Can God foresee the future? This question can generate a powerful emotional response in many people. Some have a knee jerk response that God can do all things: "Don't try to limit my God," they will respond. "Yes, God can do anything," others will say, "but has chosen to place certain restrictions upon himself." Though many will argue otherwise, the Bible does not give us a direct answer. The Bible does say God is the one foretelling the finally from the beginning, but that is not necessarily the same as foreseeing the future. (Isaiah 46:10) Let us herein consider the meaning of three words: Foretell, foreknow, and foresee. The dictionary provides little help as it defines foresee as to see in advance; and the others with little more clarity. It does say foretell means to predict. For the sake of our consideration, lets consider foreknow and foretell as synonymous, meaning to predict in advance; while foresee means to be able to see in advance. While they sound similar, we submit those are very different meanings. Let us consider why.

Whether God can foresee the future is a reasonable question to ask; and it is reasonable to try and answer it. The answer to this question actually helps us in our faith: As it helps us understand why wickedness exists, and why it has been tolerated by Jehovah God for 6000 years. Although the Bible does not give a direct answer, there are powerful Bible principles that help us understand.

Before considering whether God can foresee the future, we should have a background of some basic Bible truths. We believe those "Bible truths" form the foundation and basis for understanding why God can predict but not foresee the future; And to understanding the difference. The Bible speaks of the "truth" as spiritual food, and then likens basic Bible truth to milk; and the understanding of deeper Bible principles to meat (or solid food). (Hebrews 5:12-14 ; 1 Corinthians 10:3) Just as a newborn can not eat or digest meat, but must start by eating milk, so we must learn basic Bible truth as a foundation to our understanding the deeper truths revealed in the Bible. So then; to understand whether God can "foresee" the future we should first have knowledge of some basic Bible truths:
     If you are not certain clear scriptural support exists for these Bible facts, you might be better served to start by reviewing the Introduction and/or the Home Page; along with the scriptures cited there. You do not need to be able to cite chapter and verse [without looking them up], but you should know in your mind and heart that scriptural support exists for these truths. We will not cite those scriptures again on this page, as we believe it would be better to have an understanding of that foundation before considering this material. You can not speed a newborn's progress by blending meat with his mothers milk. [This reference to milk and meat (Hebrews 5:13-14) should not, and we hope does not, seem disrespectful in the eyes of any [or to any]. We are all spiritual babies when compared with our lord Christ Jesus; Or when our knowledge is compared with the whole of the knowledge contained in the Bible.]

Back though, to consideration of the question: Can Jehovah foresee the future? Let us start by more clearly defining what we mean by "foresee the future." Jehovah's name means "He causes to become"; so what ever God purposes to happen He can foreknow and foretell (prophesy), simply because He has the power to cause it to be so. If he chooses the leader of some nation to accomplish some feat for example, He can then cause that leader to do as He wishes; thus causing the fulfillment of his prophecy. God might in this way interfere temporarily with the freedom of choice of such a leader, as He causes that leader to accomplish God's own will. Afterward, that individual would still be allowed his free choice as to obedience, just as we all are.

Apart from such things being directly controlled by God, certain other things happen as a natural consequence of laws or principles; Which God can also foreknow. For example: If we hold an apple in front of us and let go, even we can foreknow it will fall to the earth as a natural consequence of physical law. We don't have to doubt; it will do so every single time. When God said Adam would die if he disobeyed, God could foreknow Adams death as a natural consequence of disobedience; Just as easily as we can foreknow a motor will slow down and stop running if we unplug it from the electric source. Adam needed God's direction to know how to do the right thing. Any deviation from those instructions would be a turning away from the correct way of doing things, and would eventually lead to death. Obviously, God could foreknow that would happen. Controlling what will happen, and knowing the result of breaking his laws, are both examples of what the Bible means when it says God is the one foretelling the finish from the start. (Isaiah 46:8-11)

