How do you respond to Isaiah 14:24, 27?

The Lord of hosts has sworn:
As I have designed,
so shall it be;
and as I have planned,
so shall it come to pass…
For the Lord of hosts has planned,
and who will annul it?
his hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?

The fact that Scripture frequently speaks of God’s will being thwarted and his Spirit being grieved should prevent us from interpreting this passage as a universally applicable, absolute law. The fact that Scripture provides teaching and illustrations of the Lord modifying his “designs” in response to what humans do—even after he’s publicly declared what they are (e.g. Jer. 18:1-10)—should caution us against this interpretation as well.

The point of this passage is not to instruct us about the way God operates at all times and in all places. The context makes it clear that it is simply teaching that when God irrevocably decides to bring judgment upon a nation (in this case, Assyria, vs. 22, 25), no one can stop him. A careful reading of similar passages that speak of God fulfilling his “purposes” and “plans” reveals that they too invariably “have in view a particular event or a limited series of events” (e.g. Isa 25:1; 46:10; Mic 4:12; Jer 23:20).* They do not warrant the conclusion that God determines all things.

Note
*See D. Clines, “Predestination in the Old Testament,” in Grace Unlimited, ed. C. Pinnock (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1975), 116.

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