Creating horizons & making sense of predestination

As is the case on most mornings, today I cruised down the freeway to behold a beautiful blue sky abruptly encountering a line of green trees in the distance. This boundary delineating sky and earth was sharp and decisive. Understanding horizons can also aid us in comprehending predestination.

We should not be surprised that our English word horizon originates from a Greek cognate horizo, meaning to set a boundary or make a determination. This is exactly how horizons function. They create a boundary dividing one thing from another.

If we might expect the Greek version of the Old Testament (Septuagint) as well as the New Testament to provide ample examples of horizo illustrating these ideas, we would be correct (Joshua 13:27; Ezekiel 47:20; Luke 22:22; Acts 11:29). In fact, we will also discover it is used to describe making an oath (Numbers 30:3-9). If we think about it, this makes sense since oaths involve separating what we will do from what we will not do.

As it turns out, “horizons” determine a great many things. Take professional basketball for example. The NBA has drawn a boundary line separating the first team to achieve four wins within a championship playoff series from its opponent. That line determines which team will win. Obviously, the specific team who will win any particular series remains unknown or at least probabilistic until that fourth win. NBA champions are predetermined.

In fact, many such boundaries determine what will be done for someone or for a group, while not specifically predicting the names of who those individuals will be. Consider the British monarchy’s succession to the throne. Rules separate the next successor for the crown from all the others. Monarchs are predetermined.

Let’s return to scripture. Sometimes God makes determinations in such a way no human can replicate them. To convey the intensity of this idea the word “before” (pro) was affixed to the front of horizo to create proorizo.

For example, God set a boundary limiting the Messiah’s path toward a particular outcome. As Jesus himself taught, the Son of Man must suffer (Mark 8:31). Accordingly, God predestinated Christ’s suffering (Acts 4:27-28).

Furthermore, Paul informs us that prior to the world existing God had a plan whereby he predetermined he would use Jesus Christ to adopt a group of people to become his children (Ephesians 1:4-5). Likewise before the ages, God’s wisdom determined what would lead unto our glory (1 Corinthians 2:6-7). In accordance with his will, God had determined what would happen for those in Christ. They would receive an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). In other words, God predestinated the plan and its results.

If this were not amazing enough, Paul described several truths about this group of people who would be in Christ. These people would be those whom God had called (Romans 8:30). To be a part of God’s people, one must hear and respond to the gospel’s call. Furthermore, God predetermined such called ones would grow into the image of his Son (Romans 8:30). If God planned for this group to mature in Christ, then God also foreknew them (Romans 8:29).

Believe it or not, but these verses exhaust the New Testament occurrences for predestinate. What have we learned?  What God has predetermined is wonderful and reassuring! As disciples of Christ, we can be encouraged and filled with confidence that such things as God’s work in adopting us as his people and our possessing an inheritance in Christ are neither accidental, uncertain nor an afterthought. God has predetermined this is exactly what he would do for his people. Praise be to God for caring for us so and setting our hearts at ease.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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