Etikettarkiv | heart

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked? Jer. 17:9

heart 2The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer. 17:9 KJV

The book of Jeremiah, just like Job, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc, contains portions of poetic expressions, parables, hyperboles, prophesies, etc, so we must be careful to not read every verse in a literal way. Some Christians often quote Jer. 17:9 in order to support the idea that we are born in sin (which the verse does not say) and that we are constantly sinning in thoughts, words and deeds. Possibly also that God must separately ”enable” a person to do good or else he is not able to do so. (Many reformed believers think that God for some reason does not enable all people to repent and do good). Nevertheless, it is rather clear that the same chapter (just like many other chapters in the book of Jeremiah) contains a good portion of poetic expressions. If those should not be read in a literal way, why should Jer. 17:9?

Let us read the rest of the same chapter – Jeremiah 17:

17:1 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.

Is the above literally true? Is the sin of Judah written with a pen of iron and diamond, and literally graven on people’s hearts? Upon the horns of altars?

3 O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.4 And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.

Through poetic expressions we can read above that God is angry due to his own people (Judah) departing from him. This is not the first time they do so and seems to be a recurrent problem in the Old Testament (which makes us understand the description of their heart in Jer. 17:9). As a consequence of Judah’s heart departing from him, God will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not”. The better option would of course have been to be obedient to God in order to avoid this unfortunate disaster. The chapter continues to explain what a dreadful future those who depart from him will get:

6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

Notice the poetic language and illustrations which make an important point. The chapter continues to explain why it is a much better option to trust in the Lord.

7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Notice the poetic language above. Then comes Jer. 17:9:

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

The claim that the heart is ”deceitful” and ”desperately wicked”, is a general claim stated right after explaining how Judah had departed from God yet again. It is not hard to watch the TV news and naturally feel like exclaming that ”people are deceitful and desperately wicked”, after seeing constant examples of war, rape, gang rape, pedophilia, Satanism, censorship from the elite, etc. This does not mean that every single person in all parts of the world is always deceitful and wicked – around the clock – and not being able to be anything else but think and do evil.

The answer to the question ”who can know it?” (the heart), is God can! Just like James says in Ja. 2:24 – we are justified by works and not by faith alone – God says here that he will give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings”. The fruit is important for our salvation. See in John 15 where Jesus explains how important it is to remain in him, as a branch in the vine, in order to provide fruit. If the branch no longer produces fruit, it will be broken off and thrown in the fire. If a person does not produce fruit, it is his own fault and God should not be blamed. 

11 As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

Notice the poetic language. A more modern English would be: Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools” (NIV). Naturally God warns against it. Still, people end up as fools (naturally against God’s will) by taking things of value not belong to them. There are consequences for bad behavior. 

12 A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.

Again, we can see here that it is not a good idea to forsake God and depart from him. They shall be ashamed due to their choice to act against God’s will. However, they shall not literally be ”written in the earth”. 

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.15 Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the Lord? let it come now.16 As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee.17 Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil.

Jeremiah is saying ”I have not run away from being your shepherd” (NIV). Good choice.

18 Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.

Since Jeremiah is faithful to God, it is not right for people to persecute him. Yet, some did and Jeremiah is concerned about it and pray to his Lord.

19 Thus said the Lord unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;20 And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:21 Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;

God gives instructions to Jeremiah and since Jeremiah is a good man, he is likely to obey them. Unlike many of his forefathers!:

22 Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

Above we can see how some of Jeremiah’s forefathers did not obey God. ”they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline” (NIV). This is clear proof that God’s will does not always happen, because he prefers to give man free will and thus make him responsible for his own actions. God is not the one making people stiff-necked so that they cannot obey him. They are doing this to themselves, to the dismay of God.

24 And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;

25 Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the Lord.

So IF Jeremiah will diligently listen to God, many things will turn to the better for the city. It is up to Jeremiah.

27 But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

If Jeremiah will NOT listen to God and obey him (which clearly is an option since God warns against it), then there will be consequences for the city of Jerusalem. Hopefully Jeremiah will make the better choice.

Harden not your hearts!

In the same book – Jeremiah – we can read:

Jer. 4:4 Circumcise YOURSELVES to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

We should make sure to not harden our hearts:

Hebr. 3:7 Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness

Pro 28:13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.14 Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

2 Chron 36:11 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.13 And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.

2 Chron. 12:14 And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.

We are wonderfully madeheart

It is clear that we are born wonderfully made (see this article), and we are neither born with deceitful hearts or forced to have deceitful/wicked hearts due to any ”nature” forced upon us against our will:

Ecclesiastes 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that GOD HATH MADE MAN UPRIGHT; but THEY they have sought out many inventions.

Isaiah 7:16 For BEFORE THE CHILD SHALL KNOW TO REFUSE THE EVIL, AND CHOOSE THE GOOD, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet bornNEITHER HAVING DONE ANY GOOD OR EVIL, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Isaiah 44:24 Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that FORMED THEE FROM THE WOMB, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself

Zecharia 12:1  The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and FORMETH THE SPIRIT OF MAN WITHIN HIM.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.—31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.

