In 1 Kings 22 (mirrored in 2 Chronicles 18), the text starts off with the Israelite King Ahab preparing to go to war. Ahab calls all his prophets together to prophesy about the outcome. They all prophesy success. Wanting more affirmation, Ahab calls in God’s own prophet, Micaiah, to verify. At first, Micaiah does prophesy the same thing. But the King detects that something is wrong and presses him on the issue. Micaiah then tells the King that the King will die and describes God’s elaborate plot to kill him:
1Ki 22:19 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.
1Ki 22:20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.
1Ki 22:21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’
1Ki 22:22 The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’
1Ki 22:23 Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”
God hated king Ahab and sought to kill him. God wanted Ahab to die in Ramoth Gilead. But God was not controlling Ahab. God does not use human beings as puppets. Instead God needs to convince Ahab to actually go to Ramoth Gilead to die. He crowdsources the angels to figure out how to do this. The text reads that various angels proffer ideas. We can imagine what they say: “We can get his wife to nudge him”, “We can make him angry at his enemy”, “We can get a neighboring King to pledge support in the battle”, “We can appeal to his pride”. But God finally listens to one angel that outright says to use lies to promote the idea that Ahab is going to win in battle. God likes this plan and endorses it.
Sure enough, King Ahab takes the advice of his prophets and ignores God’s prophet who clues Ahab in on the plot against him. King Ahab then dies at Ramoth Gilead.
Some take-aways from the text.
1. God does have plans, and those plans can be achieved through a multitude of routes.
2. God does not predecide all avenues, and sometimes consults others for ideas.
3. God is not opposed to deception to further specific goals. This does not mean deception is always used by God, but in some cases He believes it is acceptable.
4. God’s prophets are allowed their own judgment in how to communicate God’s plans. Micaiah was allowed to even reveal God’s deception before the event took place.
5. Although God could have struck Ahab dead (we learn from other parts of the Bible), God preferred a more natural cause of death and sought to create circumstances to affect it. God does not always prefer the most direct and miraculous route.
6. Human beings are not directly controlled by God. In order to motivate human beings to act, God uses persuasion and events.
7. Angels are in heaven, advising God and helping God affect God’s plans.
Problems for the Calvinists
1. Omniscience. Did God not know from eternity past how the King was going to die? Why did he consult with angels? What was the purpose of brainstorming in heaven? If it was a way to bring to the front already known knowledge, what purpose is this serving? Did the angels believe they were affecting God?
2. Omnipotence. Why is God crowdsourcing His approach? Does God not control everything? Has not God already decided what to do? Do the angels assume God’s mind is fixed (are they Calvinists)? Is there any indication in the text of God having already decided how He would control the entire situation?
3. Summum Bonum. Did God lie? He sent deceiving spirits with the intent to deceive Ahab. God wanted Ahab to believe a lie. God’s own prophet told this lie, knowing it was a lie. How is this not God using and approving of deception?
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To Problem 1:
I think that God did know what would happen from before the Creation.
2Pe_1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
I think that God using his creatures help even though he doesn’t need it is for the purpose of him wanting us to be partakers of the divine nature. Like God could have all by himself kicked the judged and dispossesed the nations of the land of Canaan, but he used Israel. Israel was supposed to be God’s children like the sons of God in heave, and so they were to be partakers of God’s divine nature. Certainly God doesn’t need people to preach Gospel but could preach to all at once from heaven. Certainly he does need angels to do things, like gather people’s prayers, like in Revelation, and yet he does. Another reason for these tings is I think that as God’s children and him being our very powerful rich kingly Father (he owns everything), he doesn’t want us to grow up spoiled but wants us to grow up right and understand through experience what is right and wrong and not to be lazy and so on. Like have you ever seen how rich parent’s children ever grow up who give everything they want to them and do everything for them and they never have to work and do anything? They grow up spoiled rotten and bad, and do not understand anything and have a poor character. And I think there is much more to it in the gigantic mind and plan of God, many variables, some of which we can know since he has revealed, and others we cannot though some we might be able to speculate and be accurate and get close though it isn’t sure, but I think this reason suffices for now.
Also notice if God would not have asked who will do it and how they will do it but simply had said someone has to do it and this is how to do it, then it would have not been obvious that he wanted his spirit servants to volunteer and figure it out themselves and excercise their mind.
To Problem 2:
I think a lot of this point was answered in my response to Problem 1. But concerning what it lacks:
14:22 The flaming fire was round about Him, and a great fire stood before Him, and none around could draw nigh Him: ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him, yet He needed no counsellor.
This is from 1Enoch (R.H. Charles), which I accept as Scripture, since I think it is abundantly clear from a plain reading of the canonical Bible that it is. Notice it says even though YHWH has this huge divine council, yet he needs none of them to council him. So him using them is not necessary for him but he does it for some other reason. And yet from the same we have this:
Yet we find the same pattern of language about YHWH in this book as in the Bible that Open Theists use to support their position:
55:1 And after that the Head of Days repented and said: “In vain have I destroyed all who dwell on the earth.” 55:2 And He sware by His great name: “Henceforth I will not do so to all who dwell on the earth, and I will set a sign in the heaven: and this shall be a pledge of good faith between Me and them for ever, so long as heaven is above the earth. And this is in accordance with My command.
