The Assembly of Heaven—Part 3
The fact that the Lord explains his decisions in his assembly in heaven can help one understand other passages of the Bible.
In Ps 25:18 we read "Look upon my affliction and my pain". This is not a request that God would inform himself about it (for he sees everything) but that he would visibly react to the affliction of the believer. We could reason the same way about the request "Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth" (Ps 52:4). God hears everything, so this is not a request to do something that he does anyways, but rather that he would act in response to what he hears. Furthermore, we read "thou hast seen mine affliction; thou hast known the troubles of my soul" (Ps 31:7)Darby. Here, "thou hast seen" and "thou hast known" is not about God informing himself, for he sees and knows everything, but about God acting in response to what he saw and knew. We also read in Hab 3:2 "in wrath remember mercy". Since God cannot forget anything, the petition is not about recalling some facts, but about acting in a manner that shows mercy. As we see in various passages, God's action on earth follows him "seeing", "hearing", "knowing", or "remembering" something. Here are some examples. God saw that Leah was hated, and then he opened her womb (Ge 29:31). God heard the voice of Ishmael, then he spoke to Hagar, and then he answered their need (Ge 21:17-19). God remembered those on the ark, and then he had the flood waters recede (Ge 8:1-3). In Ex 2:25, right before the passage in which the Lord appears to Moses, we read that "God saw the people of Israel--and God knew"ESV. If the actions of the Lord on earth are caused by him "seeing", "hearing", "knowing", or "remembering", it must be that God "sees", "hears", "knows", or "remembers" before he makes known his decision to act in his heavenly assembly. While God knows, hears, and sees everything, it must be also that the phrases stating that he saw, heard, knew, or remembered are not redundant. A literal interpretation would be that these refer to things that happen in God's presence in the sight of heavenly beings.
In this interpretation, God hears a matter when a report about it is made known in his presence and in the presence of heavenly beings. God does not learn anything new from the report, for he knows all things. However, by causing the report to be heard in his presence, he provides his audience information about the context of a decision that he has made. For example, various passages of the Bible contain the phrase "hear my prayer". Before the Lord answers a prayer, and before he instructs his angels on how the prayer answer should be implemented, the prayer request is heard in his presence and in the presence of heavenly beings. In this way they can know the context of the decision of the Lord.
Reasoning the same way, God sees a matter when facts about it are revealed in his presence and in the presence of angels. The Lord does not learn anything new from it, for he sees all things. However, when the matter is revealed, the angels learn facts that the Lord has taken into account in his decisions. For example, in 2Ch 24:22, when Zechariah was executed, he said "May the LORD see and avenge!"ESV. In order to respond to the injustice done to Zechariah, the Lord would have caused the facts to come to light in his presence in the assembly. In other words, he would have looked at the facts in the presence of his angels, and then he would have acted. Another example can be found in Ge 18:20-21. We read "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me ... ". In this instance the Lord was about to examine the cities. He was revealing facts about those cities in his presence and in the presence of angels. He knew all about those cities, but by confirming the reports about their sin he could show why he was destroying them.
In the context of his heavenly assembly, the Lord knows a matter when the facts are revealed in his presence. While the Lord does not learn anything new from it, for he knows everything, the facts that are revealed are used to explain his actions. For example, Ps 139:23 states "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts". God knows everything, including the heart and the thoughts. The request "Search me" is that God would act in a manner that would reveal the heart. To whom? To those in heaven. The request "try me, and know my thoughts" is that God would act in a manner that will reveal the thoughts. The benefit would be that by revealing the integrity of the believer to the heavenly assembly, the Lord would act accordingly and give him more help.
God is not a man that he should forget. However, at times he may choose to ignore a matter. When we read about God remembering something, we could think about God bringing up a past matter in his heavenly assembly. For example, in Ex 2:24 we read that "God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob". This would imply that God mentioned his covenant in his assembly and acted accordingly.
In addition to the verbs "to see", "to know", "to hear", and "to remember", there are also other verbs that may indicate something done in the context of the heavenly assembly. For example, in 1Sa 13:14 we read that "The LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart ... ". The Lord did not need to search for the right man, for he knew in advance who was the right one. The search was made for the sake of his audience. Questions asked by the Lord also can indicate the context of the heavenly assembly. For example, when the Lord asked "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" in Is 6:8, he knew in advance what the answer will be. However, this question revealed the willingness of Isaiah to go.
When the verbs "to see", "to know", "to hear", and "to remember" are applied to the Lord, we could think of the heavenly assembly context. However, this is not the only way in which they are used. For example, we read in Ga 4:9 that those who know the Lord are known by him. Moreover, to unsaved people the Lord will say "I never knew you" (Mt 7:23). In this context, the verb "to know" refers to knowing someone personally, not about knowing facts about somebody.
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