Annonser

Forgive someone seventy times seven times according to the Bible?

hug 2Thinking the best about people, not the worst

It might not always be easy to forgive someone, but it will become much easier if we keep in mind that Jesus is always ready to forgive us our sins – if we are remorseful about our trespasses. We gain much by taking the role of a defense attorney when it comes to other people’s actions. This does not mean that we should always excuse and justify all sorts of wicked behavior that we see in others, but rather that we should try to find extenuating circumstances rather than aggravated circumstances.  

Real defense attorneys are not expected to deny their clients’ crimes and actions despite obvious evidence of their guilt, but apart from what is already proven it is sometimes possible to find circumstances in the case which could reduce the sentence or acquit the client altogether. There is a difference between acting knowingly compared to acting recklessly (or out of ignorance), and there are some perpetrators who act without a culpable mental state.

We should always be ready to forgive others since our Lord is willing to forgive us – under certain conditions. God does not accept an apology unless we truly mean it and show our repentance with our actions. We should do what we can to repair the damage that we have done, and if we are at fault for having mistreated someone it is not enough to just ask God for forgiveness in silence without also contacting the person we have hurt and make some efforts to rectify our trespasses.

Col. 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

If someone is currently mistreating you and beats you with his/her fists, it is naturally not possible to be persuaded that this person is remorseful about his/her ongoing actions and deserves to be forgiven. Nevertheless, we can live with the hope that this person on a later occasion might regret his poor attitude and would have asked you for forgiveness if he/she had the chance to do so. For this reason we must always be ready to forgive. Christ forgives us our sins if we repent, and we should forgive others in a similar manner, using Christ as our role model. The Bible says ”IF he repent, forgive him” (Luke. 17:3). Notice the word ”if”.

Maybe we have had encounters with individuals in our past – either as children or as adults – who have mistreated us and sinned against us. Our attitude should not be that we are not required to forgive them because we have not met them for many years and  have no knowledge if they are remorseful. No, we must live with the assumption that they have indeed repented and would have asked us for forgiveness should they meet us. Is this not how we would like to be treated ourselves? We might have done things in the past that we deeply regret, and we live with the hope that those we have sinned against will not use it against us.

We gain a lot by not trying to think the worst about people, but rather always seek to find extenuating circumstances so that we can think the best about people – without living in denial. We might end up having a conflict with people who have offended us, but there are lots of things we do not know about their background and circumstances. Maybe they have misunderstood something? Maybe I have misunderstood something? Maybe I am not aware of the whole story leading up to the conflict? Maybe they have had previous bad experiences in life? Maybe they did not mean to offend you but said things as a joke? Maybe their upbringing was not normal? Maybe they did not intend to cause such drama? Sometimes we might get more light on the matter if we talk about it, and at other times we do not get such chances but have to make assumptions about what really transpired. God is the one who will make the final judgment. Maybe there are no valid excuses for being a jerk, and God can judge our hearts.

If we have not always behaved as the ideal friend/colleague/family member, then we are probably thankful for those who are willing to forgive us our wrong doings and who are willing to draw the best conclusions available about us.

Erasing memories not required

To forgive someone does not mean we must forget all his/her sins against us. The case might be that people have sinned against us for many years, and it is not possible to just erase those years from your memory – particularly not if those sins made a huge negative impact in your life.

The Bible says that your salvation is dependent on your willingness to forgive others who ask you for forgiveness. If you do not forgive people for their trespasses, neither will God forgive your trespasses.

Matt 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven

John 20:23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

I do not believe we are required to forgive people who are in the midst of their sins, and who are fully aware of that they are sinning against us, without showing a shed of remorse. If someone is breaking into your house and is busy stealing your money, he/she clearly does not mean an apology if he/she keeps on doing it.

Jesus and Stephen forgave people who sinned against them and who did not ask for forgiveness, but in those cases (see below) they motivated their forgiveness with the other people’s ignorance – that they really did not think they were doing something wrong. We must be ready to forgive also during such circumstances. To forgive someone does not mean that we must at once cease to be cautious about this person and assume that he/she will never risk to fall back in to old habits.

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; FOR they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Also Paul expressed thankfulness that Jesus showed mercy on him despite his actions since he (Paul) did not know better. Paul was convinced he was doing the right thing when he persecuted Christians because he desired to live as a righteous Jew according to the Jewish laws (as he interpreted them). Paul did not show any remorse as long as he lived in ignorance, but once he realized his sins against Jesus and his fellow-man, he repented and changed his mind.

1 Tim. 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, BECAUSE I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

When  Jesus says that he remembers our sins no more (Hebr. 8-10), it means that he will no longer use them against us. It does not literally mean that God will select certain parts of his all-powerful knowledge about us and cease to remember them. (We also know this based on the parable in Matt. 18 below.) The promise to no longer remember our sins when we repent, concerns our past sins and cannot be used as a free card for any future sins.

”Forgive me”, means people must forgive?

There might be people who believe that it is the combining of the two words ”Forgive” and ”me” which requires the other person to forgive, just like a magical ”abracadabra” that open doors. The words mean nothing if they just constitute a lip service and when the heart says something different. IF we repent, God will forgive. It is the repentance which is the key, and it can be expressed with the mouth.

Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and IF he repent, forgive him. 

Eph. 4:32 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

+ Col. 3:13

Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

Acts 26:15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.— 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Mark 4:12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Jeremiah 36:3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.

