We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded by your direct support for ReKnew and our vision. Please consider supporting this project.

What is the significance of Numbers 14:11?

In the light of the Israelites’ relentless complaining the Lord says to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?”

The fact that the Lord continued, for centuries, to try to get the Israelites to not despise him and to believe in him indicates that this passage reflects genuine wonder on God’s part. If everything is certain to God ahead of time, however, such wonder would be impossible. God would exhaustively foreknow the answer to this and every other question about free human behavior.

Some have argued that if we take divine questions about the future literally, we should out of consistency be willing to interpret all other divine questions literally as well. But this, they point out, leads to absurd conclusions. When God asked where Adam and Eve were, for example, was he really ignorant of their location (Gen. 3:8–9)? Obviously not. He was speaking rhetorically as a means of getting Adam and Eve to confess their sin. But why then should we not interpret divine questions about the future in the same fashion?

The answer to this question is quite simple: there is a wealth of unequivocal scriptural testimony teaching us that God perfectly knows all of present reality (e.g. Psalm 139). Hence when God asks a question about a present reality (e.g. “Where are you?”) we have very good reason to assume that he’s speaking rhetorically. However, scripture does not teach that God possesses exhaustive definite knowledge of the future. Hence when God asks questions about the future we have no reason to assume he’s speaking rhetorically.

Category:
Tags: ,
Topics:
Verse:

Related Reading

What is the “classical view of God” and what about it do you find objectionable?

The “classical view of God” refers to the view of God that has dominated Christian theology since the earliest Church fathers. According to this theology, God is completely “immutable.” This means that God’s being and experience never change in any respect. God is therefore pure actuality (actus purus), having no potentiality whatsoever, for potentiality is…

How do you respond to Jeremiah 1:5

The Lord says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” This verse shows God’s love and plan for Jeremiah before he was born. This does not imply that Jeremiah could not have “rejected God’s…

Why Can’t God? Reflections on the Oord Interview (podcast)

Greg reflects on his interview with Thomas Jay Oord. Episode 503 http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0503.mp3

A Very Brief History of Open Theism

While the open view of the future has always been a very minor perspective, it has had its defenders throughout Church history and it has never been called “heresy” (until in mid 1990s when some started using this label). According to some African American church leaders, it has been the predominant view in the African…

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 Much of the Future is Settled? How Much is Open? (podcast)

Greg considers the mathematical nature of determinacy.  Episode 566 http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0566.mp3