Declaring the end from the beginning – Isaiah 46:9-10 – does not mean God predestines sin
Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (KJV)
Isaiah 46:10 DECLARING FROM THE BEGINNING THE LATTER END, And from of old that which hath not been done, Saying, `My counsel doth stand, And all My delight I do.’ (Young’s Literal)
So, from the very beginning of time God has declared something that will take place in the latter end, and we can continue on to v. 11 and v. 12-13 to see exactly what this is. It’s about the coming of a “ravenous bird“, but most importantly about the fact that salvation will come from Zion. God is able to tell us through his prophets what will happen in the future whether God himself wants these things to happen or not. In this case it looks like what he is telling us through Isaiah is something that God himself has decreed will happen. See further down below. Also, if God delights in a world where man has free will and able to obey/disobey and where he is responsible for his own actions, can God make such a world? Yes! God can do anything he wants.
Some of our reformed friends translate “declaring the end from the beginning” to “I decide and predestine every step that a man makes and he has no choice but to act exactly as I have caused him to act “, and they translate “my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure“ to “my counsel is to unconditionally cause a certain elect group of people to believe in me, and my pleasure is to orchestrate everything that happens, including causing people to sin – and I will also punish them for this sin by sending them to hell for it “.
But if that interpretation is true, then of course God has always wanted people to be born depraved and with a sinful nature that causes them all to sin, and that would absolutely make God the author of sin and the one we must blame for all wickedness in the world. We would have no other choice but to trace each case of murder, violence, abortion and rape back to GOD and we must even conclude that he caused Satan to rebel against him. Some reformed believers object to the notion that God is the author of sin, which their doctrine necessitates, but there are numerous calvinists who admit that they believe in a God who makes people sin for his glory.
What does the rest of the chapter Isaiah 46 say?
1 Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.
It’s really interesting that God would want his people to make use of IDOLS, despite that the first commandment that God gave Moses is:
“You shall have no other gods before me”
Could God really be angry at his people for making idols, if he is the one who predestines them to make them? Will people risk their souls for making these idols and for worshiping them, despite that it’s according to God’s will? Will people end up in hell despite obeying God to 100%?
3 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:
It’s strange that God would say “hearken unto me...” just like people could choose to NOT hearken unto him. It’s also interesting that God suggests that the house of Jacob and the remnant of the house of Israel were “borne by me from the belly” because this sounds like they were not born depraved, and yet not all individuals from this group will always be good and obedient people.
6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.7 They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.
Again, it’s very interesting that God would cause his people to make an idol to bow down for and to worship, despite that God also tells them multiple times that they should have no other God before him. What would be his reason for predestining them to do something horrible like that? Does he want us to obey his commandments or not? We can also read that they were transgressors, and that would be people who transgress the divine commandments in violation to the one who gave those commandments. But how could this be, if God is the one who directs every single one of their steps and that nothing that comes to pass happens against his will? If God is the one who causes people to make idols, can we really say that they “transgress” his command to not make idols? If God is the one who wants them to make idols and cause them to make idols, then it’s hard to see how this could be a “transgression” of any kind. So it seems like God causes his people to act in a way that goes against his own principles, as though God is battling with some schizophrenic problems. The best way to solve it is of course to flee from calvinism, because that would at once take care of all Bible contradiction that this gnostic theology has caused AND God’s holy nature and reputation would be intact.
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Here comes our famous quote. Couldn’t “declaring the end from the beginning” mean that God has foreknowledge of certain events and has taken measures to both punish people who transgress his laws, as well as helping those people out who seek him and turn to him for his aid? The context is about the deliverance of his people from Babylon by the hand of Cyrus, which he purposed and prophesied about. The terms “my counsel” and “my pleasure” don’t necessarily mean that God alone micro manages every single step that people make – against their will and without conditions. Each person is responsible for his own actions, and we can often see God acting based on the premise “if you do this, I will do that“. If God is the one who directs our steps unconditionally, then the blame for all evil darkness must be placed on God alone – and God should ask us for forgiveness for causing so much wickedness and evil.
11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
Aha, this is the verse right after v. 10, and here we can see exactly what his “pleasure” might be and what it is that he has declared according to his counsel. He has apparently called “a ravenous bird from the east – a man of his counsel”. It’s not certain who this is, but it might be a reference to Cyrus who God indirectly might have involved in his plans for Israel. All God has to do is to remove his protective hands from a certain leader among his people, resulting in that the enemy would get sufficient help needed to be victorious. God doesn’t always interfere in such manner, but it looks like this is a rare case where he did. It’s inconceivable to believe that a holy God places evil desires in someone’s heart, because there is no darkness in God and he doesn’t tempt anyone – much less cause people to sin. Even if Israel will initially be shaken, there is also a plan for SALVATION – which is purposed by God. So the ultimate purpose by God, and what he will execute according to the counsel of his will, is to bring salvation from Zion. Read on.
12 Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:
Isn’t it interesting that God would consider making people stouthearted and unrighteous? Yet, this is what he must have done if we must interpret v. 9-10 as though God predestines everything. And why continuously asking people to hearken unto him, if he knows that they can do nothing BUT hearken to him? People are not able to listen to God if God has prevented them from doing so. Things always pan out the way God wants in the calvinistic world.
13 I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.
“Salvation in Zion” sounds like a promise about the upcoming Messiah who will come forth in the future in Zion, and he will be of the blood of Jacob and King David. This is something that happens according to the council of his will, and nowhere in the chapter does it say that God causes people to think and to act in a certain way. “I bring near my righteousness”, God says, and that doesn’t sound like there is much room for wickedness and unrighteousness – which is something abominable in God’s eyes.