“And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” Jer. 32:35.
Dear Elder Adams and Brother in Christ I hope:
I would like to have your views on the above quoted scripture with reference to the doctrine of the predestination of all things both good and evil. I hope that I believe in a God of all wisdom and power, the one who created all things and created them for Himself after the counsel of His own will, the one who rules in the armies of Heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, and the one who is the disposer of all things to His won glory and honor; but when I think about God having predestinated from all eternity that man should commit all the evil and wicked deeds which he has and does commit, then this scripture is presented to my mind, and I have not yet been able to reconcile it with the doctrine of the predestination of all events.
Now I am not seeking any debate or controversy over or about this question, but knowing my weakness as I do sincerely desire all the enlightenment that the God of all wisdom may be pleased to grant to me even though it comes through some of his servants as the case with Cornelius and Apostle Peter.
L. N. Benton, Marion, N. C.
Our inquirer, Elder Benton, says “When I think about God having predestinated from all eternity that man should commit all the evil and wicked deeds which he has and does commit, then this scripture is presented to my mind, and I have not yet been able to reconcile it with the doctrine of the predestination of all things.”
If I should say the children of Israel and the children of Judah committed an abomination by causing their sons and daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech, (it being such a notorious crime and such a display of wickedness:) that God never thought about it and was that they should commit this evil deed, I doubt if our inquirer would accept my statement as being the truth.
I asked a man (several years ago) if he could explain to me the meaning of the 6th chapter of Genesis and the 6th and 7th verses, which read as follows: “And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” The meaning or interpretation of this scripture seemed to be clear to him, and he proceeded to explain as follows: “When God made man, he did so much worse than He (God) thought he would do, that He was so disappointed in him, and He regretted He ever made him, so He destroyed him from the face of the earth.” I could not accept his version of this scripture as being true then, neither can I accept it now. To say that God was disappointed in men; would be contradictory to the testimony of John. “But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” John 2:24-25. David said, “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.” Psalms 139:4. The Lord said to Jeremiah “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou comest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jer. 1:5.
We cannot entertain the thought that anything could transpire or take place that was not foreknown by God. Job said, “Hell is naked before Him, and destruction, hath no covering. He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in His thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them. He holdeth back the face of His throne, and spreadeth His cloud upon it. He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night came to an end. The pillars of Heaven tremble and are astonished at His reproof. He divideth the sea with His power, and by His understanding He smiteth through the proud. By His Spirit He hath garnished the Heavens; His hand hath formed the croaked serpent. Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of Him? but the thunder of His power who can understand?” Job 26:6 to 14.
The greatest inspired men could only give a slight description of the greatness of God, Isaiah said, “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out Heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor hath taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and shewed to Him the way of understanding? Behold the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beast thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity.” Isaiah 40:12 to 17.
The Apostle Paul, one of, if not the most blessed of the New Testament writers, could only hint at the greatness of God. He said, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto Him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things to whom be glory forever.” Rom. 11:33 to 36.
With the above unequivocal testimony, given by the inspired prophets and apostles, we cannot entertain the thought that anything has or ever will take place, which is beyond the thought or control of God. The Lord spoke by the mouth of His prophet and said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways saith the Lord. For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9.
The advent of Jesus into the world, born of the virgin Mary, the purpose of His coming being to save His people from their sins; His suffering, His death, His resurrection and ascension were kept a secret from His chosen apostles until this was revealed to them by the Holy Ghost. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of His law.” Deut. 29:29. It seemed good to the Lord to hide His secret until the appointed time to reveal it unto the chosen vessels of His mercy. Jesus said, “I thank thee O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes, Matt. 11:25.
