S. Exodus 9:
15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.
O. As you watch Pharaoh suffering, then relenting to Moses, then changing his mind again and hardening his heart it seems as if he is insane. Or in a term thats probably closer to our understandings today Pharaoh was acting Bi-Polar. Why so indecisive? The answer is here… It was part of God’s plan. Pharaoh was playing the role that God had assigned him to play so that His glory should be proclaimed.
A. Is our free will affected when God knows before hand what is going to happen? No, I don’t think so, I don’t think God’s foreknowledge of things means we were not deciding for ourselves. But what about when God says, “I am going to make this happen,” and then it does?
I struggle with this, (and I invite you to struggle with me for a while) the doctrine of predestination comes into question here in my mind. I suppose the reason I question it is because I can relate what happened to Pharaoh to my own life. Really I’m more like Jonah (The reluctant prophet) – but I can relate to Pharaoh here in this story as well.
When I was young I felt the call to the ministry. There was no doubt in my heart and mind that God wanted me to be a preacher. I started down the road to the ministry – study, reflection, prayer, reading, being mentored. At the age of seventeen I was offered a full scholarship at Martin Methodist College and a church to preach at while I was there. What an opportunity this was that was put before me but…. I turned it down. I was scared – here I was only seventeen – I didn’t know anything! How could I be a pastor to someone who was looking for comfort while they were going through a divorce, or as they were losing a loved one, or their job? I can remember praying that God would give me experience to do what He wanted me to do. Even though during the time of the prayer I was far from doing what He wanted me to do – God heard that prayer – and answered it.
So I ran – for the next ten years I did everything I could to convince myself that I was NOT supposed to be a preacher. During that time, I lost my Great Grandmother who I was very close to, I went through many jobs and was never satisfied, I got Married, we had a child (my oldest son) and before our third anniversary my wife left me.
I guess you could say I was going through the ten plauges, or that I was in the belly of the whale.
But God brought me out of it again, he brought my true life partner to me, we will celebrate our fourteenth anniversary this year, and he brought me into my true proffession of being a pastor and Im now in my eleventh year of my “Official” ministry.
Now here is the question that I still deal with. Was it God that made all those things happen or was it me? Was it really ever my decision to be a pastor or am I just a small part in some larger plan of Gods?
I have no trouble saying “Yes it was God! It’s all part of His plan,” but at the same time I know that I made the decisions to do things like I did, to run, to mary early in life, to quit this job, and that job, and finally to come back to what I felt that God wanted me to do, and become a preacher. So really it was my free will right?!?!?!
It was GOD – It was my choice! It was MY choice – It was God! It was a Choice – But it was God’s plan. It was a plan of God but my choice. I chose to follow Gods plan – God chose Me to follow His plan.
Around and round and round we go – where do we stop? Only God knows…
Did Pharaoh have a choice?
Did Jonah have a choice?
Did Judas have a choice?
Did Jesus have a choice?
Did I have a choice?
YES!!! And we have new choices every day as to how we relate to God and His calling and purpose in our lives. But even though we make choices – God is still in control.
HE Knew that Adam would eat of the Fruit – But Adam still chose to do it.
Am I still struggling with this? Yes… But I know that as I’m struggling with it, God is holding me, my life, and ALL my struggles in the palm of His hand.
P. Father as I struggle with your omnipotence and your omnipresence, strengthen my faith and trust in you, and bring me to a fuller understanding of your love for me.
Y. I yield to the fact that the Father’s thoughts and understandings are higher than my own, I yield to God’s plan – Father let THY will be done!