Continued from last post
Okay, time for examples from Scripture.
God will change things to avoid certain outcomes. He often explains exactly why he is making this change. It is usually because something "might" happen. If I don't do this, then this will happen. He sees that the present course is heading to a future that is less than desirable, so he makes a decision to change it, cutting off the undesirable 'branch'. This changes the possible future he foresaw into something that better fit his plans.
This all started in the garden of Eden after sin entered the world. God saw the great potential for evil if men were allowed access to the Tree of Life (immortality in a fallen state), so he kicked them out, limiting their lifespan. He limits it further later on because the long lives of mankind at that time (several centuries) contributed to the increase of evil in the world.
I fail to see how this helps an open theist perspective. God knew that man would eat of the tree if He didn’t cut off access to it. I think part of the problem is that you are using the NASB and it says that man “might” eat of the tree of life, which is an unfortunate translation. The Hebrew word “pen” doesn’t allow us to read the passage as if God didn’t know if man would eat of tree or not, so He was just taking precautionary measures because man “might” eat of the tree of life. That is not how it reads in Hebrew. In Hebrew it reads “so that he not put forth His hand…” It doesn’t read, “He might stretch out his hand…” So it is not the case that God didn’t know if man would eat of the fruit of the tree of life and He just prevented that outcome just to be safe. Rather, the truth is that God knew that man, if not stopped, would eat of the tree and regain immortality and thus be beyond the purview of redemption.
Then there was the flood. Evil had increased so much in the world that God regretted making mankind. He saw no possibility of good come from the world as it was, so he 'scrapped' his plan for them and decided to try again with Noah. This is akin to a potter scooping up the 'messed up' clay bowl on the wheel and starting over.
This is a case of projecting our human emotions on to God. You are implying (perhaps without realizing it) that God made a mistake. His first attempt with humanity was a failure, so now He has try again and maybe this time, He will get it right. From what you are saying, it would appear that God lost control of everything and it got so bad that He has discard his first, failed plan with a new plan. Your position contradicts Scripture:
“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power, His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Isa 40:28)
It’s kinda hard for a temporal God to be unsearchable and infinite in His understanding.
As to God regretting that He made man… The problem is that you are misreading the text of Genesis 6 to mean that the object of God’s regret was creating man. God was grieving over the sins man was committing. He is not saying, “I made a mistake creating man and I am sorry for having done that.” The object of God’s grief was man and his sin, not any kind of action on His part in creating man. God is sorry He made man not because making man was a mistake or error on His part, but He was sorry because of the sin that man had descended into and it was causing man to suffer as a result.
God does change how he deals with human beings based on the kind of circumstances they get into and the sins and failings they commit. What you need to understand is that there is a difference between repentance on a human level (changing from wrong sinful actions to godly actions) and repentance on God’s level (changing how He deals with human beings based on their decisions and behavior). God repented and thus changed how He dealt with humanity. He had to bring down judgment on them.
If God was repenting that He had made man and that He needed to scrap the original failed plan, it would not have mattered that Noah was a righteous man. God would have simply wiped out humanity to a degree that they were unredeemable by rendering humanity extinct. But God found one righteous man and so He was able to judge humanity without judging humanity to the point that redemption was not possible.
Not long afterward, the people rebelled again. They started to build a tower to heaven. Whatever that actually meant back then, God didn't like the future that would bring, so he cut off that branch by confusing people with language and scattering them. We are actually given a glimpse into the mind of God and his reasoning behind this. If this happens, then that will happen. It was apparently something that negatively affected his divine plan for humanity, though, because he didn't let it happen.
Again, I really don’t see how this helps. Just reading the text, there is no “if-then” structure at all in the text. He doesn’t say exactly they will do. He simply says, nothing will be impossible for them. He didn’t say, “if they do this, then this will happen.” There is no hint of that, as God doesn’t actually say what they will do. All He says is that nothing they put their minds to will be possible. Sol let’s go down and confuse their language. God knew what they would do.
Again, later, after the exodus from Egypt, God makes a decision (lead the Israelites through a different way) based on the possibility of a less desirable outcome (they would be more likely to stray from Him).
Again, we come to the “pen” word in Hebrew. Looking at it in Hebrew is remarkably different than looking at this in English as English really doesn’t do justice to the nuances in Hebrew. “pen” again, means, “so that… not.” It is not the case that God didn’t know how the children of Israel would react upon encountering the Philistines. God knew how they would react and in His wisdom He didn’t take them that way.
God is affected by what we do.
First example: After the exodus from Egypt, the "stiff-necked" people of Israel are really making God mad. After all he's done for them, they choose to worship a golden calf instead?! God's jealous anger burns against Israel. He should just wipe them out and start over. Moses is a good guy. What do you say, Moses? Want to be the new father of nations? ( How different would our history be had Moses gone along with this?!) But Moses says no, give Israel another chance. Remember the promise you made to Abraham? What would the other nations say? God listens to Moses' plea and overlooks Israel's offense. In this example, God shows that he is able to regret, and also to change his mind. How can he regret a choice if he already knew they would disappoint him? Why would he make up his mind in the first place if he knew he was going to change it? If God knows the future completely but makes choices he later regrets, this indicates that he lacks the wisdom to make good choices. We know that's not true. This leads us to assume that God genuinely did know the outcome of these events until they happened (although he was aware of the possibility). Regret and disappointment both indicate that God had a different expectation for the future. Israel's stubborn rebellion cut off the wrong 'branch'.
