Monday, March 5, 2012

Divine Sovereignty in Lamentations 3:37-38 (Part 3)

Divine Sovereignty in Lamentations 3:37-38

Lamentations 3:37-38
Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?

In the previous post, we answered the question of how extensive the word “who” is. In this post we will address what it is to “speak” and it “come to pass.”

What is it to “speak,” and it “come to pass?”

An example would be Genesis 1 where we are told that God said, “Let there be…” which is followed immediately by, “and there was.” No one else can do this.

What does this sovereign “Speaking and it comes to pass” entail?

Firstly, it is to be able to foresee all possible events. Secondly, it is to be able to control all related factors. Thirdly, it is to both know and control the future. And lastly, it is to foreordain all events. God foreknows because He foreordained.

The pride James rebukes in 4:13-16 comes from the fact that men, when they see their plans regularly come to fruition, mistakenly believe that there is no higher power than their own plans and wills. It is an arrogant ignoring of God’s sovereign disposal of men and their lives. The universe is built on certain “Laws” which make it behave regularly. But this is because “God said.” It is a grave mistake to arrogate that same power to ourselves.

In short, to “speak” and it “come to pass” is nothing less than absolute sovereignty over all things. This is seen to be so from the next verse.

I. It is to be able to foresee all possible events.

Only God knows the end from the beginning. (Isaiah 46:10) Furthermore, only God lives in an eternal present – all times are present to Him. (Eph 1:4 – God was involved in ‘cause-and-effect’ action before He created time itself.) Moreover, His foreknowledge is dependent upon His decree, i.e., He knows the future because He decreed it all. (Acts 2:23 – predetermined counsel and foreknowledge – in that order.)

II. It is to be able to control all related factors.

Control of all factors is a natural part of creating. But God alone lives with no limitations on His sovereignty. It is a slight to God’s intelligence to insist that He cannot control men’s wills, i.e., reconcile Divine sovereignty and Human freedom. Many people have made shipwreck of the faith trying to reconcile two things which Scripture never portrays as in conflict with each other.

III. It is both to know and control the future.

It should go without saying that God knows all because He created all. God controls everything He created. He is accountable to no one for His disposing of His creatures. (Jeremiah 18:4-6; Daniel 4:35; Romans 9:21) I am a song writer. I have written many lyrics and melodies that I have consigned to the trash heap. Other I have recorded. The choice was mine because the creations were mine. As Creator God has such power in an infinitely higher degree.

IV. God has ordained, or decreed all events.

God’s foreknowledge is based upon His decree. He knows because He ordained. Here is where Arminian concepts of Divine foreknowledge crash upon the rocks. Here is where Open Theism makes shipwreck of the faith. God does not have to calculate the future based on what He foresees each creature will do. Rather, He foresees what each creature will do precisely because He has already ordained these things. Our task is never to try and decipher what may be God’s secret intent behind all the events which take place in the world around us. We merely need to concern ourselves with obeying what He has revealed as His will (Deut. 29:29).


  1. Open Theism's position is that God has seen the future in advance - the one that comes about was one of the possible scenerios that God reflected upon. In other words he knews in full detail every possible future. So He is not caught by surprise. He has considered every possible scenerio that could eventuate.

  2. Tim, thanks for your response. I must admit that I’m a little puzzled by your definition or description of Open Theism. What you described sound a lot more like Molinism to me. In Molinism, God is said to possess ‘middle knowledge’ wherein He knows every potentiality in all possible worlds. Generally, this is used to slip in the Arminian notion of election (God’s choice based upon His foreknowledge of men’s free, uninfluenced action).
    Open theism, as it is defined by its actual practitioners (Boyd, et al), denies that God knows the future. This is either because He has not determined everything, so He cannot know what men will do in these undetermined areas or spheres of activity, or because He has imposed some sort of limitation upon Himself. I have heard Open Theists assert that God could know all things if He wanted to, but He has chosen to make Himself unaware or ignorant of the future. If we were talking about anyone other than God, that notion would be laughed out of the discussion with the derision it deserves. It is like saying that God creates rocks that are too heavy for Him to lift.
    Open Theists often claim that God knows the future, but there is no meaningful way to assert that He can know the future when He stands in linear time and learns as He goes along, just like creatures do. It would be more accurate for Open Theists to say that they believe God anticipates the future rather than to say that He knows it.
    Curiously enough, Open Theism was hatched as a reaction against traditional Christian theology, which Open Theists claim was unduly influenced by Greek philosophy. However, the ‘dynamic omniscience’ theory that Open Theists espouse, has its roots, not in Christendom, but hails from the writings of Cicero, Alexander of Aphrodisias and Porphyry.

    I don’t know whether you were/are defending Open Theism, or merely wishing to correct what you see to be a misstated definition. Either way, thanks for your time and input. Here is a good article on the subject:

    According to this CARM article there are different views within Open Theism. Some affirm God foreknows the future, while others deny it.


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