Jesus taught us the importance of forgiving. ALL sins can be forgiven if a person is truly remorseful and decides to leave all the sins behind:

Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Luke 7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

Paul criticized the Corinthians for being too lenient when it comes to sins, as per i 1 Cor. 5, but when the sinner has been confronted and shown true remorse (an important condition), the congregation must be ready to forgive him and comfort him so that he will not give up in his grief.

2 Cor. 2:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Forgiving seventy times seven times

Below is the parable about forgiving seventy times seven times in Matt. 18. This means that there is no specific maximum number when it comes to forgiveness, but we should always be willing to forgive a person who shows true repentance. If someone combines righteous living with sins against you, he/she has clearly no repentant heart.

Something to note about this parable is that the servant who managed to get his debt erased (a symbol for getting his sins forgiven) unfortunately got back the same debt  when he in his turn refused to forgive another. This shows that ”once saved always saved” (or unconditional security) is not a Biblical concept, since a forgiven and cleansed person can become filthy once again and be spiritually separated from God. Note also that the servant started out asking the king for mercy (forgiveness) resulting in the cancelled debt, and it was not the king who initiated the idea.

The servant in the parable did not show true remorse, or perhaps we should say that he was truly sad about his debt and thankful for its removal, but he proved to not be ready to stay away from future debts/sins, despite that further debt would throw him right back into trouble. God can see in our hearts if we truly regret our sins and would like to leave all our sins behind. We must treat others the way we would like to be treated ourselves. We must be ready to forgive others the way Jesus forgives us our sins. We should always have a forgiving attitude.

Matt 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

We need to have forgiving hearts, but God is the one with authority to forgive people their sins.

Lydia was not chosen to BELIEVE since she was a worshiper already – Acts 16:14

lydiaAnd a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, WHICH WORSHIPPED GOD, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul (Acts 16:14)

Lydia was never hand-picked to be a believer. God doesn’t work in such a way that he randomly (or for unknown reasons) selects a few lucky people to give faith and salvation while he leaves the rest for damnation, despite being guilty of having prevented them from believing by not enabling them to believe. That would hardly be righteous actions worthy of the God of the Bible. We are saved by FAITH and not by ELECTION. If we refuse to believe, we should not blame God for this failure but only ourselves.

Lydia found Paul and some other christians down by the beach where they were praying. Since she was a worshiper of God already, she was probably intrigued by what she heard and stayed to listen to learn more. That was a good choice since she learned more about the kingdom of God.

13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, WHICH WORSHIPPED GOD, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

It’s true that it says ”whose heart the Lord opened”, but we already know God didn’t open hear heart to be able to believe or to be a worshiper of God since she was this already. Her faith was the reason she was compelled to approach them and listen to their message.This was her own decision in the same way that Jesus disciples decided to either stay with him and learn more of his teaching, or to leave altogether (as in John. 6:66) and therefore remain in darkness. The reason that God opened her heart even more was so that she could ”attend to the things spoken by Paul” (Young’s literal). So not ”to believe” in the first place but to be able to understand Paul’s advice – perhaps about the most fruitful way to live a christian life and to be a useful tool for others. The Holy Ghost can certainly work in us, but we are the ones who must make the decision to repent and seek the Lord before this can begin to happen. We are requested to repent (and be baptized for the remission of sins, which should be made right after repentance) and then we will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

What else does the same chapter say about Lydia and about having faith? – Acts 16

Churches increased in number daily due to the word that Paul and Silas spread. What would have happened if they did not spread the gospel? Would the result be the same?

4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

God wants us to spread the gospel since people might be saved through it. If we are saved by election (maybe from the creation of the world), spreading the gospel doesn’t seem to be important since it won’t make a difference:

9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

The Philippian jailer fell down before Paul and Silas, likely knowing they served the one true God who can perform amazing miracles – such as creating earth quakes at the right time and open prison doors. He asked them ”what must I DO to be saved?”.

27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I DO to be saved?

Paul and Silas did not answer: ”Absolutely NOTHING, since you have to hope for that God will possibly open your eyes so that you can believe. IF God works in you in such a way, then you know you’re one of the elect and you’ve been elect from birth and even from the creation of the world. You can’t possibly affect a decision about your destiny that has been made thousands of years ago. You can just relax and wait and see.”

Instead Paul and Silas answered his question with:

31 ”—BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

They did not promise automatic salvation for his entire household if only this jailer would take the path leading to salvation, because the same condition applied also to them. ”BELIEVE and thou shalt be saved!” Paul and Silas might also have figured out that this jailer likely would take the step to be saved since he had just witnessed a miracle and freely requested to know what he must do to be saved – showing his interest in his heart. If the man of the household gets born again, it’s likely that he will be able to affect his entire household with his new spiritual life, and especially if Paul and Silas evangelized to them too, which they did:

32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

The jailer’s family indeed ended up BELIEVING, so they were not saved only because the man of the household was a believer. Neither did Paul and Silas contradict James (in his letter) where James explained that faith without deeds is dead. Also demons believe and tremble, so ”faith” means nothing unless you show your faith with your deeds. Abraham didn’t just sit under a bush and believed without obeying God. No, he showed time and again that he had a strong faith by being obedient to God, even when it came down to offering up his own son.

