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Does God choose or do we?
by Richlon Merrill
09/02/10
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I had a friend ask me,” Does God choose our mate?”
I would like to explore that issue from another paradigm which might actually change the question itself. The issue of God's sovereignty must not only include the selection of a mate, but over all of our choices. As I read Scripture, I am fascinated with the collection of individual stories all tied together to form the exact message and content the Lord was intent on delivering to us who put our trust in Him. It is as if one great Author penned every word, forming and conducting every tale and episode conveyed on every page. And yet, these stories involve real people making individual choices. Even more amazing is that groups of dozens, hundreds, and thousands of individuals, all with a divergence of ideas and choices, determined the direction of nations and the course of history.

Or did they?

Let’s narrow our focus somewhat with a few particular examples. Do parents name their children? Well of course they do. I assume the patriarchs found in the book of Genesis named their children as well. The first ten generations of these patriarchs from Adam to Noah were named by their prospective parents. Each name has a particular meaning in the original language. The combined meanings of these names present a portrait of Christ. Here are the names given in Genesis:
1- Adam - "Man or mankind"
2- Seth - "to appoint or put in place".
3- Enos - "feeble/mortality"
4- Cainan - "a dwelling place"
5- Mahalaleel - "God shines forth and is praised".
6- Jared - "God's servant who comes down/descends"
7- Enoch - "to make obedient or dedicate/instruct"
8- Methuselah - "man of the javelin, a missle or piercing one"
9- Lamech - "Smitten or tortured"
10- Noah - "rest, relief, consolation"

Now read this as a sentence: Mankind is appointed to feeble mortality to a fixed dwelling place. The God who is praised comes down to make obedient, instruct as a man sent forth to be the pierced one, smitten and tortured to bring rest and consolation.

Do you see a message in the meanings of these names? Are we given a glimpse into the very person and work of Jesus Christ? Is this mere coincidence? Is it fanciful footwork on the part of the Biblical scholar? I would assert that it denotes the absolute sovereignty of our great Creator and Lord even though the choices were made by his created beings.

Was it David’s choice to commit adultery with Bathsheba and to then take her as his bride and produce Solomon who then penned many of the Proverbs which so eloquently convey the wisdom of God?

Was it Joseph’s brothers’ choice to sell him into slavery which sent him to Egypt where he became second in command over all of Egypt which resulted in Joseph’s brothers having to come to Egypt for grain during a great famine which then resulted in their entire family moving to Egypt where the Hebrews then became enslaved and then delivered by Moses who God then used to deliver His laws, message, and His admonition of blessings and curses to His chosen people, not to mention all of the messianic prophecies and word pictures portraying the very nature and mission of messiah found throughout the Pentateuch and Israel’s history? (The run-on is intentional. You might have to read it again.)

Just in case you haven’t picked up on my point, God is sovereign through every perceived good and evil choice made by mankind. I am sure some of you will challenge that with rational human reasoning. Still, this is what scripture denotes. What was true back then is still true today. So how does this relate to the choice of a mate? Just as in every choice we make, we can either choose to live according to God’s standards and principles, or we can choose our own way. In either case, God will have his way. In the matter of choosing a mate, we will most certainly choose to marry a sinner, just as our mate will also make that choice. In so doing, God will use that person in our lives to sanctify us. He will use us to sanctify our mate. And yes, it will be our choice. But God knows who and what it will take to make us more like Christ. It might take an abrasive spouse or it might take a godly one. Our obedience and cooperation with God, or our maturity in Christ at different stages of our lives will result in which of those routes might be taken. Even if we choose to later ignore God’s admonishment to remain in the marriage, God will still be working “all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called by Him for His purpose” (Romans 8:28). So not only is God working all things for our good but He will have his sovereign will in the midst of those choices made by us as well as the choices others will make which have an effect on us.

How would I answer that original question? If I could answer how God can say “whosoever will…” and “chosen before the foundation of the world” in the matter of our salvation and have them both be compatible, then I would have to say that we choose our mate and God planned that mate from the beginning of time. And in some cases, the business of choosing a mate might have to be set aside. What does God’s word say? Can we be content and even thankful and praise Him that He has chosen to make us His very own special mate? How I long to be thankful and joyful in praise to my Savior and Lord in any circumstance of life. I may not know this for certain until that circumstance comes my way.

These things are profound and sometimes keep me up at night writing about it and makes my brain hurt.


If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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