Jeremiah 10:23 - The Paradox of God's Sovereignty and Human Free Will.
Jeremiah 10:23 - The Paradox of God's Sovereignty and Human Free
Jeremiah 10:23 (NKJV) O LORD, I know the way of man is not in
himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.
Jeremiah 10:23 (TEV) LORD, I know that none of us are in charge
of our own destiny; none of us have control over our own life.
Not in himself. In and of himself man cannot properly determine
where and how he should go. He needs divine guidance.
Direct his steps. Man needs divine guidance for each single
step. (Ps. 37:23). [SDA Bible Commentary]
This is a magnificent expression of the sovereignty of God,
whereby Yahweh inevitably and without exception accomplishes His will
and purpose through free-willed agents acting freely but
responsibly. Man must be a free agent to be in the image of God, and God must
be immutable, i.e., unchanging, in order to be God (Mal. 3:6).
Permitting or overruling the acts of man without infringing upon his
freedom or interrupting his responsibility (e.g., the brothers of Joseph
in Gen. 37:26-28; 45:5) is an awesome expression of God's
providence. [Believer's SB re Pro. 16:9]
Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village.
Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white
horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had
never been seen before - such was its splendor, its majesty, its
People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man
always refused. "This horse is not a horse to me," he would tell them.
"It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend,
not a possession. How could you sell a friend?" The man was poor
and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.
One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable.
All the village came to see him. "You old fool," they scoffed, "we
told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you
would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect
such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him.
You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would
have been to high. Now the horse is gone, and you've been cursed
The old man responded, "Don't speak too quickly. Say only
that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest
in judgment. If I've been cursed or not, how can you know? How
can you judge?"
The people contested, "Don't make us out to be fools! We may
not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple
fact that your horse is gone is a curse."
The old man spoke again. "All I know is that the stable is
empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don't know. Whether it be a
curse or a blessing, I can't say. All we can see is a fragment. Who
can say what will come next?"
The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man
was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn't, he
would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he
was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and
dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in
the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a
After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn't been
stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he
had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village
people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. "Old man, you were
right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing.
Please forgive us."
The man responded, "Once again, you go too far. Say only
that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with
him, but don't judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not?
You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, now can
you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the
whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand
the entire phrase?
"Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or
one word. All you have is a fragment! Don't say that this is a
blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not
perturbed by what I don't."
"Maybe the old man is right," they said to one another. So
they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew
it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse.
With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and
trained and sold for much money.
The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to
break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the
horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around
the old man and cast their judgments.
"You were right," they said. "You proved you were right.
The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only
son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to
help you. Now you are poorer than ever.
The old man spoke again. "You people are obsessed with
judging. Don't go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who
knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a
fragment. Life comes in fragments."
It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in
war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village
were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was
excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around
the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken.
There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was
strong and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see
their sons again.
"You were right, old man," they wept. "God knows you were
right. This proves it. Your son's accident was a blessing. His legs
may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone
The old man spoke again. "It is impossible to talk with you.
You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your
sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a
blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows."
[In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado.]
I am your Lord! Seek Me as Friend and Lover of your soul, but
remember that I am also King of kings - sovereign over all. You can make
some plans as you gaze into the day that stretches out before you.
But you need to hold those plans tentatively, anticipating that I
may have other ideas. The most important thing to determine is what
to do right now. Instead of scanning the horizon of your life,
looking for things that need to be done, concentrate on the task before
you and the One who never leaves your side. Let everything else fade
into the background. This will unclutter your mind, allowing Me to
occupy more and more of your consciousness.
Trust Me to show you what to do when you have finished what
you are doing now. I will guide you step by step, as you bend your
will to Mine. Thus you stay close to Me on the path of Peace. (Pro.
19:21; Luke 1:79) [Jesus Calling by Sarah Young]
When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes
possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never
accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural
element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes
His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends
that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept
in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the
assaults of Satan. But unless we do yield ourselves to the control of
Christ, we shall be dominated by the wicked one. We must inevitably be
under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that
are contending for the supremacy of the world. It is not necessary
for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness
in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to
ally ourselves with the kingdom of light. If we do not co-operate
with the heavenly agencies, Satan will take possession of the heart,
and will make it his abiding place. The only defense against evil is
the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His
righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist
the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation
to sin. We may leave off many bad habits, for the time we may part
company with Satan; but without a vital connection with God, through the
surrender of ourselves to Him moment by moment, we shall be overcome.
Without a personal acquaintance with Christ, and a continual communion,
we are at the mercy of the enemy, and shall do his bidding in the
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