A good test of our spiritual condition might be how we respond to meditations upon the Person of God. A couple of weeks ago, I told you that the message for that day, came from an edited version of Stephen Charnock’s “Discourses on the Existence and Attributes of God.” I was reading a book sent to me by an acquaintance – I’ll now call him a friend – and I was enthralled. Since that time, I have brought several more lessons stemming from my reading in that book, although they have not come quite so directly as that first one.
How has your heart responded to lessons on the eternality or the spirituality of Jehovah? If you’ve thought that these messages were a waste of time, then you need to look into your soul. Is there spiritual life there at all? Or are you a Christian so caught up in the world that there is no room for the Lord? I admit that my communication skills might not match Charnock’s or Chamberlin’s, but the subject matter speaks for itself. There is nothing that thrills my heart as much as when one of you comes to me excited about things of God – whether it has come from a message heard here, or from something you’ve read elsewhere. We probably won’t have many more messages like the past two or three weeks, but here is another.
Consideration of God’s KNOWLEDGE should give us all spasms of ecstacy – and conviction. Look at Psalm 147:5 once again – “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” This verse links two infinites – the power and the knowledge of Jehovah. Of course all His perfections are infinite – just like His existence – His being. The power of Elohim is infinite – He is omnipotent. And God’s knowledge is just as infinite and must be classified as omniscience. This is something which should thrill us.
Of course we are only scratching the surface of each of these attributes. If there was some way for me to fully teach them, or if you could fully understand them, then we would both have attained to what Eve originally aspired. We would have to be God in order to fully understand even a single attribute of God. But, despite our limitations, we can usually learn and know more than we have known in the past.
When the Psalmist says that God’s knowledge is infinite, to what kind of divine knowledge does he refer?
Sometimes the Bible refers to God’s memory, sometimes to His prescience, sometimes to wisdom. Regardless to what aspect we point – and there are many more – God’s knowledge cannot be measured. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Digressing – in order to begin, how do YOU know things? Aren’t there things which we “see” – see with our eyes or see with minds – understand? We know some things, because we have seen them, and we trust our eyes. But on the other hand, haven’t you ever had an “aha” moment – “Now I see what you are saying”? In addition to these, there are those things which we seem to know instinctively or intuitively. Well, God knows things in much higher ways. Jehovah knows all that has ever been, what is, and what shall ever be. Because He is not bound by time, you could say that He “see’s” everything all at once. Furthermore, He knows everything because He is God and has decreed everything. But beyond that – with divine intuition He also knows all possibilities, even though He has not decreed them to be.
What is the first and foremost thing that God knows? He must begin with Himself. And this is knowledge which is His alone. You and I can never attain this knowledge or grasp this information. “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” – I Corinthians 2:11. Even the angels, which have greater minds than we, have an imperfect knowledge of their Master.
Stepping backward just a bit, How WELL do you know yourself? Can you say with assurance, what you would do in some special circumstance you’ve never encountered before? You might say you could not possibly surprise yourself in any circumstance. Okay, but I doubt that. But do you already know what you will dream tonight? Do you know what you will be thinking 6 days, 6 hours and 24 minutes from now? With no disrespect intended, God would know such things about Himself. If God’s knowledge of Himself was imperfect, He would be ignorant of the greatest thing in existence. He wouldn’t be a trustworthy King because He wouldn’t know His own power. And he couldn’t judge or punish the sinner, because he wouldn’t know exactly how that man’s sin attacked His divine nature. In other words, if He didn’t know Himself, God couldn’t know other things in their relationship to Him.
Obviously, Elohim knows all that is going on at this moment. His infinitude – His omnipresence – places Him above, around and in everything. Cain may have thought that the murder of his brother was done in secret, but Jehovah knew all about it. David may have thought the same thing about his sin with Bathsheba, but God was there. Conversely, Obabiah, who was the governor of the house of wicked Ahab, thought he had a secret. Obadiah discreetly used his position to safely hide 50 of God’s prophets in a cave. He would have been instantly executed if Ahab had learned what he had done, so it may have been the best secret Obadiah had ever kept. But the Lord knew about what he had done, and He blessed him for it. God knows everything about what has been done throughout time, and He knows what shall be done.
Furthermore, He is not going to forget what has happened, or what those future possibilities are. Our capacity to remember things is but a reflection of God’s perfect knowledge. Remember – our past is still God’s present, and our future is current with the Lord as well. He doesn’t have to remember anything as we do because His knowledge is current and perfect. Oh, but the Scripture speaks of God’s NOT remembering His saints’ sins? It does. But that is not a matter of the Lord’s literal forgetfulness; it is speaking about judicial forgetfulness. He will not bring them up again – because they are under the blood of the crucified one. On the other hand, when the Bible says that the Lord remembers someone or remembers His covenant promise, it is referring to His carrying out that promise to that particular individual.
