Divine Recession – God’s Response in Respect of Our Free Will by Kevin Straub
Yes (in response to the page on Korah’s Rebellion – see footnote), there is a principle that operates consistently and without exception. Divine Recession, I have called it. It is a modern phrase for the withdrawal of Divine power, which functions ever and only to create, sustain, and protect that which He has established. In the Bible, Divine Recession is depicted in the phrases, “give up,” “give over,” “spare not,” “make a way to…,” and that granddaddy of Divine Recession synonyms, the “hiding of His face.”
In the eastern culture, the attitude of the face depicts favor or withdrawal of favor. The establishment of withdrawal, or “hiding of face” as the mechanism of destruction, is given in the first mention of the phrase, which is linked to His anger. This is found in Deut. 31:16-18 and it details how that when the free moral agent rebels, God responds by leaving and then it is that bad things happen.
Divine Recession Usually Leads to Disaster
When God leaves, agencies of destruction come out of the human realm, and/or the demonic realm, and/or the natural realm. In other words, when God departs, checks on actions of living beings are loosened or withdrawn. Controls on nature are withdrawn. These cessations of Divine power can work across one or more of these domains, as indicted by the “and/or’s” and often do. All these represent one thing and one thing only: God’s response to freedom of choice.
As stated correctly in the rhetoric of one of Job’s friends, when wickedness persists and destruction happens, “What can the Almighty do?” (These guys weren’t wrong about everything!)
What we are discussing here is referred to as the “minor voice” of Scripture, a term I first heard from Dr. Jean Sheldon and which I have adopted. The minor voice is the voice of reality, the curtain drawn aside, if you will. Of course, if you have a minor voice, you also have a major voice and that voice in Scripture is the proactive wrath, “God-did-it” language. The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, the Lord sent an evil spirit to vex Saul, a lying spirit to “persuade” Ahab (that is, let him have what he wants to hear), or venomous serpents to the murmuring sojourners, etc. This is all par for the course in the Hebrew manner of thought and speaking, which is to say that to have power to intervene and prevent evil and not do it, is to do that evil.
But for God to exercise power in this way is to eliminate freedom of choice. It does not take long and labored thinking to understand and realize this. Once we “get it,” our task in decoding the Bible gets easier by leaps and bounds. This one thing alone eliminates all confusion about who God is and how His government works and why we have been stuck here in this condition for so long. He isn’t going to be able to end the great controversy until we actually know what it is about.
Divine Recession Leads to Satanic Action
For those who “get it” there is the understanding that in the action of Divine Recession, Satan is able to take a larger role, as the rebel(s) are turned over to him. They have chosen him outright, or they have fixed the principles under girding their choices upon Satan’s principles of self-interest and self-exaltation. When Satan gets an increased influence, he can choose what he wants to do. He can favor and prosper some, because he has a use for them in the war he is waging against God, or he can and often does lead men to believe that it is God who is afflicting them. Whichever route he takes, it is to keep on warring against truth and righteousness.