God kept a secret from Abraham until the appointed time to reveal it. God told Abraham to take his only son Isaac, and offer him for a burnt offering. Abraham made all the necessary preparation to obey His words, yet when he stretched forth his hand to make the fatal stroke “The Angel of the Lord called unto him out of Heaven Abraham, Abraham, and He said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad.” See Gen. 22:10-11. It was not in the mind of God that Abraham should slay his son. God had prearranged that the ram, and not Isaac, should be the burnt offering. Yet from natural observation, it appears that God changed His mind, but this cannot be true, Job said, “But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? And what His soul desireth, even that He doeth.” Job 23:13. God is immutable, He is unchangeable. He spoke by the prophet Malachi, “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6. One commentator said, “The Lord, though He never changes His will, nor repents of, or revokes His decrees, or alters His purpose; yet He sometimes wills a change and makes an alteration in the dispensation of His providence, according to His unchangeable will. This was true of God’s words concerning Hezekiah, when He said that Hezekiah should die, and not live. Hezekiah was sick unto death; the Lord sent His prophet Isaiah, to say unto him, ‘Set thine house in order for thou shalt die and not live.’ ” Hezekiah prayed unto the Lord. “He wept sore.” Then the Lord heard his prayer. “Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, thus saith the Lord, the God of David, thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold I will add unto thy days fifteen years.” Isaiah 38:4-5. Did the Lord change His mind by saying to Hezekiah that the would not die, and then added fifteen years to his days? Most assuredly He did not. (Who God can put a True prayer, is indicted into the soul by God.) He answers that which is according to His will. Paul said, “He that searcheth the heart, knoweth the mind of the Spirit, and He (Jesus) maketh intercession for us according to the will of God.” In the book of Daniel we find recorded, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, what doest thou?” Dan. 4:35.
An understanding of what is meant by some scriptures is determined by a knowledge of other scriptures. For instance, Jesus said to the foolish virgins, “I know you not.” Matt. 25:12. Can it be said that Jesus did not know them? He did know them, but not in the sense in which He knew the wise virgins who took oil in their vessels. For He did not know them in the pardon and forgiveness of their sins. In the 3rd chapter of Amos, the Lord spoke by the mouth of His prophet to Israel , and said, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” Amos 3:2. Could we say that the Lord did not know any people but Israel? He knows all people that have been or ever will be born into the world, for He declared the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying my counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure. They are all His by creation. But they are not all His people by regeneration. He knew Israel is a special sense. They are His chosen, redeemed family, which was given to Him by the Father before the world began. When Jesus lifted up His eyes to Heaven, speaking to the Father, He said, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” John 17:6.
Now our text reads: “And they built the high places of Baal which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” To me, it appears that the key to this verse is in the expression, “Which I commanded them not.” By this He means it was not written in His law that they should do it. It was not in His mind to write it in His law. Had it been in His mind to write it into His law, would He not have ordered it? “Neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” God did not order it in the law which He gave to Moses. It was not in His mind to write in His law that the children of Israel and the children of Judah should sacrifice their sons and daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech. He (God) did not command them to do it. “Which I commanded them not.” That is, He did not command them through the law to do this thing, for the law that was given to Moses by God for the children of Israel was just and Holy. It was good, so good in fact, that sinful man could not keep it. It was written in His law that they should sacrifice beasts and birds, but not their sons and daughters. To accept the literal meaning of the clause, “Neither came it into my mind,” is to deny the doctrine of foreknowledge and predestination. He says: “Remember the former things of old: for l am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me.”
It would be far from the truth to say that God tempted the children of Israel and the children of Judah to commit this abomination, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech. James said, “Let no man say when he is tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man; But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.” James 1:13-14. This is the work of Satan which works in man to do evil; yet this is no disappointment to God. An able writer put it this way: “God does not work in men to do evil. Satan works in them, yet God uses these things according to His predestination, to His own glory, displays a Holy sovereignty beyond the power of mortal man to comprehend.” Man in himself is wretchedly vile; his will is prompted by evil intent. Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
David said, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” Psalms 76:10. This was true of Joseph’s brethren. The Lord restrained them from taking his life, as they had purposed to do. They did put him into a pit and they later took him out and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. Joseph said to his brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Gen. 50:20. It is good when the Lord reconciles us to feel the power of His sacred word, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10.
Elder T. F. Adams