I Kings 12:24 – Is Free Will or God the Causative Agent in Rebellion Against Him?

, posted by drwayman

This post is a discussion between some members of The Society of Evangelical Arminians.  Members will not be identified by name but rather by a letter.

‘Thus says the LORD, You shall not go up or fight against your relatives the people of Israel. Every man return to his home, for this thing is from me.'” So they listened to the word of the LORD and went home again, according to the word of the LORD. – 1 Kings 12:24

M – I Kings 12 describes the judgement on Solomon for his idolatry by taking 10 tribes from Rehoboam and giving these to Jeroboam. The division of the kingdom comes about because of Rehoboam’s failure to take wise council from his father’s advisors which results in his harsh treatment of the people in which they reject him as their king (all but Judah). Since verse 24 says all of this is from the Lord, is there a way to interpret the passage without God’s sovereignty being seen as meticulous and causative in the actions of Rehoboam? Is Rehoboam acting on his own heart’s desire, thus free will, or is God the causative agent in his rebellion against Him?

J – God is never the cause of evil.

J – “all of this is of God’” applies to what God is doing not the evil others are doing.
God is able to work and fulfill His purposes even when there are those working against what he wills.

M –  thank you for the response. The problem I’m having is resolving the fact God said earlier in Kings that because of Solomon’s sin the kingdom would be torn from from him. But God said He wouldn’t rend it from Solomon but from his heir and this for the sake of His servant David (I Kings 11:11-12). Is it merely coincidence that Rehoboam ignores the advice of his fathers advisors to his own undoing when God told Solomon He would take the kingdom from his son? I’m struggling to not see this account in a deterministic way. How do we resolve the dilemma that God has told Solomon He will rip the kingdom from his son before his son ever comes to power? I really want to resolve this, but I find it troubling. It’s hard to see these events unfolding without God being the causative agent in Rehoboam’s actions.

J – God foreknows what any and all of us will do in the future. He foreknew that Rehoboam would ignore the advice given by the advisors. Foreknowledge does not mean God makes us do what we do He simply knows ahead of time what we will do.

He already knows what choices you and I will face today and what we will choses at ever decision we will make. He knows it without making us chose as we will.

He knows for certain what we will do without making it necessary that we do it.

“Foreknowledge”
The word translated as foreknowledge has both noun and verb forms. According to Bullinger’s Critical Greek Lexicon, the verb foreknow means “to know, perceive, learn or understand beforehand, to take note of.” This word is used in Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” and Roman 11:2, “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. ” And, according to Bullinger, the noun foreknowledge means: ‘a perceiving beforehand’. This word is used in Acts 2:23 where Jesus “was handed over to you [the Jews] by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge” and in 1 Peter 1:20 where we find that we “have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”

As you can see from the definitions, both variations of the word are expressing that something is known or perceived before it happens, and in the Scripture it is applied to God; that God knows beforehand what will happen in the future. Furthermore, God does not just know it shortly before it happens, but his foreknowledge of the universe extends to eternity past. God has always known what will happen during the course of our history.”

K – Hello. I read this as follows. God foreknew their actions and what they would do. Therefore He permitted this situation and its circumstances and governed it in such a way as to get His desired results.

M- in what way did God govern the situation? See my response to J above. The only answer I can see is mere coincidence that Rehoboam does exactly what God foretells Solomon will happen, which I’m uncomfortable with as an answer.

K – My answer is that God works through an influence and response model of sovereignty. He may not have disclosed how He influenced the mind of those involved (I would need to look more at the passage to determine that, i am not in a location where I can currently) but we know that influence and response is His normal means of working. Through His foreknowledge of all events and possible events, and through His working with us by way of His influences (knowing how we will respond) we know that it is God’s wisdom that guides all human affairs.

L – There’s definitely a mystery here, because the author doesn’t pullback the curtain to let us see what exactly God was doing .

But Solomon left a hint that satisfies me. It appears that he feared that his kingdom would be ruined by a fool.

Ecclesiastes 2:19
And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.

By giving the position of king to a fool — and knowing full well what that fool would do — God orchestrated the punishment for Solomon’s sin by seating his foolish son on his throne.

M – thank you. This is worth considering in reconciling the issue.

B – I think it is important to note that 1 Kings 12:24 does not say that *all of this* is from the Lord, but that this thing is from the Lord, referring in context to the splitting of the kingdom. That does not mean that God caused all that was done. We are told in 12:15 that Rehoboam did not grant the people’s request because this turn of events was from the Lord. What turn of events? The king refusing the people’s request leading to the splitting of the kingdom. It seems to me that the Lord seems to have prevented Rehoboam from seeing the wisest course of action in the situation. However, that was not a moral issue in that it was not sin to keep his father’s requirements in place vs. lightening them. But it did provoke Israel to rebel against his rule. But God did not cause that. That was freely chosen by Israel. So if it was sinful, that’s on them and not God. But I think it is debatable whether it was sinful or not. I am unsure myself. Normally, rebellion is sinful. But in this case, God had declared that he would split the kingdom because of Solomon’s and Israel’s sin. So I lean in this case in thinking it not sinful of them since God had revealed his will if splitting the kingdom.

M – thanks so much for this response!!! This is the best response thus far to helping me personally resolve this conflict. This is great!!! Much food for thought!!!!

B – BTW, I would say that the specific carrying out of the denial and the attitude of Rehoboam were freely his. Not seeing that granting the request of the people would keep them loyal is one thing, but then the way he would that carry out is another.

convo occurred on 11-16-18 in the SEA Members Only Discussion Group

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