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When God Comes

Trusting God's Knowledge

Erwin W. Lutzer | March 10, 2002

Selected highlights from this sermon

God knows everything, and because of that, we can trust Him and take Him at His word. His knowledge is also personal. He knows each one of us intimately, and cares for every one of His children. While God may be a mystery to us, we aren’t to Him. 

Let me begin today by asking you, how much does God know? How much does He know? Years ago, theologians always answered the question, evangelical theologians, that He knows everything including the decisions that you're going to make tomorrow and next week. But today there are some theologians who dispute that. They say that God cannot know the decisions of free creatures until those creatures make those decisions. And so God does not know the future infallibly or completely. Some evangelicals are saying that. But I want you to know today, that even though they have this view of radical freedom which is what they base it on, this idea of radical human freedom. And then they want to absolve God of responsibility for evil by saying, "If He did not know that Lucifer was going to fall, somehow He's less culpable than if He knew that in advance." Despite all that, the Bible, I believe, paints a different picture of God. And we know that God knows our decisions ahead of time, first of all, because of the statements of Scripture that He knows the end from the beginning, but secondly because of prophecy. One hundred years before Cyrus was born, God named him and predicted him that he would be the ruler of the Persian Empire and that under him the Jews would be allowed to return home. One hundred years before he was born and about 150 years before he made that decision. How would you like to predict who the President of the United States will be 100 years from now? It took us 30 some odd days to figure out who he was just in the last election. We couldn't even figure it out. And then to predict his most important foreign policy decision. Only God can do that, because God had to know who Cyrus' parents were, He would have to know who their parents were, all the way back who would marry whom, what children would be born and what children would enter marriage so that Cyrus would be born. God knew all that. Jesus knew infallibly that Peter would deny Him. Jesus knew infallibly that Judas would betray Him. These theologians with whom I disagree say, well they could've backed out, Judas could have backed out in the last moment. In fact, one theologian says that at the end of the day, theoretically, Jesus could have come to this earth to be crucified and nobody would have been there to crucify Him because they all backed out at the last minute. What kind of a God is that? He plans it all and then He can't pull it off. No, God knows the future infallibly including all things pertaining you. You say, "Well, then the future is in some sense fixed." Yes, we all live with that. Things are going to turn out the way God knows that they're going to turn out. And in that, by the way, there is comfort. There is great comfort. The other way, you don't find comfort. I like to give this illustration. You were zooming along the highway at 60 mph because you keep the speed limit. But there's a drunk coming the other way at 70 mph and nobody knows what he's going to do, not even God because, after all, he's totally free and nobody is as free as somebody who is inebriated. You with me? And so, he turns into your path and he hits your car and you die and you arrive in heaven and God says, "I can't believe this. I still had work for you to do on Earth and now you show up right now." Can you have confidence in a God who does not know in the morning that you're going to be dead by evening? I don't think so. Now really, what I'm doing is I'm setting you up for next week’s message when we speak about the providence of God. Today we want to speak about the knowledge of God and also the power of God, actually the two are tied together. And then we want to answer this question though: Alright He's got all this power, He is this great, but can we trust Him? Isn't that the big question? Can we trust Him?

Take your Bibles and open to Isaiah 40. In verses 1-11, which we considered last week, Isaiah is predicting the coming of God. And now he picks it up in verse 12 and begins to describe the God who is coming to His people and what a description it is. Three characteristics we could say in the next few verses, beginning at verse 12 of God and His grandeur and His greatness. First of all, He knows everything. I'm in verse 12 where Isaiah begins to ask a series of questions: "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand? Or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket or weighed the mountains on scales and the hills in a balance?" Let's stop there for a moment. He begins by asking these questions, "Who has been able to hold the world in the hollow of His hands?" Isaiah is taking things with which we are familiar, such as hands and buckets and scales. And what he wants us to do is to see how puny our own ability is in comparison to God. How much water can you hold in your hand and how long can you hold it? And yet, in God's hands are the raging seas and He holds all of the water in His hands and He has measured it. People who have gone across the ocean in a sailboat, and I remember meeting a man like that, says that you have no idea of how much water there is until you sail and you sail and day after day after day after day after day there's nothing but water, water, water, water. And God knows all the water that exists on the Earth, He knows the number of tons, He knows the number of gallons, the number of cups and the number of drops. He knows it all. He is God. And He has measured the water in the hollow of His hands. And I might say, that when you stand on the seashore or when you stand on the beach at Lake Michigan and you see the raging sea, and it must have been like that yesterday with that terrible wind, when you see that raging sea God not only knows how much water there is, but He knows the longitude and latitude of every drop that is constantly changing as the seas and the oceans churn, God knows all that. And by the way, would you like to have it in the metric system? He knows that too, He's got it figured out.

