On Foreknowledge

A number of verses deal with foreknowledge. See these at the end of the essay.

As noted in other essays, God created space, matter, and time all at once. Time is under God’s sovereign control, and is God’s chosen method to constrain his holy response to sin.

Follow this:

Example (A):
You and I are sitting on a sofa and I tell you we’re invited to party. It’s about an hour’s drive. Not only do I know about the party, I helped plan it. I know who the guests will be, what festivities will transpire, etc. I tell you movie stars and sports personalities will be there – name brands you recognize. Now you’re excited. So we hop in a car and go. It’s one hour into our future. And when we arrive, it’s exactly as I said it would be. Is this foreknowledge? Of course not. I planned the party and knew what was coming.

Example (B):
I call you from a party and invite you to join me. It’s about an hour’s drive away, so it’s one hour into your future. I describe all the movie stars and sports personalities who are in attendance. Get here as quick as you can. So you freshen-up, hop in a car and get here about an hour later. Everything is as I described it. The movie stars, personalities, and festivities. Is this foreknowledge? Of course not. I’m at the party in real-time.

But in Example (B), what if I’m a twenty years in the future? I call you from this future time and tell you everything going on. The weather, the people, the signs of the times. I tell you – you are married, have three kids and your firstborn is about to enter college.

But for you – today – you are single and in college, no plans for marriage at all.
Twenty years later, all these things come to pass. Was this foreknowledge on my part? Of course not. I was there, twenty years into your future, relating to you what to expect “when you get here”. For you, it’s foreknowledge. No way can you know these things unless someone in the future tells you.

Think about Example (A) above. Is God merely standing alongside us, experiencing time as a second-per-second existence the same as we? Or is time, being his invention, under his complete control? Is he here and now, and also in the future, at the same time?

God says he is the same yesterday, today and forever. Who was, and is, and is to come. The Alpha and the Omega. All references to God concerning time have a common theme – it goes like this:

  • God created time (time had a beginning) (Titus 1:2)
  • God is sovereign over time.
  • God lives outside of time.
  • God exists at the beginning of time, and the end of time, and every nano-second in between – all at once.
  • God is everywhere.
  • God is everywhen.

This is the difference between “foreknowledge” and “knowledge”. God is with us right now, in real time. At the same time, he is one second from now. He is five minutes from now.

Simultaneously.

This is how God can claim he knows all the things in our future, even though we haven’t experienced them yet.

Back to Example (B) above. God is already in the future. He may as well be standing next to the manger in Bethlehem, telling the prophets of old what to expect when time caught up with Him.

Jesus was already in Heaven when the Apostle John arrived for his survey recorded in Revelation. John recorded the events we will eventually encounter. They are in John’s past, but in our future – simultaneously.

Example (A) above suggests God himself is harnessed in the same second-per-second existence as the creation. If God wants to “foresee” something, he has to “orchestrate” it to come to pass. For example, if it’s approaching the time for the birth of Jesus, he has to pull out all the stops to get Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, even if it means putting a bug in Caesar’s ear to announce a census. This “orchestration” is required if we want something to come to pass.

But if God “orchestrates” then it’s not really foreknowledge either. It’s good planning.

The Example(A)  concept also limits God’s capacity to understand the future. Conceptually, it presumes God is trapped in time, experiencing the clock in second-per-second form (as humans do). This reduces God to the H.G. Wells version of a “Frantic Director”, where God is busy orchestrating or directing the Grand Performance in real-time while attempting to setup what he has planned, while the play is going awry in real time. Either way, it firmly places God’s presence in real time (right now) rather than across all time.

“Foreknowledge” is for those who can “see” the future while trapped in the present. God is neither. He exists in the past, present, and future, all at once. It is the human (or the created beings) who are trapped in the present. Anything shown to us about the future is “foreknowledge”.

But God knows all things, past, present and future, all at once. The concept of foreknowledge helps us understand how God lives outside of time, outside of his creation. But the concept of foreknowledge applied to God himself, limits God’s omnipresence, in fact limits God entirely. It’s not foreknowledge to God, but knowledge.

One famous evangelist was asked – why doesn’t God punish the wicked now? Why does God allow evil to continue?

The answer was a bit roundabout, but the final conclusion was “He will”. That is, if we read what God has in store for the wicked, none of it is good.

