Free Will vs God’s Control- Hezekiah 20:1-5, Luke 22:41-42

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying,
I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying,
Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

COMMENTARY

Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die
Thus saith the Lord, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee
Yesterday we examined how God is able to effect his purposes over an array of possible outcomes. Our future will be one thing, but we get to choose that one from a plethora of different options. Hezekiah’s life could have ended after the pronouncement of the prophet, but he asked if there was another option and was told yes. God was willing to heal Hezekiah, because to do so did not frustrate the greater arc He intended for humanity.

If thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done
When Jesus sought to know if there was another path available, though, the answer was no. It was essential to God’s plans that this moment play out in one very specific way. The atonement had to happen for mankind’s redemption to occur. This does not deny Jesus’s ability to choose, mind you, but one would assume that if Jesus had been unwilling to fulfill this one essential path, then God would have had foreknowledge of such and would never have even created humanity, as it would have been destined to damnation.
God has set bounds on each of our lives. There are things that we can do and there are things that we cannot. There are alternate paths available if we ask for them, and there are other alternate paths which can never be. We do not know exactly what bounds God has set for us, but He does, and we are free to inquire. He may not show us the entire chessboard, but He might show us a part.

Free Will vs God’s Control- Genesis 2:15-17

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

COMMENTARY

Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.
Yesterday we discussed how God sets bounds on our lives, and within those bounds we can freely make our own choices. We often think that this freedom is inherent to our human experience, that for earth life to exist it must necessarily include agency. But this is not the case at all.
As seen in the story of the first creation, our agency is actually explicitly designed for by God. God planted a garden for Adam and Eve, and in it put many trees that they were sanctioned to eat from. More importantly, though, he also put a tree in the garden which they were not sanctioned to eat from. They could eat from it, but they were not supposed to.
Of course God could have created a garden populated only with trees that were appropriate for the couple to eat from, but then there would have been no freedom within those bounds. The couple would have remained good, but only because they had no other choice. They would not have had any agency.
The example of the Garden of Eden shows that forced obedience is not God’s agenda for us. He values our freedom so much that he will intentionally place a tree of knowledge within the reach of mankind, just so that they have the power to choose. So do we have free will? Absolutely. But it isn’t our default state, in truth we only have it because God is in control and He designed for us to. Thus God’s involvement in Earth life does not create a paradox for free will, it is what even makes it possible.

Free Will vs God’s Control- Psalm 74:17, Exodus 23:31, Job 2:6

Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.

And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.

And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

COMMENTARY

Thou hast set all the borders of the earth
And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines
Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life

God is a God of boundaries. In the Bible we see how He defined the limits of the earth and the seasons, set the physical borders for the Kingdom of Israel, and even placed restrictions upon Satan. This is significant, because within boundaries there is freedom. We cannot pass certain borders, but we can move between them as we please. The Summer may be powerful or it may be mild, the Israelites may pitch their tents here or there, Satan may tempt us in one way or another. The choices are open, so long as they do not over-reach.
Thus is God in control? Yes, of course. What else would you describe the being that defines the limits of everything in the universe? But are we also in control? Yes again. Relatively speaking, the bounds that God has set on our lives seem as wide as an ocean, and we are free to steer ourselves within it.