Does God truly have exhaustive foreknowledge or could it be that God knows some things, but not everything?
There are numerous scriptures that do not support exhaustive foreknowledge. Many claim that these scriptures are anthropomorphic, that such phrases occur intentionally to reach down to the small thinking human beings so that we "feel" a relationship with God. If this is so, then God seems to be telling untruths regarding our relationship with Him. Let's examine some of these verses and phrases used in scripture and try to make them flow with exhaustive foreknowledge.
Definition of anthropomorphism (from Merriam Webster 1828) : an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics.
Jeremiah 26:2-3 NRSV
(2) Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORD's house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the LORD; speak to them all the words that I command you; do not hold back a word.
(3) It may be that they will listen, all of them, and will turn from their evil way, that I may change my mind about the disaster that I intend to bring on them because of their evil doings.
God tells Jeremiah to speak to Judah regarding an upcoming judgement that God has decided on. God seems to be implying that He does not actually know what Judah will actually do. If God truly knows already that they will not turn then what is the point of this passage? Notice that God does not stop at saying "it may be" that they will listen, but that IF they do listen and turn from evil THEN God will change His mind about the judgement. So, we must ask, is this some complicated passage that God gives us where He really already knows but is trying to act as if there is some real relationship? When a true relationship is maintained, there are "if" and "then" situations. What is God's intent? Could it be that in this particular situation God really does not know and is hoping for a different outcome where He might not need to judge?
Ezekiel 12:2-3 NRSV
(2) Mortal, you are living in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, who have ears to hear but do not hear;
(3) for they are a rebellious house. Therefore, mortal, prepare for yourself an exile's baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight; you shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house.
The phrase of focus on this passage from Ezekiel is in bold letters. Specifically "perhaps" and "though". What does God mean by "perhaps"? If I were to use such a sentence with someone then they would understand that I do not really know the outcome, that maybe it will happen, maybe it will not. If God has exhaustive foreknowledge then this verse is certainly out of place, it should not even be in the Bible. God seems to be saying that He really is not sure whether or not they will understand that exile is coming. Further, God uses a little sarcasm in saying that they are rebellious so they probably will not understand.
If you asked a person who is generally lazy to do some work, you might wonder if they really will do it but at the same time tell yourself they probably won't do it because they are usually lazy. Isn't that what God is saying here? God knows Israel because He has been in an ongoing relationship with them. God has learned enough about them to know at this point that they will most likely not understand but, there is still a chance. Wait, did I just say God learned something? Yes, for another time though.
I continue with this look at exhaustive foreknowledge soon. Next we will look at "I thought" and that sometimes something may go farther than God expected. Really? Yes, really. Please understand that these passages in no way lessen the power and might of our all loving God! They truly show just the opposite! God can have an open relationship with creation and still things will work according to His great plan of the ages! That my friend is real power, real love.