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What Does the Bible Say About Fate/Destiny? – This is a very complicated issue, and we’ll start by discussing what the Bible doesn’t teach. Fate is usually thought of as a prearranged series of events beyond human control. The general response for those who believe in fate is to surrender – if we can’t change fate, then what’s the point of trying? Whatever happens, happens, and we can’t do anything to change it. This is “fatalism,” and not a biblical mindset.

Fatalism is one of the foundations of Islam, which commands perfect submission to the sovereignty of Allah. It is also a central view in Hinduism; a fatal outlook that ensures the caste system persists. Greek mythology tells of the existence of the Moirai, or the Fates, three goddesses who were depicted as weavers of human life. Their decisions cannot be canceled or annulled, even by other gods. Again, fatalism is not a biblical concept.

Fate and Destiny – Our Free Will

The Bible teaches that humans were created with the moral ability to choose and that they are also responsible for those choices. The fall of man was not something that was arranged where Adam and Eve were helpless victims of God who seemed to be the Mastermind of the tragedy. In contrast, Adam and Eve had the ability to choose to obey (and receive the blessing) or disobey (and receive the curse as a result). They already knew the consequences of their choices beforehand, and they were held accountable (Genesis 3).

The theme of accountability for our choices continues throughout the Bible. “He who sows deceit will reap disaster” (Proverbs 22:8a). “In every toil there is gain, but mere words bring only loss” (Proverbs 14:23). “Will you live without fear of government? Do what is good and you will receive praise from it” (Romans 13:3).

Often, when the Bible discusses fate, what is being referred to is the fate that people bring upon themselves: “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction” (Philippians 3:18-19). “This is the way of those who trust in themselves, the doom of those who delight in their own words” (Psalm 49:13). “He who commits adultery has no sense; he who commits such acts is self-destructive” (Proverbs 6:32). “They were judged each according to his works” (Revelation 20:13).

We sin because we choose to sin. We cannot accuse “fate,” kismet, predestination, or God. James 1:13-14 teaches, “When anyone is tempted, let him not say, ‘This temptation comes from God!’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each person is tempted by his own desires, because he is drawn away and enticed by them.”

It is interesting that many people who choose to sin are troubled by the negative consequences of their sin. “Foolishness leads a man astray, and his heart becomes angry with the LORD” (Proverbs 19:3). This is a very insightful verse. When someone foolishly ruins his life, he may still insist on accusing God, or perhaps “Fate.” In this way, he will continue to practice ignorance.

The Bible also teaches that we choose to have faith. The oft-repeated commands in the Bible imply that we have a choice when it comes to faith. “Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27; see also Acts 16:31; 19:4).

Fate and Destiny – God’s Sovereignty

So that we don’t misunderstand, we are not the sovereign masters of our lives. Only God is sovereign. His sovereignty we call “providence.” He has chosen to give us free will, and He has created a universe of morality where the law of cause and effect is the reality. But Allah alone is Allah, and there are no “accidents” in the universe.

The figure of God who is Almighty and All-Knowing certainly has a plan, so it is not surprising that the Bible tells of the existence of a divine plan. God’s plan, because it is planned by God, is holy, wise, and full of goodness. God’s providence or destiny is working out His true plan for His creation.

God says in Isaiah 48:3, “That thing which I told you a long time ago, it has come out of my mouth and I have made it known to you; immediately I delivered him, and then it was done.” What God has declared, He also does (even though He may have declared it centuries before).

Resisting God’s plan is useless. “There is no wisdom or understanding, and no judgment, that can rival the LORD” (Proverbs 21:30). Therefore the Tower of Babel was never completed (Genesis 11:1-9), therefore Daniel’s enemies were thrown into the lion’s den (Daniel 6:24), therefore Jonah spent time in the belly of a fish (Jonah 1:17) , and therefore I will be faced with problems when I sin.

Even what is usually called “chance,” “coincidence,” or “destiny” is under the power of God. “The lot is cast in the lap, but every decision is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33). In other words, God does not fold his hands in taking care of the world.

Everything that happens in this world is made to happen according to God’s purpose. Evil exists, but evil is not allowed to destroy God’s providence/destiny. God even uses sinful humans to carry out His will. “The heart of a king is like a fountain of water in the hand of the LORD, he lets it flow wherever he wishes” (Proverbs 21:1). God worked in the hearts of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:36) and King Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:27) to accomplish His purposes. Even though the human heart is full of evil, God can still carry out His will, as we observe in the case of those who crucified Jesus (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).

God’s plan contains rewards for those who trust Him, and He promises to glorify His children. “But what we proclaim is the hidden and secret wisdom of God, which God provided before the foundation of the world for our glory…But as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, and which has never arisen in the heart of man: all that God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Corinthians 2:7-9). Note the use of the word “provided” in this verse – it is a destiny based on our love for God.

Fate and Destiny – An Individual Plan

God’s sovereignty also creates a plan for our personal lives. We can observe this where God called Jeremiah – before the prophet was born. “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you, and before you came from the womb, I sanctified you, I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations'” (Jeremiah 1: 4-5).

David also realized that God had a plan for him. “Your eyes saw me when I was a child, and in Your book were written all the days that were to be formed, before there was one of them” (Psalm 139:16). Because of this knowledge, David sought God’s detailed direction in various situations, as in 1 Samuel 23:9-12.

Fate and Destiny – Putting It All Together

In Acts chapter 9, Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus with an interesting statement: “You will feel your own pain if you continue to resist the leadership of Him who is your master” (verse 5, BIS Translation). Jesus had a plan for Saul, and Saul had tried painfully to fend it off. Exercising freedom from God’s plan can be a painful experience.

Later, Jesus told Saul that a man named Ananias would meet him – and then Jesus told Ananias (verses 11-12)! It is clear that God had a plan in advance for Ananias as well. Ananias did not want to visit Saul (verses 13-14). He might have imitated Jonah and escaped. If that is what he does, then Allah will prepare a “fish” that will bring him back. Fortunately, Ananias obeyed (verse 17). Following God’s plan brings blessings to us.

To summarize, the Bible teaches that God is powerful. At the same time, He has given us the freedom to obey Him or disobey Him, and there are some things that God does simply in answer to prayer (James 4:2).

God blesses those who obey, and He is patient with those who disobey, and sometimes seem careless. However, He has a plan for our lives, which has provided for our joy and His glory both in this world and in the world to come. Those who accept Christ as Savior have accepted God’s plan (John 14:6). Starting from there, it is to follow God step-by-step, in praying for His will to be done (Matthew 6:10), and avoiding sinful deviations (Psalm 32:1-11; 119:59; Hebrews 12:1-2).

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