If there is free will, how can God prophesy specific details?


I have been reading a lot about open theism recently, and I feel like it accords more with the biblical portrait of God and free will than any of the other proposed points of view (Calvinism, Arminianism, etc.). I have read in one of your posts that you also agree that it is a biblical point of view, that we have free choices that God works into His plan, but that we can genuinely choose.

However, there are some details that I just can't seem to understand if this is the case. One of them is the prophecies in Daniel. Most people date Daniel to the 2nd century BC in order to account for the accuracy of the details regarding the events leading up to and including the Maccabean revolt. Of course, the driving impetus behind this dating is the denial of the possibility of divine prophecy. I want to retain the 6th-century view of Daniel, however, I don't understand how to hold it alongside free will. How could it be foretold exactly what these individuals would do hundreds of years in advance? It is much more detailed than when God says he would use a specific individual to do something. In this case, these are men doing wicked deeds and waging war, and it is very specific. How could it be known what individuals would do and how they would react to each other before they are even born if, in fact, they have free will? If the prophecy were made at the time they were already kings, it would be easier, as it could be prophesied based on God knowing their intentions and His involvement in the conflicts; however, this would again require a late dating of Daniel which would mean it was not in fact 'Daniel' who prophesied the latter portion of the book named after him. But, if it is from the 6th century, how could it be known what these people would do if they don't even exist yet? One could argue that God influenced them to do these things, but that seems out of the question as much of what they do is wicked.

The specificity of the prophecies of Daniel gives me a very difficult time in trying to understand free will in conjunction with prophecy. What's more, the visions Daniel has portrayed some things as happening presently with the angels over each of the nations...

This is quite difficult. How do we square free will (or open theism) with the belief that Daniel comes from the 6th century?

Thank you.


"Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it" (Isaiah 46:9-11).

Notice the last statement. God declares what will happen. It isn't a guess on His part about how people will behave. He decides what will be done and then arranges for it to happen. We get a glimpse of this in I Kings 22 when God wants Ahab to die in a battle. God allows a lying spirit to give a vague prophecy that hints that Ahab will win. Ahab even finds out that he was lied to; yet, he goes anyway, disguised as a common soldier. A "chance" arrow takes him out, just as God desired. Nowhere were Ahab's choices taken from him. God just knew him so well that He knew how Ahab would respond.

In Psalms 22:17, there is a prophecy that his garments would be divided and that they would cast lots for his clothing. One way that came about was that Jesus' tunic was woven in one piece (not sewn). That style was expensive, which led to the soldiers casting lots to decide who would get the tunic. No one forced them, but this is the way people typically settle matters.

If God can accomplish these matters, then it isn't surprising that He can lay out the warfare between two rival Greek kingdoms with Judah stuck between them. Some would be based on knowing human nature in general, others would be causing things to happen that would lead to the desired results. Yes, such minute control and vast knowledge are beyond humans, but this is yet another demonstration of God's power. "For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me" (Isaiah 46:9).


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