33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

Paul and Silas left prison and stayed in the house of Lydia for a while.

39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

Common proof texts: PROVERBS 16:9, 16:33, 19:21, 20:24 – about God directing our steps

proverbs 16

Proverbs contain many poetical expressions that mirror the truth, and that’s why we must be careful to not lift out verses out of Proverbs (or Psalms), and make doctrines out of them. That could take us into all sorts of strange directions.

A couple of  guide lines to think about when reading Proverbs and Psalms, would be to 1) Make sure to not interpret the verses in such a way that we make God to be the author of sin, and 2) Make sure to not interpret the verses in such a way that they result in contradictions when compared with other more clear, non-poetic verses.

Proverbs 1:To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

You will find many GENERAL instructions and promises in Proverbs, and below you will find some examples of this, with evidence of that the promises involved couldn’t possibly be understood as 100% valid for all people under the sun with no exception. When a person submits their plans to God, the Lord is faithful to ensure  that  his purpose will stand in his/her life – however, there is still a risk for physical pain even for true believers.

Proverbs 20

Proverbs 20:24 Man’s goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?

The above verse doesn’t need not be interpreted in such a way so that God causes men to be wicked sinners. If every person’s steps are ultimately due to God’s predestination, then what do we do with the multitudes of verses that advise people from departing from the path of evil? Man’s life here on this planet might be beyond our grasp, and even if we believe we have a great understanding and know it all, we will still not see things as clearly as God does. What else is Proverbs 20 saying?

The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.

So we’re sinning against our SOULS if we would happen to provoke a mere man – which a king is?

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

Is it always true that children are blessed if their father walks in integrity? Has there never been one exception in our life time?

A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.

Is this always true with no exception?

Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

Do we always sin? Is there not one minute during a day when we don’t sin? Do we sin even one minute after that we have repented for our sins? If that is so, what is the point with repenting?

10 Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the Lord.

If God predestines all things, why does he cause abominations to occur? Does God want people to do abominable things since he forces them to do them?

13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.

Is it always certain that people will end up in poverty if they like to sleep a lot? Is there not one single exception under the sun?

17 Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

Boy would it be strange if this was taken literally.

23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good.

Again, if things exist which are abominations before the Lord, is it according to his will?

25 It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.

Would God predestine people to devour what is holy? What would be his reasons for doing that?

26 A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.

Is this always true, with no exception?

Proverbs 19

Proverbs 19:21 does not say that all the plans in the mind of a man are always predestined by God, but rather that when there is a confrontation between man’s plans and God having purposed something else, God’s way will always win.

Proverbs 19:21 There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.

God can sometimes exploit even evil choices that people make, but this doesn’t mean he does this all the time or even often. I’d rather believe he does this very rarely, because he has set a time in the FUTURE to judge man’s heart, and to both punish individuals and give rewards to others.  What else is Proverbs 19 saying?

2 Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.

So it’s a SIN to hurry? Is it also a sin to run? No exception?

4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.

Is it always true that the poor is separated from his neighbor? No exception?

6 Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

Is every man a friend to him who gives gifts? No exception?

7 All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.

Do all the brethren of the poor always hate him? No exception? And do his friends also go far from him – always with no exception?

15 Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.

Is it always true that an idel soul shall suffer hunger? No exception?

16 He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.

It looks like it’s a choice to keep the commandments in order for us to keep our souls, unless we choose to despise God’s ways and therefore die.

18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

Do you always beat your son physically, and do you always make sure to keep on doing so even if he cries and beg for mercy? No exception? This is what righteous people always do with no exception?

20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

Sounds like there is an option to hear and receive instructions, and that it always leads to being wise.

23 The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

Is is always true that the fear of the Lord prevents evil from happening to him? No exception under the sun?

24 A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.

Is this to be taken literally?

Proverbs 16 – 16:33 and 16:9 (See Proverbs 16:4 in separate article)

Proverbs 16:33

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

God is capable of determining the outcome of any casted lot, but this doesn’t mean God predestines every single throw of a dice under the sun in every single monopoly game. Many scholars think that the Ephod, Urim and Thummim were objects of divination like flat coins or dice in which the priest or king prayed for God manipulate the objects to reveal his will, but this doesn’t mean that every roll of the dice and every lot cast in every gambling game are manipulated and determined by God. God has an ability to intervene into random lots cast (or in man’s life in general) but such intervention is connected to situations where God has a specific course in mind.

Proverbs 16:9

Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Compare with this verse which is prior to v. 9 and which contains an important CONDITION for the general promise::

Proverbs 16:3 COMMIT THY WORKS UNTO THE LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Compare also with these verses which show conditions for being helped on the true path:

Proverbs 3:Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.6 IN ALL THY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, and he shall direct thy paths.Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and DEPART FROM EVIL.

Proverbs 4:10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.13 TAKE FAST HOLD OF INSTRUCTION ; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

Psalms 37:23 The steps of a GOOD MAN are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.—30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. 

