Wednesday, June 24, 2015

More Compatibilism in Scripture

Most of us remember the stories of David in the Bible. We also have some recollection of Solomon. But after that, the names of the kings of Israel become somewhat of a mishmash of randomized consonants and vowels.

Even knowing the name of Solomon, however, many Christians do not realize that in 1 Kings 11, Solomon has turned away from the LORD. Because of that, we often miss an important story that shows once again that Libertarian Free Will cannot adequately explain what we read in Scripture while compatibilism does. Let us read the following:
And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:9-13, ESV).
And to further declare that this will happen, we read later on in the same chapter that the prophet Ahijah speaks to Jeroboam, a servant (see verse 26) of Solomon:
Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes...’” (1 Kings 11:30-31, ESV).
So we have two passages indicating that this will happen. Sure enough, in the next chapter, we read:
And when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was none that followed the house of David but the tribe of Judah only. (1 Kings 12:20, ESV).
Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, ended up being king of only Judah (and the remnants of Benjamin) while the ten other tribes formed their own nation under Solomon's servant, Jeroboam. But how did these events come about? We can see the primary cause is because Rehoboam did not listen to the people:
And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents (1 Kings 12:16, ESV).
But even before that, we read about the ultimate cause:
"So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat" (1 Kings 12:15, ESV).
Did you catch that? Rehoboam's refusal to listen to the people "was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word." And if that wasn't confirmation enough, when Rehoboam decided to go to war against Jeroboam, God said to the prophet Shemaiah:
“Say to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, ‘Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your relatives the people of Israel. Every man return to his home, for this thing is from me’” (1 Kings 12:23-24, ESV).
Now consider these turn of events and trace the causality back. The kingdom was divided because Rehoboam didn't listen to the people, but God also clearly states multiple times that it is He who brought about those turn of events. God specifically says that Rehoboam didn't listen because God intended to fulfill His word. And not only that, but God's word was declared to Solomon about Solomon's actions, not to Rehoboam nor because of anything Rehoboam had done.

Now, if Libertarian Free Will is true, none of that makes sense. God did not tell Solomon, "Because you have sinned, I foresee that a consequence is that your son will choose of his own Libertarian Free Will not to listen to the people, and thus you will lose your kingdom." No, God said: "I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant." God declares that He will act. This is not something that just unfolds as a consequence of Solomon's sin. God engineers it.

But notice that Rehoboam didn't act contrary to his own will either. We read: "But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him" (1 Kings 12:8, ESV). Rehoboam abandoned the counsel. He chose to do what the young men had said instead of the old counselors who knew better. There is no mention of coercion here, nor is there any indication that Rehoboam ever said, "God, it isn't fair that you made me do this." Rehoboam clearly did as he wished. He was not compelled against his will.

Thus we see that the Bible clearly teaches both that Rehoboam acted as he willed and that his actions were precisely what God determined would happen to fulfill His word. That only makes sense in compatibilism, for this clearly just is man's freedom and God's determining working compatibly. And in fact, this gives a concrete illustration of the statement from the Westminster Confession of Faith: "God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established" (3:1).

No comments:

Post a Comment