A. jsh-136 / 1999 Joe Griffin

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© 1999 Joe Griffin

Faith-Rest Drill: Divine Decrees; Solomon’s Misapplication of the Doctrine

Many things that occur are results of angelic or human free will acting contrary to God’s desires. He nevertheless decided or willed that these things would take place. Thus He makes our volition truly free.

He also decreed that our decisions, whatever they might be, would certainly take place—even those that are contrary to His desires. Being omniscient, He knew ahead of time precisely what we would decide, and He not only decreed that those decisions would exist but He also decreed the exact manner, consistent with His integrity, in which He would handle our decisions.

13- Solomon knew this doctrine which he expressed in the messianic poetry of Proverbs 8:22-31.

Proverbs 8:22 - “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way [ the divine decrees ], before His works of old.

v 23 - “From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.

v 24 - “When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.

v 25 - “Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was brought forth;

v 26 - while He had not yet made the earth and the fields, nor the first dust of the world.

v 27 - “When He established the heavens [ creation ], I was there, when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep,

v 28 - when He set for the sea its boundary, so that the water should not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth;

v 30 - then I was beside Him as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him,

v 31 - rejoicing in the world, His earth, and having my delight in the sons of men.”

14- And Solomon specifically refers to the divine decrees in:

Proverbs 16:4 - The Lord has made everything for His own purpose.

15- All of these doctrines were darkened in Solomon’s soul by blackout and scar tissue so that in his period of reversionism they were not accessible to him.

  1. Therefore he became involved in a frantic search for happiness from an environment that could not provide that benefit.

  2. Consequently, as happiness invariably escaped his every effort, he became critical of life itself, such as the comment found in:

Ecclesiastes 1:14 - I have seen all the works which have been performed under the sun and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.

18- Von Rad presents three basic observations that occur to Solomon as a result of his experiences in reversionism:

von Rad, Wisdom, 227-30:

  1. A thorough, rational examination of life is unable to find any satisfactory meaning; everything is ‘vanity.’

  2. God determines every event.

  3. Man is unable to discern these decrees in the world.

It is clear that these insights are all interconnected:

  1. Life is vanity. A glance at the social structure of humanity affords a cheerless outlook. Injustice rules in the place of justice.

Ecclesiastes 3:16 - I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness.

Good order and honesty are of no avail. The wicked man often comes off much better and in the end death makes everyone the same.

Ecclesiastes 7:15 - I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.

Ecclesiastes 9:2 - It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean, for the unclean; for the man who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good man is, so is the sinner …

v 3 - This is the evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men.

Whenever Solomon speaks of fate, death is always envisaged at the same time. Such is the case, for example in …

Ecclesiastes 3:19 - For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.

NOTE: The Hebrew word which is translated “fate” is miqreh /mik-REH /. It is often used in cases where, as a general principle, men renounce human or self-control over events. A second application is where divine providence is the cause, that is, nothing happens by chance or “fate.” God controls all.

Solomon’s dilemma is that he looks on human accomplishments and sees that all is vanity. This leaves him confused since he also believes that everything is under the overriding control of divine providence.

Thus he concludes in the darkness of his soul that man is not responsible for his actions since God controls everything. All is fate or chance in the sense that all is God’s will.

What Solomon fails to consider is the principle: in human history the sovereignty of God and the free will of man must coexist by divine decree. His misunderstanding of this fact leads to his confusion regarding point two:

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