Man has desires and can plan the means to achieve them, but we are dependent on God. We should seek him so he can lead us right. We can’t take Proverbs 16:9 to mean that God dictates each of our actions, because that would make him the author of sin. We would then be able to blame each of our sins on GOD ALONE. That is not the God of the Bible. Abraham devised a way to seek a wife for Isaac, and the servant met Rebekah. Jacob devised a way to flee from Esau, and the Lord blessed him to become rich with a large family. Joseph chose to be righteous, and the Lord directed his steps to Egypt’s throne. Jesse devised a way to send food to his sons in the army, by his youngest son David, not knowing that God was directing David’s steps for a showdown with Goliath.

The fact that God can direct our steps, doesn’t mean that we don’t have a free will. The fact that God is always in control, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t allow us the freedom to accept/reject and obey/disobey.  This is applicable also for Proverbs 16:33. We simply should not take a poetic verse out of context and make a doctrine out of it, contrary to the rest of the Scripture. God does not predestine us to sin, and that’s that.

Prov. 16:12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. 13Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right. — 17The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul. 18Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. — 20He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.— 23The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. —25There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.— 27An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. 28A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. 29A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. 30He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.— 32He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. 33The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

What else is Proverbs 16 saying?

5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

If all thing are predestined by God, why would he predestine something that is an abomination before him? And why punish a person who is engaged in an abomination, if it’s caused by God only because he wanted it to happen?

6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

It looks like fear of the Lord can make a person depart from evil, rather than being predestined by God to be a non-elect before the creation of the world.

7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Is it always true that walking in the light will make even his enemies to be at peace with him?

12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.

Why would God predestine wickedness and abominations? Surely they happen against his will? Is it always true that kings reach their thrones due to being righteous?

17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.

It looks like it’s in our hands to preserve our souls, by means of living righteously.

18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Would God predestine people to be proud and to have haughty spirits? What would be his reasons?

19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

If something is considered ”better” than surely God would enable this ”better” to happen, rather than closing the door for it?

26 He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.

Is it always true that we work for ourselves? No exception?

28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

Is it always true that whisper separate chief friends? Is the solution to never ever whisper?

29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.

Is it always true that a violent man entices his neighbor and leads him into bad ways? No exceptions?

You can read more about Proverbs 16 here.

A very popular Calvinist proof text is Proverbs 21:1 about the king whose heart is moved like the waters. Read my blog post about it here.

More examples of Proverbs which are only GENERALLY true, but not without plenty of exceptionsProverbs 3

Proverbs 1:17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

It’s not always true that such is the way of those who are greedy. Loads of people are greedy and also prosperous.

Proverbs 1:32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

It’s not always true that he who listens to God and walk in his ways will always dwell safely and see no evil. On the contrary, many christians are persecuted for their faith and they risk death where they live.

Proverbs 3:1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.

It’s not always true that keeping God’s commandment is certain to produce long life on earth.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

It’s not always certain that a wise and pure soul will have his days multiplied and live for a long time. On the contrary, many christians are being persecuted and killed due to their faith.

Proverbs 10:The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.

It’s not always certain that a righteous soul will never go hungry.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

A soft answer does not always turn away wrath

Proverbs 22:Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Training up a child in the way of the Lord does not guarantee that he won’t depart from it. For instance; Salomon’s own son departed from the right way.

Proverbs. 22:11 He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.

It’s not certain that the King will be his friend despite having a pure heart.

Proverbs 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Not all pure and hard working men will stand before kings, and not before evil men.

Alvin Plantinga:

“Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so…The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.” (God, Freedom and Evil, p.30)

Poetry reflects the truth and should not always be understood literally

Psalms and proverbs often contain poetry, songs and hyperboles, so we should be careful to not use various statements as  universal truths applicable for all people everywhere at all times. It’s better to read the verses as general principles described poetically. Do you believe the following information can be applied universally? Can we really say that the below ALWAYS happens at all times with no exception?

Proverbs 13:21Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.22Agood man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.—25The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want. 

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

God’s EVERLASTING (or eternal) COVENANT with Israel was broken

eternity 2Isaiah 24:5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, BROKEN THE EVERLASTING COVENANT

The KJV doesn’t describe God’s covenants as ”eternal” covenants, but rather as ”everlasting” covenants (16 times in KJV), and this is a translation from the Hebrew word ”olam”, which apart from ”eternal” can mean ”forever”, and many compound this with the phrase ”throughout their generations”.

With Abraham, the sign of the covenant between him and God was circumcision. Salvation would not continue if at some point men decided they did not need to circumcise their male children.  Under Moses, the sign of the covenant was the Sabbath day, with the 10 commands being the covenant written out and placed in the Ark – representing the presence of God with them. Salvation would not continue if the Israelites broke those important commandments – without repenting or making an animal sacrifice. Water baptism is the sign of the new covenant, and the signs in the old covenants were completed in Christ. We are to be circumcised in heart and our Sabbath rest is in him, but we must hold to the commitment we made in the new covenant. The significance of the water baptism is our agreeing with God to keep the old man buried and to walk in the newness of life. If we still have sin that we are aware of and refuse to deal with, then sins are not taken away at all and we are in trouble. Modern false teachings have removed all fear of God and eternal judgment of those with sin, by teaching a false hope, a false gospel, and a false sense of security for those with unrepentant sins.

Ex. 31:12 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

An everlasting covenant?

Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.—13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

Leviticus 24:8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant

Numbers 25:13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel

1 Chronicles 16:17 And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Isaiah 61:8 For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

Jeremiah 32:40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

Ezekiel 16:60 Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.

