Answers delayed in the danger zone


There is an ongoing theological debate about predestination. One school of thought asserts every human is destined in advance to either know Jesus or not to know Him. The other camp advocates the supremacy of our free will, saying everyone has the choice to decide for themselves.

Me? I lean hard towards each person having personal autonomy to choose. But I also believe God knows in advance what our decision will be. He is omniscient, knowing everything about everything, including not only what has happened in the past, but also what will happen in the future. I think this perspective holds water.

But it also begs a soggy question: if God has foreknowledge of who will or won’t become believers in Jesus, isn’t that … really … the same as His predetermining our salvation? You know, like, if God knows what’s going to happen before it happens, didn’t He, in essence, prearrange it’s happening?

(I know I’m wading into religious quicksand. But I’ll continue, okay?)

The Bible clearly denotes some aspects of God’s will are irrefutable. For instance, 2 Peter 3:9 says: “(the Lord) … is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” That’s a clear description of His will, isn’t it? God wants everybody to repent of the sins they’ve committed.

But let me ask you this: does everyone come to repentance? No. But wait, isn’t that God’s will? Yep. So, am I implying God’s will doesn’t always happen? Well, that appears to be how this cookie crumbles. God’s perfect will just doesn’t always happen perfectly.

I have an interesting and challenging concept to share with you. Just as God’s will sometimes morphs to keep His ball rolling, did you know His plans can be derailed? Seriously, the scriptures highlight occasions when God’s will is thwarted, or at least delayed, by spiritual opposition to it.

Consider the time described in Mark 9:17-29, when Jesus healed a boy who had been deaf and mute, with seizures and convulsions. The boy’s father initially brought his son to the disciples for healing, “but they could not” (v18). Later the disciples asked, “why could we not cast it out” (v28), and Jesus said, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (v29). It obviously was God’s will for the boy to be set free, yet when the disciples exercised their faith, nothing happened. Why? As I see it, it was the intense opposition of powerful, evil, spiritual conspirators. More prayer with fasting was required to break through.

There’s another example of war waged against God’s will in the book of Daniel (10:2-14). Here there’s an eye-opening dialogue between the prophet Daniel and an angel.

Daniel was the consummate prayer warrior, esteemed for his obedience, diligence, and determination. He had a hotline to Heaven; was tethered to God’s heartstrings. He had been praying and fasting for three weeks, and we’re told (v12) “from the first day … your words were heard; and I (the angel) have come because of your words.” Did you catch that? Though Daniel prayed for weeks, God heard his prayer from the get-go, and sent an angel in response.

Though the answer to Daniel’s prayer was dispatched immediately, do you know how long it took for the answer to arrive? Get this: 21 days. Seriously, it took three weeks for the angel to fulfill his mission. Why?

It turns out that the angel ran into some serious turbulence in route to his destination. A high-ranking demon, the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” (V13) stood in opposition to the angel’s flightpath, until “Michael, one of the chief princes (archangels) came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia (demonic authorities).”

God heard Daniel’s prayer, responded posthaste, sounded the “all hands on deck,” and scrambled an angel for the highway to the danger zone. There was such anti-angelcraft opposition that reinforcements were required to eventually bring the cargo, three weeks after the scheduled delivery date. But Daniel kept praying. That’s key to his answer finally arriving.

Last week I shared about the timeliness of God, and how’s He’s never late. That’s true, understanding He knows of opposition in advance, and sometimes adjusts His will accordingly. That’s God.

For you and me though, what seems like tardiness, may really be God’s urging to keep on praying. Pray and don’t give up, because, “… the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”, (James 5:16). It’s key to your answer finally arriving.

Dave Hinman

Pastor Emeritus

Dove Church Wilmington

[email protected]

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