The Bible — especially in the Psalms — overflows with great awe at the wondrous works of a marvelous God. Israel’s King David wrote: “I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works” (Psalm 9:10).
Psalms 72:18; 86:10; 105:2; 119:27; and 145:5 declare that God does wondrous things and wondrous works. Psalms 77:14; 89:5; 107:24; and 136:4 extol God’s great wonders in creation and in human history. David looked at the heavens and was awe-struck that a God who created the vast expanse of the heavens could care at all for man, who is but made of dust (Psalm 8:34; 103:19). How much more should men today — with all the powerful instruments we have devised to probe ever farther into the intricate details of our universe — stand in awe of God’s wondrous and marvelous works?
The apostle Paul said that, with the wealth of knowledge mankind has piled up about the universe, our earth and all of creation in it, we have no excuse to deny God’s existence and His wondrous works (Romans 1:20). Paul was in awe about our marvelous God: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and His ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33).
Yet, for all His wonders and marvelous works, His unfathomable wisdom, could God ever marvel at mere human beings, who — unlike Him who is Spirit — are made but of the dust of the earth? The Bible says, God could — and does!
In at least two instances, Jesus — the God of the Old Testament who became the human Jesus of the New Testament [see The True Christ] — marveled at the different reactions by people to His life, His works, and His message.
Mark 6:6 records that Jesus marveled at the unbelief of His family, friends and acquaintances in Nazareth, where He grew up. This, despite all the miracles, signs and wonders He had done among the Jewish people in their day. On another occasion, Jesus marveled at the unusual faith in Him which a Gentile (a non-Israelite), a Roman centurion, showed (Matthew 8:10). Jesus remarked: “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
Jesus could possibly have marveled also at the persistent faith of a “woman of Canaan” who wanted Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). As well Jesus could have marveled at the lack of gratitude on the part of the nine Jewish lepers whom He had healed, along with a Samaritan leper, who alone went back to thank Him (Luke 17:12-19).
Did Jesus not know enough?
But, why did Jesus marvel at all at whatever man does or does not do? Did He not know enough to tell ahead of time what a man could and would say or do? Is this a case against God being “all-knowing” or “omniscient?”
Isaiah 46:10 says that God knows and declares “the end from the beginning” of things. John 2:25 declares that Jesus “knew what was in man.” He could, in fact, “read” what was in the mind and heart of people (Matthew 9:4; 12:25; Luke 5:22; 6:8; 11:17). Jesus knew His disciple Peter enough to predict that he would deny Him three times — and Peter did (Matthew 26:34, 69-75).
How, then, could Jesus have been “surprised” enough to marvel at the unbelief, ingratitude or disloyalty of some, and the unusual faith of others?
Was it because Jesus was partly human — He was “the Son of Man” (Matthew 8:20; 9:6, etc.) — that He didn’t know enough? After all, Jesus admitted that He Himself did not know the exact hour when He would come back to earth in order to set up God’s kingdom here (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). Only God the Father — at the time Jesus said this — knew when.
Rather than diminishing His divinity, the declaration by Jesus in Matthew 24:36 shows that God the Father has the greater stature than Him, as He said (John 14:28). There are things that God the Father has reserved only for Himself to know. When His disciples asked Him when He would restore the kingdom to Israel, Jesus replied: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:6-7).
Paul explained that at the end [of the ages] — after Jesus will have put an end to all [human and Satanic] rule and authority and power, Jesus will reign “till He has put all enemies under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:24),” and “…then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him [God the Father] who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (Verse 28).
When we consider The Whole Counsel of God (Acts 20:27), we can begin to understand that there are things God has kept Himself from knowing — as a personal choice. As I will explain, this has to do with how God created mankind as a “free moral agent” — with freedom to choose the path man would take or not take.
In God’s image
Hebrews 1:22-3 says that Jesus, as the Son of God [the Father], is “the express image of His [the Father’s] person. The word “image” is rendered from the Greek karakter — where the English word “character” is taken from. The character — the unchanging and enduring quality — of God the Father has been manifested and reflected by His Son Jesus. The apostle John testified that Jesus had come to “declare” the Father — to make Him known as never before (John 1:18). Jesus so perfectly reflected His Father’s character that He said: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also…He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:7, 9). About the message which He brought to mankind, Jesus said: “…the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent me” (Verse 24).