Ezekiel 37:26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting (aiónios Strong’s 166) covenant (diathéké Strong’s 1242)

Greek Aiónios. Definition: age-long, and therefore practically eternal, unending; partaking of the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting.

An everlasting covenant can be broken

God’s covenant has shown to be broken through rebellion – contrary to God’s will.

Genesis 17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

Leviticus 26:15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:—44 And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God.

Psalm 55:20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.

Deuteronomy 31:16 And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.—20 For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.

Isaiah 33:8 The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man.

Jeremiah 11:10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

Jeremiah 33:20 Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season;21 Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers

Ezekiel 16:59 For thus saith the Lord God; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.

Ezekiel 17:15 But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Shall he prosper? shall he escape that doeth such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered?—18Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape.19 Therefore thus saith the Lord God; As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head.

Ezekiel 44:7 In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.

Judges 2:1 And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

Zechariah 11:10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.

The Hebrew Festivals were often referred to as being eternal: The Sabbath is called an ”eternal covenant” in Exodus 31:16-17.  Passover is called eternal in Exodus 12:13,17, and 13:10.  Shavuot or ”Pentecost” is identified as such in Leviticus 23:21, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in Leviticus 16:29, 31, 34 and 23:31.  And Succot or ”booths” is likewise identified as such in Leviticus 23:41. The Levitical Priesthood and sacrificial system is identified as eternal in the Hebrew Scriptures.  The Priesthood itself is described as an eternal covenant in Numbers 25:12,13, see also Exodus 29:9 and 40:15.  Likewise of the Priestly vestments in Exodus 28:29,43.  Regarding Temple vessels we see the basin being commanded forever in Exodus 30:21 the Menorah in Leviticus 24:3 and the trumpets in Numbers 10:8.  The Shewbread is described as eternal in Leviticus 24:8 and scattered indications of eternal sacrifices such as in Leviticus 7:36 (and those sacrifices implicitly included in the festivals).

Lexical/Biblical data concerning OLAM

rainbow

Olam doesn’t mean ”continually in force throughout infinite time, no matter what happens to the world” and nor is it irreversible or something God cannot put to an end,  should conditions change as to warrant such a change. Meaning:

”Long duration, antiquity, futurity: a. indefinite futurity , c. prep. for ever , always (= during the lifetime );  slave for ever ;  serve for ever ; redemption at any time; ever pregnant (womb); of persecutors of Jeremiah; always at ease;  may the king live always ; so of the pious;  I will sing for ever (as long as I live); other emotions and activities continuous through life. b. = continuous existence , (1) of things: the earth; other phr., heavens and contents, ruined cities, ruined lands or a witness for ever , in a book; (2) of nations: Babylon, of Judah; (3) families; the dynasty of Saul; house of Eli; (4) national relations: continual enmity ; of exclusion from; various relations;  perpetual reproach , of dynasty of David, families ;  of God’s covenant:  everlasting covenant ; covenant with Noah ; God remembers it; will not break it, e. of God’s laws;temple to bear God’s name; consecrated; its ceremonies; Levit. priesthood; Aaronic priesthood. f. of God’s promises: his word; promised dynasty of David; of holy land; given, inherited; dwelt in; other blessings; Jerus. to abide”  [BDB] 

2 King. 17:37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.

”For evermore” could be viewed as ”every day” or an idiom for eternal/always.

Ps. 112:Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.

That neither the Hebrew nor the Greek word in itself contains the idea of endlessness is shown both by the fact that they sometimes refer to events or conditions that occurred at a definite point in the past, and also by the fact that sometimes it is thought desirable to repeat the word, not merely saying “forever” but “forever and ever”. In Gen 6:4 it points to the time shortly before the flood. None of these past references has in it the idea of endlessness or limitlessness, but each points to a time long before the immediate knowledge of those living. (THAT II, p. 230) J. Barr (Biblical Words for Time (’1969), p. 73) says, “We might therefore best state the “basic meaning” as a kind of range between ‘remotest time’ and ‘perpetuity’”.

The NEW covenant that is prophesied about in Ezekiel, Isaiah and Jeremiah

The New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 was seen as a covenant superseding the Mosaic covenant. The Hebrew Bible sees these two covenants as being in contrast (this New covenant related to the ”Old” Covenant of Sinai), and one major difference is that ONLY the Newer Covenant is ”olam”. The Mosaic covenant is never called an ”olam berith” in the Hebrew Bible (unlike other covenants).

Ezekiel and second Isaiah look forward to an everlasting covenant between God and the nation ( Ezek 16:60 ; Isa 55:3 ; 61:8) which they describe elsewhere as a covenant in which God’s Spirit will indwell the people ( Ezek 36:27–28 ; Isa 59:21 ).  Malachi’s “messenger of the covenant” is cast as a priestly figure ( Mal 3:1 ; cf. 2:1–9 ). Ezekiel 37 again speaks of the great blessings to be enjoyed by the people of God, including cleansing, walking in God’s statutes, recognition as God’s people, and he says of this era of blessings: “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them” ( v 26). Other important foreshadowings of the new covenant are found in Isa. 54:10 ; 55:3 ; 59:21 ; 61:8 ; Hos. 2:18–23 ; Mal. 3:1–4. Jeremiah’s words imply the receiving of a new heart by the people, as is expressly promised in the parallel prophecy of  Ezek. 11: 19 and 36:26.

