I was raised as a Calvinist leaning believer who later attended seminary and became convinced of TULIP, the five points of Calvinism. Central to all of that is the supremacy of God and His Work while man only responds to His Spirit. Now, this is over generalized, but it is the central element of good Reformed Presbyterian Calvinism.
A statement like “If you do your part, God does His part” would make my skin crawl!! Seriously, the ‘Arminian‘ idea that man can initiate action with God was anathema! (I attended a seminary that was not denominationally affiliated and was about 40/60 Calvinists to Arminians, and countless lively lunchroom and classroom discussion erupted over the differences in the two schools of thought. Sometimes, VERY lively.)
The pursuit of Truth that led me out of the pulpit and into a more Hebraic understanding of God’s Word brought me to a place where I see the responsibility of man in a whole new light. So, yesterday, when Tzefanyah’s opening comment at National Shabbat in North Georgia was, “If you do your part, God does His part,” I understood what he was saying.
As I began studying the Scriptures with newfound clarity, I began to notice ‘if-then’ statements all over the place. Because logic and/or basic computer programming are no longer taught in schools, I offer a quick explanation for the younger generation…. (I feel so old saying that… LOL!) As the diagram above illustrates, ‘IF’ a condition exists, ‘THEN’ a particular result can be expected. Here are a couple examples from Scripture:
Exo. 19:5 Now therefore, IF ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, THEN ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Lev. 26:3 IF ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4 THEN I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
Deuteronomy has dozens of examples.
But there is another aspect, besides the direct ‘if-then’ statements whereby we see Biblical characters ‘doing their part’ before God did His…. Noah built an ark. Joseph stored grain. Moses picked up the serpent, stretched his hand over the water, struck the rock, etc…. Joshua marched. Gideon chose 300. David selected five smooth stones.
The examples are endless.
There are also examples in Scripture whereby people had what they needed and could do their part, but rather refused and demanded God provide instead! Think of all the flocks that came out of Egypt, yet the people demanded quail so they didn’t have to part with their own sheep. That act of demanding God ‘do’ without them offering their part invoked judgment!!
Simply, the evidence of Scripture and the proper Hebraic perspective is that we are to do what we can/what we are called to and then God does His part. The same seems to hold true with the fulfillment of Prophecy…
A common maxim is, ‘work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God.’ I.e., do your part and He’ll do His part.
Tomorrow: Why Tzefanyah covered this topic…. You can begin to do your part!!