I am often challenged by questions members of my flock raise. A few weeks ago, I was really challenged by a question. I wish I had as many answers as I receive good questions; however, seminary taught me how to ask questions, not give answers.
I have been leading a Bible study on the book of Isaiah on Wednesday mornings. We have learned a lot of important things. We have great conversations about the Bible, prophets, geopolitical history, cultural wonders, and present day woes our families face. You might say we study life as much as we study the Bible.
When studying Isaiah, it was important to look at the Kings to whom Isaiah is prophesying. Of course, this requires a survey of Israel’s kings and their leadership qualities. Some did what was good in the sight of the Lord and others did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. One’s legacy ultimately came down to whether or not they strengthened the cultic devotion of Israel or allowed worship of idols on the high places.
The question raised was: Why did God let them be king if He knew they were going to do evil? At first, I was stumped. It is a good question. Why does God let us do dumb things? Why does God allow unfaithful leaders lead the people? Does God lift up these people for leadership knowing they will fail? It was a great question, especially as we were only a few days away from the election.
It wasn’t until I was fervently praying on election night that I found my answer, I think…
Whatever we believe about free will and predestiny and God’s will as it relates to the leadership of government officials, really about life in general, I think we can all agree that God gives us a chance. God may know that we will do evil, but gives us a chance. God may think the little things we do will be more important in the Kingdom of God than any historical legacy. God may give us choices hoping we’ll make the right decision and ready to help when we make the wrong choices.
I had a good debate about God’s omnipotence and free will last night with the one whom posed the original question. The answer is not easy and theologians throughout the ages have disagreed about how God works. I hope we can all agree that God gives us a chance…we may not surprise God, but we may surprise ourselves.