But “He will” is an answer assuming God does not “already exist” in future the same as he exists in our present. He is already there. He’s already punished the wicked and he’s told us how.

So the real answer is more concrete and final: “He already has.”

Or rather, “He already has, but we haven’t experienced it yet.”

In the books, a character jokes about how his father discovered a light bulb was out in his closet, and took steps to replace it. He found the problem and intended to tell his dad, but had to leave and never did. In the meantime, Dad replaced the bulb. When the son arrived home, he told his dad of the bulb and his dad twiddled his fingers as if doing magic, and said “All fixed.” The conversation escalated into one of dad not taking him seriously. But when he got to his closet, he discovered the bulb fixed. This was an object lesson his dad used on occasion to show how God provides for us even before we ask. God is already out in front, not “only” standing next to us in real time.

Think about the Example (A) and Example (B) above – where the arrival to the party was an hour into the future. If in Example (B) I told you “such-and-such movie star will be here when you show up” – am I making a promise in the hopes that the movie star will be there, or am I certain because the movie star is already there – and you not having arrived yet – have not experienced it yet?

God has already dispatched his enemies. We haven’t experienced it yet.

We worship a God much bigger than our imaginations can handle. Next time one considers the concept of foreknowledge, ask – how big is the God I worship? And rest assured God has everything under control.

 

Romans 11:2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew…
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…
1Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…
Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Welcome

Greetings and welcome to our site.

Joshua Light’s books and blogs on Time Travel and the Once Upon a Time Traveler book series.

Here we discuss all-things-time and welcome feedback on any aspect of the Time Travel genre.

This site’s perspective on Time however, derives from the Holy Bible, more specifically the description of events and people in time and history:

“That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.” – Ecc 3:15

If we unpack the above, we find several profound aspects of time:

History repeats itself (that which as been is now)
The future has already happened (that which is to be, has already been)
History is immutable (God requires that which has past)

We’re also told God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change (no shadow of turning) and his very name is the embodiment of all points in time at once (“I AM”)

A proposition here is God is everywhere, and every”when”. God is present at the beginning of time, the end of time, and every nanosecond in between. This extends His “omnipresence” into a much higher realm than simply being “everywhere at once” into “everywhere forever”.

Jason Lisle points out how God’s laws are immutable. God does not “suspend” laws or break his own laws. God claims all of his laws will stand forever. What does this say of the laws of physics? We have a gravitational law but also the laws of aerodynamics. They are integrated to work together (aerodynamics doesn’t work without gravity to support an atmosphere). We are aware of aerodynamics because we see creatures fly.

Some analogies follow:

Time is like a river, where we are on a boat in that river with a thick fog in front and light fog behind. We can see “some” of history but not all of it. We can see “none” of the future. God created the river and is with us on the boat, is waiting for us at the end of the river, and is present at the river’s beginning. Waiting at the end of the river is the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Great White Throne, the Rapture, The Millennial Reign of Christ, and all of the events seen by the Apostle John.

How do we know this? In Henry Morris’s “Revelation Record”, he points out how some of Revelation is symbolic and the rest is literal. If John claims he “looked” or that he “saw” or that he “measured”, we have no reason to believe he wasn’t physically present while doing these things. This means God transported John 3000+ years into the future so that John could see these things and report back. John was told to physically measure things. He was there. To John, these things have already happened. To us, we haven’t experienced them yet, but they have still “already happened”. In short, time travel is not only possible, God has demonstrated it for us through John in the Revelation.

Moreover, at the Transfiguration, Christ is visited by Moses and Elijah. They are not ghosts, but living beings. How is this possible unless Christ folded time and space to intersect these prophets to his own presence?

To the prior note on laws, we know of the laws of aerodynamics because we see creatures fly. We can also know time travel is possible (there are laws to support it) because God demonstrated it with John, Elijah, and Moses.

The Bible claims the angels of little ones “do behold the face of God continually”. How is it possible an angel can watch over a child while his face is always beholding God? Firstly, guardian angels (Cherubim) have four faces (human, eagle, bull and lion) so have at least one face to spare. This also tells us the cherubim can fold space and be present in two places at the same time, one to guard the child and one to behold the face of God.

