In the movie Stranger Than Fiction, Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, your average IRS agent: monotonous, boring, and repetitive. But one day this all changes when Harold begins to hear an author inside his head narrating his life. The narrator it is extraordinarily accurate, and Harold recognizes the voice as an esteemed author he saw on TV. But when the narration reveals that he is going to die, Harold must find the author of the story, and ultimately his life, to convince her to change the ending of the story before it is too late.
Does an author exist who writes the storylines that our lives are destined to follow?
Please join us in today’s Bible conversation.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Isaiah 37:1-38:22. The words in the passage coincide almost word for word with 2 Kings 19.
Galatians 6:1-18. As we come to the end of his letter, Paul offers an assortment of unrelated instructions. Verse 8 stood out to me more than the others: “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” We sow seeds into our flesh or our spirit that yield a harvest of fruit or give us a crop failure.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
The interaction between King Sennacherib’s commander and God in Isaiah 37 is intriguing. The commander is preparing to destroy Jerusalem—an example of free will. But then God tells Isaiah, “Listen! I am going to put a spirit in him so that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword” (Isaiah 37:7)—an example of God’s sovereignty over our the Assyrian commander’s decisions. The text says God would “put a spirit” in the commander that would cause him to change his mind.
If God had wanted to, he could have prevented the whole thing and saved Hezekiah from the stress and humiliation, but he didn’t.
This begs the question: was God reacting to King Sennacherib and his commander or was he enacting his plan that began before the foundations of the earth were laid?
Then we read in Isaiah 37:26,
Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone.
Looks like God’s in total control.
Later, in chapter 38, God tells Hezekiah that he will soon die. Hezekiah prays and what happens? God changes his mind and decides to extend Hezekiah life fifteen more years. Why would God tell Hezekiah he would die if he knew he that he would change his mind? It seems as if God didn’t know the future.
Lately, I’ve come to determine that most debates about predestination (the belief that God controls the thoughts and actions of all people) versus free will begin with a faulty assumption. They operate under the assumption that God is limited by a linear time line when most people agree that God lives outside of time.
If God lives outside of time, it seems to me that every event in world history is happening at once–with God firmly in control. In that respect, both opinions are true.
In our personal rights loving society, we want to believe that we’re in total control. We don’t want people telling us what to do or giving us any restraints. Sounds a little like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God told them not to eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, but they ate it anyway.
Perhaps it’s time to give God a little credit and assume that perhaps he’ more in control than we realize.
What spoke to you in today’s reading?
How do people sow good or bad seeds into their lives?
Is it hard for you to believe that God is in total control of your life? Why or why not? What role does Scripture play in how you formulate your beliefs on this topic?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.