Did God Have to Go Down and See?

September 27, 2019 at 10:24 am | Posted in Q&A | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Question: My question is about Genesis 18:20-21: “And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” If God knows everything, and if He is omnipresent, why did He have to “go down and see” Sodom and Gomorrah?

Answer: First of all, we need to determine if these verses are setting forth a clear precept about the nature of God. Since Genesis 18 is a section of the Bible that is written in the genre of historical narrative, rather than a sermon on the attributes of God, we must balance it against other Bible verses, especially those that speak directly about the question of what God knows in a general way.

For example, Job 37:16 says, “Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?” Not only is the Book of Job considered wisdom literature, but here God Himself is addressing the question of His own knowledge directly. To be perfect in knowledge is to be complete – to lack no knowledge whatsoever.

Another example is Psalm 139:1-4: “O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.” Psalm 139 is specifically about how God knows all our thoughts, “ways,” behavior, actions, and even our words before we say them.

So, if we apply this to Sodom, God knew more than the general condition of Sodom. He knew everything that each individual was doing and thinking and saying – and why they were doing it! Psalm 147 is perhaps the most explicit precept concerning God’s omniscience: “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:5). This means that God possessed all knowledge about Sodom from all eternity, but it also raises the question: Why is He making it sound in Genesis 18 like He’s not omniscient?

The answer is that God often uses anthropomorphism to describe His actions: anthropos = man; morph = form. Anthropomorphism means “man-form.” It is when the Bible describes God as a character in the narrative using human terms that help us understand His point of view. In Genesis 18 it helps us to understand how seriously God took the sin of Sodom, and how much He immanently (not just transcendently) cares about the events of this world. It also records God’s way of letting Abraham understand His thinking, since these statements are part of an actual dialogue between the Lord and Abraham.

Another reason for the statement that God would “go down to see” Sodom and Gomorrah is to let us know that this was a type of Theophany (or perhaps even Christophany): an instance where God appeared to humans in bodily form. God wanted to have a personal visit with Abraham, who was called “the friend of God.” This establishes the trust the God had placed in Abraham’s faithfulness, which will be a key later in the Genesis narrative to understanding the Lord’s testing of him with Isaac.

A Closer Walk with Thee

June 5, 2013 at 10:43 am | Posted in Amos, Biblical Walking, Selected Psalms | 21 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thank You, Lord, for overcoming so many obstacles in our lives. Help us to hear Your voice clearly as we read and study Your Word. In the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

In the Bible the image of “walking” is a picture of fellowship.

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Amos 3:3

That’s a rhetorical question – a question to which the asker does not really expect a formal answer. It is a question for which the answer immediately comes to mind, and we can just assume that everyone would answer it the same way. So, when the Bible asks, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” the answer is obviously “no.” As we’re “walking” with God, God expects us to be in agreement with Him. We tend to focus on our fellowship with God from a perspective of how well we know Him. But it might be more helpful to acknowledge and remember how well He knows us. That’s one of the key themes in Psalm 139.

O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Psalm 139:1-6

There’s no point in trying to hoodwink God. Is there anybody in your life with whom you can totally let down your guard? Anybody about whom you can say, “There is absolutely nothing they could find out about me that I wouldn’t want them to know.” Maybe your spouse, maybe even your parents or your child, but, even then, in human relationships intimate knowledge almost always carries a loss of respect, or at least reverence. Not with God, however. You’ll never find any “dirt” on Him. For Christians, our relationship with Him is clear: Loving Father and imperfect child; Creator and created.

There is no point in trying to keep secrets from God, and there is no use in trying to hide from Him.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psalm 139:7-12

There is no corner dark enough, no dark alley, no barroom, movie theater, closet, or desk drawer that God does not see. Even under the covers in the middle of the night with your windows painted black, you are not invisible to God. Not only is He able to see you, but He is able to come guide you to safety or even deliver you.

In our fallen flesh, we are prone to cringe away from the truth that God sees us all the time – as if He were some malevolent totalitarian Big Brother hoping to catch you in a moment of unguarded freedom. The reality is that God’s omnipresence and omniscience are actually great blessings. Imagine if you could hide from God, what trouble you might get into.

If we’re going to walk with God, the best fellowship – the sweetest fellowship – and the most profitable fellowship – is going to be found walking where He wants to walk. Don’t make the mistake of contemplating the commission of something so shameful that it makes you think that God will depart from you while you do it, and make Himself blissfully ignorant when you’re done.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:18-19

The Corinthian church was as carnal as most churches today. They had members openly engaging in fornication. The Holy Spirit wrote to them through the Apostle Paul and told them, “You’re sinning outside of your bodies, you’re sinning inside your bodies, you’re even sinning against your own bodies.” They were joining the temples of the Holy Ghost with harlots. If there was ever a time the Holy Ghost was going to leave them, it would have been then. Instead, He informed them that they were grieving Him by bringing Him into proximity with their fornication. There’s no hiding from God – even in a harlot’s bed.

1. You can’t hoodwink God.
2. You can’t hide from God.
3. You shouldn’t try to hinder God’s plans.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Psalm 139:13-18

Since God formed us – since He fashioned us – since He made our bodies work – since He even knows the number of our days – how can we think we know better than Him how we ought to live our lives? Or what we ought to do with our lives?

One of the great things about walking with God is just seeing what he planned for us today way back before He even created us. We live in a day when the world says “life” is just a random event. We can allow it to happen or hinder it from happening if we want. Children in their mothers’ wombs – from the instant of conception – are human beings bearing the image of God. Abortion is not a “legal choice” or a “right.” It is the brutal unjustified murder of a baby in an attempt to hinder God’s plan for life.

1. We can’t hoodwink God.
2. We can’t hide from God.
3. We shouldn’t hinder the plans of God.
4. We shouldn’t haggle with God.

Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:19-24

We will be much better off when we learn to love what God loves and hate what God hates, and to stop trying to convince Him that we know better than Him. We need to go ahead and submit ourselves to a thorough examination each day, but we are poor self-examiners. If I “search” me, I’m not going to be objective. I’m going to be very subjective, and I’m going to be ready to quickly cover my obvious and grievous sin-caused lacerations with Band-Aids of rationalization. But the Holy Ghost gives a more thorough examination than any doctor. If I ask God to search me – and pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24 – He will do it. It won’t be fun, but it will lead to a closer walk with God. It will lead to a revival in my life every day.

Covering our sin is not prosperous for us. Confession and forsaking sin pleases God. Few parents get a kick out of chastening their children, but the hug afterward is well worth the pain. If you are a Christian, God loves you. He wants to walk with you “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8), but He doesn’t want your sin walking along with you. Unconfessed sin means that we are not in agreement with God, and two can’t walk together unless they be agreed.


Entries and comments feeds.