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An Omni-Resourceful God

It is quite common for us to talk about the attributes of God as omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) and omni-present (present everywhere), but what about God’s unlimited resourcefulness? Consider the story of Moses’ commission in Exodus 3 and 4. Here the Lord instructs Moses to tell the elders of Israel that the Lord has heard their prayers and intends to deliver them from Egypt. (Ex 3:7-17). He assures Moses saying, “They will listen to your voice (Ex 3:18).

However, Moses does not interpret this as an infallible prediction of the future. Instead, he counters, “Suppose they do not believe me or listen to me (Ex 4:1). The Lord does not respond by assuring Moses that he knows every detail of what is going to take place before it comes about, as one might expect if he in fact possesses such knowledge. He rather shows Moses how he can turn a staff into a serpent and then back into a staff again (Ex 4:2-4). This miracle, the Lord tells him is to prove to them that the Lord sent Moses (Ex 4:5).

Moses is not convinced, though, that the first miracle will suffice. So the Lord adds a second miracle: making a hand leprous and then whole again (Ex 4:6-7). Then the Lord states, “If they will not believe you or heed the first sign, they may believe the second sign. But the Lord quickly acknowledges the possibility that even this second miracle might not convince them. He continues:

If they will not believe even these two signs or heed you, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground (Ex 4:9).

If we set aside the assumption that the future is exhaustively settled, the text clearly suggests that God is not certain how many miracles it will take to convince the elders that the has sent Moses. If we rather insist that the Lord knew all along that it would take exactly three miracles, then he seems disingenuous in telling Moses they may believe after the first or the second miracle. How can the Lord tell Moses that something might happen if he knows for certain it will not happen?

This lack of certainty regarding some aspects of the future is no defect on God’s part. It’s just that the only reality that exists for God to know is that the elders may believe after one, two or perhaps three miracles. That is what is real, and so that is what God perfectly knows as real. Until the elders resolve the issue by responding to Moses’ miracles, there’s nothing other than possibilities for God to know. God can hardly be faulted for not knowing something that does not exist.

However, this passage also makes it clear that God is absolutely confident that he can convince the elders of Israel to follow Moses and escape Egypt. This much of the future is settled, for God has resolved it to be so. This episode is intended to teach Moses that God has more than enough resources to accomplish whatever he sets out to accomplish. He is an omni-resourceful God. It’s just that within the parameters of the future that God has already settled, there are unsettled features. The elders will become convinced. But it may take one, two or three miracles to bring this about.

—Adapted from Satan and the Problem of Evil, pages 109-111

Photo via Visual Hunt

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