You can read the dictionary definition of fatalistic by clicking here.
Basically, fatalism is the idea that there is nothing you can do to change anything. This worldly (incorrect) thought implies that it doesn’t matter what you do, or what you choose, that things will happen in a predetermined way and you are stuck with whatever fate has determined for you.
There was a popular song Que Sera, Sera, What Will Be, Will Be.
However, this worldly premise is incorrect according to what the Bible teaches. The Bible is full of warnings and exhortations that if you will obey, your life will improve. The warnings are there for the individual; the warnings are there for the nation. If you will pull out a Bible and read it from one end to the other with the thought in mind…is this true?…you will find out that it is.
From the very beginning, in the garden, God gave a command of what not to do. Adam and Eve disobeyed and sin, sickness, and death entered a perfect world.
One of the most well known stories of national warning is that in the book of Jonah. The whole book is four chapters long and found towards the end of the Old Testament. It is worth a read if you have never read it. Here is chapter 3.
Jonah 3:1 Yahweh’s word came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I give you.”
3 So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to Yahweh’s word. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey across. 4 Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried out, and said, “In forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!”
5 The people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from their greatest even to their least. 6 The news reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and took off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 He made a proclamation and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, “Let neither man nor animal, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water; 8 but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and animal, and let them cry mightily to God. Yes, let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we might not perish?”
10 God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster which he said he would do to them, and he didn’t do it.
It is important to look at verse 10.
Jonah 3:10 God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster which he said he would do to them, and he didn’t do it.
This is just one example of many that show that that the actions of God are related to what man, or in this case a nation, did in response to the warning from God which came through Jonah.
The implication is that if they “had not” turned from their evil way, then the destruction promised would have occurred.
Another prophetic book with if…then implications is the book of Jeremiah. Over and over the nation was warned. It did not listen, and finally fell before Babylon and went into captivity.
The book of Ezekiel also presents the possibility of choice and change.
Ezekiel 33: 17 “‘Yet the children of your people say, “The way of the Lord is not fair;” but as for them, their way is not fair. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he will even die therein. 19 When the wicked turns from his wickedness, and does that which is lawful and right, he will live by it. 20 Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is not fair.” House of Israel, I will judge every one of you after his ways.’”
Deuteronomy 28 plainly sets out the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience.
Deuteronomy 28:1 It shall happen, if you shall listen diligently to Yahweh your God’s voice, to observe to do all his commandments which I command you today, that Yahweh your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 All these blessings will come upon you, and overtake you, if you listen to Yahweh your God’s voice. 3 You shall be blessed in the city, and you shall be blessed in the field. 4 You shall be blessed in the fruit of your body, the fruit of your ground, the fruit of your animals, the increase of your livestock, and the young of your flock. 5 Your basket and your kneading trough shall be blessed. 6 You shall be blessed when you come in, and you shall be blessed when you go out. 7 Yahweh will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be struck before you. They will come out against you one way, and will flee before you seven ways. 8 Yahweh will command the blessing on you in your barns, and in all that you put your hand to. He will bless you in the land which Yahweh your God gives you. 9 Yahweh will establish you for a holy people to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you shall keep the commandments of Yahweh your God, and walk in his ways. 10 All the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by Yahweh’s name, and they will be afraid of you. 11 Yahweh will grant you abundant prosperity in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers to give you. 12 Yahweh will open to you his good treasure in the sky, to give the rain of your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You will lend to many nations, and you will not borrow. 13 Yahweh will make you the head, and not the tail. You will be above only, and you will not be beneath, if you listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you today, to observe and to do, 14 and shall not turn away from any of the words which I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
15 But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to Yahweh your God’s voice, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come on you and overtake you. 16 You will be cursed in the city, and you will be cursed in the field. 17 Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. 18 The fruit of your body, the fruit of your ground, the increase of your livestock, and the young of your flock will be cursed. 19 You will be cursed when you come in, and you will be cursed when you go out. 20 Yahweh will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you put your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the evil of your doings, by which you have forsaken me. 21 Yahweh will make the pestilence cling to you, until he has consumed you from off the land where you go in to possess it. 22 Yahweh will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with fiery heat, with the sword, with blight, and with mildew. They will pursue you until you perish. 23 Your sky that is over your head will be bronze, and the earth that is under you will be iron. 24 Yahweh will make the rain of your land powder and dust. It will come down on you from the sky, until you are destroyed. 25 Yahweh will cause you to be struck before your enemies. You will go out one way against them, and will flee seven ways before them. You will be tossed back and forth among all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 Your dead bodies will be food to all birds of the sky, and to the animals of the earth; and there will be no one to frighten them away. 27 Yahweh will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with the tumors, with the scurvy, and with the itch, of which you can not be healed. 28 Yahweh will strike you with madness, with blindness, and with astonishment of heart. 29 You will grope at noonday, as the blind gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. You will only be oppressed and robbed always, and there will be no one to save you. 30 You will betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her. You will build a house, and you won’t dwell in it. You will plant a vineyard, and not use its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slain before your eyes, and you will not eat any of it. Your donkey will be violently taken away from before your face, and will not be restored to you. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and you will have no one to save you. 32 Your sons and your daughters will be given to another people. Your eyes will look, and fail with longing for them all day long. There will be no power in your hand. 33 A nation which you don’t know will eat the fruit of your ground and all of your work. You will only be oppressed and crushed always, 34 so that the sights that you see with your eyes will drive you mad. 35 Yahweh will strike you in the knees and in the legs with a sore boil, of which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. 36 Yahweh will bring you, and your king whom you will set over yourselves, to a nation that you have not known, you nor your fathers. There you will serve other gods of wood and stone. 37 You will become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where Yahweh will lead you away. 38 You will carry much seed out into the field, and will gather little in, for the locust will consume it. 39 You will plant vineyards and dress them, but you will neither drink of the wine, nor harvest, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout all your borders, but you won’t anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives will drop off. 41 You will father sons and daughters, but they will not be yours, for they will go into captivity. 42 Locusts will consume all of your trees and the fruit of your ground. 43 The foreigner who is among you will mount up above you higher and higher, and you will come down lower and lower. 44 He will lend to you, and you won’t lend to him. He will be the head, and you will be the tail.