So this should dispel any argument from Bible only Open Theists against the theology of this text as being something later that doesn’t use the same supposedly Open Theistic language of the Bible.
Now to show from the Bible that it also agrees with 1Enoch that God doesn’t need anyone at all to counsel him:
Isa 40:13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
Isa 40:14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
Isa 40:15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
Isa 40:16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.
Isa 40:17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.
Rom 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
1Co_2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Plenty of people have counseled God. This is true, despite these questions of “Who has been his counselor” just because that is how language works. You can make generalizing statements that have specific exceptions.
Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will (βούλημα)?”
Luk 7:30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose (βουλή) of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
Both “will” and “purpose” are pretty much the same word. How language functions is that generalities can be true although exceptions exist. This is normal to human speech. So, yeah, someone can say of a powerful King “who has counseled him”, highlighting the king’s power and intelligence, although the king might take advice from various people at various points of time. The idea of the sentence is that people generally are not smarter than the King and the King does not have to listen to anyone. There is nothing forcing the King’s hand.
But God has a divine council. He invites Abraham into it in Genesis 18, and Abraham convinces God to spare Sodom for the sake of 10 people. Abraham was a tempering force, buch like Samuel and Moses. God even holds several people as particular examples of persuasive individuals throughout the Bible.
Jer 15:1 Then the LORD said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go!
So, to take your verses as some sort of metaphysical absolute, denying direct quotes by God throughout the Bible, is not warranted. The Bible is not a mechanical guide to fixing a machine. It is not a law document. The Bible was written using normal human speech patterns, complete with generalizations, hyperbole, and other figures of speech.
I don’t think God knowing the whole future and then having events like this is a facade. God is interacting with his creation and this is necessary for that. Also I believe everything predestined was done so for the best possible outcome while not taking away man’s free moral will and coercing him. I believe God is bound by morals. Morals that reside within himself but morals nonetheless. God cannot deny his character, he cannot deny himself, so if he knows everything that ever was, is, and will be, then he cannot make himself not know. Just like the stupid things people will bring up against the Faith, like: Can God make a rock so big he cannot lift it? And: Can God make a circular triangle. It seems to me God cannot actually do certain things though until certain things actually happen that make it justified. God can also lower himself in a way that doesn’t take away from who he is in order to interact with his Creation and let them participate in his divine plan with him and also to teach them a lesson. Yes people have counselled God before, but, he doesn’t need their counsel and already knows the future, so they really didn’t counsel him in that way, only from their human perspective that they gave him counsel in that act.
Like with Abraham in Genesis 18. God is probably testing Abraham in order to give him the opportunity to prove he has the correct understanding of righteousness and to have righteous deed accredited to his account so that he might actually have righteousness. and ti may be that in this situation God cannot righteously spare Sodom and Gomorrah unless a righteous priest intercedes for them. Not sure 100% but one thing I do know is this case it is certain the YHWH Abraham is speaking to here is not the Almighty Father but the Son. So this very much shows how my theory about Father VS Son in mightiness is correct, I think. And this is what the NT says:
Joh_1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
1Jn_4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
So in the OT it was not the Father that revealed himself to people, it was the Son declaring the Father. This may help greatly to understand these issues about YHWH.
Would you be interested in discussing all this further in a Skype some time? I have a hard time being on the computer too much, especially if I have to do lots of typing and mouse clicking and sit near it. It really effects my health badly in a short time.
I definitely have Skype, Google Hangouts and Facebook video. We can do that. Probably not this week.
The two Yahweh’s might be a reason out of the Genesis 18 narrative, but Yahweh speaks with authority and seems to have judgement in mind. One thing to remember about the two powers in heaven, is even Hesier describes the throne-room of heaven with having Yahweh proper be on the throne, and the second power appears in the courtroom besides Him. And it is Yahweh proper who shows Moses His back in Exodus 33, the second power is the one to eat with the elders. And Yahweh proper speaks to Elijah, the second power disappears during the conversation. We cannot just try to separate the two powers and believe they act independently.
More on Problem 2:
“Has not God already decided what to do? Do the angels assume God’s mind is fixed (are they Calvinists)? Is there any indication in the text of God having already decided how He would control the entire situation?”
