Or do we retroactively place our current theology of God on God?

Consider the Garden of Eden: '[T]he Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”'  (Gen. 3:8-10)

Now today we make it into a rhetorical question, but was this always so? In this story, God is spoken of almost in a physical-bodily sense as walking in the garden, since "they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden" as he moved about, and then tried to hide themselves from his view!

Advertisement

Next think of the tower of Babel - "The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built" (Gen 11:5) - Did he not just know already? Also this story makes it appear like God is worried about the potential of man (Gen 11:6)!

Then this idea is reinforced some more in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, when God needs to go and check out their sin to see if the outcry he's heard is accurate!

Genesis 18:20-21

Then the Lord said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”

Advertisement

This next one may be a stretch, but it comes to mind anyhow: "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth" (2 Chron 16:9).

Other translations say God's eyes "roam" or "run to and fro" throughout the earth. Maybe it's just a poetic way of saying "God sees all", but does it mean he sees all simultaneously — as an all-knowing God should/would? Or is this in keeping with the earlier ideas of God having to come down to a location to inspect it fully, that he goes about the whole earth checking out things and people?

sistinechapel_sep_of_land_water.jpg
"The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind." — Psalm 33:13

Maybe this where Angels play their role; as in, they are all over the Earth reporting back to the Lord about what they see and hear, so that he can act on situations  as messengers not only from God, but also to God?

Then you also have Proverbs 15:3 saying "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good" which does sound similar to the thought behind the Chronicles verse, and so is probably confirms that it is more of a poetic way of expressing what we would now just call "omniscience."

Advertisement

At the moment I can't think of any other places off the top of my head in Scripture where this idea appears to be present. But other Old Testament verses do also come to mind that show the opposite. For example in Psalm 139:1-4:

Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    Lord, you know it completely.

Along with Job 21:22; Psalm 33:13-15; Psalm 90:8; 1 Chronicles 28:9; the view of God as knowing all we do, say and think becomes more apparent and the earlier passages from Genesis appear not to line up with this picture of God, as they do seem to suggest that God didn't "just know" everything that was happening without having to go and see for himself (although Gen 4:8-9 would give the impression God didn't know something, until you read verse 10).

But then, maybe this was just a limited understanding from the primitive Hebrews perspective on how God works and acts?

Advertisement

Then again, I suppose this would all rest on how "literal" you read it or how in/fallible you see the Bible and some of the earlier stories, and if it says "the Lord said.." then he really did say it verbatim, and therefore God did need to go and check things out for himself in order to know something.

I'm more inclined to think that this could all be brought under the umbrella of progressive revelation again. The New Testament would appear to show God in an all-knowing way completely, without leaving much room for anything but omniscience, for example: Matthew 10:29-30; Matthew 6:3-4; Acts 15:8; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Ephesians 1:1-14; 1 Jn 3:19-20.

I think it's safe to say that most of Scripture confirms God's omniscience. Especially since Jesus spells it out quite clearly that not even birds will die without the Father knowing about it, we can rest assured that God does know and see everything, so then we can feel safe fully trusting him with our lives and our future knowing he will direct our steps faithfully (Proverbs 16:9).

Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates
Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 272 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates and join over 114 subscribers today!

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Lent, Lament and Lockdown

| 2 days ago | Coronavirus

Lent is a time of self denial and of giving things up, and also a period of lament in the lead up to Easter where we remember the Passion and death of Christ before we celebrated the glorious resurrection.  Often this is a personal affair on the discipline side of things, even if it's a practice shared within your church community, but this year has been so very different. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, the whole world has slowly gone into lockdown country by country, creating a strange sort of global “Lent” where everyone is having to practice self control and self denial. This has been underpinned with a sense of lament at the way things were, the way things should be, and all of the things—and people—we've lost.  I don't think it's coincidental that the most isolating part of this pandemic happened during the Lenten season, causing us all, Christian or otherwise, to stop, step back and reflect on life. While it can feel a little gloomy of late with all the isolation and lack of social and religious meetings, we mustn't think that God has abandoned us—likewise we also shouldn't lose faith.   The Bible isn't a stranger to times of lament and distress, and we see it often in the Psalms. At times like this of limited food and resources and job loss, we can probably relate to David when he wrote things like this: Psalms 86:1 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Psalms 102:1-2 Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call. And such poetic sadness from the book dedicated to lament; Lamentations 3:16-18 He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the LORD.”   Hope in the face of darkness As we look forward to the end of this pandemic with hope like a light at the end of a tunnel, in the meantime we just learn to live in the darkness as the Apostles did on those gloomy days between the crucifixion and the resurrection; when their world ended but was then reborn better than ever expected! They only had to wait a couple of days to see their hope realised, whereas we have no idea how long this will last. How long will we go without seeing friends and family, meeting up at restaurants or going to church again? Only time will tell, but in the midst of this, we shouldn't worry but rather cling onto the hope of God as the Psalmist did, as the Apostles did and so many others before us.  And in the words of the author of Lamentations: “...the Lord will not reject forever … for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.” (Lamentations 3:31,33).  There is always light at the end of darkness if we put our hope in Christ.  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)...

