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“I did not Send them” August 9, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.

Last night I posted the first part of a letter to a friend who had passed along some verses to me from Jeremiah that called into question God’s knowledge of all future events.  I said that I would post the second part of the letter today.  So before I resume posting on some reflections on fatherhood, here is the second part of that letter:

Finally, the other verse you mentioned was Jeremiah 14:14,


14And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.


Your comment in the margins says, ‘Who is the father of lies?’  Obviously this is a reference to John 8:44, and the truth that Satan is the father of lies.  There is not too much for me to say here.  Yes, the false prophets were speaking lies and I have no doubt that they were immediately inspired by Satan.  Their actions were wicked and blameworthy and contrary to God’s commands.  In this way they violated God’s will. 


I agree with all of this.  But I suppose that the reason you’re quoting this verse to me is that you’ve heard me say that nothing can thwart God’s will, and so, in a sense, all that comes to pass is God’s will.  Let the record show that this is not simply what I say, but what the Word of God points us to:


2“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)


6Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” (Psalm 135:6)


11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” (Ephesians 1:11)


The false prophets broke God’s will.  Nevertheless, they (nor anyone) did not thwart His purpose, and even their lies were part of God’s working all things according to the counsel of His will.  This is difficult to grasp, and the only way I know to reconcile these two realities is that the Bible speaks of God’s will in different ways.  I cannot address this more here, but a very helpful article in seeing this distinction in Scripture is called, ‘Are There Two Wills in God?’, by John Piper. 


But in closing, perhaps a biblical analogy will help.  In the story of Joseph being sold into slavery, Joseph’s brothers broke God’s will by their greed, jealousy, lies, etc.  Clearly this is activity that is contrary to God’s will.  Yet when the divinely inspired psalmist looks back on this story in Psalm 105 writes,


16When he [God] summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, 17he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.


The brothers’ sin is now called God’s sending Joseph.  That is, it was God’s will for Joseph to be sent to Egypt.  And the way He decided to do it was through the evil acts of his brothers, for which they are responsible and guilty.  Even Joseph himself explained his circumstances as the will of God being done:


7And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.


Joseph and the psalmist describe his plight as being God’s doing.  And in that sense I think I am on solid biblical grounds when I say it was God’s will.  Yet the brothers truly broke God’s will (of command) by sinning in selling their brother into slavery.  In Jeremiah 14:14, then, God is addressing the fact that these false prophets broke His will of command; He had not commanded them to speak lies.  Yet this passage does not speak of the other sense in which God’s will is mentioned in the Bible, the sense in which no purpose of His can be thwarted.  But I believe that reality is established in several passages of Scripture, though it is not addressed here.  Again, this idea is elaborated on helpfully in the article by Piper. 


I hope all this is helpful, and will promote peace and not division.  While it seems as though we disagree about our interpretation of some Scriptures, please know that I do admire your commitment to be faithful to God’s Word and your genuine love for Christ.  If anything I’ve written needs clarification or correction, please feel free to email me back.  For my own peace of mind, I am also sending this email to [a church elder], so that he can read what I have written and counsel me if he thinks I am in error in my handling of any of these verses.


Thanks for pressing me to think hard about what I believe,





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