Next, Isaiah goes on to say, "Who has measured the heavens?" You'll notice he says, "Who has measured the heavens with the breadth of his hands and marked them out" Oh my! You take your hand from your thumb to your little finger, what are we talking about? Six inches, eight inches. Would you be able to go like that throughout the whole universe and measure it? Remember that light travels at 186,000 miles per second, which means that it goes around the Earth about six times every second. That's hustling by the way. And then it takes eight minutes, because the Sun is 93,000,000 miles away, it takes eight minutes for the light of the Sun to arrive here and the closest star in the stellar universe is about four lightyears away. Light that began four years ago is finally arriving on Earth. And then they tell us, and I don't know how they figured this out, that there are stars that are 100 lightyears away and a million lightyears away and a billion lightyears away and then they say that the distance across the whole universe may be somewhere between 15 or 20 billion lightyears and I begin to say, "I don't understand it. I can't take it all in." And the question is: can you measure that with your hand? God has. He knows the distance. He knows all things. And then notice, it says, "Who has weighed the mountains?" How much does Mount Everest weigh? Or who has weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? What does your scale say when a mountain sits on it. Well, the answer is that God knows and He knows it in kilos and He knows it in grams and He knows all these things. His knowledge of creation is totally and completely exhaustive and where do we fit into this? We don't know anything in comparison to what God knows. Now don't miss Isaiah's point. It's that God is beyond human reason and understanding. Because even if you say that there are in the universe there are 20 billion lightyears, the question is what's on the other side of those lightyears? What happens when you get beyond it? You meet God. Because you see, God would never create something as big as He Himself is. So no matter how big the universe is, no matter how many trillions and trillions of miles we're talking about, God is greater than that. He is greater than that. And He knows everything there is to know about His creation.

Secondly, He has everything. He knows everything. He has everything. Look at what it says in verse 13, "Who has understood the mind of the Lord or instructed Him as His counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him and who taught Him the right way and who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed to Him the path of understanding?" What committee did God have to get together to try to help Him figure out how to run His universe? In ancient times there were advisors to the king, just like we have advisors today to the President. What committee did God call together? Did He call you and me and say, "You know, I've got some things going here and I'd really like to have your input." Listen, God did not need legal advice. He didn't have to get an attorney to figure out the law because He is the author of laws. God did not need moral advice because He was in a dilemma here and He wondered whether or not this was really a right thing to do or not. No, He is the standard of right and wrong. God did not need medical advice because He never struggles with anxiety. He is never under tension or under pressure. And even though He's been around trillions of years and actually forever if you can grasp it and I can only say the words, I can't get my mind around it. Even though He's been around that long, He's never tired, He's not wearing out, He's never bored. And it's not as if, you know, He needs to talk to somebody because He needs to get His mind straightened out on something. No, He's independent. He has everything. He does not need scientific advice. He didn't call a committee and say, "You know, I have this idea that I'd like to actually create something out of nothing. Could you figure out how to do that?" You know, scientists today think that they are so smart, aren't they? Well here's something that will keep them humble. Tell them to go into a laboratory and spend an afternoon and take nothing and make something out of it. That would be a good assignment. Also, when you tell them to do that, tell them to take their lunch because it’s going to take a really long while. God did not have to consult anybody. God did not need prophetic advice. He didn't have to go to some psychic because He wondered, "Now what's actually going to happen in the future once I create?" Not that psychics know the future. But He did not have to consult anyone. Who did He consult? Well the answer is nobody because He is the reservoir. Within Him there is all knowledge, all understanding, all wisdom and He needed nobody to consult with. And you know what? He still doesn't consult with us, does He? Now look. He has all power. See I mentioned that He has everything that He needs. He has all wisdom. He has all power.

