Recently I read a discussion on the verbs used in Exodus 15:26. The discussion was between those holding an extreme sovereignty view and others wondering if the Hebrew language has a permissive tense for verbs. Dr. Robert Young the author of Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible claimed there was such a tense in the Hebrew and others have insisted there isn't.
The root of the topic, perhaps thorn is a better word, concerned the idea of God's sovereignty and His choice to dole out disease, handicaps, trouble and every kind of evil on believers and unbelievers. The reasons given for this varied and were contradictory. After taking in their points, I decided to do a little research myself.
What I found out is that the god of the people holding an extreme sovereignty view doesn't need a Satan; he creates evil all by himself and seems to like it.
I've used the little g for God because, I don't think this view agrees with the Bible, making this image of God some kind of weird psycho idol.
He is in meticulous control of everything and needs us to pray to stop him from destroying through natural disasters, disease, murders, animal attacks, wars, famines, accidents, etc. His method of teaching is to make people suffer. I do loads of research into ancient civilizations, and to me, this sounds like gods the pagans worshipped.
Who would want to accept a god like that?
I'm writing about this because I am realizing there are many believers who think this is their God and have a background in this theology even if they are now in a Pentecostal or Charismatic church. They juggle these false ideas with the God is love concept and end up confused, frustrated Christians. It is time to learn the truth.
First let's review Hebrews 11:6.
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." The word used for rewarder is misthapodotēs, meaning remunerator to use a very stiff, authentic old timey, Latin origin English word. Guess what it means? To compensate or reward.
The context in this verse seems to indicate that God rewards good to those that seek Him, which agrees with the rest of the Bible. One thing people forget or don't understand is the covenant God made with Abraham. If it is understood, you will realize there is a permissiveness about God regardless if it is in the Hebrew language or not.
Second, the covenant is everlasting.
"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee." (Genesis 17:7)
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
The verbs that were being discussed in Exodus 15:26 are really only one, śûm. This verse is referring to the covenant, and the verbs in question are "put" and "brought" both translated from śûm. "And he said, If you will carefully listen to the voice of Jehovah your God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments, and keep all His Laws, I will put none of these diseases upon you, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am Jehovah who heals you." (MKJV)
Appoint and impute are also meanings for śûm. God is saying He will not impute or assign disease to those who are His because that is appointed to those who refused Him. If you understand the covenant and its standard this makes perfect sense. And somehow the part that says I AM the LORD who makes you whole or heals you gets ignored by extreme sovereignty believers.
The covenant was conditional because it depended on the Israelites receiving it and abiding by it. It was stated if you do this, you get that. If you obey God's standards and honor Him, you are blessed and God defends you. If you choose not to obey, then Satan becomes your master, and these are the things he has to give you. The list for these things begins in Deuteronomy 28:15 and they are called curses qelâlâh, in the Hebrew.
It is important God named the list blessings and curses which are spoken, and He decreed one pertained to life and the other to death. James 1:17 says every perfect gift comes from God. Since God is good and Satan is the opposite, what Satan gives you is nothing good.
Satan, because another idea people don't understand is man is not really as in control as he thinks he is when it comes to the BIG picture of the world. God originally meant it to be Him and us, but Adam invited Satan to take our place. Then it became God, Satan and us as the servants to whichever of those two rulers we choose to obey. There is no third option as in "man can be his own boss."
The reason for the list of do's and don'ts was so people knew what obeying God looked like. He set up the standard and made a way of victory despite Adam's choice to sell the farm.
Continually God called out the same message He told Moses, Joshua and the prophets to declare,
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Choose life. That was God's desire for Adam. It is His desire for us.
The covenant is still in place, only now we get to it through Jesus. He is the Life we choose, and if we receive Him as our Lord, we become Abraham's seed, heir to the covenant because we are grafted in. (Galatians 3:29 and Romans 11) This is what God did in His sovereignty.
The extreme sovereignty view creates a lot of confusion. In fact you hear the word mystery when they try to explain how this works with man's free will, prayer and healing. The mystery of compatibilism is one term. But Jesus said to His followers, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God." (Luke 8:10)
The gospel is simple. God wanted us to understand Him. We see Jesus healing people because they had faith; they believed He would reward them. He told the leper I AM willing. He never turned anyone away that came to Him, and some He searched out like the old woman in Luke 13:10-16.
This woman was crippled in her back and bent over. Jesus called to her and told her she was healed. He told the synagogue ruler, "And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?"
Is this an example of God making the woman crippled and then healing her? Not according to Jesus. He refered to the covenant with Abraham and identified who was attacking her: Satan. No where in the Bible is sickness considered a gift from God.
Think of the miracles Jesus did. Would He have created a storm just to calm it? Would the dead have been raised, the blind made to see, the woman with the issue of blood made well if they all believed God was meticulously in control and brought about their circumstances? Wouldn't they all have stayed home trying to figure out what He was teaching them?
The extreme sovereignty teaching is dangerous. If you receive it, it will keep you from the faith described in Hebrews 11:6, and you won't be able to please God because He won't be able to help you. Especially if you, like Donna Jones, think pain and sickness are gifts.You will be confused about His will for you and doubtful of His goodness. The Bible won't make much sense to you either.
Whatever you are praying about, know God loves you and He wants to talk to you. He's given us the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Teacher, not some awful tragedy. And if you want Him to draw close to you, draw close to Him with an expectation of His love and goodness.
Image by Alexis Mora Angulo courtesy of Unsplash
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