The Comfort of God's knowledge

In consideration of this excellent attribute, what low thoughts should we have of our own knowledge, and how humble ought we to be before God!

Stephen Charnock

God saw the people of Israel-- and God knew.

Exodus 2:25

As we read through the Bible, we see that God, according to scriptures, knows all. What kind of knowledge is it? If you’d like to read a wonderful meditation on this, Stephen Charnock spends nearly 100 pages considering God’s knowledge. The point is that God’s knowledge is divine, however it is not divine like the Greek gods or the Roman gods. His knowledge is broader and more intimate. His knowledge is not like the American scientific conception of god which Greg Boyd and others in the open-theist camp have argued for. That is not the god of the Bible, but the god of American logic and makes our god into simply a human. Instead, God knows, his understanding is beyond measure (Psalm 147.5). Beyond measure. What does this mean? It means that God knows not only the possible but the actual. God knows what will happen in his creation because he created it and his understanding is unsearchable (Isaiah 40.28). In this, we cannot fully fathom the relationship between his infinite knowledge and our finite knowledge. Yet in our modern mythology, we even suggest that knowing the future is possible (whether in astrology or in the story-telling of our movies and books).

But this is the testimony of scripture: God knows all things including the future. How does God appoint prophets who foretell? It is because he reveals to them what will happen. Now what is perhaps more controversial is how God’s knowledge relates to God’s providence. How does God’s upholding and sustaining the world relate to his working in the world? We affirm however that God is sovereign, and yet each of us is individually responsible for our actions. We affirm that salvation is a gift of God, and that God makes our soul alive, and that we also must come in repentance and faith. This is another matter, yet it is essential for us to see God’s providential, just, and gracious work in the world.

But what we must do as we talk about such a massive doctrine is apply it to our lives. We are regularly tempted to live as sovereign and in charge. This is quite an Americanism. As Americans, one of the highest ideals in the late 20th century and early 21st century is individual autonomy. ‘You can be whoever you want to be.’ This aspiration is both true and false: we did not enter the world with a stamp on us saying, ‘You are going to work in a foundry at 8701 Harriet Ave. for your whole adult life.’ At least from an American perspective, it is true because we are not placed into industries by our high school like other advanced nations around the world. But it is also false because we are not completely autonomous individuals. Even modern science acknowledges such. We are related humans and not disconnected from our families, our gifts, our skills, and places. We are ultimately not disconnected from the work of God.

Now if we believe that God knows all things, and we say that we trust in him, then we must seek live like it. The problem lies in not wanting to let go of what we perceive as our control of our lives. Soon enough, we will realize we aren’t actually able to control our future. We can’t actually trust ourselves to get what we might think we want. We might lose our job, be diagnosed with cancer, lose a loved one, and if we are holding on to the façade that we control our future, we lose any hope of the future. However, if our belief in God’s omniscience is sure, and our trust in his providential care for us is established, we can still hold on to hope in what seems like dire circumstances. Because God knows the future, and he loves us, he will uphold us. There is a new church song called, ‘Christ the sure and steady anchor.’ Trusting in our God is the only foundation that doesn’t change. All other ground is sinking sand, and the sorrows of this world reveal the transience of all other things that we put our hope in. May we find our hope in Jesus Christ our savior and may we rest in the fact that he knows our position in life.

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