In verse 15 it says, "Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket, they are regarded as dust on the scales. He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust." The nations are like a drop in a bucket. How much is a drop in the bucket? Well, a bucket contains quite a bit of water, but a drop in a bucket doesn't even make the whole bottom of the bucket wet, at least not the drops I've seen. Small, insignificant, soon forgotten. That's what the nations of the world are like. When it says, He picks up the islands as though they were fine dust, that's an expression the islands of anything west of Israel. Which could include Europe and include the United States. And what does God say about these nations? They are like dust. What do you do with dust? Woke some of you up. That's what you do with the dust. They're nothing. Afghanistan? Nothing. China? Nothing. Oh, Iraq, all of it's secret chemical weapons? Nothing. The United States' great military might? Nothing. The great neighbor to our north, Canada? It's beautiful. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing! You say well, doesn't He care about them? Of course He cares about them. He cares very much about them because He sent His Son to die for us and we see the care of God here and we're talking now about His transcendence, but what Isaiah is trying to get across to us is not that He doesn't regard these, but ontologically, there's a nice word, ontologically the difference between God and His creation, the gap between them is infinite that the nations of the earth [in comparison] to God are nothing! Dust.

You'll notice that He has all the sufficiency that He needs. Even religiously. Notice what it says. Verse 16. "Lebanon is not sufficient for an altar of fires nor it's animals enough for burnt offerings." The imagery here is mind-boggling and graphic. What he is thinking of is the whole realm of nature is a temple and Lebanon is the center of it all that has huge forests with many animals and it is there in Lebanon that the altar of this huge temple is fixed. So you take all the forests of Lebanon and you say, "We're going to create a fire, we're going to find all the animals of the forest and we're going to kill them as a sacrifice and bring them here and make a sacrifice to God" and what Isaiah is saying is [that] in God's mind it is nothing. It is insufficient. So you say, what does an offering like that lack? Well, it lacks quantity. It still is not enough. And is certainly lacks quality. It’s not the kind of offering that God accepts anyway. Lebanon is not sufficient to burn. The beasts are not sufficient for burnt offerings. And you see, that's why Jesus Christ had to come because God says "the only sacrifice that I accept is my own sacrifice because there can be no human sacrifice, there can be nothing upon Planet Earth, there can be nothing on all of the other planets or stars that I have created that I would accept as a burnt offering anyway. All of the ones in the Old Testament were symbolic. If there is going to be a burnt offering that I will accept, I am going to have to provide it. And that's what happened at Bethlehem. And that's what happened at Calvary, where Jesus died. I want you to know today that God is all self-sufficient. He has everything. Do you realize today, my friend, it’s rather humbling, but, that God wouldn't need you? That God wouldn't need us, and He could get along perfectly fine if we had never showed up on this planet? You know, an egoist is someone who believes if he had never been born people would ask, "Why?" The simple fact is that God could've done without any one of us because we are His creation according to His will and pleasure. He knows everything, He has everything, He supersedes everything. In verse 17 it says, "Before Him all the nations are as nothing. They are regarded by Him as worthless and less than nothing." We're already talking about the God of the nations being supreme.