God is not really affected by what we do. That claim is false. Nothing we do affects any change within God in either His Person or His being.
This actually goes back to what I said earlier about God “repenting” or “regretting” things. God doesn’t “regret” anything He does in the sense that we as humans regret decisions we make. You can’t project our human experience of emotions and feelings on to God.
It’s like when it says in Psalms 5:5 that God hates all wicked people. God’s “hate” and our hate are not the same and cannot be compared. God’s hate is not carnal and murderous like human hatred is. God hates in a perfect way in that He is able to love and hate at the same time. His hatred is holy. Our hatred is carnal and stained with sin.
Furthermore, you are missing the bigger picture in this story. This story is the Bible to show us a model for intercessory prayer and how effective it is. God had no intention of scrapping Israel and starting all over with Moses because it would have destroyed the Messianic line and God would have had to break promises made through Jacob to His sons in Genesis. There would have been no redemption at all if God had wipe Israel out of existence and started all over with Moses. You’re approach would mean that for a moment, Moses was actually wiser than God and had to remind God of something either God had forgotten or had not thought of. Either way, the suggestion is patently absurd.
God respected Moses' plea not to cut off Israel's branch completely. This also shows us God's emotional vulnerability in his frustration with Israel. Why do we assume that God can't feel the things we do? We are made in His image, after all, reflections of the Creator. The concept that God is free of anything remotely human-like and that he is "above" emotion is not biblical, and actually comes from the ancient "absolute perfect being" philosophy.
God is not “humanlike.” We are made in His image; He is not in our image. God does not possess human traits. You have it completely backwards. We share in His communicable attributes. We are a reflection of Him; He does not reflect us. There is a huge error that occurs when we start trying to put God in human shoes and assume that He feels what we feel and shares our emotions. Our emotions, our entire make up as human beings is stained with sin. You cannot project our carnal, sin-stained emotions on to God who holds all of His attributes in absolute sinless perfection. While we share to a lesser extent in God’s communicable attributes (compassion, forgiveness, love, mercy, etc.) We are sinful in how we express those things. Our emotions are God-given but we are fallen creatures in a broken world and our expression of those emotions reflect our fallen nature. So to say to even suggest a comparison between us and God in this area is simply not acceptable from a biblical perspective.
God is perfect, yes, but He is perfect in his character and morals and holiness, not in his perceived "god-power" and divine attributes. He is perfect in who He is, not what he is. (I don't choose to worship God because he can tell me what I'm eating for breakfast tomorrow...)
This is a very disturbing assertion. God holds everything in His nature in perfection. God is perfectly holy and He is perfectly all knowing and all powerful and you can’t provide one Scripture that says anything to the contrary. God is perfect in all parts of His nature and being. He is a perfect God in every respect.
Your salvation rests on God being able to see the future perfectly and thus being able to assure you that nothing is going to change, potentially negating all of His promises of eternal life.
Your position, if true, would mean that God may or may not be able to guarantee us salvation. Satan may throw up something God didn’t know about, maybe the devil has an ace up His sleeve and throws God a curve ball and suddenly all of humanity is suddenly thrown back in to the darkness and bondage of sin and returned to an unredeemed state. God’s perfection also means that He has to be wise enough to manage our planet to sustain life.
We don’t want an imperfect God upon whose power we rely on to take the next breath to mess up and blow the whole works. We need a God who infinite and perfect in knowledge, wisdom and power to handle management of our atmosphere and food and water supply. We need a God with perfect “God-powers” who has an infinite amount of resources to meet every need we have in life. What good would it be to go to God with a problem and He doesn’t know what to do??? You need a God who is perfectly omnipresent so that He can answer your prayers no matter where you are, can save a person no matter what part of the world they are sin. We need a God who is everywhere at once and is perfect in that respect in order for Him to respond to all of the prayers of all of the saints. You need a God who is perfect in His God-powers and divine attributes so that He can manage this entire planet and still care for personally as if you were the only person alive on earth.
If God is not perfect in His person and His essence, if He is not perfect in who He is and what He is, then He isn’t a God we can trust with our eternal salvation.
God destroys evil, but he would rather just save people.
There is an interesting contrast between the stories of Nineveh and of Sodom and Gomorrah.
God saw that the evils of Nineveh were growing, and that soon he would destroy them (cut off their 'branch'). He goes and speaks to Jonah, but Jonah, free agent that he is, flees the presence of God. But God isn't done. Using his cosmic divine God-powers, he chases Jonah with a huge storm, and then causes a fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah finally relents and agrees to go to Nineveh. The people of the city hear the message and repent, and God doesn't do what He said he would do.
