Our culture is defined by a desire for freedom. Yet, even our bedrock freedoms become avenues for slavery. Freedom of speech, becomes freedom from hate speech. Freedom of religion, becomes freedom from religion. Freedom of the press, becomes, well, something quite different than what was originally intended.
And, then there are new “freedoms…” New rights…Some would even say “über rights.” That list continues and grows with every appointment of an unelected judge with an ambition to leave his or her mark on the crumbling clay that is Western jurisprudence. Nevertheless, we crave freedom.
Even the modern Church is wed to the blissful belief that God would never violate human free will to achieve His purposes. I have yet to be given a definition of human freedom that would support this novel notion. What is freedom?
Suffice it to say that the only truly free being is God. He is not derived, contingent or dependent upon anything or anyone at any time. It has been said many times that God’s revelation of Himself to Moses at the burning bush captured the essence of “Godness” in two simple words, “I AM.”
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” (Ex. 3:13-14)
Other translations may read, “I AM WHAT I AM” or “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.” God simply is. He does not exist until some event happens. He did not become upon the happening of another event. He is ultimate reality, always was ultimate reality, and always will be ultimate reality.
God’s second revelation to Moses demonstrates how this un-derived reality is expressed. After Israel’s fall into idol worship with Aaron’s cash cow, Moses ascended the mountain of the Lord again to receive a second copy of the Law since he had broken the first tablets in anger at the people’s sin. While alone with God, Moses asked for God to show him His glory. Did God rain down fire? Did He break apart mountains with a word? No, He demonstrated His freedom.
Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” (Ex. 33:18-20)
It is God’s freedom of choice that demonstrates the independent, un-derived, non-contingent nature that is God’s. Consider the following statements about the freedom of God in later books.
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Is. 55:11)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Is. 40:28)
Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? (Lam. 3:37-38)
Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Ex. 4:11)
Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Ps. 119:89)
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'” (Is. 46:8-10)
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 11:33-36)
And, they go on and on and on. The point is this: freedom is action unhindered by external control. Clearly, these passages and many more show that God is most certainly free in the real meaning of the word. Can we honestly say with any unfettered conviction that Man is free like this?