Question: Does John 12:40 Teach Predestination?
Answer: The short answer is “No!” John 12:40 has nothing to do with salvation.
A. John 12:40:
“He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”
If God were the One who “hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart” these people would not have had a chance. This would make God unjust and unfair; therefore, contradicting other Scripture. God’s Word makes it very clear that God does not “play favorites.” He does not choose some to be saved and some to be lost.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish (go to Hell), but that all should come to repentance (a change of mind).” (2 Peter 3:9)
Remember that Christ died for the sin of the WORLD.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
B. John 12:40 Is Quoting Isaiah 6:9,10 from the Old Testament.
“And he said (to Isaiah, the Prophet), Go, and tell this people (Nation of Israel), Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.(9) Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9, 10)
1. “Understand.” In Isaiah 6:9, the word, “understand” is translated from the Hebrew word “bin,” and means "to understand, be able, deal wisely, consider, pay attention to, regard, notice, discern, perceive, inquire."
In other words, the Nation of Israel had heard God’s Words; but, of their own free will, decided not to pay attention to them.
2. “Perceive.” Also, in Isaiah 6:9, the word “perceive” is translated from the Hebrew word, “yāda” and means: (1) to know by observing and reflecting (thinking), and (2) to know by experiencing. The Nation of Israel knew from experience that the Ten Northern Tribes also would not “hear” the Lord and had already been taken into captivity by the Assyrians because they disobeyed the Lord.
3. Notwithstanding they (the Ten Northern Tribes) would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. (2 Kings 17:14)
Conclusion: They exercised their own free will and paid no attention to God’s Word.
C. This is God’s Discipline: Not Salvation.
Isaiah 6:9,10 does not deal with Salvation, as any individual Jew in the Old Testament could believe God’s Word, at any time; and follow through with the Old Testament sacrifices which looked forward to the Messiah. What is in view here is God’s discipline of the Nation of Israel as a whole. These are Isaiah 1:4 reveals God’s indictment of them.
“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” (Isaiah 1:4)
This does not have to do with whether someone went to Heaven or Hell. It was a declaration of God’s discipline which was about to fall on the rebellious Nation of Israel.
D. Isaiah 6:9, 10 Is Quoted Five Times In the New Testament:
1. Matthew 13:14; 2. Mark 4:12; 3. Luke 8:10; 4. Acts 28:25-27; 5. Romans 11:8.
In the New Testament, this passage is used to describe the rejection of God’s Son. Israel, as a nation, rejected Christ after His earthly ministry, as John 19:15 vividly tells us.
“But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”
Remember, any person, individually, could accept or reject Christ; which John 1:12 makes abundantly clear.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
Since the time God gave the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9, 10 to the Nation of Israel, it has been fulfilled twice, and has a fulfillment yet to come:
1. 445 B.C. - The Babylonian Captivity, caused by the Nation of Israel not keeping their Sabbaths; or following their Laws which looked forward to their Messiah..
2. 70 A.D., when Titus and the Roman army came in and destroyed their beautiful city and temple. The Jews were scattered to the “four corners” of the world and became the Diaspora; or, “the scattered.”
3. A future fulfillment takes place after the Rapture, during the Tribulation Period when the Nation of Israel makes a covenant with the Antichrist. Even then, individuals have the right to believe; or, not believe.
God will send the Two Witnesses, who are saved immediately after the Rapture, to preach the Gospel during the first half of the Tribulation Period (Rev. 1:1-11). The 144,000 Jewish men, who are the “first fruits” of the Two Witnesses’ ministry (Rev. 14:4) will preach the Gospel all during the Tribulation Period (Rev. 7:1-14; Rev. 14:1-5)
4. Bottom line, you can trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior in any dispensation.
As no Scripture should be taken out of context (2 Peter 1:20), we should examine the context in which our Savior spoke the words of John 12:40. This occurred before His last Passover and, while many believed and welcomed Him at His “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem, the leaders of the nation did not.
“On the next day much people that were come to the feast (Passover), when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,” (John 12:12)
“The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.” (John 12:19) (They were worried that they would lose their power and influence.)
“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: (John 12:37)
We see that, in spite of the many miracles He had done before them, the leaders of Israel did not accept Him, but rather had closed their own eyes to the fact that He was God in human flesh and their Messiah. The choice and responsibility was totally their own. He had presented Himself as their Messiah; and forced them to make a choice. They had “hardened their hearts” in the same way as Pharaoh did so long ago.
This is an excerpt from the book, Not Chosen to Salvation, pp. 83, 84, which explains that when God pushed Pharaoh to make a decision and let Israel go free, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. In the final outcome, we find that Pharaoh, of his own free will, hardened his own heart. I quote:
“Then we find in Exodus 4:21:
"And the Lord said unto Moses, when thou goest to return unto Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go."
This has confused many, many Christians. They say, "Well, God had hardened Pharaoh's heart. Does that mean he did not have a free will as far as letting the people of Israel go?" No, not at all. We find out that Pharaoh hardened his own heart and that God also hardened his heart only by forcing Pharaoh to openly declare his decision. This was done in response to God's command, "Let my people go."
We know Pharaoh's heart concerning his treatment of Israel, but we did not know his heart was hardened concerning the freedom of Israel from bondage. God hardened his heart only in the sense of forcing him to make a decision in this matter. Then his heart was hardened only because of the Word of God that had confronted him. In that sense--God hardened Pharaoh's heart concerning this decision of letting Israel go.
I might point out again, this had nothing to do with the salvation of Pharaoh. The hardening of Pharaoh's heart in Romans 9 was concerning letting the nation of Israel out of bondage from the land of Egypt.
God simply pressed the matter to a conclusion and forced Pharaoh to make a decision. In that manner God hardened Pharaoh's heart...or made Pharaoh openly declare his refusal to obey God's command. We come now to Exodus 8:15:
"But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said."
We find that Pharaoh hardened his heart again. This is in response to Verses 5,12-15:
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. And they did so. (5) And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the Lord because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh. (12)
And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out from the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields. (13)
And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank. (14) But when Pharaoh saw there was respite, he (Pharaoh) hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said." (15)
Here we find out that Pharaoh (again) hardened his own heart (7:13). It was only in the respect that God forced him to make a decision that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. God just pushed the matter to a conclusion. The free will was Pharaoh's! Again, the point we would like to make is that this had nothing to do with Pharaoh's salvation whatsoever.”
E. The Testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ:
Christ, Himself, tells us in Matthew 13:15, that it was by the people’ own will in choosing not to believe His words or accept Him as their Messiah, rather than God’s imposing His will upon them:
“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart” (Matthew 13:15)
Note: The book, Not Chosen to Salvation, by Dr. Max D. Younce is available on this web site for purchase; or free download. Click Here to Read Online