Section 1: God
Week 1: God Is Great
Day 3: God Is All-Knowing
Theologians often say God is omniscient, which means he knows everything. Traditionally, that has been understood to mean God knows absolutely everything about the past, present, and future.
Can God Really Know the Future?
Recently, though, a theological movement known as Open Theism has suggested God doesn’t really know the future because he gave us free will. Open Theists argue, until a person actually makes a decision, they always have the ability to choose more than one thing. As a result, you can’t actually know what they’re going to do until they do it. If that’s true, not even God can know the future because there’s no way to know the result of a free choice in advance.
The Bible Says God Knows Everything, Including the Future
The debate in many ways comes down to how one defines free will, and that’s too involved to go into here. (We’ll delve into it in a later Digging Deeper section.) But the bottom line is: the Open Theist view of God’s knowledge is contrary to the biblical picture of God’s knowledge.
In Isaiah, for example, God says there is none like him, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done (Isa. 46:9-10). There are also numerous prophecies in which God declares in advance what will happen, including the details of human choices.
To cite just one example, long before the Persian ruler Cyrus was born, God told Isaiah that Cyrus would be the one who would issue a decree allowing the Israelites to return from exile (Isa. 44-45). Presumably, Cyrus’ decision was a free choice. Additionally, countless other free choices by many different people would have to have been made to put Cyrus in a position to issue the decree. If God wasn’t able to know the result of our choices in advance, there’s no way he could have known Cyrus would issue the decree. Yet he did.
The Bible, therefore, clearly points to God knowing everything, including the future.
That Truth Ought to Shape the Way We Look at Our Circumstances
God’s knowledge should give us a lot of confidence. The world is often a confusing place. So many bad things seem to happen. Why does God allow that? That’s where God’s omniscience becomes such an important truth to remember.
We may wish our circumstances were different, but that’s because we can’t see what God sees. By virtue of his omniscience, God knows every possible way events could unfold. He knows what would have happened if you had married that person you were dating in college. He knows what would have happened if you had gotten that job you really wanted. In short, he knows what would have happened if any event in history had unfolded differently. Because God can see how every possible set of circumstances will play out, he also sees which set of circumstances turns out best when all things are said and done.
Make a list of times where something happened that you initially didn’t like, yet it turned out for the best.
In light of those examples, how much trust should you have in your own understanding of the circumstances in your life?