The next logical question that must then arises is this: If we were to believe that to mean God can foresee the future in detail, why has He permitted wickedness for all these 6,000 years of mankind's existence? That is the question asked by every parent who has lost a child: Why didn't God protect my child? If God can foresee our future, why hasn't he simply looked to see where we will be in a few thousand years, and moved us forward in time as it were? He can resurrect the dead back to life, with all their memories and feelings intact. (Matthew 22:31-32) So... If He can foresee our future choices, He could simply look to see who we will be after we make those choices, and just change us (resurrect us) into who we would later be. By doing so, He could move mankind past all the pain and suffering now being caused at the hands of the wicked. In other words: If God can foresee the future, he could simply see where mankind will be after all badness is gone and peace is restored, and then make it so right now. Do you start to see how this issue impacts your love for our God? If we assert God can foresee the future in detail, and it is not so; we are in effect accusing him of being responsible for all the badness done by bad or imperfect men. When someone's little child dies, it is hard for the parent to understand why. It is hard for them not to blame God. Those who assert God took their child to be an angel in heaven do not help. God does not kill little children to make angels. If He doesn't kill them, though, why does He permit them to be killed by others? Understanding whether God can foresee the future will help us understand.

As to those who will say God can do all things, and that we can not place limits on the true God: Let us say that is every bit true! We must also recognize however, that God can choose to limit himself. For example: God cannot lie! (Titus 1:2) That is a limit he has chosen to place upon himself. We can all be very thankful He has done so. As a result of God limiting himself to being upright, we can always depend on worshiping a God of truth. What He says; He will do! We would be silly not to recognize God cannot lie, and we do not limit him by having knowledge of that fact. There is another limit God has placed upon himself which we should recognize: He gave us all freedom of choice. By virtue of that gift, we can choose to be obedient; or we can choose to be disobedient. (Deuteronomy 30:15-16 ; Deuteronomy 30:19-20) Obedience is a wonderful freedom we possess. God could have programmed us, as he seems to have done with the animals. Dogs, for example, behave according to a certain set of instinctive rules. It is unlikely a dog will ever look up at the starry sky and fall upon his knees giving thanks to his Creator for the gift of life. He will not share with others in giving thanks for our wonderful earthly home. The dog may enjoy life, but he seems to have no real appreciation that his gift of life came from God. Even if the dog could fall down and worship God, doing so because he had been programmed to do so, how special would his pre-programmed worship really be? Does a computer worship you because it obeys your commands? [That is not to equate the beauty of God's animal creation with a computer.] We humans are very special: As free moral agents, we can choose to worship and give thanks to our Father! We have been given the freedom to choose what we will do with our life, and how we will expend our energies. We can be helpful and loving as we attempt to magnify our God, or we can choose to resist his efforts; thereby choosing to be wicked. Humans can also procreate: We can produce new little free moral agents, who also have the gift of choice. Even the Angels don't possess that gift. Happily, we and our little ones can use our free will to love and obey our heavenly Father: Learning and being thankful He always has our best interest at heart. (Hebrews 11:6 ; Isaiah 48:17) If God had preprogrammed us to be obedient, we would be little more than exquisitely made, self replicating, robots; following the rules of our programming. We would not, and we could not, be God's true friends. God has given us freedom as sons and daughters! Jehovah God could foreknow that if Adam disobeyed (sinned) he would die as a natural consequence of separating himself from his Creator's blessings and protection; But, God could not foresee whether Adam would choose to disobey. God has limited himself in that regard; limited himself by giving Adam the freedom to make that choice. Could Jehovah foreknow that some of his earthly sons might disobey? Probably. It is possible a rebellious spirit had already developed in satan even before the creation of Adam and Eve. God would certainly have known if it had. (Mark 2:6-8) For a certainty, Jehovah could foresee that the gift of life as his free sons and daughters was good and worth giving. That is why He made it so. If some choose to become bad and throw away that gift, it does not lower the value of the gift to God's obedient children.

That is what the problems we live through in this old system amount to. God is patiently dealing with those who refuse to be obedient: And, we should remember, we all started our life in that crowd of disobedient ones. If we must suffer because of disobedience, it does not make it God's fault. God does not kill little children to make angels. Disobedience to God (sin) is what brought about death; sometimes of little children, and eventually of everyone. God created the resurrection in order to undo the death our sinful choices brought. We might reflect on it this way: If you saw your young child reaching to touch something that would give him a minor burn, you would tell him no. If you could see he was going to disobey and touch it anyway, you might allow him to do so: Knowing his minor burn might teach him why he needed to obey; and help him realize you have only his best interest at heart. Your tolerating his disobedience long enough to give him a better understanding of the outcome of his choice, might protect him from later running in front of a car; or worse. [If you burned your finger as a young child, that burn was your whole world for a few minutes. You thought of nothing else. When it stopped hurting, it was no longer a concern. In a week it was a small matter. As an adult, you might not even remember. So may be the pains we suffer in this old system.] Though some individuals may harm [or have harmed] us by abusing their gift of freedom, Jehovah will make [and is making] it all better! We have most certainly harmed others as well. (Ecclesiastes 7:22) We are thankful for God's patience in our behalf. Realizing we made mistakes that hurt others, we should in turn be patient with their sins.