We know that He desires all men to be saved. When Nineveh repents, it really doesn't seem like it takes a lot of convincing. (Try doing what Jonah did in Las Vegas or any other city, and see how well that works out!) Maybe God had already been working on their hearts, or there were other external events that lead Nineveh to this point. The bible isn't clear on why Nineveh repented so quickly. It seems to me that the people of Nineveh just needed a small push. God knew what it would take to save them (based on his knowledge of possible futures), and did what he needed to do to accomplish this. This shows God making a plan and executing it in spite of opposing free agents, even if His method was a bit unusual. (Maybe He was thinking "This fish thing could be a nice analogy that I could use later..." lol)
If you read the story of Jonah, you will find the reason Jonah ran. Jonah ran from God because He knew God would be merciful to the Ninevites if they repented.
Jonah lived in upper Galilee and at that time the Assyrians were making all kinds of military penetrations into northern Israel and raping, pillaging and looting the cities. They were renown for their torture methods and their prisoners were killed slowly and in the most excruciating, merciless, cruel manner possible.
Jonah, by the time you get to the end of the story, clearly hates the Ninevites and wants to see them fry. He says to God (Jon. 4: 2) that the reason he ran was to deny them the opportunity to repent because he knew God gracious, merciful and abounding in steadfast love.
God chose Jonah because He knew Jonah’s heart and knew that Jonah would run from His duty as a prophet to prophesy to Nineveh. This was an opportunity to save both Jonah AND the Ninevites. This was God trying to change Jonah’s heart because it had been so hardened against the Ninevites. Jonah’s response didn’t throw a wrench in God’s plans.
In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, however, God determines that the evil there is too great. They are too far gone. He admits that he will not destroy it if there were ten righteous men to be found in it, but the only righteous people were those in Lot's household. Instead of saving the city for those few, God sends messengers to warn them to get out. There was, probably, no possible future where the people in that city could have been convinced to repent.
This is a case where God already knew the outcome. He wasn’t unsure about how many righteous people were in the cities and He had no intention of sparing the cities. The lesson we get from this story is two fold. First of all it shows us just like the story of Moses and golden calf incident that we need models for intercession. God didn’t need to consult Abraham, but Abraham was God’s friend and God gave Abraham the opportunity to intercede for those wicked cities. Remember that these stories are given to us for an example (I Cor. 10:11) for us to emulate. Secondly, it shows us that God’s judgment isn’t rash. God actually came down and walked through the cities. He didn’t need to do that, but again, there are some important lessons for us as it relates to God’s character even in judgment.
God knew that there were not 10 righteous men in Sodom or Gomorrah. He didn’t need to find out. But sometimes God acts a certain way that we can relate to in order to teach us spiritual lessons.
Why did Jesus pray? He was God. Was there some imperfection in Jesus that mean He needed to pray? No. Jesus modeled prayer for us so that we would have a righteous model to follow. Why did Jesus allow Himself to be tempted in the wilderness? He wanted to show us how to overcome temptation. Why did Jesus call out to God to “take this cup from me, but not as I will, but as thou wilt?” Jesus was showing us how to submit to God and to consecrate ourselves to the will of the Father.
God holds everything about Him in perfection. There is no imperfection in Him on any level.
In this other example here, God is fed up with Israel's rebellion, but there is nobody willing to intercede, to "stand in the gap". God searched for someone to be a Jonah or a Moses, but there were no free agents available. Israel was melted like dross in the furnace of God's wrath. This biblical example shows that God's desired plans can still fail if other free agents cut off enough branches. God doesn't want to destroy these people, but they're the ones who make the choice. Despite this, the fact that Israel still exists today and that God's plan for redemption still succeeded as he promised shows that God isn't defeated by a little setback.
In the pagan, polytheistic world, human beings were, at times, able to thwart the plans of the gods. They were able at times to outsmart the gods. That is what I am seeing here. God’s plans fail because human beings are able to thwart His plans. According to what I am reading in your post, sometimes human beings can get the better of God and throw a wrench in what God wanted to do. And God has to go back to square one and come up with a different plan.
I would point out that the problem here lies in the fact that Bible prophecy doesn’t really bear that out. God never made a prophecy, had it to fail because of something “free agents” did and have to come up with a new plan and/or a new prophecy to replace the one that failed.
In addition, I would point out that if you read vv. 25-29 just prior to verse 30 you will see why God said what he said. He is speaking in a manner we will understand. It is not meant to be understood that God didn’t know if there was an interceder in Jerusalem. He knew there wasn’t and this was by His design. The prophet Jeremiah a contemporary with Ezekiel was commanded by God NOT to pray for Jerusalem. God’s point is that there is no one to intercede and God stopped the only man willing to do it, so that God could judge Jerusalem for the things mentioned in Ezek. 22:25-20 as well as other things mentioned in Ezekiel chapter 8, Isaiah 1 and so on.
Your open theistic view seems to blind you from the bigger picture of what is going on.