Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Declaring the end from the beginning

Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

The Scriptures teach that God knows all things, and from eternity knows what He knows (1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 139:1-6; Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 46:9-10; John 2:24–25; 1 John 3:20). Because man is finite and God’s omniscience is inscrutable, men often draw back from such knowledge. With David let us be satisfied that “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” May we never seek to explain away God’s infinite and eternal knowledge.

For those who wish to redefine things that our minds can’t comprehend, there are passages available. For example, God brought the animals he created unto Adam “to see what he would call them” (Genesis 2:19). Through an angel God told Abraham “now I know that thou fearest God,” after Abraham offered Isaac his son (Genesis 22:12). God seemed to not know what Adam would name the animals. God seemed to not know how Abraham would respond when he commanded him to offer Isaac. How do we interpret and understand such texts?

The inspired Scripture describes God as all-knowing, an attribute we theologically label omniscience. It extends that knowledge not only to the past and present, but also to the future. First, it is wise to notice that the first passages listed above (Psalm 139:1-6; Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 46:9-10; et al.) are clearly fashioned to teach about the extent of God’s knowledge. These come from an eternal perspective. There are no “ifs,” no contingencies, no questions, no uncertainties. The next passages (Genesis 2:19; Genesis 22:12) are embedded in narratives of God’s dealings with Adam and Abraham. They are not designed to speak specifically to God’s eternal attribute of knowledge, but to narrate how God interacts with these men. Here God steps “into time” and deals with man on his level. From man’s standpoint there are “ifs,” contingencies, questions, and uncertainties. Some might prefer the term “anthropomorphism” – ascribing human attributes to God – to describe or understand these texts. When eternal omniscient God deals with temporal finite mankind, he must accommodate his speech and actions to their level. It is unnecessary to hedge that God’s knowledge is somehow bound by the decisions of men and the outcomes of events in time and space.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

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