photo by Laura Evans
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north.
Isaiah 14:13 ESV
Dear ICB family,
A person's will is his or her desire, wish, disposition, passion, choice, determination, or inclination. It's what a person wants. It's what a person has resolved to do. It's what a person is inclined to choose.
It's the direction a person has decided to go. It's the decision a person has made. It's the path down which a person has determined to walk.
The problem with humanity—one that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden—is that we are obsessed with our own wills. We love our wills. We prize our wills. We think that what we have decided is the best idea that has ever been in the history of good ideas.
The problem with humanity is that we are obsessed with our own wills.
This is precisely where Adam and Eve went wrong. God had told them what his will was. Adam and Eve thought they had a better idea.
And what is the root of such a thought? It is pure, unmitigated pride. We think we know better. We think we can decide better. We think our value system is superior to God's. We think our desires define what is good and should be universally adopted. We think that what we are naturally disposed to is—due only to the fact that we want it—right.
In Isaiah 14 we are met with a stunning portrait of such pride: "I will ascend to heaven…. I will set my throne on high…. I will sit on the mount of assembly…. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds…. I will make myself like the Most High."
In this passage, in no uncertain terms, a lowly created being is asserting his will. He is declaring that what he has decided will come to pass, and he is declaring that he himself is capable of making that happen. He is kicking God off his throne and sitting down in his place as the one true sovereign over the future.
In that sense, then, the "I will" statements in Isaiah 14 are not all that different from James 4:13: "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit."
Yet again we find finite creatures talking as if they could command their own destinies. Yet again mere created beings are taking God's place by claiming authority over what does not pertain to them. And pride is the root problem in both instances.
Do you love your will, or do you love God's will?
What remedy does God's word hold out to such pride? Isaiah reminds the devil and all those who follow in his steps that he will one day be brought down, humiliated, and sentenced to death (14:15–21).
James reminds his readers that "you do you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil" (3:14–16).
Do you love your will, or do you love God's will? How I long to be able to pray "Father, your will be done" and mean it! How I long to truly desire his will no matter what that is, no matter how hard his will might prove to be, no matter how much it conflicts with my own natural desires!
How I long to be given a new will and God-given desires and Spirit-wrought wishes and holy dispositions and sanctified passions and heavenly inclinations! Oh that I could say with Jesus, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work" (John 4:34).
And may that be true of you, too.
Grace and peace,