Folding space is a simple concept. No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time, but this does not preclude one object from occupying two spaces at the same time. Folding space is like folding a sheet of paper one corner to the other, such that the corners that were once some distance apart are now side-by-side or even one-and-the-same.

Time is like a book. Each page has events, people, words, etc. We are written into some of the pages (our lives) but many pages already exist in the book before we are written-in, and many more pages exist after we are gone. The book itself is complete. The pages turn as we experience history, but the pages are already in place. The pages have aspects that are already written (such as the Rapture, the Great White Throne, etc) with some blank spaces on the pages. We just don’t know how much blank space there might be, and how much of the book is already “foreknown” by God.

Foreknowledge – The aspect of “foreknowledge” is a human concept. If applied to God however, it limits God’s capacity to understand the future. Conceptually, it presumes God is trapped in time, experiencing the clock in second-per-second form (as humans do), and God can merely “foresee” what’s coming in time. This reduces God to the H.G. Wells version of a “Frantic Director”, where God is busy orchestrating or directing the Grand Performance in real-time while attempting to foresee what is to come. Either way, it firmly places God’s presence in real time (right now) rather than across all time.

If however, God is present in past, present and future all-at-once, then God is sovereign over time itself. One person said “time has always been”, but Scripture would disagree – God has always been, and God created time when He created space and matter. It simply means God is in all places at once, and all times at once. The “once” is only relative to God since “once” in our understanding means a particular point in time, not all time-and-forever.

A Grand Architecture. Think about the Trinity in terms of physics. If Space is a representation of the Holy Spirit (God pervasive in the Universe), and Matter is a representation of Jesus Christ (God in physical form), then Time is a representation of God the Father (as a controlling factor). Thus Space, Matter and Time are an expression of the Trinity, or rather an architect’s “fingerprint” on His creation. Representative patterns like this abound throughout the creation. It is mighty and Grand Architecture, and we shortchange God’s wisdom if we try to understand it purely in human terms.

Back to foreknowledge. Does God have “fore” knowledge, or does he simply have “knowledge”? If time is his creation, and he knows what will happen in every nanosecond from beginning to end, then his knowledge simply “is” and there isn’t any “fore” involved in it. Past, present, after, before, fore/aft and other concepts are useful to humans because we are trapped in second-per-second time. They are irrelevant to a being like God, who is sovereign over Time.

Time Expresses God’s Greatest. Another aspect of this is simply: God created Time as a means to express his greatest characteristics to his creation, and simultaneously avoid his own holiness instantly destroying his creation. How do these things work?

Firstly, God’s holiness is depicted as both his primary nature (purity) and as a compelling quality. God cannot tolerate sin, but his holiness also compels him to judge it. Think about how holiness is compared to darkness and light. When light shows up, does the darkness have any choice but to flee? God’s holiness is like this, an active, compelling quality to vanquish evil simply by showing up.

God’s greatest qualities – mercy, forgiveness, longsuffering, grace, etc can only be experienced through time. If time were non-existent, God’s holiness would instantly annihilate his own creation. There would be no time repent. Justice would be instantaneous. Mercy would be nonexistent. Instead, Time is a means for God to express and even constrain his own nature so that humans (and the creation) can experience God’s Greatest qualities.

In this regard – time expresses God’s greatest glory.

In the blog, we will explore more of these concepts in detail.

Impetus for Once Upon A Time Traveler

Many years ago I thrilled to the “Time Tunnel” television series. A crook runs into the tunnel, chased by a cop. Week after week the crook eludes the cop much like The Fugitive series. This finally ran out of steam when someone realized if the cop has access to Time, all he has to do is go back in time to before crook showed up. Let’s say he’ll arrive at the World Trade Center at 9am. The cop shows up at the same place at 8:55am and waits for the crook.
In other words, if someone has complete control of time, there can be no chase sequence. This and many other issues tend to “snag” a storyline until one of the stories loses track of time, or rather, the writers aren’t staying within their own storyworld and jump outside to express a creative idea.
Hopefully the reader of this series will get a consistent experience. Otherwise the curiosity of the human mind will naturally chase-down the anomalies and become a distraction in themselves. Please keep in contact if you have any questions about the characters, their adventures, the aspect of time-travel in particular – we love to interact with readers.