There is no limit to the knowledge which God has of this particular moment – anywhere in His creation. If, right now, there was an armed robbery taking place at the gas station down the street, we’d not know it until we heard the sirens and someone hacked into the police radio. Our knowledge of this moment is limited to what our senses can provide. But God is greater than we are, and His knowledge is not dependent upon 5, 10 or 50 senses. “All things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” – Hebrews 4:13. There is a funny incident recorded in II Kings 6. The King of Syria was making plans to attack Israel, but God told Elisha, and Israel’s army escaped. This occurred once, twice and then again, until the king was sure there was a spy in his bedroom. There was, and His name was Jehovah. God knows all the thoughts of all His thinking creatures – and even the thoughts of the non-thinking ones. David said of God – “Thou understandest my thoughts afar off.” Where would the tenth commandment be without divine omniscience to oversee it? Thou shalt not covet. 98% of all covetousness is non-spoken, and yet God is aware of it. And God doesn’t acquire knowledge by watching us – this would make Him dependent on us. By knowing Himself, God knows all that is contrary to Himself.
And as far as the future is concerned there isn’t an event which the Lord doesn’t know as intimately as you know your last ten seconds of your life. If God didn’t possess this kind of knowledge, there could never be divine providence. If He didn’t know about Potiphar, Pharaoh, the baker and the butler, it would have been a terrible blunder on God’s part to send Joseph into Egypt. This sets Him apart from every other being – every creature – every imaginary deity. God lays down a challenge to the idolater in Isaiah 41:23 – “Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods.”
We might say that at some point in history, everything that would ever take place would be in the future. There was a point when the incarnation of Christ was future; when the flood was future; when the creation of Adam was future. But the word “future” is not found in the Lord’s dictionary. God’s knowledge does not come from things because they do exist, or because they will exist, but because He ordained them to exist. God’s knowledge does not depend on occurrences, but because He ordained them to occur. He knows what will be because it cannot be without His will. His knowledge, like everything else about Him, is immutable – it is not subject to any change.
And where does this put our salvation? Squarely in the realm of absolute assurance. To us, there was a point in time when we were saved. But to God the “moment” He chose to love you, even before creation itself, you were one of His saints. And since God does not change, the saint will never not be a saint. Furthermore God’s knowledge is inextricably linked to His love. God’s love and approval are reflected in His use of the words “to know.” “You only have I KNOWN of all the families of the earth.” God knows the wicked so as to understand them, but He does not know them to savingly love them. If you are a Christian, God has known you since before the foundation of the earth. And that special knowledge has meant your redemption.
Another area of God’s perfect knowledge lays in all future possibilities. The arrow which struck and killed Ahab appeared to be a mere hap-hazzard act by the free will of an enemy soldier. But it was no surprise to God. In fact it was prophesied – ie. declared before it actually took place. Arrogant man would like to make God just as ignorant of the future as he is. He prefers a God who can be deceived and surprised. But such a being cannot be God; He could not govern His creation. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord that shall stand.”
You parents, why did you give to your children the names which went onto their birth certificates? And why did the mother of Cyrus give her child that name; was it because her husband demanded it? No, it was because God demanded it and thus He knew that name. And that explains why hundreds of years before the baby’s birth, God could speak of it.
What came first, the sacrifice of Christ, God’s knowledge of the sacrifice or the prophecy of it? Fallible man might argue all day about the answer. But to the eternal God with His sovereign control and His infinite knowledge, the three points blend into one. Christ “being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” – Acts 2:23. This was the eternal purpose of God, but its fulfillment wasn’t a nano-second behind the decree and God’s knowledge of that decree in the eterrnity of Jehovah.
Beyond these things, Jehovah even knows all which shall NEVER be. He knows that which exists only in the realm of possibility. You and I might weigh various schemes and possibilities when making decisions. But we can’t know all the possibilities which might affect a decision required today – God does. Can we separate God’s omniscience from His omnipotence? We won’t even try. He knows all things because He controls all things.
How absurd is the idea that God looked into the future and saw that you would repent and believe on Christ, so He decided to elect you to salvation. Just like everything else about the Lord – His knowledge isn’t dependent upon you. He is God – His knowledge is infinite and perfect.