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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does God Know Everything?

Don Stewart :: Was God Unaware That Israel Loved Him?

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Was God Unaware That Israel Loved Him? (Deuteronomy 13:3)

Does God Know Everything? – Question 11

The Bible says that God tested the people of Israel to see if the people actually loved Him. We read about this in the Book of Deuteronomy. It says,

“...you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 13:3 ESV)

This passage says that God was testing His people to see whether or not they would love Him. How are we to understand the meaning of this? There are a couple of options which are usually put forward to answer this.

Option 1: God Was Unaware That the People Loved Him

This, it is argued, assumes the lack of knowledge on the part of God. According to this interpretation of this verse, the God of the Bible was not aware whether or not Israel actually loved Him. He had to find out whether the people truly loved Him with all their heart. Consequently, it shows a lack of knowledge on God’s part. It is another passage which indicates God knowledge is limited in certain areas. In other words, it is not exhaustive.

Option 2: This Says Nothing about God’s Lack of Knowledge

While some people try to use this verse to say that God’s knowledge is somehow limited, this passage says nothing about God’s knowledge, or lack of it. Israel is the one being tested in the wilderness! The tests will demonstrate whether or not they really love God. At Mount Sinai, they agreed to follow God’s covenant, and be His representatives to the world. Now God is testing them to see if they really meant what they said. This is what the passage is saying.

Therefore, this passage is not testing God’s knowledge. Rather it is testing Israel to see if they will live up to their agreement which they made at Mount Sinai. Consequently, this verse should not be used as evidence that the God of the Bible somehow has limited knowledge. He does not.

Summary – Question 11
Was God Unaware That Israel Loved Him? (Deuteronomy 13:3)

The Bible says that God tested the nation Israel to see if they really loved Him. This passage has been understood in a few different ways.

To some people, this indicates that the God of the Bible did not in fact know that they did love Him. Consequently, He had to test them to find out their true feelings for Him. Those who hold this interpretation see this as another example of the limited knowledge of God.

Yet this passage teaches no such thing. The context is the testing of Israel, not God. At Mt. Sinai, the nation had entered into an agreement or covenant with God to be His special people. They were to be His witnesses among the nations.

Now God was testing them to see if they truly meant what they said. God wanted them to demonstrate that they loved Him with all their heart. This is what this verse is all about.

Thus, we do not have an illustration of God’s limited knowledge or God testing Israel to discover what they would do because He did not really know. Rightly understood, there is no conflict between this passage and the teaching of the rest of Scripture concerning the knowledge of God which informs us that He knows everything possible which there is to know.

Did God Have to Test Abraham to Know If He Actually Trusted Him? ← Prior Section
Was God Unaware That Israel Would Not Produce Good Grapes? Next Section →
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