God being unable to foresee our choices is illustrated for us in the example of Abraham: Abraham loved God and was faithful to Jehovah all through his life. (Genesis 11:27 through Genesis 25) As a result of his early faithfulness, God promised a youthful Abraham [Abram] He would cause all the nations of the earth to bless themselves by means of Abraham's seed. (Genesis 12:1-3) Abraham loved that promise! He realized that promise meant the hoped for messiah would come through his seed; (Matthew 1:1) And later that the seed would come through his son Isaac. From the test that came upon Abraham, we might infer that Abraham started to love that promise too much. Abraham apparently loved Isaac, and the promises associated with him so much, God could no longer be certain whether Abraham loved God, or just God's promises of good things. There is a big difference! God intends and wants us to love life and good things; as those good things are all gifts from him because he loves us. We can never forget, though, who provides those gifts. That is not vanity on God's part! If we allow the gifts to become our God, [the gifts to become the love of our heart,] we have made good things into bad. Failure to remember that our Father is the giver of life, and that He alone is good, (Mark 10:18) will make us turn to doing bad [and will cause harm]. That is the freedom of choice we have been given. We choose to appreciate the Father of our life, or we choose not to. Because Abraham had apparently become divided in his love for God, Jehovah then requested Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. What would Abraham do? He had expended his whole life looking forward to a promise that was finally realized through Isaac; but only in Abraham's old age. Wouldn't the death of Isaac amount to a breaking of God's promises to Abraham? Abraham resolved the matter in his own heart, and then [as good as] offered up Isaac without hesitation. God did not allow Isaac to be put to death of course, but through his request He helped Abraham to fully and completely make the choice in his heart as to what was most important. As a result, Abraham came to be called God's friend. (James 2:21-23) Think about that! Abraham was a personal friend to the Creator of everything we can know. God can know what is in our heart [in your heart], but not before we have first fully decided who we are. We must choose if we love God, or if we are rebellious. That is our gift: our freedom of choice; And that choice defines our heart. A wise choice to obedience and thanksgiving will become a treasure we can carry forever! (Deuteronomy 30:15-16 ; Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Not only can God see what is in our heart [after we define it], He can get to know us well enough to judge that we are righteous (or wicked). Abraham was likely judged righteous at the time God called him friend. With his decision to obey under test, Abraham unreservedly decided in his heart God was most important to him, and by that display of faith he became God's friend. Of course, Abraham will still need to be resurrected and exercise faith in Christ Jesus; But God's calling Abraham friend likely indicates God is certain Abraham will do so. In any case, we can see a perfect and certain example of God's ability to judge one as righteous; made plain to us in Christ Jesus. Satan basically said we are all bad, and that we will all fail when put to the test: That we will fail when it costs us something to remain faithful. (Job 1:11) Jehovah said that was not so, and that He knew one individual well enough to know that one would never prove unfaithful. (Psalms 40:7-8) Jesus then came to earth as a man, with responsibility to make that prophecy come true. (Philippians 2:8-11 ; Matthew 26:39) The Bible tells us Jesus learned obedience from the things he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8) Jesus had been obedient all his life, of course, but his obedience had always resulted in blessings at his Father's hand. Now, though, for the first time, obedience by Jesus would cost him something. It cost him the most precious thing he had: His very life. Jesus suffered a horrible death both physically painful and spiritually humiliating (punished as an asserted enemy of truth). No one could conceivably be asked by satan to give more! Even so, Jesus remained faithful, just as his Father had said he would. Among other things, Jesus faithfulness proves Jehovah can get to know us so well, as to judge who is and who will forever prove to be, righteous. (Genesis 22:18 - Jesus, faithful seed of Abraham.) If Jehovah could simply have looked into the future to see who would prove faithful, it would not have been necessary for Jesus to suffer. Even Jesus had to make the choice to be faithful. God knew of course, Jesus had already made that choice. Because of satan's accusations, God allowed Jesus to demonstrate that choice under extreme pressure. Even Jesus himself was concerned he might make the wrong choice. (Matthew 26:38-39) Jesus maintained faith his Father's judgment that he was righteous would prove true. It did! God's judgment ability is only realized through our understanding Jehovah can not foresee the future choices of free moral agents until after they make them. By giving the gift of freedom, Jehovah has limited his ability to foresee their future. He can still, however, get to know individuals well enough to know they will never prove disloyal. Righteous persons can be known by God, and thereby become his friends. You personally have the opportunity to become God's friend: To become a loyal person! Note also, suffering is not necessary for Jehovah to judge who is righteous. Jehovah absolutely knew Jesus would prove faithful even though Jesus had never suffered or been tested in that way. (Proverbs 8:30-31) As with everything He does, Jehovah's judgment is thus forever proved perfect and above reproach. May we use our freedom of choice to realize what is truth! It is knowledge of the Bible that can help us exercise faith in Jesus Christ now; building friendship with his Father Jehovah. Soon the reality of the life God intended for us will be upon us. God's promises will very shortly result in a world where his purpose will be accomplished "on earth as in heaven." (Matthew 6:10) We have the opportunity to live on an earth full of people who love others as themselves, and where all recognize God's way of doing things is always the very best way. All who will be there would rather die than disobey our heavenly Father, because they recognize any deviation from God's way will bring harm. As king of God's kingdom, come quickly Lord Jesus! (Mark 11:9-10)

