This is the third of four posts expanding on what I said about traditional theism in “An Introduction to Open Theism.” In it I expand on this statement:
Other passages indicating that God knows the future are those containing prophecies later fulfilled.
Prophecies about Cyrus and Josiah
In my last post, I referred to one such prophecy, God’s naming Cyrus as the one through whom He would later restore Jerusalem. The prediction is made in Isaiah 44:28 and its fulfillment is described in Ezra 1. A similar naming and fulfilling is described in 1 Kings 13:1-3 and 2 Kings 23:15-17:
“And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jeroboam [the king of Israel] was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, ‘O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: <Behold a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places [unauthorized altars] who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.>’ And he gave a sign the same day, saying, ‘This is the sign that the Lord has spoken: <Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.>'”
“Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he [Josiah, the king of Judah, 300 years later] pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah [images of the Canaanite goddess, Asherah]. And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. Then he said, ‘What is that monument that I see?’ And the men of the city told him, ‘It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.'” (ESV. Biblical quotations in the rest of this post are also from the ESV.)
God’s bringing this about involved using the apparently freewill choices of Josiah and others, providing support for the view of traditional theism that God foresees the whole future, not just what He intends to do.
More Examples of Prophecies That Were Later Fuflilled
“Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and they will come out with great possessions. . . . And they shall come back here.'” (Genesis 15:11-15) Thus long before they occurred God told Abraham of the future captivity of the Israelites in Egypt and of their deliverance from there and return to Canaan.
“Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].” (Isaiah 7:14) Matthew 1:22-23 observes that the birth of Jesus fulfilled this prophecy made centuries earlier through Isaiah to Ahaz, the king of Judah. The Old Testament contains many such prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus.
“Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.'” (Luke 22:34) Each of the four Gospels contains this prediction made by Jesus to Peter while they were in the upper room before going to Gethsemane and records the fulfilment of the prediction when they were at the high priest’s house after Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane.
Traditional theists generalize from such examples that God knows the whole future beforehand. However open theists argue that although such examples may show that God is sovereign and can predetermine and thus foreknow whatever He wants to, they don’t justify the conclusion that He knows the whole future beforehand.
In my next post I’ll consider some Biblical passages supporting the Calvinist view that God foreordains all that is going to come to pass.