What does God know?
Ian Rees, Bath, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Though God is spirit and does not have a body as we do,He is a living spirit who can see and hear, (What does God look like?). As spirit being God is not bound to any particular place at a particular time. He is omnipresent (Where does God live?). From these two truths it is not hard to arrive at the conclusion that He must therefore see and know everything. Is this what the Bible teaches? Yes; in terms of witnessing all that goes on in His creation, ‘all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do’, Heb. 4. 13. ‘The Lord looks from heaven; he beholds all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looks upon all the inhabitants of the earth; he … considers all their works’, Ps. 33. 13-14. This everywhere-present God is an allknowing, all-seeing God over whose eyes none can pull the wool.
God knows the things we do
David had a deep sense of this when he wrote that God knows ‘my downsitting and my uprising‘, Ps. 139. To think that God even knows such humdrum, mundane things as that! Many over the years have either overlooked or forgotten this.Cain killed and buried his brother, no doubt thinking that committing murder in a field meant he was unobserved.Yet God had seen it all, Gen. 4. 8-10. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. In order to cover his tracks when he learned she was pregnant with his child he brought her husband home from battle for a weekend. When that did not work, David arranged for him to be killed in battle, and then married Bathsheba, no doubt thinking no-one would find him out. Yet ‘the thing that David had done displeased the Lord‘, and God sent Nathan the prophet to accuse David, 2 Sam. 12. 1-9. God knew that Jonah had rebelled against Him and was hiding in the hold of a ship, Jonah 1. Thieves break into houses under cover of darkness or when they think no-one is watching. ‘Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil‘, yet ‘even darkness hideth not from thee‘, Ps. 139. 12. God is the Great Witness to all sin; there is nothing that passes Him by. He sees it all, for ‘the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth‘, 2 Chr. 16. 9; ‘the eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good‘, Prov. 15. 3.
God knows the things we say
Again, David writes, ‘there is not a word in my tongue but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether‘, Ps. 139. 4. Sarai, laughed when God said she would expect a child in her nineties, and God heard. ‘Wherefore did Sarah laugh?’ He asked, Gen. 18. 12-15. God heard and was displeased when false prophets claimed to speak with His authority and in His name. ‘They have spoken lying words in my name‘, He said, Jer. 29. 23. God heard Ananias and Sapphira when they lied to Peter, Acts 5. 4. He even hears every idle word that we say, for which one day we will have to account.
God knows the things we think
‘Thou understandest my thought afar off‘, says David, Ps. 139. 2. Yes, God ‘understandeth all the imaginations of the heart‘, 1 Chr. 28. 9. Samuel fell into the trap of deciding a family of strong, sturdy young men were suitable for the task of being kings by looking at their faces.God told him he was wrong.‘Man looks on the outward things, but God looks on the heart‘, 1 Sam. 16. 7. And what does God see in the hearts of men and women? ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart . . .even to give to every man according to his ways‘, Jer. 17. 10. ‘God saw that the wickedness of man was great and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually‘, Gen. 6. 5. No doubt Simon the Pharisee was astounded when the Lord answered his thoughts, Luke 7. 39. The Lord did not commit himself to men because He knew what was in man. ‘God knows your hearts‘, Luke 16. 15. He even knows our motives,Matt. 6. 1-5.‘He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastises the heathen, shall he not correct? He that teaches man knowledge, shall he not know? The Lord knows the thoughts of man that they are vanity‘, Ps. 94. 9-11.
God knows the things we dream
Daniel was put on the spot when King Nebuchadnezzar insisted on his dreams being interpreted, but had forgotten what he had dreamt. None of the astrologers and wise men of the day could tell him that, but Daniel stood before him and said, ‘There is a God in heaven that reveals secrets‘, Dan. 2. 28, and so he was able to tell Nebuchadnezzar what he had dreamt and what it meant.
God knows insignificant things
We must not think that God misses anything. Even the mundane, unimportant things that happen around us are known and seen by God. ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing.Yet one of them shall not fall to the ground without your father‘, Matt. 10. 29. He even knows the number of hairs there are on our heads, Matt. 10. 30. He knows our lives so intimately that He knows the things we need before ever we ask Him for them, Matt. 6. 8. He even knows the names of all the stars, Ps. 147. 4.
God knows possibilities
Does God even know what might have happened? Strange to say, He does. David asked God whether Saul would come to attack him at Keilah and God said,Yes.David then asked God whether the men of Keilah, with whom David had sought refuge, would hand him over to Saul and God again said,Yes. So David escaped from Keilah. 1 Sam. 23. 9- 13.The Lord also challenged the people of His day, saying that if the miracles they had seen had been done in Sodom God would not have had to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because they would have repented, Matt. 11. 20-24, note also God’s words in 2 Kings. 13. 19.
God knows the future
God knows and sees the development of a child in its mother’s womb before ever it is born. ‘My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret and curiously wrought in the lowest part of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect and in thy book were all my members written … when as yet there were none of them‘, Ps. 139. 15-16. He is the only One who can confidently declare what is going to happen in the future. He is God who can declare ‘the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying,my counsel shall stand and I will do all my good pleasure‘, Isa. 46. 10. ‘Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them‘, Isa. 42. 9. One of the hallmarks of a properlycommissioned prophet of God was that he would tell the people what was going to happen and it would happen precisely as he said. ‘When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken‘, Deut. 18. 22. This is because only God knows the future.
