Whenever a discussion arises about choosing God, invariably individuals take one side or the other. One side says that there is no way that we can choose God because we are in such darkness that only through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) could we even begin to make a decision. The other side says that God gives us the ability to choose.
In the Old Testament, there are 81 occurrences of ‘choose.’ The Hebrew word is bachar and one meaning is ‘man’s choice of ways.’
Hebrew Word Picture
Choose – bachar – בחר
ב Bet is ‘A House’ and means ‘house’ or ‘family.’
ח Chet is ‘A Fence’ and means ‘to protect.’
ר Resh is ‘A Head’ and means ‘highest authority.’
The Hebrew Word Picture for choose: the family protects the highest authority.
In Gan Eden, Adam and Chavah walked with Elohim and had intimate fellowship with Him. In the Garden in which they walked, they were presented with a choice. They could choose to obey Adonai and not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or disobey Him and die. They made a conscious choice: they chose to disobey Elohim’s one command and ate the fruit of the death tree. They obviously had the Ruach HaKodesh because they were in the state of eternal life; still, they were given a choice because Adonai had put them in the realm of choice.
The ‘realm of choice’ is different from the ‘realm of no choice.’ In the heavenly realm, angels are not given the choice to obey Adonai or not. They were created to be obedient servants of El Elyon –– the Most High God. However, when they entered the ‘realm of choice,’ they made choices. One group of angels left their ‘realm’ and made the choice to procreate with human women (Genesis 6:1-2). Their choice caused some angels to be bound in chains forever; the half-breeds had to be destroyed by the Hand of Elohim’s armies (Jude 6). The guardian cherub of Gan Eden entered the ‘realm of choice,’ took the form of a serpent. He chose to ‘fall’ from the heavenly realm, sin, and lose his guardian position. He deceived Chavah and she made a choice: death over life.
“You put the seal on perfection; you were full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; you were in ‘Eden, the garden of God; covered with all kinds of precious stones … You were a keruv, protecting a large region; I placed you on God’s holy mountain. You walked back and forth among stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you…. you became filled with violence; and in this way you sinned. Therefore I have thrown you out, defiled, from the mountain of God; I have destroyed you, protecting keruv … Your heart grew proud because of your beauty, you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. But I have thrown you on the ground …” (Ezekiel 28:13-17).
In the days of their impending release from slavery in Egypt, the Hebrews had a choice to make. They could faithfully put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts and live or be like the faithless Egyptians and die (Exodus 12:7). Neither group of people, the Hebrews or the Egyptians, had the Ruach HaKodesh nudging their decision. They made it based on what had occurred over the past months of judgments on the gods of Egypt. They either put their faith in the God of Israel and lived or the gods of Egypt and died.
As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, Adonai gives them other choices: blessing and cursing and life and death. If they have any doubts about what to choose, He tells them to choose life so that they may live. The Israelites as a nation do not have the Ruach HaKodesh. They are given the choice before they are given the Spirit of Elohim.
“I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants …” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Once in the Promised Land, their new leader, Joshua, gives them a choice. He tells them to choose who they will serve. The Israelites have to choose between the gods of their ancestors from Egypt or the gods of the Emorites in whose land they will be living. They have to choose between returning to the golden calf or serving Adonai wholeheartedly. They have to choose to be set apart for Adonai or assimilate into the pagan cultures around them.
“If it seems bad to you to serve Adonai, then choose today whom you are going to serve! Will it be the gods your ancestors served beyond the River? or the gods of the Emori, in whose land you are living? As for me and my household, we will serve Adonai!” (Joshua 24:15)
When David sinned by taking a census of the people, Adonai gave him three choices for his punishment. David didn’t know what to choose even as a King with the Spirit of Adonai. He ultimately told the prophet Gad that he wanted to fall into the hand of Adonai trusting in His mercy rather than fall into the hand of man. The consequence for David’s foolish census brought a plague on Israel and 70,000 people died.
“Do you want seven years of famine in your land? or do you want to flee before your enemies for three months while they pursue you? or do you want three days of plague in your land? Think about it, and tell me what to answer the one who sent me” (2 Samuel 24:12).
The prophet Isaiah speaks of a choice given to eunuchs, men who had no choice in what happened to their manhood. If they choose to keep the seventh-day Sabbath, please Adonai, and keep His covenant, then they will receive a blessing directly from Him. Though the Complete Jewish Bible states that they will receive ‘power’ suggesting they will be given the Spirit of Elohim, there is no word in the Hebrew alluding to being given power. In reality, in the Old Testament, no one except prophets and kings were given the power of the Spirit.
“I will give them power and a name greater than sons and daughters; I will give him an everlasting name that will not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:5).
David had the Spirit of Elohim directing his life because he was King of Israel. Specifically, after David sinned with Batsheva, he pleaded with Adonai in Psalm 51 to not take the Ruach HaKodesh from him. He had seen what happened to King Saul when the Spirit of Elohim left him –– he was tormented by an evil spirit.
Psalm 119 is David’s love Psalm to the Torah. In verse 30, King David chooses the way of trust, of faith. He sets the commands and rulings of Adonai before him to prove his choice to trust Adonai. In verse 173, David expects the Hand of Adonai to help him because he has chosen His precepts. He knows there is reward in making the right choices.
King Solomon wrote through the Ruach HaKodesh many wise words. In Proverbs 1:29, he says that those who hate knowledge do not choose to fear Adonai. This verse suggests that those who do not have the Spirit of Elohim can still make a conscious choice against knowing Adonai. He writes about other choices that people have in life that do not necessarily require the Ruach HaKodesh. People can choose wealth or a good reputation (Proverbs 22:1). They can choose financial gain rather than wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 16:16).
One of the reasons Adonai gives each of us the ability to choose is to prove that He is God; He has power over us and our hearts. One of the more profound accounts of choice happens with Pharaoh in Egypt. There are times with the plagues that Pharaoh hardens his own heart while other times Adonai hardens Pharaoh’s heart. Adonai does this so that Pharaoh, who believes he is God, is faced with the reality that he has to choose or not choose Adonai’s plan –– the ultimate revelation that he is not in control of his country or even his own heart. After the death of his firstborn, he chooses to set the Israelites free, but then he questions his decision and follows them to the Red Sea. Though Adonai hardens Pharaoh’s heart, He does not make the decisions for Pharaoh and thus is the reality of choice. We are given choices, but Adonai doesn’t make the decision for us.
The concept of choice and choosing began in the Garden when Adonai set before Adam and Chavah two trees: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Because of their choice, each of us has a choice to make: to continue to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (the tree of death) or the Tree of Life. In order to make a wise choice, each person must be aware of what their choices are. They must hear about the two trees. They must learn what the fruit of each tree bears. They must understand their choices are not just two options of good and evil. Even without the power of the Spirit of Elohim, they can choose life over death; the very same choice that Adonai told the Israelites to make so that they will live; so that we will live.
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