Genesis 22:12?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by drfuss, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. drfuss

    drfuss
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    In Gen. 22:12, the angel of the Lord said "now I know that you fear God". This sounds like God didn't know it before. I believe God knows all.

    Any comments on why it is said this way?
     
  2. webdog

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    This is getting into that realm that we don't understand about God, while being omnitemporal and omniscient, God working within time. "The" Angel of the Lord in the OT usually refers to a Christophany, IMO, not to be confused by "an" angel of the Lord.
     
  3. Brandon C. Jones

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    I believe it's said this way because it's a great narrative of someone having faith in the absolute over the universal. Abraham had faith and trusted in God "on the strength of the absurd" (he couldn't prove with any reasonable criteria why he should listen to God). He was willing to give up his son and as a result got him back.

    Those familiar with Kierkegaard's "Fear and Trembling" might recognize my allusions in the paragraph above. His piece is a purposely convoluted essay, but it's purpose, IMO, is to evoke one's sense of not going further than faith. This can be demonstrated but to really get it you have to do it. In other words, stop trying to go further than faith and live a life of faith like Abraham.

    I've always loved this story, but unfortunately most of the evoking lately has been on the issue of omniscience. I think it's put this way, like most any story in Scripture, to evoke something out of the reader when taken as a whole. In this instance, an account of one's faith in a God who is absolute with the result that the life of faith is usually baffling.

    Hopefully this answer may address the omniscience angle: if the story is to evoke something from the reader perhaps the historical event that took place is for the same purpose for Abraham? Abraham grew in his faith, and God told him how He now knew that he feared Him. Sure, some people have read this story and concluded that God may not be omniscient in the classical sense. Yet, this story isn't about God's knowledge, but about one's faith. In other passages of Scripture God's knowledge is the subject (i.e., Isa 40-48) and there is no question what God knows (or declares) according to these passages.

    One essay that I've found helpful on this issue is Gilbert Meilaender's "Freedom for the Command of God: Thinking with Johannes" it's reprinted in his new collection of essays published by Brazos: "The Freedom of a Christian."
     
    #3 Brandon C. Jones, Apr 24, 2007
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  4. Shiloh

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    drfuss, It wasn't that God didn't know, God wanted Abraham to know! A few chapters back in Ch.20, we see where it looked like Abraham didn't fear God.

    Notice in chapter 32 where Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and God asked him what his name was. Did God not know who he was? NO, God wanted Jacob to know who Jacob was. A few chapters back in 27 you see where Jacob was asked the same question by his father and that time he said he was Esau. Many places in the Bible God will ask a question just to let the people realize who they are.
     
  5. webdog

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    Are you saying God is basically telling Abraham "Now... you know that I know that you truly fear God"?
     
  6. npetreley

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    Try to think of it as a parent. There are many times we say things that aren't exactly how they worked, but we word them the way we do for the benefit of the children.

    "I'm disappointed in your behavior this afternoon," implies that we were expecting better, but there are times when we KNOW we won't get better. In those cases, technically, we're not disappointed because we got what we expected. Yet we say it that way, anyway, because of the intended effect the message is to have on the child. Not the best analogy, I know, but hopefully good enough.
     
  7. gerald285

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    This will bring some strong protest, but the bible ner says that God knows everything before it happens. This passage needs to be accepted as it is given instead of trying to explain it away. God saw and then God knew.

     
  8. skypair

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    drfuss

    drfuss --- web is right. That is the place to begin in interpretting the passage. :D

    Now the next step is to realize that the Son doesn't know all that the Father does. For instance, Jesus didn't know "the day or the hour" of His coming for the church. It might even be suggested that it was Christ who looked down at all men sinning preflood and who repented that He had created mankind (especially since it is said of God that He is too holy to see sin).

    Here is the "clincher" for me. We are made in God's image --- soul/Father, spirit/Spirit, and body/Jesus. We all know what our mind is thinking but how much of what is in our soul do any of us know? Even so the Son doesn't perfectly know His "Soul," the Father. He has His mind, but not the Father's omniscience, right?

    I'm not saying this IS the explanation. I AM saying that we might should consider this both here and elsewhere.

    skypair
     
    #8 skypair, Apr 24, 2007
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  9. Andy T.

