God and "What If?"

An Exercise

It can sometimes be an interesting exercise to ask the “What if?” questions about stories in the Bible. While this practice is not instructive in itself, it can highlight the choices made by those in Bible stories by considering the implication of the alternative.

For example, what if Noah had chosen to ignore God’s warning about the impending flood? The disaster to for mankind would have been permanent extinction. Or what if Moses had refused to be God’s instrument in freeing the Jewish people? The nation of Israel would never have existed, nor would have a Jew by the name of Christ.

An Unnecessary Question

It can be interesting to postulate some of these questions and consider the ramifications of such choices, but ultimately the question is invalid. This is because first, the choice was not made thereby making such thoughts theoretical, and second, there is no such question of the given outcome with God. By asking some of these questions, we learn about the choices of individuals, but the question cannot be asked in the broader sense of God’s plan.

The question of Noah’s choice is without basis because God’s plan for man would have been frustrated. The question about Moses is without basis for the same reason. The same is true of many other choices made. This reality can be carried to many of the events which occur in life. Now, one must take care to avoid the extreme of fatalism – implying that every choice, even the most mundane, has been pre-determined or “destined.” This is certainly not the case, or else man would be without free will.

However, the demonstration of God’s providence in the world is obvious when seen looking back into the past. In every instance, the individual had the very choice to make by their own will, but God’s plan would never be frustrated by the foolish choice of man. How can these two ideas be reconciled? Only in God, who transcends both time and space and knows both the beginning and end of all events.

God is In Control

So, in considering the idea of “What if?” we can learn some important truths about our own lives and the lives of others by looking at the path not taken. But we must remember that ultimately God is the director of the events of the world, and it is His path which all will one day follow, whether one wishes to or not. God’s hand can be seen in all the events of the past from the creation to the coming of Christ and beyond, there is no reason to doubt His hand today and into the future. The most important “What if?” question is whether you will choose to follow His will or not, and where such a path will lead.

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