- Nothing out of his control - The sovereignty of God (1)
- Clinging to the Rock - the immutability of God (2)
- God is Omniscient (4)
‘Hey, Siri – what’s the capital of Venezuela?’
When you want to know something where do you go? Perhaps you have one of those fountain of knowledge friends who always seem to recall the facts and figures that so often allude you. Maybe you fancy yourself as a bit of an expert on all things and take the opinion that if you don’t know it, ‘it ain’t worth knowing’.
Perhaps you’re the modern type who doesn’t like to sit in ignorance too long. No sooner has a question come into your mind than an artificial intelligent assistant, such as Siri or Cortana has been tasked with retrieving the answer you crave. Each day Google processes 3.5 billion queries!
A thirst for answers
I think this shows us at least three things. Firstly, we’re an ignorant bunch. We all have questions that we need answering no matter how high a view we maintain of ourselves. Secondly, we have an insatiable thirst for the gaps in our knowledge to be filled. Thirdly, that knowledge is never filled by search engines alone. We’ll always have more questions.
In the book of Proverbs, we’re encouraged to pursue wisdom and understanding whilst simultaneously being warned against believing ourselves to be wise. ‘Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them’ (Proverbs 26:12).
So what are we supposed to do? Where are we supposed to turn? Alexa certainly has a lot of the answers, but not all. We’re supposed to grow in our knowledge, but not become proud in the knowledge that we attain. Does anyone really know it all? And if they claimed to, wouldn’t that be a warning sign for us?
The perfect knowledge of God
Thankfully, when we turn to the God of our Bible we find a portrait of one who knows all things. Here are just a few verses for us to think about. While Job was contemplating the nature of life and existence, his close friend Elihu pointed him in the direction of the God ‘who has perfect knowledge’ (Job 37:16). When the apostle John is discussing how the disciples lives should imitate Christ, he reminds us that God is one who ‘knows everything’ (1 John 3:20). When the psalmist invites us to join in with right and proper praise of God, that invitation is made in part on the basis that God is one whose ‘understanding has no limits’ (Psalm 147:5).
Philosophically speaking you quickly realise that this has to be the case when you consider that God is the one who sees all things. After all, ‘nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight’ (Heb. 4:13).
Technically this ‘all-knowingness’ is called God’s omniscience. This obscure name conceals a most wonderful truth. The things that trouble us the most are well known to God. This is excellent news.
God knows all events – past, present, future … and possible?
In Isaiah chapter 46, God exposes just how bogus idols are. The severity of their unmasking is increased when they are compared to God himself. During the brief comparison we are given a glimpse into God’s relationship with events as they unfold on earth:
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come (Isaiah 46:9-10).
God, incomparable in his being, knows everything that has happened, that is happening and that will happen. Elsewhere there are even suggestions that God knows all things that could happen (1 Samuel 23:1-13). God is one who knows all events – past, present, future and possible.
So why is this good news for us? Many of our unanswered questions relate to our future. What will the weather be like tomorrow? Will house prices go up or down? Will the treatment I’m receiving work? Life throws innumerable curve balls our way which can fill us with dread, anxiety and confusion. But a God who sees and knows it all is never taken by surprise. Our Father in heaven is never left scratching his head. When we consider his knowledge in unison with his wisdom, his power and the concern he has for all his creation, then we can safely conclude that the God who knows all things is also at work in all things for his own glory and the good of those who love him.
God knows us
Psalm 139 is worth turning to and devouring in its entirety. It is an extended meditation on how well God knows each one of us. Let’s take a look at it.
Our God has ‘searched us and knows us’ (verse 1). He knows every detail of our days to a far greater level than we can even grasp: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it’ (verse 6). God’s knowledge of us isn’t limited to a moment or a particular location, it pursues us wherever we may go: to heaven, to the grave, to great distances and to dark places (verses 7-12). His knowledge predates our birth (verses 13-16) and extends into every one of our days on earth (verse 16). This all-encompassing knowledge is a terrifying thought for those who try to hide their corrupt nature from God but to those who trust in him it is wonderful and good (verses 17-18). It is interesting that the conclusion of this meditation is confession, repentance and anticipation of God’s forgiveness (verses 23-24).
Much of the angst we experience in life is a result of our struggle to come to terms with who we are deep down. We bury secrets and try to live as if we’re someone we’re not. The truth that God knows us better than we know ourselves, that he knows the true person behind the facade, means we can come to him and fully experience the freedom of confession and repentance.
We can’t know everything and we don’t need to know everything because the God who knows it all is our God. No matter the uncertainties we face, or the shame we might feel, our God already knows. He knows all things, he even knows what we need before we have a chance to ask him for it. This is good news for sure.