I'm trying to understand how the old testament understands the nature of Human Will. I don't see any direct references to free will. By free will, I mean that individual humans are the capable of independent moral agency. It seems to be a major part of Christian theology in terms of the developed sense of judgment and heaven and hell which is not really present, as I read, in the Hebrew Bible.
I know this question may sound weird, but maybe frame it around Psalm 139, "The Inescapable God."
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
16In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
One might also think of God's hardening of Pharaoh's heart.
Also, the episode with Moses and the Serpent in numbers 21 (referenced in John 3) seems to act as a kind of filter like one might prune branches on a vine. It's not so much that people freely choose anything, but that those that don't respond with obedience to the command to look upon the pole are "filtered" (killed) to winnow out the ones with the proper features in the same way one separates wheat from chaff.
I'm operating under an OT to NT theory of the individual not having free agency, but thinking that they do. As I am thinking, it is the idea that we have free will that leads to the notion of moral agency (the knowledge of Good and Bad - Think Eden).
John 1:12-13 provides the diagnosis:
12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
Here, there is a statement that it is impossible to be "born again" (John 3) by your own will or the will of others. This matches most of the theology of John as I read it.
So, my understanding is:
- We don't have free will
- We think we do (sin)
Is there any direct support for humans as individual moral agents in the understanding of the authors of the Hebrew Scripture? How does one reconcile this with the various theodicies and particularly this verse from Isaiah 45:
5I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you [Cyrus the great] do not know me, 6so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one apart from me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. 7I form light and create darkness, I make peace (shalom) and create evil (ra); I the Lord do all these things.
Question: Is there any direct discussion, in the Hebrew canon, of the free agency of the individual as moral agents? Think of this under the distinction of libertarian free will (we are independent "fountains" of cause that occur ex nihilo from us) versus consequentialism (we have no free will, but still receive consequences to filter as in evolution by natural selection).