is autonomous when it comes to salvation—Wesley says that it is about “my choice” not God’s election. This essentially puts you in the shoes of God, and beloved, that is not a place I want to be.
I find that there is great comfort in trusting in the absolute sovereignty of God. Does this mean I think of myself as a robot or a marionette under God’s control? Certainly Not! I am acting and choosing of my own liberty and am thus responsible for my actions. Yet I thank God that he has ordered my way and the way of the world, for I know that he has promised blessing to those who love him and are called by his purpose (Romans 8:28).