The text doesn’t suggest that God will close his eyes and randomly give people a new heart regardless of their own actions, and even if they haven’t even sought him or repented for their sins. Neither does it say that those who are given new hearts will be programmed to do God’s will without any effort of their own and with no failure to do so. It’s rather clear that there are no people living today who are programmed to always do God’s will and who therefore are not affected by any temptations since they are predestined to never sin again. However, if we consider that the holy Spirit is viewed as our guide and Helper, and someone who can lead us on the right path provided that we allow ourselves to be led by Him, then the prophesies in Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah, about the future everlasting covenant might rather be a reference to the new covenant with Jesus Christ – whose death enabled us to get the holy Spirit as a sign/mark/seal and to be placed within us (which is what Hebr. 8-10 suggests). We will be sealed ”unto (FOR) the day of redemption”, so the seal is the initial phase on our journey to finally enter the eternal kingdom of God. A guarantee note or a seal can of course be broken if  the conditions are not met, but if we allow ourselves to walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of our flesh. Especially the book of Hebrews talk a lot about the new covenant in Jesus Christ, which concerns the idea that we can have the law in our hearts.
eternity

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Hebrews 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people

Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;—11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;—15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. 

Hebrews 10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.—15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;—19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;21 And having an high priest over the house of God;22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.-–28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Read more about the prophesies which are fulfilled by means of Jesus Christ and the holy Ghost.

Isa. 55:Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 

Ezek.36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Jeremiah31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 50:In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God.They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.

Ezek 16.57 Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about.58 Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the Lord.59 For thus saith the Lord God; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.60 Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.61 Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.62 And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord:63 That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God.

Isa. 42: I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Jesus applied this to Himself, early in His ministry to Israel.

You can read further in this article from christian thinktank 

YHWH ALONE knows the hearts of the children of men, and JESUS too!

alla6YHWH, or God, or God the Father (or the entire trinity) ALONE knows the hearts of the children of men according to 1 King. 8:39, but the very same attributes are mentioned in relation to Jesus Christ in Rev. 2:23. So is it a lie that God ALONE possesses such incredible knowledge? The only way to solve this and avoid making God a liar, is to accept that Jesus is God and the trinity is valid. Or else God is NOT alone knowing the hearts of the children of men, as he claims he is.

This is about God in the old testament

1 King 8:39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even THOU ONLY, KNOWEST THE HEARTS OF ALL THE CHILDREN OF MEN;)

Jer. 11:20 But, O Lord of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.

Jer. 20:12 But, O Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.

Ps. 7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.

Ps. 26:Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.

Pro. 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

Jer. 17:10 I THE LORD SEARCH THE HEART, I TRY THE REINS, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

This is about Jesus in the new testament

Notice that Rev. 2:23 contains almost the exact same phrase and wordings as Jer. 17:10. Is God the author of confusion, or does he maybe wants us to understand that Jesus is God, and that he shares the same trinity as God the Father?

Rev. 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith THE SON OF GOD, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I AM HE (ego eimi) WHICH SEARCHETH THE REINS AND HEARTS: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

The Spirit makes intercession for us, and we can read about ”he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit”. Who is this referred to? Could it be Jesus, since we know that he too makes intercessions for us before God (God the Father)? We can read that the REASON why he searches the hearts of the saints, is due to the plan to make an intercession for them, and it’s not possible to make an intercession before God (God the Father) for someone unless you know what’s in this person’s heart and can see his true motives.

Rom. 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Hebr. 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.—24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens

So we can see that God the Father, Jesus the son, and the holy Spirit, are linked together in the same unity – even if they are not one and the same.

Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is turned wherever God wants?

king's heart2Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will

It’s never a good idea to use a psalm or a proverb as a filter to read the rest of the Bible through, because poetic text might obviously not always be the literal truth. It’s shaky to start a new doctrine based on poetry and analogies, and you can reach almost any conclusion you want if you single out a verse out of context in Psalms or Proverbs (or anywhere) and use it as a foundation for a certain theology view.

The above verse is sometimes used by our reformed friends (calvinists) as an attempt to support the idea that God has an exhaustive control over all decisions of men – i.e. God predestines every step that a man makes and nothing happens against the will of God. There may be calvinists who disagree with this view, but then they are not consistent with their own doctrines – as in TULIP

It’s true that God may occasionally and in rare situations choose to override the will of man, but calvinists believe God acts in such way at all times and that he constantly steers our steps and wills so that we will always act and think according to his exact will with no exception. They believe that God is no longer sovereign if man has any independent control separate from his own will. Sovereign and sovereignty are not Biblical words (KJV), but also freewillers believe God is ”sovereign”, but obviously not the way calvinists understand this term. A sovereign and an all powerful God is mighty enough to create man with a free will and to be responsible for his (not God’s) own actions. If God is the one who causes us to think and act the way he wants, then of course he is the one to be responsible for our thoughts and actions, but that is not the God of the Bible because it would make him the author of sin.

