The attribute of Omniscience is one of the most significant, for God uses it to distinguish Himself from false gods. In Isaiah 41:21-23, He puts His Deity to the test. He challenges any to declare the former things or the things that would come hereafter stating that He would acknowledge those who possessed such knowledge to be gods. God implies here that to be all-knowing is to be God. In this lesson we shall continue our study of the Omniscience of God by putting His knowledge to the test, and re-emphasizing the fact that God is all-knowing.
I. The Test of Omniscience
Let us proceed with the challenge that God gave by comparing the knowledge of God with other beings and we shall see that God is really God.
First, let us consider knowledge about the former things. What man knows all of the events of the past? There exist multitudes of mysteries about the past that have never been answered, and no amount of new technology will ever solve them. Even if every event of the past had been recorded, how many lifetimes would it take to read about them? Man has trouble even retaining facts from the past of his own lifetime, let alone learning about some else's past. Our final conclusion must be that man's knowledge of the past is scanty, since our time in which to learn is limited, and not all facts are available to us.
In contrast, God is able to recount to us in full detail the actual events of the past in Scripture. The Bible has never been wrong concerning the past and continues to triumph over the challenges of modern man. What man was around during the creation of the heavens and earth as God challenged Job: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" (Job 38:4). Yet God gives us a vivid account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. God further records for us events about which no man could have known, such as the dispute over the body of Moses (Jude 9) or events in heaven (2 Chronicles 18:18-22). Clearly God displays for us a complete knowledge of the past.
Which of us could boast of knowledge about all of the events of the present? In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which he was unable to recall after he awoke. He asked the greatest minds of Babylon to tell him what the dream was, but they could only answer, "There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter" (verse 10). Furthermore, they acknowledged in verse 11 that only the gods possessed such knowledge. Then Daniel arrives on the scene with the message that "there is a God in heaven" who revealeth the deep and secret things and who knoweth what is in the darkness (verses 14-28).
Perhaps the knowledge of the future is where God's omniscience is best displayed. Man often attempts to predict the future. False prophets in Israel often tried to predict the future as Zedekiah did in 2 Chronicles 18:10, but they could only speculate about the events of the future. Today, predicting the future is done in a variety of fashions from psychics to toys, but again, this is only speculation based on probable outcomes and is never 100% accurate. Man does not possess any knowledge of the future other than what God has told him.
The angels also seem to lack knowledge about future events (1 Peter 1:12). For example, no angel knows the time that Christ will return (Matthew 24:36). Even Satan, perhaps the most powerful being of God's creation, cannot always correctly foretell the future. In Job 2:4-5, Satan told God that Job would curse Him if He took away Job's health, but this never took place.
God does not predict the future, He foretells it! His knowledge of the future is not based on speculation but on foreknowledge. This is clear from His perfect accuracy in prophesy and the following conditions which can be found in them (from A.T. Pierson): 1. Remoteness of Time, 2. Minuteness of Detail, 3. Novelty of Combination (that which makes speculation impossible), and 4. Clearness in Forecast. Consider the following examples from the many prophecies given by God:
When Jereboam, King of Israel, was offering incense upon the altar he had built at Bethel, God sent a prophet who foretold the coming of Josiah. Josiah would be of the line of David and would burn the bones of Jereboam's priests on that very altar (1 Kings 13:1-2). One might think that some of the pious kings of Judah might have named their children Josiah hoping to fulfill the prophecy, but nearly three centuries passed before there came a king, Manasseh, who chose the name Josiah for one of his children. Who could have ever predicted that this prophecy would be fulfilled through the most wicked of all the kings of Judah? Only the One who knew exactly what the future had in store.
The prophecy against the city of Tyre found in Ezekiel 26:4-5 is one of the most remarkable in Scripture. Who could ever imagine what God meant by His statement, "I will also scrape her dust from her." The city of Tyre had two parts: one part on the shore of the Mediterranean and the other on an island half a mile from the shore. Some 225 years after the prophecy was given, Alexander the Great appeared on the scene. The mainland part of Tyre had been previously destroyed, but as yet no one had been able to take out the island part. So Alexander came up with the idea to build a bridge to the island. He had his men dump the debris from the mainland city into the sea to build a causeway. When that wasn't enough, he had them literally scrape the dust from the old city and dump that into the sea as well. Once again, we see that God knew exactly what He was talking about.
The prophecies concerning the first coming of the Messiah are equally incredible. His name and virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), His birthplace (Micah 5:2), His lineage (Isaiah 9:7), the price of His betrayal (Zechariah 11:12), the parting of His garments (Psalm 22:18), and the time of His death (Daniel 9:25-26) are just a few of the many prophecies which were fulfilled with absolute accuracy. Who but an omniscient God could ever declare these events that would surely come to pass?
II. The Truths of Omniscience
As we have seen from our test of knowledge, only God possesses the attribute of omniscience. This should cause us to stop and consider the following truths:
Since God is the only being that is all-knowing, there can be only one God. Do you love Him as the only God?
How brilliantly God outshines all other beings in this perfection of omniscience. Like Moses, we ought to cry "Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods?" (Exodus 15:11). Do you honor Him as the supreme being?
Who else has the right to rule and govern the universe but an all-knowing God? Who could do a better job than the One who possesses infinite knowledge? The Lord God is the fitting and rightful sovereign of the heavens and the earth! Is He the sovereign of your life?
No being other than God can answer the challenge to show the former things or the things hereafter. God alone is deity and He alone possesses the perfection of omniscience. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 150:2, let us praise him according to his excellent greatness.