Martin M. van Brauman
What is Jesus telling us when Jesus said that “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21. How can man comprehend the essence of God and His kingdom, which are beyond the material universe and time? How can we approach and understand the concept that God is not in the world, but the world is within God?
How can we comprehend that God is outside time for He created time and sees all events in the eternal “Now?” How can we understand the concept that God dwells in the eternal “Now?” God has eternally existed before all things and has neither body nor substance for you have seen no likeness. Deuteronomy 4:15. Whenever the Scriptures speak of God with human attributes, it is a figure of speech for God cannot speak or walk as He has no form. The Scriptures speak in the language of men, so we can understand in human concepts God’s desires and His will.
It is impossible for man to understand God’s essence and impossible to understand God’s knowledge. His knowledge is not limited like man by space and time. Maimonides’ Tenth Principle of Faith is that God knows the works of men. Divine knowledge is not the same as human knowledge.
From heaven the Lord looks down, He sees all mankind. From His dwelling place He oversees all inhabitants of the earth, He Who fashions their hearts together, Who comprehends all their deeds. Psalms 33:13-15.
. . . Your eyes are cognizant to all the ways of mankind, to grant each man according to his ways and the consequences of his deeds . . . Jeremiah 32:19
How does man reconcile the Divine omniscience of absolute knowledge with the freedom of human will? Is His foreknowledge of the future events of men incompatible with human freedom, free will?
A man’s heart will plot his way, and the Lord will set his steps aright. Proverbs 16:9.
Man cannot comprehend compatibility that must exist between God’s knowledge and man’s free will. If God is beyond time, then it is not a question of God looking into the future but of seeing everything at once. It is not by God’s actions, but through man’s free will that man becomes good or evil. That God knows all men’s deeds implies God is concerned with the actions of men, but they are responsible for what they do. The free will of man is part of God’s purpose for creation.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways – the word of the Lord. As high as the heavens over the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For just as the rain and snow descend from heaven and will not return there, rather it waters the earth and cause it to produce and sprout, and gives seed to the sower and food to the eater, so shall be My word that emanates from My mouth, it will not return to Me unfulfilled unless it will have accomplished what I desired and brought success where I sent it. Isaiah 55:8-11.