Re: Reaching The Full Number. I would appreciate your comments on this paradox. I believe, as you do, that there is a specific number of Gentiles that need to be saved before the Rapture can occur. I also believe, as you probably also believe, that God knew, before He even created anything, the exact date (day, time, etc.) of the Rapture. Given this truth, how can God be waiting for a certain number of Gentiles to be saved to “trigger” the Rapture, as you say. He predetermined both the number and the time of the Rapture. And He is in complete control. The full number of Gentiles will be reached at the precise predetermined time of the Rapture, as planned. To say that the timing of the Rapture is dependent upon our evangelical efforts, as if we have any control whatsoever over it, is contradictory to God’s omniscience and omnipotence. Is this not true?
The paradox you describe comes from the mistaken impression that foreknowledge and predetermination are equivalent terms, when in fact they are not. By saying He knows the end from the beginning, God is not saying He controls everything that happens. If He did, then everyone would be saved because in 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Tim. 2:3-4 He said that’s what He wants.
Consider also Matt. 23:37 where Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing, but you were not willing.” Certainly He had both the power and the desire to make this happen, but because they were not willing it didn’t happen.
I can agree that God did predetermine the number of believers who would eventually populate the Church. And I believe He also knows the exact date when that number will be reached. But the reason He knows the date is not because He chose it. It’s because having the ability to see forward in time, He has already seen the day on which it will happen.
And please accept the following as simply food for thought. I often wonder if those who insist that God is in complete control have really thought it through, because the one who is in complete control of what happens is the also the one who is responsible for what happens. That means God would be responsible for all the abortions, rapes, murders, and other violations of His commandments. It also means what we call accidents and illnesses would really be actions that God has taken against us. Many of these things condemn people to devastating consequences including severe pain and suffering with no hope of recovery and for no apparent reason.
It means that people who aren’t saved didn’t have a choice in the matter but will be condemned to eternal suffering just the same. It means people who are saved could expect that anytime He wants to God could afflict them for any reason or no reason, even though His word tells us that by His once for all time sacrifice He has made us perfect forever (Hebrews 10:12-14) and because of our faith He has imputed to us a righteousness equal to His own (Romans 3:21-24, 2 Cor. 5:21).
Contrast that with Deut 32:1-4 where Moses said, “Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”
The Bible does not make the claim that God is in total control. What it says is that Satan is the prince of this world (John 14:30). He is the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and although we are children of God the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19). It also says that anyone who wants to can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved (Romans 10:13). But it also says God will be in total control soon, and when He is things will be a lot different.