Good Directions

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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An old joke that is popular among women speculates that the reason it took the Jews forty years to make the eleven-day journey across the wilderness (Deut. 1:2) is because Moses was a typical man, too stubborn to stop and ask for directions! Of course, Bible students know that the real reason for this epic delay was Israel’s sinful rebellion against God. Back then, the Lord led His people each step of their way with a cloud (Num. 9:15-23), but the cloud led them to “wander in the wilderness forty years” (Num. 32:13) to punish them for their disobedience.

But in the absence of any guiding cloud today, how can we expect the Lord to direct us? What exactly did Paul mean when he wrote,

“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (2 Thes. 3:5).

Most grace believers know that God directs members of the Body of Christ with His Word, but there continues to be a lot of confusion about this, based on verses like Proverbs 16:9:

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.”

Verses like this are used to teach that men plan what they are going to do, but then God comes along and overpowers their will and makes them walk in a direction that is different than what they planned. This interpretation leads to an extreme form of Calvinism that teaches that God is responsible for every move men make, that He is the Puppeteer pulling the strings and man is the marionette doll responding helplessly to His every whim. This view of God borders on what is called fatalism. A lot of unbelievers believe that “fate” controls everything in our lives and we are powerless to override its slightest caprice.

The obvious problem with believing that we are manipulated by the Almighty and cannot make a move that He does not cause is that it makes Him the author of our every sin. And so there must be some other explanation for verses like Proverbs 16:9, and we believe that there is. The only safe way to interpret the Bible is by comparing Scripture with Scripture (1 Cor. 2:13), so let’s compare the word “directeth” in this verse to how Isaiah used the word in time past:

“Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counselor hath taught Him?” (Isa. 40:13).

Notice that when the prophet says no one can direct the Spirit of the Lord, he then goes on to rephrase his words by saying that the Lord cannot be counseled or taught. This, then, is what Paul meant when he spoke about God directing our hearts. God directs us by counseling us through the teaching of His Word. A man’s evil heart devises his way (Jer. 17:9), and the Lord comes along and directs him to do what He commands by the counsel of His Word.

To the Reader:

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