Prior to the flood the people were purely evil (with an exception of Noah and his family):

Gen. 5:And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

It wouldn’t make any sense at all if God first caused people to have wicked thoughts and constantly perform evil, and then bring a global flood on everyone due to their wickedness that he himself predestined. The wickedness culminated after the nephilim were being born by the sons of God (fallen angels, as per other Bible verses) and female human beings, and wickedness is always against God’s will.

Proverbs 21:1  doesn’t speak about all the people in the whole world but about ”the king”,  and this verse might have been written by King Solomon concerning himself. The passage also doesn’t tell us that God controls the king’s heart irresistibly. It’s possible that Solomon is proclaiming that he is fulfilling his appointed role by allowing God to control his decision-making so that his decisions would essentially be the decisions of God, and it is not a statement that God is irresistibly controlling his heart but that the king has fully surrendered his heart and will to the will of God.

A good king was to represent God to his people in his judgments and decisions, and we can see this in Psalm 82 quoted by Jesus to the Pharisees in John 10:34-38.  In the psalm, the rulers of the people were called “gods” because they were to represent God to His people in their leadership and judgments.  In Psalm 82 God is seen to stand in judgment of the judges and rebuke them for their failure to represent God as they were called by God to do. If the Scripture could call wicked judges “gods”, how much more does Jesus deserve to be equated with God since He is sent into the world by God himself?

The wicked make plans and those plans seldom include their own destruction or judgment nor the many calamities that might result from their rebellion, but such is their future according to the Lord. Nothing can ultimately thwart God’s overall sovereign plan, and his ultimate control over the universe is in no way threatened by the free will decisions of his creatures. That is the gist of Proverbs 21.

What else does Proverbs 21 say?
king's heart

21:Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

It wouldn’t make sense if God irresistibly controls the heart at the same time as he ponders/weighs/judges the heart that he alone controls with no interference or involvement by man. Solomon is concerned about pleasing the Lord in righteousness and justice, and a sacrifice is usually made when a person has transgressed the law of God and needs to be forgiven through the blood of an animal sacrifice. Of course it’s better to be obedient to start with because then a sacrifice isn’t even needed, and we can read that this option is more acceptable to God. Solomon contrasts the desires and actions of men surrendered to God with those who are in rebellion to God and refusing to submit to Him. Solomon himself fell away from the Lord in his later years but when he wrote this Proverb Solomon was committed to the Lord.

21:4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

Is it really possible that God would want people to have a high look, a proud heart and being wicked sinners? It’s absurd to suggest that God could cause people to be evil because in God there is no darkness at all and he doesn’t even tempt anyone – much less cause anyone to sin.

21:The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.7 The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.

A lying tongue would also be something that God doesn’t want anyone to have, and we can read that the robbery of the wicked shall destroy them because they REFUSE to do judgment. It’s not God who leads them in that direction, but they do it to themselves.

21:The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.10 The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.

Solomon compares ”man” with ”the pure”. The work of the pure is RIGHT unlike the way of man, and this must mean that some people do NOT do what is right before God since all men are not pure. The soul of the wicked desire EVIL, and does it sound plausible that God causes certain men to be wicked and evil?

21:11 When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.12 The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.

A scorner is not showing a good conduct and that’s why he is punished. The righteous man is contrasted with the wicked man, and we can read that God overthrows the wicked for the reason that he is performing wickedness. Why would God overthrow and punish people for the reason that they are being wicked, if he himself caused them to be wicked in the first place? Instead of being punished they should get praise and applauds for doing the will of God – by being evildoers – if this is what God truly wanted them to be.

21:13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.14 A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.15 It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

Does God want people to ”stop their ears” at the cry of the poor? Surely not, since God repeatedly tells us to be merciful and help those in need. Whosoever is a worker of iniquity must surely be acting against God’s will? The Bible says that God hates the workers of iniquity (psalm 5:5) so it wouldn’t make sense if he would be causing people to be just that, and then turn around and pretend to be angry at the same workers of iniquity.

21:16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.17 He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.18 The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.

Here we can read about man wandering out-of-the-way of understanding. It doesn’t say God pushed him out-of-the-way of understanding or prevented him in any way to reach a better understanding, but that the man himself is guilty of this – and the dire consequence for this unfortunate choice is death. Does God want people to love pleasure and wine, and does he want them to be wicked transgressors? Again, I hope all will say NO WAY. Sinning is always against God’s will.

21:19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.22 A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

God surely wouldn’t cause people to be foolish and waste expensive oil. The wise man is again contrasted with the foolish man, and it’s up to us to follow after righteousness in order to find life and honor, and it’s up to us to keep our tongue to save our SOUL from trouble.

24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.25 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?28 A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.

Read this passage again about proud, haughty scorners who refuse to labor and who are greedy and covet things that don’t belong to them. The sacrifice of the wicked is an ABOMINATION before God, and the only reason they would even think about doing something like that would be due to a wicked mind. Would God cause people to be wicked and act in such a way? God directs the way of the upright, but the wicked hardens himself. Bad choice on their part.

Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.—28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

The thoughts of the wicked are an ABOMINATION to the Lord, and he is far from the wicked. Would God cause people to be so wicked that they were an abomination before him? That would not be the God of the Bible, but this type of God can unfortunately be seen in books authored by calvinists. Flee to another direction.