God’s Attributes: God’s Omniscience


“Omniscience” literally means “all knowledge,” or “all science.” The omniscience of God may be defined as that attribute of God whereby He knows Himself and all things possible and actual in one eternal act. The All Knowing One knows all things immediately, simultaneously, and exhaustively. By definition God is the ultimate Scientist since He is the ultimate Knower and has the ultimate knowledge of all things.

The omniscience of God is expressed by two names found in the Hebrew Scriptures. The first is found in 1 Samuel 2:3: The Lord is a “God of Knowledge” (El De’ot). The Mighty One is all knowing and is the source of all knowledge. The second name is found in Genesis 22:14. There God is called “the Lord Who Sees” (Adonai Yireh). The Lord sees everything. He is completely aware of the needs of His people and will see to it that they are provided for. God’s omniscience is taught throughout the Holy Scriptures.With Him are wisdom and might; to Him belong counsel and understanding (Job 12:13:) Psalm 94:9 declares: He that made the ear, shall He not hear? He that formed the eye, shall He not see?

Like most of God’s other attributes, the finite mind cannot grasp the complete truth of the omniscience of God, any more than it can grasp God’s eternality or His infinitude. We don’t fully comprehend ourselves, let alone the infinite God. In fact God knows us far better than we know ourselves. Sheol and Abadon lie open before the Lord, how much more the hearts of men (Prov. 15:11). God knows what no creature can ever fully know – Himself. Only the Infinite can know the Infinite. The things of God no man knows – only the Spirit of God knows the things of God. Whatever omniscience is, only the all knowing God can know it. The wisest man, the greatest scientist, is a moronic protozoa compared to El De’ot – the God Of Knowledge.

To say that God is omniscient is to say that He possesses perfect knowledge and therefore has no need to learn anything. It means that God has never learned anything, and cannot learn. Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge, and informed Him of the way of understanding (Isaiah 40:13-14)? Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor (Romans 11:34)? These rhetorical questions raised by Isaiah and Paul declare that God has never learned anything from anyone. If God were able at any time to receive knowledge that He did not possess and had not possessed from eternity, He would be imperfect and less than GodI am the Lord, I change not tells us much about the omniscience of God. To think of a God who must sit at the feet of any teacher, be he archangel or seraph, is to think of someone other than the Most High God, maker of heaven and earth.

God perfectly knows Himself, and being the source of all things, it follows that He knows all that can be known. All this He knows instantly and with a fullness of perfection that includes every possible item of knowledge concerning everything that exists, or that could have existed, anywhere in the universe, at any time; in the past, in the present, or anything that may exist in the ages to come. Because God knows all things perfectly, He knows all things equally well. He knows no thing better than any other thing. He never discovers anything. He is never surprised by anything. He is never amazed by anything. The knowledge of one thing is not in God’s mind before another thing. For the mind of man, one thing comes before another; one year comes before another year, one generation of men comes before another generation. One is the cause and the other is the effect. There is no such order in the mind of God. He knows all series of events at one glance. God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters, every mind, every spirit, every living being, every creature, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feelings, all desires, all secrets, every relationship, all thrones and dominions, and all personalities. He knows all laws. He knows motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, hell, all things visible and invisible, all things in heaven and all things on earth. He knows every cause and why everything is the way it is.

To give us a better understanding of the vastness of the knowledge of God, consider that the most recent scientific estimates indicate that there are 100 billion to 200 billion stars just in our Milky Way galaxy. The largest galaxies can have more than a trillion stars each. Scientists now think that there are a hundred billion galaxies like our Milky Way in the universe. These billions of galaxies contain untold trillions upon trillions upon trillions upon trillions of stars. God’s knowledge is so great that He is able to count the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them (Ps. 147:4). Think of the knowledge it would take first to count, and then give a name to every star! No wonder why the psalmist goes on to say: great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite (Ps. 147:5).

The knowledge of the God of Israel is so great that He also knows every electron circling every proton in every atom throughout the entire universe at any given moment! He knows every hair on the heads of each of the 5.7 billion human beings alive on earth. He knows every one of the millions of sparrows that fall to the ground. Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and unfathomable His ways (Romans 11:33)! Truly the vastness of God’s knowledge is incomprehensible.

God has a perfect understanding of the future. God perfectly knows the end from the beginning. For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done (Isaiah 46:9-10). God knew the evil rebellious course that the Jewish people would take. He knew about our age long exile outside of the Land of Israel. He knew about our return to the Land that was only accomplished in this century. He foreknew the coming of the Messiah; the place of His birth and His royal lineage from King David’s family. He knew about Yeshua’s miracles, even the manner of his death; how He was crucified at the hands of evil men. He knew ahead of time about Messiah’s burial and resurrection. He knows the exact day of king Messiah’s return; all about the coming of His Kingdom and the glory of His eternal rule. He knows the number of the days of our lives before any one of us are born. He knows the future destiny of the wicked and the future blessedness of the righteous. He knows everything that has ever happened at one instantaneous glance.

Not only does God perfectly know the future, but He also knows all the things that ever could have happened. He knows all the possibilities and potentials, all the alternative dimensions and universes that can be imagined. We sometimes wonder what would have happened if such and such would have happened instead of so and so. What would have happened if the attempt to assassinate Hitler would have been successful? What if Napoleon had not lost at Waterloo? What if America had not won the War of Independence? This world would have been very different.