God knows Himself
He is infinite in His being, yet He understands Himself therefore He knows the infinite and His knowledge is therefore infinite. No man could ever understand or know God; yet the Spirit knows, 1 Cor. 2. 10-11.
God knows secret things
God has revealed a vast amount to mankind; things about the creation and history of the world in which we live, His eternal purposes and plans, and what the future holds. Yet there is much that God has not revealed to us. ‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God‘, Deut. 29. 29. And this means not just the plans He has which He chooses not to reveal to us, but also the secrets of our own hearts, and one day He will ‘bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the heart‘, 1 Cor. 4. 5.
All of these truths above teach us how vast and fathom-less is God’s knowledge of everything that is going on in His universe. He knows everything, 1 John 3. 20.Yet there is another aspect of God’s omniscience and that is that He is totally wise.Wisdom is the perfect application of knowledge. ‘Wisdom is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means‘, (Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p83). It is wisdom that enables God (and occasionally mankind) to take knowledge and use it properly for the best result. And God’s wisdom is vast. He is ‘the only wise God’, Rom. 16. 27. ‘With him are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding‘, Job 12. 13.
God has never learned anything
The extent of God’s knowledge is fabulous. ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it‘,Ps. 139. 6. It is all the more incredible to think, too, that God has never had to learn anything. God never went to school, nor sat down to learn from even the mightiest archangel. His knowledge has never been acquired. No-one ever taught Him anything He did not know. ‘Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel and who instructed him and taught him in the path of judgement and taught him knowledge and shewed him the way of understanding?‘, Isa. 40. 13-14. God puts Job in his place when He says to him, ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?’ Job 37. 4.The believer is forced to cry out, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor?’ Rom. 11. 34. Because God’s infinite knowledge is inherently and intrinsically His, He is never taken by surprise, never caught out.
Think, then, of the futility of trying to hide anything from God.Are we afraid to confess our sin to Him, in case He is angry with us? Why should we be? He knows our sin anyway, and knows more about it than we know ourselves. In confessing sin to God we are not going to tell Him anything He does not know. Why then does God want us to confess our sin to Him? Because the act of confession shows us, and God, that we are aware of our sins, are prepared to acknowledge them and to put things right with Him. God’s comprehensive knowledge of us should also remind us that, in a day of judgement to come,we will not be able to hide behind anything. All things are known by God and all things must be judged. He is the Great Witness of all sin. God’s total knowledge of everything, including the future, should also encourage us to trust Him. There are many who claim to be able to foretell or predict the future. Most are charlatans.Yet God’s track record on this one is impressive: everything He has in the past predicted would happen actually did. He knows the future. Trust Him. He will care for you.
But there is another thing about the knowledge of God. Psalm 1 tells us ‘the Lord knows the way of the righteous.’ Does that mean He does not know the way of the ungodly? Of course not.‘The way of the ungodly shall perish‘, and God knows it. Yet God’s knowledge of the way of the righteous is a special, loving knowledge. God could say of His earthly people the Jews, ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth‘, Amos 3. 2. Does that mean God did not know the others, the Philistines, the Amalekites, the Assyrians? No it does not. He knew them and their ways, which is why He judged them for their sin. Yet God’s knowledge of His people is a special knowledge, a loving knowledge. So Job could say,‘He knows the way I take; when He has tried me I shall come forth as gold‘, Job 23. 10. God’s knowledge of Job was a loving knowledge.Yes,God knows and sees all you do. To those who are not His own, this should come as a shock, a reminder to put things right with Him now. To those who are His own, this should be a comfort and an encouragement. His eye upon the believer is a loving eye; His knowledge is a loving knowledge.
There is yet one thing more. God’s knowledge of everything that happens in His universe is all-encompassing. Nothing passes Him by. His knowledge and wisdom is absolute and perfect. It is also ‘intuited‘, or ‘unlearned.’This was so of His Son who, when He came to this earth and became man, never ceased to be God and therefore was possessed of all knowledge and wisdom at all times. Yet, in becoming man, He began to learn things He had never known or experienced before.He learned how it felt to be hungry, to be thirsty, to be tired.He knew what it was like to be homeless and friendless. He learned what it was like to be tempted by Satan. This is not to say He ever yielded to temptation, nor yet that He could ever have yielded, for we do not believe that was possible. Yet He knew what it was like to face the temptations of the devil in all the frailties of human flesh. And He ‘learned obedience by the things that he suffered‘, Heb. 5. 8. This does not mean He learned how to be obedient. It means He learned what total obedience involved – suffering, shame and scorn. To think the Son of God came into this world and learned such things.Why? So that He could be a perfect high priest, sympathetic to the feelings of His own, and a perfect example to us.Why did the Omniscient learn? Because He loved us. How much we owe Him in return!
GOD IS OMNISCIENT
AUTHOR PROFILE: IAN REES saw an assembly planted in Francistown, Botswana, having served the Lord there for 13 years. Now based in the UK, he was in fellowship in Manvers Hall, Bath, one of his commending assemblies. He has now moved to establish a new assembly in Tenby, West Wales. He is married and has seven children.