In my opinion angels know God knows all that will happen and what he has to do and that they are merely answering him respectfully and being workers together with God (2Co_6:1; 1Co 3:9) that they were created to be according to his purpose of the eons (Eph 3:11). But I do not think that from this specific text itself we can draw the conclusion that God had already known how things would turn out and that he planned it in advance. We would have to read other texts and logical deduction into this text. Kind of like how people would use the texts that say believe in Jesus and you will be saved and then say all it says in believe in Jesus so that’s all we have to do but the person who cared about the context of the whole sweep of Scripture would understand true believing to be meeting the conditions of obedience God has laid out to be saved which is mentioned elsewhere in other places, true believing involves obedience. This is how I would look at this text from my position. From the presuppositions I have from other texts like in Ezekiel how God knows from Ezekiel’s time to multiple thousands of years later after the Millennial Reign of Christ that Gog will think an evil thought against his people Israel and so will try Gog by putting hooks in his jaws, that is sending the tempter Satan to tempt him to make war with God and his people as judgment against Gog and knows Gog will give into it and destroy himself in God’s wrath on him for doing so in his visiting of the iniquity upon Gog. This is one of the key texts that I believe shows God knows exhaustive foreknowledge of the future, even the free will thoughts and actions of man, and that this is a major reason why I read this understanding into passages like you have presented here in favor of Open Theism.
The problem with your 1 Kings 22 narrative is that it suggests the angels, Micaiah, and God go through this weird scripted scene that is a facade. All the natural motivations we would normally ascribe to a scene like this are turned on their head. You have God asking questions for no other reason than to get angels to proffer Him information He already knows and to make a decision that they already consider fixed. They do this although there is no hint in 1 Kings 22 or anywhere else in the books of Kings that God knows the future in any exhaustive sense. What is going on?
The better and more natural reading is that Micaiah is explaining how the events unfolded in heaven that brought them to this point. He did not have to give that narrative. If he were a traditional theist, he would probably answer focusing on the championed attributes of God, but he doesn’t. He tells a story so his listeners can understand. For you to add a strange metaphysical base, not described in the narrative and that would not have been on the forefront of Micaiah’s listeners’ minds, is not rational. You know what I am saying?
Micaiah is communicating something to someone. What is he communicating and what are they understanding?
To Problem 3:
“3. Summum Bonum. Did God lie? He sent deceiving spirits with the intent to deceive Ahab. God wanted Ahab to believe a lie. God’s own prophet told this lie, knowing it was a lie. How is this not God using and approving of deception?”
I think since God is truth he cannot lie. But his creatures can lie and I think there are such things as righteous lies and deception in Scripture that are justified, like with Rahab and the spies. And to use an example from God’s Law written on our hearts as in Romans 2 it is written about, the conscience: Even though I question the official narrative of Hitler and Nazi Germany, for sake of argument, in all good conscience, if I was hiding Jews in my house that took refuge with me, and Gestapo came and asked me if there were Jews in my house that they needed to kill, I would feel wrong to be honest but believe it would be right and God’s will for me to deceive them or even outright lie if it was necessary to protect them from being found. And I also believe God can justly use these things for his purpose, like to bring judgment on those who deserve it. I believe God wanted Ahab first and foremost to repent because God is not willing any should perish but that all should come to repentance and be saved. What else was the point of the prophets but to turn back the wayward. Of course he ultimately knew that it was for the best that Ahab would be lost and for the greater good overall, and that Ahab would not repent, even though he had been longsuffering with this vessel of wrath being fitted for destruction, and since Ahab had proven himself time and time again to be obstinate at the grace of God, he was now able to justly show his glory through Ahab and judge Ahab for his wicked ways that he deserved. He had more than given Ahab a chance, and now since he had shown himself a vessel of wrath in real time, in actuality, now God could use him for destruction and destroy him in his sins. Notice also even in God’s decree he has mercy on Ahab and chooses a method of deceiving Ahab and sending to his death in his sins in which Ahab actually has time to repent, and even has warning, even having heard the plan in advance through illustration, and yet he still does it. He more than deserved his end and God showed his kindness, love and mercy to Ahab like this and yet he resisted the Holy Spirit, What wisdom there is in God. Indeed he needs no counsellor glorious is the name of YHWH.
King David. Did David murder Uriah the Hittite? The Bible does not make the distinction that we do between commission of something and the act of that something. Here is a good resource on the lists of lies told by God in the Bible: https://christopherfisher.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/lies-by-prophets-and-other-lies-in-the-bible.pdf
God used Deception. Yes he did! God also spoke of the Great Deception that He place upon the people who LOVES THE LIES AND HATES THE TRUTH. These people, God has placed a Great Deception on because GOD KNOWS that no matter how many people HE sends to them, they will not budge. God KNOWS this, so the Great Deception is just. And even so, these people still have Christians at their door, telling them otherwise.
God action isn’t simple as you may think. There are many reasons why God decide for Ahab to die the way he did instead of striking Ahab down right away.
Let me ask you a question. If I am going to deceive you to take your money… but I am TELLING YOU that I am deceiving you to take your money… am I deceiving you?
GOD let Micaiah see the vision and let Micaiah tell Ahab that the Spirit of Lies is upon him. GOD showed his hand. That isn’t very deceiving at all. In fact, it PROVES that Ahab (when hearing the truth) still dwell in the LIES. Ahab HATES the truth and LOVE the lies. This was shown throughout the text regarding AHAB.