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And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,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- 1 Kings 9:4-7, 11:11

And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:
Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.
But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:
Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:

Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.

COMMENTARY

If thou wilt walk before me, then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever
But if ye turn from following me, I will rend the kingdom from thee, and give it to thy servant
When Solomon was anointed to be King of Israel, he had two possible futures detailed for him. He was told that on the one hand he could remain faithful and his kingdom would be maintained forever, or on the other hand he could forsake God and the kingdom would be taken away.
Of course only one of these possibilities came to pass. Solomon tragically fell into idolatry, and the majority of the kingdom was torn away at the beginning of his son’s reign. Later the remnant was overrun by the Babylonians.
Based on the passages we have previously studied, I am convinced that Solomon had full capacity to choose either good or evil. He did not have to go astray. Yes, God knew that he would, but only by his own choice, not because it had to be that way.
This means the future that God had detailed if Solomon remained faithful was not a fiction. Yes, God knew that that future would not come to pass, but also He knew that His purposes could still be accomplished even if it had.
If this were not the case, if God needed Solomon to go astray to make His plot for humanity work, then we would have a God who presents us false choices and predestines us to be saved or damned. This is unacceptable, and would contradict the statement that “God cannot lie” (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:18).
The truth must be that there are many paths by which God could accomplish his purposes for the world. In the end, only one of those paths will be what actually transpired, but all the others were just as feasible. Thus we truly have free will, but the fact that we do does not jeopardize God’s control of the world. Your choices will not make or break God, they will make or break you.