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    I'll raise my hand in protest. I have a whole list of verses that show otherwise that I will gather up. In the meantime, anyone else please jump in and debunk this heretical notion. Allan? I know you studied Open Theism and quickly found it to be anti-Biblical. If you have the time, please jump in!
     
  10. drfuss

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    Interesting. Does anyone else agree with this?

    I believe in God's fore-knowledge; or does God use selective fore-knowledge?
     
  11. webdog

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    I don't agree, in the sense God is surprised by our actions. There is no way honestly to understand how God works within time. We know God is ominscient...yet Christ (God) didn't know the time or hour of His return. How? Could the fact that The Angel of the Lord was physically present on the earth at the time Abraham have anything to do with it? Who knows. Does it please God to work in this manner in dealing with man? Who knows. Could the above passage in the OP be similar? Who knows. It cannot be explained away, though, either way.
     
    #11 webdog, Apr 24, 2007
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  12. Andy T.

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    I strongly disagree with it, as does any orthodox Christian.
    No, God does not stop being God. Ever.
     
  13. Hawaiiski

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    I'll join the protest. Here are just a sample of the many verses which demonstrate the omniscience of God: Ps. 147:4,5; II. Sam. 14:20; Isa. 40:28; 42:9; 45:21; 46:10; 48:3; Jn. 13:19; 14:29; 16:30; 18:4; Mt. 11:21; Acts 1:24; Col. 2:3.

    It's a shame that such an elementary doctrine should even need to be debated on a Baptist forum.

    I'll propose 2 possible explanations:

    1. God already knew Abe feared Him, but said it for Abe's sake to show him the importance of demonstrating his fear of God through obedience (Js. 2:21,22).

    2. Although the Angel of the Lord is a theophany, He allowed Himself limitations at times in order to communicate to man, relying completely on the Father's power & giving Him glory as Christ did (Phil. 2:6-8).

    I'm not necessarily espousing explanation #2, just proposing it as a possibility. I'm more inclined to go w/ explanation #1.
     
  14. webdog

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    The problem I have with #1 is the fact the text...word for word...would have God being less than truthful. If He already knew, to say "now I know" would seem to be deceptive. Abraham was righteous. He didn't need God to be deceptive to know that God understood his faith, in the same way we know God is omniscient, I'm sure he did too.
     
  15. npetreley

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    Or it would have the desired effect on Abraham. It's not a lie, even if God always knew.

    Righteousness was imputed to him.
     
  16. webdog

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    When? Abraham believed and it was credited as righteousness. He believed well before placing Isaac on the altar.
     
  17. Andy T.

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    Could a third possibility be that the Angel is speaking an idiom - a figure of speech? Almost like saying, "You obeyed the Lord, therefore your fear of God is proven."

    I think it is ultimately an expression for the benefit of Abraham (and for us), which is why Brandon's post (#3) is the best explanation on this thread so far.
     
    #17 Andy T., Apr 25, 2007
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  18. Andy T.

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    Thank you, Hawaiiski.
     
  19. reformedbeliever

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    Psalms 139 perfectly disproves those who think God is not all knowing before a man does anything.

    Psalms 139
    God's Omnipresence and Omniscience.
    For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
    1. O LORD, You have searched me and known {me.}
    2. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.
    3. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
    4. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
    5. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
    6. {Such} knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is {too} high, I cannot attain to it.
    7. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
    8. If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
    9. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
    10. Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
    11. If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,"
    12. Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike {to You.}
    13. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb.
    14. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
    15. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, {And} skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
    16. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained {for me,} When as yet there was not one of them.

    To say God does not know something before it happens is absolute heresy.
     
  20. russell55

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    Whether it's actually a figure of speech, I don't know. But I do think the idea is "Now you've proven by your actions that you fear the Lord", or even "Now I see the proof that you fear the Lord."

    If God didn't know ahead of time that Abraham would obey, why was the ram caught in the bushes already there? Why was provision already made for the substitute sacrifice?

    In all of these circumstances, God was unfolding a plan to give a picture of the Christ who would come. He knew Abraham would obey because he planned for him to obey so that Abraham could see Christ's day and be glad.

    And as an added note, isn't it a little absurd to think that Jesus would know that Peter would deny him three times, and the specific circumstances surrounding that, but God wouldn't know that Abraham would obey?
     
    #20 russell55, Apr 25, 2007
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