Pretend you were playing a paper-rock-scissors game, but instead of “paper” you were using “Israel”, instead of “rock” you were using “iron chariots”, and instead of “scissors” you were using “God”. To a Calvinist, “God” (scissors) would be a trump card that defeats everything including “Israel” and “iron chariots”. “Iron chariots” might defeat Israel, but certainly not “God”. The Bible says otherwise. Observe the following verse:
Jdg 1:19 And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.*
Calvinists are at a loss here. This is a situation in which “iron chariots” trump God. To a Calvinist who believes God controls all things and knows all things, this verse presents a major problem. As such, Calvinists often respond to this verse by ignoring it. Try to find it highlighted in any major Calvinist work. It does not exist.
To those who believe in the God of the Bible, this hardly presents any challenge. God’s modus operandi is to work through natural means to accomplish his works. God very rarely accomplishes his objectives through miracles (such as drowning the Egyptian army). Instead he prefers to act through his creation, maybe giving his followers a strength buff (such as when Moses lifted his arms to win a battle (Exo 17)). Needless to say that many Israelites died because God did not use a miracle to defeat all Israel’s enemies in the manner reminiscent of the drowned Egyptians. But God prefers human actors, he prefers allowing free agents to act for him, he prefers not to force himself on his creation.
This requires a trust from God, not only in the motivations of God’s agents, but also a trust in their capabilities. Sometime this does not pan out too well. And sometimes, like in the case of the naming of John the Baptist, requires a little bit of arm twisting (Luk 1:20).
*Maybe the Calvinist might claim this is figurative. But then: 1. God does not control everything. 2. Why are other Calvinist favorite verses about God’s actions not figurative as well?