God Knows


I find myself saying “God knows” a lot these days. God knows about the person who is living an immoral life style. God knows about the unfair treatment the church person is meting out. God knows about the corruption in our government and the lies from the politicians. God knows about the problems I see at so many different levels.

I am comforted by the fact that God knows. It’s a reminder to me that even the things that seem so out of control actually aren’t.

I think of young Joseph, gang tackled by his older brothers and hauled to a pit, even as he pleaded for his life. Did he think in those darkest moments when he was fished out of the hole and pushed into the hands of the slavers, that God knows?

Certainly, years later Joseph knew that truth. God knew and as a result had the whole circumstance under control. In fact, all the evil directed at Joseph, God turned to the good for … well, the world.

Because He sent Joseph ahead to preserve the lives of his entire family, He set in motion so many things related to Jesus—His lineage and numerous important types that show the story of salvation. There would have been no exodus if Joseph hadn’t gone to Egypt. There would have been no Passover lamb, no passing through the sea on dry land, no giving of the law, no priestly office, no serpent lifted up for the sick to look at and be healed, no daily portion of manna, and on and on.

After the fact, Joseph could tell his brothers that he got it—God knew, and what was evil, He made good. Now we can read the story and see too, the way God worked it all out. But what was Joseph thinking at the time? Wouldn’t he have been comforted if he could have glimpsed the end?

Of course, God had graciously given him just such a glimpse. Remember the dreams? God had shown Joseph his family bowing to him. Not once, but twice.

Did the memory of those dreams comfort Joseph when all seemed so horribly wrong? Did he think, I don’t know how this will happen, but God said He would put me as a ruler over my family. He knows I’m a slave now instead.

I suspect Joseph did hold onto the truth because he clearly held onto God. When his master’s wife wanted to sleep with him, he didn’t say, Your husband might find out. He said, How can I sin against God?

That’s the answer of a man who understood that God knows.

This article was first published here in October 2010.

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What God’s Omniscience Says About His Justice


As I read from the George MacDonald article Justice, I was struck by two things: a misunderstanding of who is offended by sin and a misunderstanding of the point of punishment.

First, MacDonald gives a word picture to make a case that punishment does not satisfy the offended and is therefore not actually just. His illustration involves the theft of a watch. The sinner is the thief, and the offended is the one who owned the watch.

In reality, though, sin’s offense is not first and foremost against another person but against God. David understood this, and in his Psalm of repentance after committing adultery and murder, he acknowledged this.

Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
– Psalm 51:4

Consequently, justice is not about repayment, because our sin takes nothing from God. He doesn’t lose anything He needs nor is His character altered, His person diminished, His being belittled. When we sin, God doesn’t lose. We do. We, the perpetrators.

Which brings up the next point. Punishment here on earth serves two purposes. First, it is a means to bring people to God.

For some, the purpose was to bring that person or nation under punishment, back to God. Think of Miriam when she wanted to usurp Moses’s authority. God punished her by giving her leprosy. Further, from time to time God allowed another nation to have military success against Judah that they would learn to trust Him instead of the false gods of the nations around them.

In addition, God punishes as a warning to others. The man who cursed the name of God, for example, was stoned. Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu, were killed because they didn’t obey God in the performance of their priestly duties.

Again, David understood this. Here’s what he said to Goliath:

“This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel …”

Verses like this are troublesome to anyone divorced from an understanding of God’s omniscience. From the outside, this bloody action seems anti-God—opposed to His love and mercy—rather than the means by which all the earth will come to know Him.

Yet consider God’s omniscience, and the account takes on a different dimension. First, God knew the heart of Goliath and every other Philistine standing against Israel that day. He knew what they thought of Him and what they planned to do to His people.

In addition, God knew how a military victory would be perceived by the people in the surrounding nations, and by those of us centuries later who read about how He acted on behalf of His people. Here’s the rest of David’s speech to Goliath:

“… and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”

God knew what message the people needed at that moment, and He knew what it would take to deliver that message.

That He is omniscient means He didn’t make a mistake—in His assessment about the people who died that day on the battlefield, or about the accomplishment of His purpose through His action on behalf of Israel.

He also knew—though Scripture doesn’t spell it out for us so that we are left to guess—what would have happened to His people if Goliath and the Philistines had gone unchecked.

To summarize, God’s omniscience informs His justice. Consequently, if I trust God to be God, I don’t have to second guess His acts of justice. I know they come from perfect and complete knowledge and understanding.

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 6:18 pm  Comments (5)  
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God Knows


I find myself saying “God knows” a lot these days. God knows about the person who is living an immoral life style. God knows about the unfair treatment the church person is meting out. God knows about the corruption in our government and the lies from the politicians. God knows about the problems I see at so many different levels.

I am comforted by the fact that God knows. It’s a reminder to me that even the things that seem so out of control actually aren’t.

I think of young Joseph, gang tackled by his older brothers and hauled to a pit, even as he pleaded for his life. Did he think in those darkest moments when he was fished out of the hole and pushed into the hands of the slavers, that God knows?

Certainly, years later Joseph knew that truth. God knew and as a result had the whole circumstance under control. In fact, all the evil directed at Joseph, God turned to the good for … well, the world.

Because He sent Joseph ahead to preserve the lives of his entire family, He set in motion so many things related to Jesus—His lineage and numerous important types that show the story of salvation. There would have been no exodus if Joseph hadn’t gone to Egypt. There would have been no passover lamb, no passing through the sea on dry land, no giving of the law, no priestly office, no serpent lifted up for the sick to look at and be healed, no daily portion of manna, and on and on.

After the fact, Joseph could tell his brothers that he got it—God knew, and what was evil, He made good. And we can read the story and see too, the way God worked it all out. But what was Joseph thinking at the time? Wouldn’t he have been comforted if he could have glimpsed the end?

Of course, God had graciously given him just such a glimpse. Remember the dreams? God had shown Joseph his family bowing to him. Not once, but twice.

Did the memory of those dreams comfort Joseph when all seemed so horribly wrong? Did he think, I don’t know how this will happen, but God said He would put me as a ruler over my family. He knows I’m a slave now instead.

I suspect Joseph did hold onto the truth because he clearly held onto God. When his master’s wife wanted to sleep with him, he didn’t say, Your husband might find out. He said, How can I sin against God?

That’s the answer of a man who understood that God knows.

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm  Comments (2)  
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