Open Theism, the Red Sea Crossing, and the Israelite Rebellion

The Biblical Doctrine of

Possibilities, Choices,

and Outcomes

by Mark Mountjoy

 

Can we find elements of Open Theism in God's actions regarding the deliverance of the Israelites, followed by subsequent disappointments? Out of the multitude, only two individuals who crossed the Red Sea were permitted to enter the Promised Land. If God had predetermined that only two men would enter the Promised Land, why did he not allow only those two to pass through the Red Sea?  This is an interesting question to persue.  The drastic attrition rate between the multitude of Israelites delivered from Egypt and the mere two who finally entered the Promised Land 40 years later does present a logical dilemma from some theological perspectives.

From an Openness viewpoint, this could be seen as evidence that God did not predestine every detail, but rather the Israelites' consistent disobedience, lack of trust in God, and stubbornness necessitated severe responses. Their rebellion resulted in unintended long-term consequences.

An Open Theist interpretation could argue:

1) God initially delivered all the Hebrews hoping they would place faith inNadab and Abihu get burnt to cinders by God Him despite hard circumstances. Their deliverance was not necessarily inevitable or pre-ordained.

2) God was genuinely grieved by and angered at the Israelites' recurring distrust and disobedience. This would not be logically coherent if every detail was already foreordained.

3) The consequences enacted upon that generation, including barring them from entering Canaan, were responsive punishments rather than predetermined outcomes. Only Caleb and Joshua were spared due to their proven faithfulness.

So in the Open Theist paradigm, God reacts genuinely and dynamically to people's choices. The Israelites' rebellion necessitated severe discipline, resulting in unintended generational loss - only Caleb and Joshua proved worthy to receive the promise. This situation could be viewed as the unintended results of human decisions rather than unilateral divine predetermination from the outset.

Related

Does the Bible Teach Arbitrary

Exclusion From Salvation?

God, Open Theism, and the

Uncertainty Principle in Biblical Narratives

Open Theism in Romans

Caption: Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to Yahweh and he burnt both men to cinders. (Leviticus 10:1-5)