Does God Arbitrarily Blind Eyes And Harden Hearts?
"But although he had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: 'Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?' Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 'He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts...'" John 12:37-40 Some believe in predestination, and they might quote this verse to prove their point, saying that if God blinds someone's eyes, it's not their fault if they don't believe. But there's far more to this than that. God does not arbitrarily blind eyes and hearts. Scripture tells us: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 This passage states clearly that the Lord is long-suffering toward sinners, and it states clearly that he is not willing that ANYONE perish. If God is NOT willing that ANYONE perish, then obviously he isn't going to arbitrarily blind the eyes and hearts of unbelievers, but he will wait in all long-suffering until the point where they have so hardened their own hearts that there is no possibility of repentance. THEN, and only then, will the Lord pronounce judicial blindness upon them. In the first passage above, we read that before he blinded their eyes, these unbelievers had had every possible chance to repent. Indeed, we are told that they were eyewitnesses of the many signs Jesus did before them, healing people of hopeless diseases, casting out demons, and even raising the dead. Yet many were not convinced by these signs, and refused to believe in him. This passage shows us that it is not signs and wonders that establish faith. Imagine watching Jesus for more than 3 years working all these wonderful things before their very eyes, yet they refused to believe and receive him. So if it's not signs and wonders that produce faith, what does then? "But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our report?' So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:16-17 What characterizes the unbeliever is his refusal to receive the Word of God. When a person has chosen not to heed the Word of God (the Bible), then even if he sees something supernatural he will not come to repentance because his heart is determined to refuse to obey it. THIS then, is the one who will eventually be so hardened that the Lord will give him over to his unbelief and blind his eyes. But note that the decision is made by the unbeliever, and he will have no excuse in the day of judgment. Jesus told of the rich man who died and went to hell. The man in hell asked that someone be sent to his brothers to warn them, so they wouldn't come to this place of torment. "...for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Luke 16:28 The man was told that they need to heed the Word of God ...but the man disagreed: vs 30: ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ "No???" “No???” ...he refused the answer, which clearly shows why he was in hell in the first place. He was emphatically told that if they don't believe the Word of God, nothing will change their hearts, not even miracles: vs 31: But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ” But to those who do receive the Word of God, great understanding will be given to them: When Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16 ). On hearing that, Jesus said to him: vs 17: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not REVEALED this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." In other words, upon Simon Peter's choice to believe, the truth of who Jesus was ...was revealed to him. It can't come any other way. It can come only through revelation, and revelation will only come to those who choose to believe the Word of God. Make your choice, therefore. Don't cast your lot with the five brothers who went to hell because they chose to refuse the Word of God. Your choice will determine your eternity.