Divine Sovereignty Meets Human Responsibility (Numbers 14:1-35)


Praise the Lord, everybody! Pastor D.M. Richardson is back this week with another sermon that reminds us of the goodness and glory of the Lord.

Divine sovereignty says that God is in control, that the Lord is powerful, the “All Mighty” God, and that man, His creation, is responsible before Him. While Calvinists are forever focused on the sovereignty of God (divine sovereignty), some Arminians are too consumed with human responsibility to such an extent that they believe that God’s sovereignty is put on the backburner: here’s where I’d place Open Theism, a doctrine that teaches that God can’t foreknow certain things because He’s responsible for them if He does. Some would say, for example, that God can’t foreknow that someone will sin because He’s responsible if He knows and doesn’t prevent the individual from sinning. Was God responsible for David’s sin when he murdered Uriah the Hittite and committed adultery with Bathsheba? We know He wasn’t, because, in His sovereignty, He punishes David for His sin (see 2 Samuel 12:1-14).

The same can be said for God and the Israelites, His people. Today’s sermon comes from Numbers 14, where the Lord has given His people the land (see Numbers 13) but instead of embracing the promise of God and having faith, and letting that faith move them to action, they attempt to stone Joshua and Caleb, men of great faith, and then they attack Moses and Aaron. Finally, they agree to appoint a new leader to take them back to Egypt, back to the very bondage the Lord had delivered them from. Why cry out to the Lord for 430 years, only to be delivered, then long for bondage again because of good food and some twisted “comfort”?

Well, the Lord speaks in the text, and He tells Moses He wants to wipe them out and start a new nation with Moses. Moses pleads with the Lord not to destroy the nation because Egypt and the other nations will say that the Lord wasn’t sovereign enough to follow through on His promise. Then, Moses quotes Exodus 34:6,7, telling the Lord that He is longsuffering and merciful, but that He doesn’t clear the guilty. And the Lord listens to Moses, finally deciding to let Israel go in while keeping the Wilderness Generation out. Their children enter into the land, but the Wilderness Generation, ages 20 and up, die in the wilderness.

When it comes to divine sovereignty and human responsibility, Calvinists and Molinists want to “create tension” where there is no tension. In the case of Numbers 14, the Lord, in His sovereignty, punishes the Wilderness Generation and makes them responsible and decides to not allow them to enter into the Promised Land. As can be seen, neither knocks out or extinguishes the other: the mere fact that the Lord lives is testimony enough to human responsibility, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). To add to this word, Hebrews 4:13 which says “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

As I’ve said it before, I’ll say it here again: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him [Jesus] might be saved. He that believes is not condemned, but He that believes not is condemned already, because He has not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God.” These words are John 3:16-18, and they continue to apply here: the Lord has set salvation as the solution to redeem man from eternal damnation. He has set the parameters: those who believe are saved, and those who do not believe are condemned. And man, in his responsibility, can accept or reject God’s plan of salvation. The Israelites rejected it, but you don’t have to: you can be saved, today, right now, in Jesus’ name.

We love you and are so thankful for your support. Feel free to contact us at the church email address (theessentialchurch@protonmail.com) or hit up the Contact list on our homepage here at the site, even if you just want to say hello or let us know your thoughts on the message today. Have a blessed week in the Lord, and pray that the Word of God and the church would continue to grow. God bless.

In His Name,

Pastor D.M. Richardson

The Essential Church

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