The fact that God knows all possible futures is revealed in the Word of God. Every prophetic warning is a declaration of evil and danger which the Lord knows will follow from a wrong choice that we might make. The Lord knew that the city of Keilah would betray David to King Saul if David remained in that vicinity (1 Samuel 23:4-12). The Son of God knew that the cities of Tyre and Sidon would have repented and been spared if they had seen the miracles that He did elsewhere. Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgement than for you. And you Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Sheol; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day (Matthew 11:21-23).

Knowledge of the omniscience of God should be a terror to every sinner who is not reconciled to Him.You are a God of seeing (Genesis 16:13) should frighten the socks off of any sinner. The man who has something to hide, some unforsaken sin, some secret crime that he has committed against God or man, should be fearful of the all knowing, all seeing omniscient God. You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance wrote Moses in Psalm 90. Every person who has done wrong should tremble with fear when he realizes that God knows the flimsiness of every rationalization that we come up with. The Master of the universe never accepts the poor excuses that we give for our sinful conduct, since He knows perfectly well the real reasons for it. There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do wrote the apostle (Hebrews 4:13). The omniscience of God guarantees that all of God’s future judgements will be according to perfect truth. Nothing will be overlooked or falsely valued in His coming judgement.

And yet multiplied millions of people continually ignore the omniscience of God. They think that God does not know. They assume that the Most High is either too high and exalted, too far away, too stupid, too busy, too limited or too uninterested to take into account all the people on earth and each one of their individual actions. But they are foolishly wrong. Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, Who sees us? or Who knows us?(Isaiah 29:15). Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him declared the Lord to Jeremiah, and through him to all mankind (Jeremiah 23:24) . It is as stupid for the sons of Adam today to deny the All Knowing One as it was for Adam to hide in the trees from the all seeing eyes of God.

Instead, all of us should heed the advice of the ancient Roman Seneca who wrote these wise words: We ought always to conduct ourselves as if we lived in public; we ought to think as if some one could see what is passing in our inmost breast; and there is One who does thus see us. Of what use is it then, that any deed is concealed from man? Nothing can be hidden from God. He is present with our very souls, and penetrates our inmost thoughts. Even a wise Roman like Seneca realized that the omniscience of God should cause all thinking men to tremble, and to sin not. William Cooke wrote: “If the transgressor’s eyes could be opened to the reality of his position, what horror would seize him! A sight more dreadful than Sinai in a blaze – more terrible than the handwriting on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace – a sight more awful than the drama of the world’s total destruction would burst on his vision – he would see an offended God on every side, he would see himself surrounded with the presence and attributes of the eternal God, his Maker and his Judge.”

Though they dig into Sheol, from there shall My hand take them; and though they ascend to heaven, from there will I bring them down. And though they hide on the summit of Carmel, I will search them out and take them from there; and though they conceal themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea, from there I will command the serpent and it will bite them. And though they go into captivity before their enemies, from there I will command the sword that it will slay them, and I will set My eyes against them for evil and not for good (Amos 9:2-4) warns the prophet Amos to those who ignore the Lord Who Sees.There is no place to hide from God or His judgement, and we would be far better off if we lived in light of that judgement now.

And yet for those of us who have made the Lord our refuge, how wonderful is the omniscience of God. Our heavenly Father knows us completely. No tattletale can inform on us. No enemy can make an accusation against us that He does not already know. No forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some forgotten closet to expose our past that God is unaware of. No unsuspected weaknesses in our characters can come to light which will turn God away from us, since He knew us completely before He called us to Himself, with the full knowledge of everything that we are. How wonderful to know that the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the whole earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His (2 Chronicles 16:9). How blessed is the person who knows that there is Someone who knows us completely, who perfectly understands us, and who knows us better than we know ourselves. Our Father in heaven knows our frame and remembers that we are but dust. He knew all about our inborn rebelliousness and treachery, and yet out of His infinite love He decided to redeem us anyway.

The Tenach (Old Testament) closes with these wonderful words of encouragement: Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. And they will be Mine says the Lord of Hosts, on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him (Malachi 3:16-17). He knows every sincere effort that we have made, even though it turned out to be fruitless, and He will bless us for it. He knows every suffering that we have undergone, and He will reward us for it. He knows every trial that we will go through, and will help us through it.

Do you want to know and serve this great omniscient God? Do you want to know Him one day as you have been known by Him? Then you must come to Messiah. He is indispensable to coming to know God as He is. No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him (John 1:18). And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah whom You have sent (John 17:3). You need to come to Messiah Yeshua, who is the wisdom and knowledge of God. Yeshua alone gives the true saving knowledge of God. Yeshua said: No one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him (Matthew 11:27). The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is already shining in the face of Messiah (2 Cor. 4:6). In Messiah are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).

One day, when Messiah Yeshua returns, the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9). But no one has to wait until Messiah returns to have the knowledge of God. You can know this wonderful Lord even now. That I might know Him who is supremely worthy of all our efforts to know, is a very good prayer. Is that your prayer?

I am indebted to The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer for this article.