What Does God Know?
“…for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son…” “the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul.” (Genesis 22:12 and Deuteronomy 13:3)
It is difficult, sometimes, to understand the why and how of God’s gracious dealings with us as His dear children. Since our Lord knows everything from beginning to end, including how we will respond to what He brings our way, why put us through the trouble and heartache. Humanly speaking it seems the Lord could do a better job of working in us and on us.
Abraham was taken on an emotionally horrific journey. Having been promised God would bless the nations through the descendants of his son Isaac, he sets out in obedience to God to kill this same son. Most of us know the end of that story. God stopped the knife-wielding hand of an obedient Abraham, and spared the son of promise. A gripping story indeed.
But what is somewhat puzzling is God’s immediate response through the Angel of Jehovah. “Do not lay your hand on the boy, nor do anything to him: for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son…” The Angel of the LORD is generally considered to be a theophany or christophany, an appearance of God or an appearance of God in Christ. For this angel to say “now I know…” is incredibly intriguing. For an omniscient God to say such a thing is mind-boggling, and should be.
A similar expression occurs in Deuteronomy 13:3. The Lord is warning against false prophets. The people of God are not to listen to them because, “the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love The LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul.” This and the previous passage beg the question: “What does God know?”
It is just such language the Spirit of God leads the human authors to use in order to grasp our attention. We are arrested by the sheer absurdity of it. Unlike the Open Theist who believes God cannot know things that have not happened, we who hold to His omniscience are convinced by Scripture that our great God knows all things. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He knows from beginning to end. “Even from eternity and to eternity, He is God.” (Psalm 90:2) “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot grasp it.” (Psalm 139:6) This is what the human author lead by the Spirit of God does. We are floored with the thought (“now I know”) then more overwhelmed at this: God knows. He knows our thoughts before we think them. He knows our words before we say them. “And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13) We often live as though God were like us; half attentive, forgetful, and unmoved by our actions. But He is not at all like us. He knows; and He knows us through and through. Yes,now He knows, for He has always known, and He is proving us and testing us so that at least in part we will see something of what He sees and be changed by our knowledge of Him.
To His Glory,