When I was a child, a jingle we used to hear often at Christmas time goes something like this: “You better watch out, you better not cry, this is why I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town. He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. O….”
I don’t know the history of this jingle, but it appears to have been at least partly motivated or inspired by the challenge of getting children to behave. And whoever wrote it knew that part of our motivation for doing good and not doing bad is knowing someone is watching our every move.
I’m sure Satan and his demons have had some good laughs seeing how much we Americans have given time and attention to this jingle about a jolly fat man who doesn’t exist. I’m sure they will tremble when we truly come to know God as the living God who knows, sees and hears everything.
One thing we know about the history of the great revivals and awakenings is that this attribute of God comes into great focus, and goes beyond just cerebral head knowledge. When revival fires fall or when the Holy Spirit is poured out one thing people know for sure is the Holy Creator of the Universe is very very near. People who thought they were captains of their own destiny, and who lived their lives all to themselves - - in times of revival - - shudder at the thought that the living God of the Universe knows their every thought, word, deed, attitude, etc.
So this study’s purpose it to help us know God as One who knows, sees and hears everything, so that we can worship Him as such, declare Him as such, and so we can live in light of this glorious truth, especially in times of suffering and trial. I also felt I should follow up Part I & II of "How to maximize our re-engagement with the church" by some more specific discussion about knowing God (again for now - mostly from the Old Testament).
Let’s start off by looking at some general truths spoken by men or God Himself about this aspect of His being or person.
I. God revealed as a God who knows, sees and hears everything
In chapters 1 & 2 of I Samuel we get introduced to the great prophet Samuel’s mother – a lady named Hannah. God had chosen for a time to close Hannah’s womb, and Hannah fervently reminded Him of it in prayer, and the pain as a result of it (I Sam. 1:9-12). God heard her cry and gave her the privilege of raising Samuel. In response she wrote/prayed a prayer of praise and worship to God in which she said these words, “There is no one holy like the Lord, Indeed there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. Boast no more so very proudly, Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the Lord is a God of knowledge, And with Him actions are weighed.”
The reason all humans should do whatever it takes to get rid of our pride and arrogance and to walk in humility before God is because He “….is a God of knowledge.” He literally knows every thought we have ever entertained. He knows of every word we have ever spoken. And every deed we have ever done. And every deed we have neglected to do. He knows of every attitude. He knows of every intention. Plenty of reason to be done with our pride and arrogance.
King David in Psalm 11:4,5a also speaks of this attribute of God, “The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold; His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked” Nothing escapes His notice David proclaimed. Even though He is in heaven, He sees it all. He examines everything in every person.
The Psalmist in Psalm 33:13,14 speaks similar words, “The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth.”
The Psalmist in Psalm 119:168 says that one of his motivations for obeying God's word is this reality, "I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, For all my ways are before You."
The prophet Isaiah, seeking to comfort downcast Israel (and us), first speaks to their unbelief in Isa. 40:27, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”? And then he counters their lie or doubt with the truth about God in vs. 28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.”
The prophet Jeremiah contrasts the heart or true knowledge of God that he walked in - with the wicked – first speaking to the reality that the wicked can often mouth truths, but in their hearts do not believe them, “…You are near to their lips But far from their mind.” (12:2). Then of his knowledge or experience of God’s knowledge of him, “But You know me, O Lord; You see me; And You examine my heart’s attitude toward You.” Again this is why mere cerebral knowledge of God’s attributes are close to worthless. We must cry out for revelation that affects our experience!!
God says through the prophet Jeremiah re: His relationship with Israel, “For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes.” Jeremiah 16:17 His punishment of them will be based on that specific and total knowledge. (see vs. 18).
Jeremiah’s confidence that God is with him and for him and will defend and vindicate him, and righteously deal with his enemies is at least partially because of this attribute of God, “Yet, O Lord of hosts, You who test the righteous, Who see the mind and the heart; Let me see Your vengeance on them; For to You I have set forth my cause.” Jeremiah 20:12
God in a chapter long rebuke of and warning to the false prophets of Israel declared these words, implying that it was their lack of knowledge of this attribute of His that partially led to their disobedience and rebellion and wickedness, “Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “And not a God far off? “Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23,24
Jeremiah, in a time of praise for God’s greatness and His ways, declared these words, “great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 32:19
God commands Ezekiel to prophesy to the “…leaders of the people” (11:1) these words, “….’Thus says the Lord, “So you think, house of Israel, for I know your thoughts.” Ezekiel 11:5
Jesus said to His disciples these words re: God’s knowledge of the inner motivations and “hidden” sins of the Pharisees, “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Luke 12:2,3
Jesus declared these words to the Pharisees themselves re: their inner thoughts and motivations or the state of their hearts, “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15
The apostle Paul makes it clear in Romans 2:16 that the living God who knows all, will judge all - - “on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”
The writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers to “hold fast their confession” (4:14) partially because of this truth in vs. 13, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
II. One of the major reasons the wicked or rebellious walk in wickedness or evil is because they do not know God as the living, all knowing, and all seeing God that He is. They believe the lie that He either is not, or that He does not see, hear and know. One of the most effective lies Satan has fed the lost and rebellious is that if there is even a God at all, He is somehow aloof, uninterested, inept, sleepy, not attentive, not knowing, etc.
