Yet while God knows everything actual and potential, we need to remember that God does not necessarily know everything experiential. Now wait, before you close this book and run off to send me a long, heated e-mail about what I just said, track with me a bit. For example, what if I were to ask you, “Does God know how it feels to commit a sin?” I would suggest to you that He couldn’t tell you how it would feel for Him to commit a sin because He has never experienced committing a sin. When Jesus bore our sin on the cross, He bore our sin. God has never had the experience of committing a sin.
Does God know what sin is? Absolutely. God knows all there is to know information-wise about sin, except for the doing of it. Because He’s never done it. So when the Angel of the Lord says to Abraham, “Now I know …”, He’s not talking about informational knowledge. God is omniscient with regard to information. What God is saying to Abraham is, “Now I have experienced that you fear Me.”
God is a God of information and knowledge, but God is also a God of experience. He enters into our emotions, to use human terminology. And so He listens in to our praise. Why doesn’t He just sit back, relax, and say, “I know what praise is. I have all of the information on praise available to me. In fact, I know who is going to praise me, who is praising me now, and who has praised me in the past—what’s more, I know who means it. I don’t need anyone to praise Me since I already know everything there is to know about praise.” Yet the Bible tells us that God is enthroned upon the praises offered to Him (see Psalm 22:3). To be enthroned on something is to be in the midst of it, a participant in it. God purposefully and willingly participates in the experience.
Why did God become a man? Not only to redeem us from a life of eternal punishment and separation, but also to participate in the human experience. Because it is through Jesus Christ becoming a man that He is now able to sympathize with us. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus can sympathize with us because He has gone through everything that a person goes through, except for sin.
So when the Angel of the Lord says, “Now I know that you fear God,” it is because He has now taken part in experiential participation. God enters into that moment in time when He experiences and feels the love that we sing, speak, and think about.
“You say that you’ll give me your son?” God asks Abraham. “Now I know. I know it experientially. You chose Me over what you love more than anything else in the world.”
One reason God puts you and me between a rock and a hard place is to give us that opportunity to enter into a relational experience with Him. He puts us in a trick bag so that He can ask us to give up our own “Isaac.”
What is your “Isaac?” It is anything that you love, treasure, or value most. God desires that we esteem Him above the most valued thing in our lives. This is when the abundant life comes, when we experience a side of God that very few people ever know. We discover things about God that others never get to enjoy, just like Abraham did.
Tony Evans, Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2010).
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