What Did He Know and When Did He Know It?
Friday of Pentecost 5
19 July 2019
During the Watergate hearings in the 1970s, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974, Senator Howard Baker is famous for having asked aloud in those hearings, "What did the President know and when did he know it?" about the break-in at the Watergate Building. That same question could be addressed to the God who created Adam and Eve, installing them in the Garden of Eden, giving them the free will to love Him and respect His Word (or not). "What did God know and when did He know it?" We know the story from our side as Scripture reveals it to us and we know that it had a tragic ending, when Eve took the fruit from Satan and ate it with her husband, Adam. In that one act death came into the world and the perfect fellowship which they shared with their Creator was shattered when they chose to trust the lies of Satan over the truth of the Word of God. But didn't God know this was all going to happen? "What did He know and when did He know it?"
God certainly knows all things. God is called omniscient, that is, that he knows all things. Everything happens as God has foreknown it. However, it must be said that he does not cause all things to happen, although He foreknows their occurrence. He permits the wicked things that men perpetrate against Him and His will. His permissive will maintains the human abilities to use the mind and body, even if that use damages the world. So when in His eternal will God considered the creation of Adam and Eve, when He thought about their state of perfection and the delightful fellowship He would enjoy with them in the Paradise in which He placed them, He also knew that they would throw all these divine gifts back in His face, they would despise His Word and trust the lies of His enemy, and they would eat of the very tree He had forbidden them to eat from. What did He know and when did He know it? He knew it from eternity. It boggles the mind that He took the step to create these ones who would become rebels against His gracious care. Yet, He did!
How much more patient could our God be than that He chose to create those who would rebel against His love for them and that He would still love them wholly and completely. If you made a plan to buy a dog as a family pet, would you still buy that pet if you could foresee that the dog would attack you and leave you injured and scarred? I don't think so. God foresaw with absolute clarity the fall of His most beloved creations and their vicious betrayal of that love. Yet He still chose to create them, although He had the power not to. He could have pressed the "reset" button, and simply started over again. He could have done so at no cost to Himself. But He did not do that. He could not do that. He had committed Himself to these creatures, who would fall. Not just that, He didn't just decide to still create this particular pair, who would fall into miserable decay. He had a plan from eternity to save them and their descendants from their wickedness.
His personal commitment to humans also led Him to plan for a salvation that was unbelievably costly to Himself. He created us for personal fellowship and that could only be repaired and redeemed personally. God invested Himself fully in this plan of salvation. He did not just grant a salvation, but became the Savior. He did not just make sinners righteous, but became their righteousness. He did not just adopt a new attitude to fallen humans, but adopted fallen humans as His own children. Our heavenly Father sought us when we sought Him not. He loved us when we loved Him not. He befriended us when we were His enemies. And He did all this in the perfect and complete knowledge of our stubbornness and animosity toward His Word and will. What did God know and when did He know it? He knew it all before the all came to be. He knew it in its ugly, depraved, sinful, gory detail. Yet he would not turn away from all of that. He sent His only Son into it: to bear every ugly, depraved, sinful, gory detail.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Gregory of Nyssa
"God did not, on account of His foreknowledge of the evil that would result from man's creation, leave man uncreated. For it was better to bring back sinners to original grace by the way of repentance and physical suffering than not to create man at all. The raising up of the fallen was a work befitting the Giver of life, who is the wisdom and power of God. For this purpose He became man."

Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism, 7-8
Acts 2:22-24

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know - this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (ESV)
Almighty God, heavenly Father, You knew both our depravity and the cost of its remedy before the world's foundation. Yet you still sent Your Son to undertake the salvation of sinners by the shedding of His precious blood. Help us quietly to trust this great salvation through which You put into effect Your eternal will. Amen.
For the Floor Committees at the convention of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod as they prepare to offer resolutions to the delegation gathered in Tampa, that they would joyfully confess the truth in their labor
For all those who work with their hands, that they might be blessed in their labors and that those who benefit from their skills would appreciate and give thanks for them
For President Trump and all those who serve in government, that the holy angels would watch over them and keep them under God's care as they care out their offices
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
Sent by smurray@mlchouston.org in collaboration with
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