G3. Predestination Part 3: Predestination Helps Us Understand Who God Is

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Overview:

God doesn’t rule one day at a time, but rules over all of time at all times. … God is like us in that he wants to be known for his accomplishments. … God’s name and his power will be declared throughout all the earth. … God has a plan in which evil must fully reveal itself, and God’s people must stand against evil until it is destroyed.

Predestination explains God’s eternal rulership

Predestination brings before our minds a characteristic of God which is difficult to put into a single word. There are many characteristics of God which we are able to put into a single word, as when we say that God is Creator, God is love, God is omnipotent, and so forth.

But think about the name God gave to himself when he spoke with Moses at Mt. Sinai: He said his name was “I AM.” We would explain this normally as meaning that God is eternal — God exists now, God always has existed, and God always will exist. But it might be more precise to say that God exists outside earthly time. Remember that the kind of time we record on our clocks and watches is a part of creation. The time we are aware of every day began when God created the heavens and the earth; therefore the God who created the heavens and the earth — and the time they run on — must exist outside that time.

So what does this have to do with predestination? If an earthly king were to claim to rule over his kingdom “forever,” the proof would be that when he finished ruling today, he would continue to rule tomorrow; and after he finished ruling tomorrow, he would continue ruling the next day; and so on forever. His “eternal” rulership would be conditional each day upon whether he finished ruling over the previous day. But predestination says that God already rules over today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. God’s rulership over today is not conditional upon his ruling yesterday, and his rulership over tomorrow is not conditional upon his ruling over all things today. God’s complete rulership over every day in history has been fixed and established since the beginning of time. You could say that right now God is ruling over this moment, but he is also ruling over May 22, 2087, and January 24, 5036, and so forth. That is the extra insight that predestination gives us.

Predestination helps explain how God wants to be known

Imagine that a newspaper wrote an article about you, and the entire article was a list of your personal characteristics. Suppose it gave your height, your weight, you blood type, the kind of food you eat, the kind of music you like, and the names of your favorite movies. But suppose also that when you were a young student you had won first prize in a national debating contest, and the article said nothing about that! You would be understandably upset. You wouldn’t want to be known simply by a list of personal characteristics; you would want to be known for your accomplishments, for what you had done with your abilities.

Well, God is the same way. God doesn’t want to be known for those one-word characteristics we mentioned earlier — omnipotence, omniscience, etc. God wants to be known for his accomplishments, for what he has done. And predestination assures us of God’s complete and final triumph over his enemies — his victory over all evil, and his establishment of his righteous kingdom in a new heaven and a new earth. God’s accomplishments include what he has promised to do at the end of earthly time. Predestination says his plan has been complete since the beginning of time; it is rock solid. Predestination says we can be absolutely¬† sure of God’s final victory — it is already determined.

An imaginary king who plays golf

Let me give an illustration to try to show what God is doing in history. Imagine a king who exercises autocratic power over his kingdom, and who has an army of powerful bodyguards available to perform his every wish. There arises a man in the realm who constantly berates the king publicly; and this man also begins to attract a following of other people who berate the king. Now, the detractor knows that the king is proud of his golf game, so he tries to goad the king by making snide remarks about the king’s ability in the sport of golf. This man stands in the public square and proclaims, “Anyone could beat this king at golf, he’s so bad. He just shanks and slices the ball all day long!” The king eventually gets annoyed at hearing this man insult him day after day, and he realizes that the man’s speeches are alienating some citizens against the king. Since the king has his own private army, he could send a team of assassins to quietly knock the loudmouth off and throw him in the river; but the king decides on a different tactic. He will challenge the loudmouth to a game of golf, and he will invite everyone in the realm to watch. Those who support the king will come to show their support for the king, and those who support the loudmouth will come to show their support for the loudmouth.

It happens that the king is actually an expert at golf, and as they play hole after hole, he continually shows up his detractor. More importantly, everyone in the realm now sees how skillful the king is, and they also see the detractor put to shame. The end result is that by not immediately knocking off his enemy, the king actually gains status in his kingdom. The king also is able to have it demonstrated publicly who his true friends are, and who his enemies are; and the enemies are silenced. (I leave it to your imagination what actions the king’s army of bodyguards might take!)

The moral is …

The moral is that God has a predestined plan by which his enemies (Satan and all who follow him) will be forced to show their true colors, and by which God will have the ultimate victory over those enemies. It is important that we call this a predestined plan, and not just a plan plan, because with God there are no what-if’s or maybe’s!

It is interesting to note that a predetermined final judgment is known to Satan and his demons. When Jesus approached the man possessed by a legion of demons, the demons cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” [Matthew 8:29] The demons (who had formerly been angels in heaven before their rebellion) knew there was a specific appointed time for their punishment.

And a verse in Revelation tells us Satan knows his time of punishment has been fixed. In this verse Jesus says, “Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” [Revelation 12:12] Satan knows that the time of his punishment is coming soon, and that time has been fixed and established by God.

Predestination and ol’ man Pharaoh

In the Bible, Pharaoh king of Egypt plays the same role as that insulting enemy in my story of the king who played golf. You will recall that in the Bible story, Pharaoh made slaves out of the Hebrews, who were God’s own people. This was a situation that came about not because God was negligent of his people, but because God wanted an opportunity to show his power and authority to the Egyptians, and to the whole world as well. We know it was planned because of the prophecy God gave to Abraham hundreds of years earlier — the prophecy we quoted earlier, in which God said, “Know of a surety that your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be slaves there, and they will be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgment on the nation which they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” [Genesis 15:13-14] In other words, this situation was predestined. It was not just predicted; it was predestined, in order to serve God’s purpose. And what was God’s purpose?

God’s purpose was (and is) to show his power, and to have his name declared in all the earth

God sent Moses to appear before Pharaoh multiple times, each time demanding that Pharaoh allow God’s people to leave Egypt. But Pharaoh resisted each time, saying that he did not know who this God was, and therefore he would not obey this God of Moses. And every time Pharaoh resisted, God sent a different plague upon the people of Egypt. There were plagues of frogs, flies, locusts, and so forth, but Pharaoh continued to resist.

When God eventually sent Moses to Pharaoh with the threat of sending a devastating hail storm on the land of Egypt, God told Moses to give this message to Pharaoh: “For by now I could have put forth my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth; but for this purpose have I let you live, to show you my power, so that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” [Exodus 9:15-16]

God was saying that yes indeed, he could in a moment wipe out Pharaoh and Pharaoh’s army, but that would not show forth God’s purpose. God’s purpose was to show his power, and to have his name declared throughout all the earth. And notice this, too: God did not just show forth his power, but he also showed his favoritism towards one people over another. Both those things were part of God’s predestined plan.

Evil must fully reveal itself

This pattern will continue until the very end of the world. It is not a pattern which God predicts will happen, but a pattern which must happen — it is predetermined by God. God told the prophet Daniel that in the end times a king would arise who would speak against God and exalt himself against God. According to Daniel’s prophecy, this “king shall do according to his will; he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is determined shall be done.” [Daniel 11:36] Notice those last words: “what is determined shall be done.” This is predetermined by God. The evil one’s complete hatred of God and opposition to God must be fully revealed. And think again of what God told Abraham: “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” God has determined that the iniquity of the Amorites should be fully known and make itself fully manifest in the eyes of all.

Predestination dictates that at a certain future time, evil must be fully revealed to be what it is. And predestination dictates that at that same time, God’s complete victory over evil will also be revealed.