To whom then will you compare God? What image will you compare Him to? As for an idol, a craftsman casts it and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple. I hope you catch the humor. This is intended to be very, very sarcastic. It is dripping with sarcasm. Here there are idol-makers and they take something and they overlay it with gold and silver and they say, "Oh, it’s really worth something." I mean, who are you really kidding? It's worth something. The God, the Creator is the one who has created it. He has measured everything but He Himself is immeasurable. And you're now saying that you're going to bow down to something made with human hands just because it’s got some gold and silver? Give me a break. And the other is also, you see, a poor man. Why is he poor? He is poor, you see, because he has already spent so much money for his gods. And so, what he does is, he maybe can't afford the best possible god, one with gold and silver, but he goes into a forest and says, "I want to select some wood that will not rot." What he is saying is, "If I’m going to build a god, I hope it's the kind of God that can hang around for at least a little while." And then when he finds an artesian who is able to build it, he says, "Hey, please build it in such a way that it won't topple." I mean, can you see the insult that idolatry is to God? And we, we rejoice in the fact that we don't bow down to such things, but it says in Ezekiel chapter 16, "My people have created idols in their own minds." What is an idol in the mind? First of all, it is a view of God that is less than He is worthy of. Now, all of our views of God fall short, no doubt about it. But there are some views of God that are spoken about today in common parlance, in common interviews, talk shows, whatever, you know, "My God is like this..." "Well I think God is this..." It's all idolatry because it’s all less than the biblical God. But then it's also possible for us, you see, to have our own idols because we have things in our minds-follow this carefully-we have things in our minds that are more important to us than God. And that also is idolatry. What means more to us than God? What means more to us than living for the praise of God's glory? Put your finger on it now. May the blessed Holy Spirit of God help you, because that is sin that has to be confessed even if it is something good, even if it is a person. Let's get personal, even if it is a person. Because God is worthy of all of our adoration, all of our love. To love Him and to love our neighbors is the end of it, but the greatest commandment is that thou shall love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind. And so we see the greatness of God. He knows everything. He has everything independently of His creation. He exists with great pleasure. And He supersedes everything. The nations of the earth, as we shall see in next week's message.

But now we get down to this question: Can we trust Him? That's the question. Can we trust Him? You see, when we study God like this, the invisible God, we find that we're on the edge of mystery. In fact there's much more about God that we do not know than what we know. In the 1600s there was a book written which I read a few years ago, entitled The Cloud of Unknowing. It was written by a man who, instead of concentrating on what we know about God wanted to talk about the mysteries that we cannot fathom. Because it says in the book of Romans, and we read it today, that His presence and His knowledge is unfathomable. We can't get our minds around it. We can talk about it. We can write books about it. We can hold seminars about, but our minds aren't great enough to be able to grasp it. We try and we honor Him through that trying, but we can't do it. And you see, when we approach God that way we realize that there is so much that is hidden, so much mystery so much that we cannot understand we cannot read the fine print of his providential plan. We are mystified as to why God would allow terrorists to get on plans and to smash buildings and to kill innocent people or we're mystified about the fact that a wind storm under God's hand, God sends wind, God sends wind that would blow down a scaffolding and kill three people unexpectedly. And so, we begin to peer into His mysteries and we suddenly say, "We don't understand it." So what do we do? Martin Luther had some good advice. He said, "We must flee the hidden God." Because the mystery is too great, it is too unfathomable and we must flee to Christ. We flee to Christ, the revealed God. Because Jesus said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father. To see me is to see the Father." And suddenly when we think of Jesus then we say, "Yeah, now I begin to get it, now I begin to understand what God is like." And what did Jesus tell us that God was like?

