How do you respond to Deuteronomy 30:16–23?

The Lord tells Moses of his impending death and then prophesies that “this people will begin to prostitute themselves to the foreign gods in their midst…breaking my covenant that I have made with them” (vs. 16). The Lord will have to judge them accordingly (vs. 17–18). He then inspires Joshua to write a song for them to sing when trials come upon them (vs. 22–23).

The omniscient Lord perfectly knows the hearts of humans, the long range effects of sin, and all the spiritual variables at work in the world (viz. the activity of evil spirits). This perfect knowledge of the present gives God the ability to anticipate the future in ways we can hardly imagine. For, at any given moment, a great deal of the future has already been decided by past and present circumstances.

This prophecy illustrates this truth. Given the rebellious character that this nation had already demonstrated despite the fact that they had a strong leader like Moses, the Lord discerns that things will only get worse when Moses dies. Such foresight doesn’t require a crystal ball perspective into the future. It simply illustrates God’s perfect knowledge of the present.

On the other hand, the prophecy could be read as a conditional prophecy of what the Lord suspects might happen if things don’t change. But (as evidenced by his subsequent struggles with Israel) he hopes it doesn’t come to pass and he does everything possible to prevent it.

Related Reading

The Incarnation: More Than a Rescue Mission

A mistake people often make concerning the Incarnation is that they fail to distinguish the eternal plan of God to unite himself with humanity in Christ, on the one hand, from the atoning significance this plan acquired after the fall, on the other. Some therefore think of the Incarnation as a sort of “Plan B”…

What is the significance of Acts 27:10-44?

This is the passage deal with Paul’s ill-fated voyage to Italy as a prisoner. The ship ran into very bad weather and Paul announced, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also” (vs. 10). As he reminded…

Topics:

When God Discovers

Scripture consistently portrays God’s knowledge as conforming to the ways things really are, and part of the way things really are is temporally conditioned. Scripture never expresses the commonly-held sentiment that time is somewhat illusory. God “remembers” the past and anticipates the future. Insofar as he empowers humans to freely determine the future, this means…

Topics:

What is the significance of 1 Kings 21:27–29?

Because of Ahab’s great sin the Lord tells him, “I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you…” (vs. 21). Ahab repents and the Lord responds by telling his messenger prophet, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster…

Topics:

Why do you espouse Open Theism?

Open Theism refers to the belief that God created a world in which possibilities are real. It contrasts with Classical Theism which holds that all the facts of world history are eternally settled, either by God willing them so (as in Calvinism) or simply in God’s knowledge (as in Arminianism). Open Theists believe God created…

How do you respond to Isaiah 46:9–11?

The Lord says, “I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying ‘My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention.’” To distinguish himself from the dead idols Israel was…