Is God Omniscient?
Proverbs 15:3 (NWT) states: “The eyes of Jehovah are everywhere, [w]atching both the bad and the good.” Similarly, Hebrews 4:13 (NWT) states: “And there is not a creation that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account.” So, the skeptic asserts that Genesis 18:20-21 (NWT), which says: “Then Jehovah said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is very heavy. I will go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it,”” contradicts this – why would God have to get to know something? Further, he alleges that Exodus 12:13 and Hosea 8:4 likewise portray God as lacking knowledge and having to gain it. These (NWT84) respectively read: “And the blood must serve as YOUR sign upon the houses where YOU are; and I must see the blood and pass over YOU, and the plague will not come on YOU as a ruination when I strike at the land of Egypt,” and: “They themselves have set up kings, but not because of me. They have set up princes, but I did not know it. With their silver and their gold they have made for themselves idols, to the end that they may be cut off.”
We note, however, that Genesis 18:20-21 is set in the context of Jehovah bringing judgement against the five cities of Sodom. In that era a judge was expected to be present during judgment. Jehovah, listening to the outcry felt compelled to go there “himself” and get to know it in this judicial sense. Others, too, have suggested that God has the ability to know everything, but like a strong man, he does not have to exercise his ability at all times in order to be all-knowing.
Concerning Hosea 8:4, let us ask the skeptic this question: If Jehovah did not know of the princes, how is he now coming to know of it? Is it for no reason that other translations render the phrase in Hosea 8:4: “They have made princes, and I didn’t approve?” (WEB) Yes, the context has to do with Israel’s rebellion in their setting up kings and princes apart from Jehovah, whom he does not recognize, and idols to worship instead of him. Certainly, this has nothing to do with divine omniscience, for how could he mention them if he did not know of them?
What of Exodus 12:13? I must assume that the skeptic thinks that Jehovah Needed a sign to know who was an Israelite. However, the blood on the doorposts was the token to prove obedience, and anyone could do to avoid the impeding judgement – not just Israelites. (So, the supposed thing that Jehovah needed to know, is irrelevant.) He again was “there” when this judgement was performed. By definition, in order to know who obeyed, he had to see proof thereof, but this is no lack in his omniscience. As soon as they obeyed, he knew that they had.