First of all, that He knows all about us. Jesus said, "You're concerned with clothes and you're concerned with food and you're concerned with a place to stay and you're concerned about other people. You're Heavenly Father knows that you have need of all things." Folks, I want you to know today that God knows you thoroughly, completely, infallibly. He knows your past. Some of you have abuse in your past and you don't even know exactly what happened to you as a child. God does. That might have to be sufficient for you, to know that He does. Some of you perhaps have greatly sinned in your past. God knows that too. And if you've come to Christ to receive forgiveness, God has set that sin aside so that He can have fellowship with you. But He knows it, He knows what you're planning, He knows your past, He knows your present, He knows your future. He knows what you will encounter tomorrow is not going to be nearly as bad as you think it’s going to be. Or, may I humbly say, it could be worse? But God knows. Nothing surprises Him. Nothing catches Him off guard. There will not be an emergency council to try to figure out because something happened that you weren't planning on happening, none of that. God will walk with you through the experience. And every step of the way, He knew what was around the corners that we cannot see around. God knows. God knows. Jesus would also say to us, "Now, consider the care of God." You see, if He measured the water in the hallow of His hand. Measured the water in the world. If He was able to measure, you see, the heavens and their distances and if He knows exactly which star is where and the longitude and the latitude of the stars and there are more stars than there are grains of sand on the beaches of the world. If He knows all that, what did Jesus say? "If He is taking care of the birds of the field and the flowers of the field, will He not also take care of you? O you of little faith." Jesus says [that] you are of so much more value than birds and flowers. And when we worry, we diminish our value. We bring ourselves, you see, beneath the birds and flowers of the field. Which God takes care of and notices when the sparrow falls, when it dies. You see a sparrow that hits window pane and it falls dead, your heavenly Father knows about it. Will He not, therefore, take care of you? O you of little faith. I have to ask you today, what burden are you carrying that God never intended you to carry? You see your body was not built to bear anxiety. Anxiety is like driving a car and stepping on the gas and the brake simultaneously. It just wears and it grinds. God says, "Don't you understand that if I am the God to whom the nations are nothing, if I am the God to whom all of this is just like, eh, dust on a balance. And yet, I have intricate knowledge of all things both actual and possible, why are you bearing burdens when you know that those anxieties won't change circumstances anyway? Simply give them up to God. Some of you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior and you don't know the Father. That's why Jesus in that same passage in the 6th chapter of Matthew said, you know He said, "Don't seek after all of the same things that the pagans seek after because you have a Heavenly Father and you know Him." Some of you don't know God. How could you possibly trust a God who is only mystery and whom you do not know? You get to know Him through Christ, through His cross and accepting Him as your Savior.

S.M. Lockeridge was a great African-American preacher, one of those preachers who makes all of us look pretty pitiful. If you've ever heard him preach, but he's dead now so unless it’s on a video or a cassette you probably won't hear him anymore. I shouldn't have said probably, you understand, this is just after a manner of speaking. You know how Paul sometimes said, "I speak as a man," you know. Before he died, he wrote these words, and you will understand it will have to have been before he died. Just being clear here, you know, some of you... Listen to this, he's talking about Jesus. He's talking about God. "He does not have to call for help and you can't confuse Him. He doesn't need you and He doesn't need me. He stands alone in the solitude of Himself. He is awesome and He's unique. He's unparalleled. He's unprecedented. He's supreme and He's preeminent. He's the superlative of every good that you can call Him. And I'm trying to tell you, you can trust Him. He can satisfy all of our needs and He can do so simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He's available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He sees. He guards and He guides. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharges debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent. He beautifies the meek. And I'm trying to tell you, you can trust Him. He's the master of the mighty. He's the captain of the conquerors. He's the head of the heroes. He's the leader of the legislators. He's the overseer of the overcomers. He's the governor of the governors. He's the princes of princes. He's the King of kings. He's the Lord of lords. And I'm trying to tell you that you can trust Him. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. Oh, I wish I could describe Him to you. He's indescribable because He is incomprehensible. He's irresistible and He's invincible. You can't get Him off your hands. You can't get Him out of your mind. You can't out-live Him. And you can't live without Him. Death couldn't handle Him and thank God the grave couldn't hold Him. There was nobody before Him. There will be nobody after Him. He had no predecessor and He'll have no successor. You can't impeach Him and He's not going to resign. You can trust Him."

I thought all of you would clap after that. Today I commend to you a God who, through Christ and because of Christ, we can trust. The God of incredible mystery. But a Savior who stands and says, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." You can trust Him.

Our Father, we ask in the name of Jesus that You will, throughout this congregation, that you might be lifting burdens as people transfer the full weight of their anxieties to You.

And I'm going to give you that opportunity right now. Say: God, I give You my three greatest anxieties which are, 1, 2, 3. I transfer them to Your shoulders. Why should I bear what You never created me to bear? Would You do that right now? Father, some are wrestling with Satan because He is the one who fills our minds with anxieties that we can't get rid of. Deliver your people.

Father, help them to make that transfer and set them free. And for those who have never trusted Christ as Savior, may they see His beauty that in Him we see God, a Redeemer and our friend. Come to us, Lord, in power because we need it. We are very, very needy. And we receive today that power and that strength. In Jesus' name, Amen. Amen.


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