The Psalmist in Psalm 10:11 speaks to this when he writes, “He (the wicked) says to himself, “God has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He will never see it.”
King David observed this in the wicked when he wrote in Psalm 59:7,8, “Behold, they belch forth with their mouth; Swords are in their lips, For they say, “Who hears?” But You, O Lord, laugh at them; You scoff at all the nations.”
Again he writes in Psalm 64:5, “They hold fast to themselves and evil purpose; They talk of laying snares secretly; They say, “Who can see them?”
Asaph spoke to their deception and blindness in Psalm 73:11, “They say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?”
The Psalmist speaks of their deception and warns them of their foolishness, declaring what God is really like in Psalm 94:71, “They have said, “The Lord does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.” Pay heed, you senseless among the people; And when will you understand, stupid ones? He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, Even He who teaches man knowledge? The Lord knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.”
All humans (especially those who walk in some level of authority and/or influence) are commanded in Proverbs 24:11 to “Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.” The wicked tend to rationalize away their refusal to do justice for the oppressed. Thus this warning in vs. 12, “If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to His work?” (or lack of). God sees and knows every instance of our rationalizing or justifying or minimizing responsibility.
Proverbs 24:17,18 is another warning to all based on God’s all seeing eye, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Or the Lord will see it and be displeased, And turn His anger away from him.”
The prophet Isaiah warns of the great danger and foolishness of thinking one’s plans and deeds can somehow go undetected by God in Isaiah 29:15,16, “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, And whose deeds are done in a dark place, And they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
God speaks through the prophet Isaiah to the lie the wicked believe and thus the pride and arrogance they walk in in Isaiah 47:10, “You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’ Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’”
Jeremiah in prayer to God speaks of how even the land of Israel is being judged and desolated because of “…the wickedness of those who dwell in it,” and then he speaks to their inner motivation or one of the reasons why they do wickedness, “Because men have said, “He will not see our latter ending.” Jeremiah 12:4
God directed the prophet Ezekiel to get an inside look at the wickedness the elders of Israel were committing, and then speaking to their motivation or reasoning for doing such, “Then He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.’” Ezekiel 8:12
God then speaks to Ezekiel about the overall wickedness of Israel and Judah and the inner motivation or reason for such, ““Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!’ “But as for Me, My eye will have not pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads.” Ezekiel 9:9,10
III. Believers have oft been comforted and strengthened in their trials and suffering by knowing God sees, knows and hears. They also have been motivated to not sin and live a holy life based on this knowledge of God.
In Job chapter 31 he is found asserting or defending his integrity and his pursuit of holiness. At least some of his motivation for pursuing integrity and holiness is his knowledge of God’s omniscience. Here’s an example of this: “Does He not see my ways, And number all my steps?” Job 31:4 (see also vs. 14, etc.).
Who in times of trial and suffering has not been comforted by the precious promises in Psalm 34 such as this one in vs. 15, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.”
The Psalmist in a time of suffering and trial declared why he and his companions (also presumed to be experiencing suffering and trial) did not feel turning away from God was an option: “If we had forgotten the name of our God Or extended our hands to a strange god, Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.” Psalm 44:20,21
The Psalmist in Psalm 66 spoke to how this affects his prayer life, knowing that God sees and knows everything in the deep recesses of his heart, and will respond to his prayers accordingly, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;” (vs. 18) .
King David, in a time of great persecution by his enemies, declares this truth in his desperate prayer for God to come to His aid, “O God, it is You who knows my folly, And my wrongs are not hidden from You.” Psalm 69:5 While he was not perfect, this knowledge of God was a significant part of his motivation to please God and not sin.
The same could be said of Moses, who declared in Psalm 90:8, “You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secrets sins in the light of Your presence.” Surely one of the differences between a godly man and an ungodly one is knowing God in this way.
The writer of Psalm 119 gives us yet another example of this, “I keep Your precepts, And Your testimonies For all my ways are before You.” 119:168
In that great Psalm of King David’s (139) we find him first declaring the greatness of God’s omniscience and omnipresence and the comfort it is to him (vs. 1-18). Then we find him based on that knowledge asking God to punish the wicked, again knowing God knows all their thoughts, words and deeds (vs. 19-22). Then at the end based on these attributes of God, he asks that God “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (vs. 23,24).
Listen readers, a big difference between a believer and a godly man or woman is that the latter does not just know this about God in a cerebral or intellectual way. But rather, based on that knowledge, they aggressively seek Him to help them know about themselves what only God can fully and accurately know and thus reveal.
The prophet Habakkuk, expressed his confusion and spiritual struggle to God because he knew God sees and knows everything and yet seemingly was not acting on it with the wicked, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously?...” Hab. 1:13
Some have criticized the apostles for the way in which they chose Judas’s replacement. But their hope and confidence was in their knowledge of God’s omniscience, not in their drawing of lots, “And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen.” They were confident He would do so. Acts 1:24
Dear reader: May the Holy Spirit open your and my eyes so that we can know Him as the all knowing, seeing, and hearing God that He is. And may our devotion to Him and obedience to Him and usefulness to Him greatly increase as a result!