God is present everywhere and is unchanging. He is all-knowing and all-powerful.
Arthur A. Eggert
If an observant individual is present at a particular place at a particular time, one would expect that person would know what is happening there. In the same way, because the Lord is present at every place in the universe at every time, he must know everything about the universe. Hebrews 4:13 says that nothing is hidden from him. David testified that the Lord knew everything about him (Psalm 139). The Lord spoke to Job (Job chapters 38–41) and claimed a thorough knowledge of the forces of nature. Jesus pointed out to his disciples that not a sparrow dies without the Lord knowing it and that the very hairs on people’s heads are numbered (Matthew 10:29,30). The Bible therefore teaches that the Lord is omniscient or all-knowing.
God is all-knowing
The implications of the Lord’s total knowledge of the universe are overwhelming. For example, because the Lord is everywhere throughout all time, it is impossible for him to be caught by surprise. He knows where every particle of the universe has been during every moment of its existence and where those particles have been going during every instance of time. There is nothing for him to learn because everything is always right in front of him. This includes the attitudes of our hearts. He knows exactly how people will react to a situation, even if they never experience that situation. The Lord’s words to Isaiah sum it up: “ ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ ” (Isaiah 55:8,9).
The omniscience of the Lord frightens many people. Some would like to hide from him—an impossible feat. Others would like to believe that they can “educate” their god to their way of thinking. They would like to fool such a god by offering him deals that they never expect to keep. That the Lord’s knowledge of the future is exact because he is already there leaves them helpless to finesse him. They, therefore, reject what the Bible says and try to reengineer the Lord into a smaller god. Such blasphemy of the Lord is grave folly. It is like claiming Niagara Falls is only five feet high and expecting it to be that way.
God is all-powerful
Not only does the Lord completely understand the universe, but he also has the ability to completely control it. The Bible contains numerous examples of the extent of the Lord’s control of nature. For example, he confused the languages at the tower at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), sent plagues on the Egyptians in order to rescue his people (Exodus 7:19–12:32), and parted the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) (Exodus 14:21-28). He affected the earth’s rotation (Joshua 10:12-15), made an iron axe head float (2 Kings 6:5-7), and struck an entire army with blindness (2 Kings 6:18). In the New Testament there was the virgin birth (Luke 1:26-38), the curing
of many diseases and disabilities, the calming of the lake (Matthew 8:23-27), the feeding of large crowds (Matthew 14:13-21; Matthew 15:35-38), and the raising of the dead (Luke 7:11-15; Mark 5:35-43; John 11:1-44). The number of miracles that Jesus did was so large that
it was clear even to his opponents that he was not a normal man limited by the processes of nature (John 11:47,48). Together these miracles show a God whose power is absolutely limitless (Isaiah 43:13).
Here the powerful presence of the Lord at every point in space and time is essential, because without the persistence of his creating word, the universe would instantly dissolve into nothingness (Psalm 104:27-29). The Lord is truly omnipotent, that is, all-powerful, and the source of all power, with his power only being limited by his own will, certainly not ours.
But how does the Lord control the universe? For the most part he does so, to the best of our feeble human ability to discern, by decreeing a set of interactions among instances of matter and energy, time and space, which scientists call natural laws. Many of these laws are first presented to students in simplified form, which is good enough for most usages. However, when these laws are expanded to cover all observations and potential interactions, they can challenge the best minds. Yet these natural laws have no validity of their own. The Lord controls every aspect of every event with his full attention because he is at each point in space-time. No electron changes its orbit except at his command, and no star goes supernova without his detailed plan for the track that each particle involved will follow. He amazes us with miracles when he chooses, but he can also, with-out the ability of our best instruments to detect, make millions of exceptions to the submicroscopic workings of nature to cause events to happen so as to help his elect. That’s what being omnipotent means.
The Lord can truly do anything he pleases (Psalm 135:5,6). He can do more than we think or imagine. We find courage and strength here because the Lord listens to our prayers for his aid. It is a miracle that the Lord accommodates our requests at all and answers our prayers. The Lord does not always do exactly as we ask but always does what is best for us and others (Romans 8:28). He has sacrificed his own Son for us lowly creatures and given us a role to play as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9). He loves us and all humanity (John 3:16) in spite of the way we often misuse his power to sustain us and the world in which we live.
Importantly, the Lord’s almighty power is not limited to physical events. Knowing everything people will do if given an opportunity, he can arrange events so that people and even the demons trying to fulfill their own purposes will in the process accomplish his. For example, the Lord drew the king of Assyria from Judah with a rumor (Isaiah 37:7). He saved Jacob’s family by arranging for one of his sons to be sold into slavery (Genesis 50:20). He even led a high priest to prophesy against his own scheme (John 11:49-52).
To the Christian, the omniscience and the omnipotence of the Lord should be a great comfort. He knows us thoroughly and knows precisely what we need, as Martin Luther writes in the explanation of the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed. He has the power to manipulate the entire universe to give us what is for our good, and he promises to do so. Nothing is too hard for him (Matthew 19:26). Knowing this should greatly encourage us to praise him and pray to him for his aid.
Dr. Arthur Eggert is a member at Peace, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
This is the second article in a three-part series on the nature of God.
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Author: Arthur A. Eggert
Volume 104, Number 2
Issue: February 2017
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