“And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” 1 Samuel 8:7
We argue a lot in Christian circles about predestination vs free will, or God’s sovereignty versus human choice. I’m not going to try to solve any of that with this devotion. Scripture clearly teaches that that God is absolutely sovereign and that human beings are absolutely free to receive Him or reject Him. I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to; anymore than I have to understand the Trinity. It’s a divine paradox—two things that appear to be contradictory but are nevertheless both true.
God’s sovereignty is what gives Him the authority over every atom in the universe. Abraham Kuyper was a Dutch politician and theologian (how’s THAT for a paradox?) in the early twentieth century. He famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not say, ‘Mine!’”
But God, in His sovereignty, has created human beings with the capacity to reject Him. To me, that’s the essence of divine love. If God didn’t graciously allow that which is other than Himself to exist, then His love wouldn’t have an object. And if we weren’t free to choose Him, it wouldn’t be love.
That’s what you see in Israel’s demand for a king. God knew they would—that’s why He made provision for a king in Deuteronomy 17. And with His perfect knowledge, God also knew the consequences they would face because of their choice. But with perfect love, God allowed His people to reject Him.
On the day of judgment, all of us will stand before God to give an account for the choice we made. And while a lot of people wonder how a loving God could ever just “hurl someone into hell,” I don’t believe God will take any pleasure in watching any of His beloved children walk into the hell they have chosen.
In his classic, The Great Divorce, CS Lewis put it this way:
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”