45 All these curses will come on you, and will pursue you and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you didn’t listen to Yahweh your God’s voice, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded you. 46 They will be for a sign and for a wonder to you and to your offspring forever. 47 Because you didn’t serve Yahweh your God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things; 48 therefore you will serve your enemies whom Yahweh sends against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in lack of all things. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you. 49 Yahweh will bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flies: a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a nation of fierce facial expressions, that doesn’t respect the elderly, nor show favor to the young. 51 They will eat the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed. They also won’t leave you grain, new wine, oil, the increase of your livestock, or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish. 52 They will besiege you in all your gates until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout all your land. They will besiege you in all your gates throughout all your land which Yahweh your God has given you. 53 You will eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters, whom Yahweh your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies will distress you. 54 The man who is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye will be evil toward his brother, toward the wife whom he loves, and toward the remnant of his children whom he has remaining, 55 so that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he will eat, because he has nothing left to him, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy will distress you in all your gates. 56 The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye will be evil toward the husband that she loves, toward her son, toward her daughter, 57 toward her young one who comes out from between her feet, and toward her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of all things in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy will distress you in your gates. 58 If you will not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and fearful name, YAHWEH your God, 59 then Yahweh will make your plagues and the plagues of your offspring fearful, even great plagues, and of long duration, and severe sicknesses, and of long duration. 60 He will bring on you again all the diseases of Egypt, which you were afraid of; and they will cling to you. 61 Also every sickness and every plague which is not written in the book of this law, Yahweh will bring them on you until you are destroyed. 62 You will be left few in number, even though you were as the stars of the sky for multitude, because you didn’t listen to Yahweh your God’s voice. 63 It will happen that as Yahweh rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so Yahweh will rejoice over you to cause you to perish and to destroy you. You will be plucked from the land that you are going in to possess. 64 Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth. There you will serve other gods which you have not known, you nor your fathers, even wood and stone. 65 Among these nations you will find no ease, and there will be no rest for the sole of your foot; but Yahweh will give you there a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and pining of soul. 66 Your life will hang in doubt before you. You will be afraid night and day, and will have no assurance of your life. 67 In the morning you will say, “I wish it were evening!” and at evening you will say, “I wish it were morning!” for the fear of your heart which you will fear, and for the sights which your eyes will see. 68 Yahweh will bring you into Egypt again with ships, by the way of which I told to you that you would never see it again. There you will offer yourselves to your enemies for male and female slaves, and nobody will buy you.
Joshua, who succeeded Moses as leader after the death of Moses, had this experience. In other words, it is not whether God is predetermined “for” or “against” us, but rather our response should be, as was Joshua’s, “What does my lord say to his servant?” It is our response to God that matters. It is not fatalism or predetermination. The message is, Matthew 4:17 “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” We change, then blessings come. That’s the pattern and Biblical way.
Joshua 5:13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood in front of him with his sword drawn in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our enemies?”
14 He said, “No; but I have come now as commander of Yahweh’s army.”
Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and asked him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”
15 The prince of Yahweh’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals, for the place on which you stand is holy.” Joshua did so.
Towards the end of his life, Josha gave a speech, a portion of which is quoted below.
Joshua 24:14 “Now therefore fear Yahweh, and serve him in sincerity and in truth. Put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, in Egypt; and serve Yahweh. 15 If it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose today whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh.”
The original question asked is whether or not fatalism operates in life. Will “what will be, will be”? In Biblical terms, no.
We have choices, every day, and those choices affect our everyday life and future. What we think, believe, and speak matters. We can change our lives, and the lives of those around us, by our choices.
However, it is important to note, that it is not just changing our actions that matters. That, of course, is vitally important. However, we must also be born again into God’s kingdom to have the Spirit of God dwelling within. That is a first step into the kingdom of God.
Then begin reading the Bible, praying, going to church, and learning. All this increases your awarenesss of how to make better choices and actions.
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