Christians and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

| 20th March 2020 | Coronavirus

We currently live in troubled times lately with a lot of uncertainty around us, both locally and globally. But even now as I write this and think on the topic of the virus, one verse in particular springs to mind: Psalm 23:4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of deathI fear no evil;for you are with me;your rod and your staff — they comfort me. It does feel a little bit like we are all walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” at the moment! But as the Psalmist says, “I fear no evil” for God is with us and comforts us. That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t get sick (or die), but that no matter what is happening around us, internally we should be at peace and have a stilled mind; not one filled with worry and hopelessness. John 14:27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. Not to mention the mandate to not worry about what we’ll eat or wear etc. (Matthew 6:25–34) especially in this time of panic buying where shops are facing food shortages. We must strive to avoid this type of thinking and behaviour, because not only does it not help anyone (and is incredibly selfish), it just causes more panic. As Christians we should keep in mind what God has spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10), and what Paul wrote to Timothy that “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power” (2 Timothy 1:7). Christians and Plagues Throughout History Disease, plagues and pandemics are not new things in this world. History is replete with sickness and death, the only difference now is that since around the 20th century, modern medicine and vaccines have improved to such a degree that we are fairly well protected against anything on a pandemic, or even an epidemic, level. Sickness is often relegated to a temporary inconvenience during winter, which we can pop pills for; whereas the more serious sickness and death are hidden away in hospitals and care homes out of sight for the most part. Prior to this time, past generations just had to deal with recurring diseases and plagues killing off the populations fairly regularly. Just take a look at this infographic to see the scale and frequency of them! It dates back all the major pandemics to the second century, of which there are about twenty, so that’s just over one global disease per century. As scary as the current times are, this is nothing new, historically speaking. In these past times of plague and disease, many people would flee their towns and cities if they weren’t obviously sick to try and escape the looming deadly virus — but the Christian communities often had the opposite response: they stayed with the sick and dying! In the year 249 AD, a pandemic swept the Roman Empire known as The Plague of Cyprian, named in commemoration of Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, as he was a witness to it. At the height of the outbreak, it was thought that around 5,000 people a day were dying, and it almost toppled the Empire. Cyprian wrote about the plague in his On Mortality, describing its symptoms, which some modern historians think could describe a type of Ebola: This trial, that now the bowels, relaxed into a constant flux, discharge the bodily strength; that a fire originated in the marrow ferments into wounds of the fauces; that the intestines are shaken with a continual vomiting; that the eyes are on fire with the injected blood; that in some cases the feet or some parts of the limbs are taken off by the contagion of diseased putrefaction; that from the weakness arising by the maiming and loss of the body, either the gait is enfeebled, or the hearing is obstructed, or the sight darkened… As gruesome as that sounds, Cyprian, a couple of chapters later, writes in praise of those who forsook their own well-bei...

Is fasting an expectation for Christians?

