Our emotions can teach us something about God's.

John 11:35 (NKJV)

Jesus wept.

If God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass, then how can He be sad about anything that happens? Wouldn’t that be absurd?

Well, consider Shakespeare as he is writing Romeo and Juliet. While he is foreordaining everything in the play, might he have felt some of the sadness he was writing into the ending? Would you?

When the movie version came out in the late 1960’s, I wondered if anyone would want to see it, given that they all knew the ending. (Spoiler alert—they both die.)

Turns out that lots of people did go see it, and lots of people cried.

Why cry at a fictional account of something sad that you know is going to happen?

It happens.

So, the lesson we draw from thinking about God’s image in us is, “If we act this way, maybe it’s not so absurd for God to act this way.”

God’s sadness makes sense.

Our emotions are in God’s image, though His are perfect and ours are marred by sin.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8 (NIV)

But this leads to another question like the one above. Scripture says that God wants everyone to be saved but also says that not everyone is saved. If God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass, then how can His desires be thwarted?

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. — 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. — 2 Timothy 2:3–4 (NIV)

People gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. — Revelation 16:10b–11 (NIV)

The answer is explained well in “Knowing God’s Will” by Blaine Smith. There are two different Greek words for God’s will. βουλη (boo-LAY) means His immutable will or decree. θελημα (thuh-LAY-ma) means what He desires or prefers. The NIV translates θελημα wisely, using “want” instead of “will.”

Shakespeare isn’t love the way that God is love, but he still didn’t “want” Romeo to die—in the sense of taking pleasure from it.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.