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It is written:
“Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40 “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HARDENED THEIR HEARTS, LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, LEST THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEARTS AND TURN, SO THAT I SHOULD HEAL THEM.” 41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” (John 12:39-41)
Calvinists use this passage to claim that God keeps those who predestined to Hell from from seeing the truth about Jesus.
Is this true?
Not at all.
First, lets notice the passage that John quotes from.
Isaiah 44:18-20-They do not know nor understand; For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, And their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 And no one considers in his heart, Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire, Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; A deceived heart has turned him aside; And he cannot deliver his soul, Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
Now, what was a the spiritual condition of this people like? Were they innocent people whose hearts God decided to harden against Him? Not at all! In fact, Isaiah 44:9-17 shows that the people were guilty of committing terrible idolatry, and that they had freely turned against God of their own freewill.
Isaiah 1:19-20-If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
As we noticed in our study of Pharaoh, these people have hardened their hearts against the Lord (Exodus 7:13, 22; 8:15, 19, 32). This passage in John reminds us that people can get to a point of willful sin where they are not able to believe, which is a truly frightening prognosis.
Second, this blindness was not so absolute that they could not actually come to a point where they could see and believe. In fact, as if to drive this point home, John goes on to say:
John 12:42-43-Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
The “blindness” was not to such a degree that the people couldn’t see the truth of Who Jesus is. This is a powerful reminder that (just like with Pharaoh), God still is gracious enough to give people time and opportunity to believe. Unfortunately, even though some of these rulers came to believe in Jesus, they did not repent and turn to the Lord to be saved (although some may have later-see Acts 6:7).
The doctrine of unconditional election is not found in God’s Word.