It may well be that God made the physical creation so wondrous and complex that even He can't foresee such detail as what snowflakes will form today. Then again, since he is wise and powerful enough to conceive and create it all, it may be he can foresee every snowflake that will ever form, right out into eternity. The Bible doesn't say, and so we don't know. The Bible would seem to teach however, that even God himself can not foresee the choices of his free sons and daughters until after we have made those choices. May we choose wisely! May we choose obedience and life. (Deuteronomy 30:15-16) Throughout history, God has made many changes in response to free choice. The Jews were being led into the promised land for example: When they proved unfaithful, God made them wander in the wilderness 40 years while the unfaithful generation died off. A new generation was then led in; after that 40 year postponement. (Numbers 14:30-34) God's purpose was still fulfilled, but his plan had changed to allow for free choice.

One thing that tends to cause confusion over this issue is the science fiction notion of time travel. That is another one of satan's lies. As one man said, "the past is gone, and the future hasn't happened yet." You can't travel forward to something that doesn't yet exist, nor back to something that has gone out of existence. When our future is being caused to become by God, but is also being impacted by those with free choice, what that future will become must rest to some degree in their choices. Those choices can't be foreseen until they make them. God has of course, retained enough control to keep the wicked from destroying everything; including our individual hope for life. The choice as to our own personal obedience however, rests in our own hands and our hands alone; and can not be foreseen.

As to why wickedness has been tolerated for so many years then: Because God is good! He gave us freedom to choose to become his friends as sons and daughters. (Romans 8:20-21) Even when Adam and Eve abused that gift of freedom to make themselves bad, Jehovah still made a way to extend the chance for life to their descendants who would choose to be loyal. All the pain we see or experience; is the result of the actions of those who choose to disobey our Creator. The death of a little child is the result of sin and disobedience by mankind. It is not God's fault. What God is doing; is making it better. While some of what we suffer in this current system is terrible, Jehovah has given us hope through the knowledge he is working to undo the harm that has been done [and is being done]. Soon the pain we now endure will be no more to us than a bee sting to a grown man who can only remember receiving it as a small boy. (Micah 4:3-4) Even the sting of the death of a child will be taken away, as we welcome such children back to life in the resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57) The Bible knowledge supporting such a hope lessens that sting of death even now.

God told Adam if he and his wife disobeyed they would die, and so their children do as well. Shortly after their disobedience, Cain followed their pattern and killed his brother Able. Adam and Eve and the sin they introduced, and Cain of course, caused the death of Able: God did not! If God had protected Able, [which would have meant God was protecting an imperfect sinner,] how would anyone be able to know God is righteous and it is satan who is the liar? [God actually has protected Able, through the hope of the resurrection. (Genesis 4:10 ; John 11:23-24)] What God has allowed to happen in this old system provides eternal proof satan is the liar! We are all born sinners, with an inclination to do harm. (Genesis 6:5) Even though we are sinners, and the imperfect children of disobedient Adam and Eve; God is giving us the opportunity to learn to love (Matthew 22:37-40) and to be obedient. (1 John 5:3)

May all lovers of righteousness throughout all the earth join in prayer: "Act quickly lord Jesus!"


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