| 29th February 2020 | Fasting

The season of Lent is here once again which of course brings up the topic of fasting, since the tradition of Lent comes from following Jesus’ example of his time in the wilderness (Luke 4:1–2). I wasn’t planning on writing anything specific this year like I have previous in previous years, but I felt inspired today at church from one of Gospel readings: Matthew 9:14–15 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Often times when the topic of fasting, or Lent, comes up, people are quick to defend their inaction towards self-denial by claiming that, “Jesus didn’t command us to fast!”. Let’s take a look at that claim for a moment. There may be no chapter and verse you can point to where Jesus says, “Thou shalt fast” — but it was certainly implied in a couple of places when Jesus spoke on the topic, the verse from Matthew above being one of those times, when he finishes off by saying: “and then they will fast” after the “bridegroom” (ie. Jesus) is taken away (death and ascension into heaven). The other time Jesus talks about fasting is a little earlier on in Matthew’s Gospel, in chapter six: Matthew 6:16–18 And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Here we can see that Jesus clearly speaks with the expectation that his followers will fast and even gives instructions and guidance on how to do so and how to avoid being lumped together with the “hypocrites” (sometimes translated as Pharisees). When Jesus tells us how to fast and when it will be appropriate, he was making sure to raise the bar again as he did with many things he taught on. As the Jewish leaders would fast in an obvious way to make sure that everyone could witness their apparent piety, Jesus was telling his followers to go about the business like normal; to get up, have a wash and not look miserable in their hunger. Reading past the Gospels and into Acts and the Epistles, we begin to see how the Apostles and other early believers took Jesus seriously and did begin to fast once the “bridegroom” has been taken away from them. In Acts, the Church was fasting and praying when making decisions about missionary work and who to send (Acts 13:2–3), before appointing leaders (Acts 14:23) and oftentimes fasting preceded receiving visions from God, which we see in both Old and New Testaments (Acts 10:10; 11:5; 22:17). Fasting was also used for various other needs people wanted from God, like petitioning for answers in prayer, for protection, forgiveness or simply for humbling yourself (Ezra 8:21; Nehemiah 1:4; 9:1; Esther 4:3; Psalm 35:13; 69:10; Daniel 9:3; Joel 2:12; Zechariah 8:18–19). As you can see, fasting has a long and active tradition within Judaism, which passed on into Christianity quite naturally. During Second Temple Judaism, biweekly fasts were a common practice amongst Jews (see Luke 18:12 for a brief mention of it), and this is what Jesus would have been targeting in his teaching in Matt. 6. A late first century text from the early church, called The Didache (which was a sort of “church handbook”), expands on this teaching of Jesus and demonstrates to us how the earliest believers understood this and carried on the practice of fasting, taking the familiar model they were used to in Judaism, and reshaping it: But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; for they fast...

Losing a Loved One: A Few Ways to Find Solace

| 29th January 2020 | Death

This week I have a guest post by Lucille Rosetti from thebereaved.org looking at the hard topic of death. As Christians we shouldn't fear death, and ought to look on it with a paradoxical hope, since we know that through Christ death has lost its "sting" (1 Cor 15:55-57) and that we look forward to the Resurrection and life to come. But even with that in mind, the physical and earthly loss is still hard and something we need to process and deal with, and the following guest post aims to help with the practical side of loss which still needs to be dealt with. Leave your thoughts in the comments! Losing a loved one is difficult. It always comes as a shock and requires you to set aside some time to properly grieve your loss. In addition to dealing with your emotional responses to the loss, there are many important decisions to make after the fact. The advice below may be a good starting point for those who need to figure out their next steps. Logistical Matters There are important logistical matters to take care of after someone passes away. Finding their important documents such as a Social Security card, will, or military discharge papers takes precedent. These can let you know if there were special instructions, tax obligations, benefits, and if the deceased wanted to be an organ donor. Make sure pets are taken care of, and locate a legal guardian if there are children who survive the deceased. If your loved one made an arrangement with a funeral home in the past, they may be able to assist with legal matters, especially if your loved one died at home; contact a funeral home if nothing has been arranged. Finally, notify credit reporting agencies so they can look out for possible fraud on the Social Security number and credit cards of the deceased. Sorting Through Possessions After a loss, it’s normal to become emotionally attached to items that belonged to the person who passed away. In fact, some people may feel they will lose more memories and parts of the deceased as they sort through items. It’s possible to make healthy decisions about this while still honoring the memory of the person you dearly loved. First, read the will of the deceased, if one exists. If there isn’t one, an estate lawyer and accountant may be able to help you deal with valuable possessions, an estate, and other legal matters.  Professionals, such as experts in bereavement cleanouts can provide support and advice as well. You can also take care of these things yourself. It’s wise to give yourself ample time to sort through things. Create a plan for which rooms you will clean on which days, and sort items based on these four criteria: toss, donate, keep, or sell. Reconsider switching items from a given pile as needed. Put paperwork and documents in a separate pile so you won’t miss any possible instructions or important notices. Clean every spot thoroughly. Over the years, your loved ones may have lost valuable pieces of jewelry that can be split up amongst the family. Selling Your Home According to Cancer.net, experts suggest waiting at least a year to make major life changes, such as changing jobs or moving. Of course, you know your situation best, and there may be specific reasons why you’d like to move sooner. Preparing paperwork is crucial to selling your home with the least amount of stress possible.  Gather documents and organize them in folders so you can easily look through them. Items to include in your folders are tax records and information, maintenance and home repair records, documents on appraisal of your home when you bought it and of appraisals performed afterward, mortgage details, home insurance records, property survey, certificates stating you comply with local zoning regulations or codes, and the sales contract created when you originally bought your house. Don’t forget to submit your original deed, which acts as proof that you own your home. It’s possible to obtain a certified copy for your local re...