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A Valid Question – About God’s Foreknowledge

One valid question that many people will ask in regard to the subject covered in “Does the Bible say, God knows every future event in human history?”, “If God does not have absolute foreknowledge, seeing the whole future before it happens, how then can He so accurately predict things like a Persian king named ‘Cyrus’”? Another is, “What about the incredibly specific prophecies about the events of Jesus’ life, like none of his bones being broken, etc., etc.?”

May we suggest that there is an alternative answer to the question, other than that God already sees every future event from the distant past. It is the answer set forth in the above article, and is that God is so powerful, so knowledgeable, so faithful, so resourceful and so loving that He is able to do whatever He unconditionally promises. Since there is no verse that says that God saw in the past every event in the future, we think that this alternative is also much more biblical. Some will cite Isaiah 46:10, which says that God sees “the end from the beginning,” but this statement is made in relationship to His purposes, not His knowledge. The verse closes with the statement “I will do all that I please.” The emphasis is on His ability to keep His promises and perform His Word.

It is apparent that “on either side of the coin” our mind boggles. On the one side, we cannot possibly understand how God could know our choices before we make them, and yet we still have genuine free will. On the other side of the coin, we cannot fathom God’s ability to bring to pass prophecies as specifically as He does. But as stated in the above article, for us the “open” view is far more biblically sound and far more appealing than the “closed” view of God. It also makes God much more personal, powerful and present.

One major problem with the idea that God has absolute foreknowledge is that it renders His many dialogues with people like Abraham, Moses, Jonah, etc., meaningless, if not disingenuous. If God already saw in His foreknowledge that the Ninevites would repent, then He could not honestly convey to Jonah the possibility of them not repenting. If on the other hand, they were genuine free moral agents whose free will decisions could not be known absolutely until they were made, then God’s dialogue to Jonah is both honest and understandable.

Our experience over the years has shown that this is a potentially volatile subject that generates strong emotional responses from those who feel that it threatens their conception of God. Much love, wisdom and patience needs to be shown toward those who may be in this category. We present teachings of this subject in the hope that all who hear it will prayerfully take it to the Word of God and be like the Bereans, who “searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Many who do so will find this perspective more scriptural and rational, and energizing greater commitment to prayer, worship, obedience and evangelism. Could that be a bad thing?

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