God created mankind also in His image or likeness (Genesis 1:26) — but, as we can understand from the past millennia of human history, only in the physical, material sense — not yet in the spiritual sense. Made of the earth, and with a “spirit” that understands only the “things of man,” mankind is unable to understand the things and the thoughts of God (1 Corinthians 2:11, 14). “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” God says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Man was created with a will like that of God — to choose between two opposite ways: the way of good and the way of evil, as God has laid them out in His Word. If God had not given man those choices — if man had no choice at all but just one — man wouldn’t even need to exercise any choice at all! Man would not be free at all! Man would as well be a robot or machine that can only do as its maker has designed it to — no choice.
But, no, God made man with freedom to choose. That is why He gave our first parents the choice between eating the fruit of all the edible trees and herbs in the Garden of Eden (and stay safe) — and eating the forbidden fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” with death as penalty (Genesis 2:16-17). God well knew that Adam and Eve could and would choose to eat the forbidden fruit, but He did not restrain them from eating it — and they did, as the famous story goes [see: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]. God presented His people Israel with the choice between the way of blessings and the way of cursing, between life and death (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28; 30:19-20). Sadly, most of the children of Israel chose the way of cursing and death! [God has a plan to save most if not all of Israel. See: God’s Kingdom and Israel.]
In order for man to develop the same character and quality of God, man has to undergo a lot of tests — as did Abraham and all the men and women of faith (Acts 14:22; 1 Peter 1:6-7, etc.) [see: The Children of Abraham and The Flaming Sword East of Eden]. God wants to confirm what is really in the heart of man before He will allow any man to come into His kingdom — to become one of His spiritual children, children perfected in His spiritual image. [See: Are We All God’s Children?]
Those called and chosen (“elected”) to salvation now are thus undergoing a process whereby they will “conform to the [spiritual] image of His [God the Father’s] Son,” Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29; see also Colossians 3:10). [See: Predestination and This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.] They are now in the process of “regeneration” — begun at the time of one’s “conversion” [as one understands the true gospel of Christ, repents of one’s sin, becomes baptized, receives God’s Spirit and lives a righteous life to conform to the image of Christ] and culminating at Jesus’ return, when one will be changed [or resurrected, as the case will be for those who die in Christ] from mortal to immortal (Titus 3:5; Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 15:50-55, 21-23; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). God gives His chosen ones all the help so that they can overcome Satan and sin [see: God’s Spirit and Obedience and The Higher Law of the Spirit].
God wants to make sure that only those human beings who will follow and obey His perfect ways will have the right to partake of the tree of life (Revelation 22:14) — who will have immortality and everlasting life.
The incredible potential of man
The late founder and pastor-general of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, wrote a book entitled The Incredible Human Potential [see: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE , select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the book with that title]. In this book Mr. Armstrong explains how, as “children of God,” those made immortal as God is immortal will have all the potential that God Himself has. Mr. Armstrong said that they “will be God as God is God.”
Now, that statement has kicked up a lot of controversy. On the one hand, it is true that mankind will never be “God as God is God” in the sense that man has a beginning (creation by God or birth by woman), whereas God has no beginning nor end of days — is eternal or ever-living. [See Hebrews 7:1-3 for an example of God’s “nature” as depicted by Melchizedek. He was not a “man,” as Verse 4 is erroneously translated from the Greek houtos , which is better rendered as “this One;” the Greek word for “man” is anthropos, not used here, as in Hebrews 2:6.] That is a mystery that we cannot fully comprehend now, but hopefully, in God’s time, we will. [See: The Mystery of Melchizedek Unlocked!]
In another sense, yes, mankind made divine through a resurrection or change to immortality will be “God as God is God.”
Man’s God-like potential to imagine and “create” things new [from matter, but using the faculties that man’s spirit is capable of as God gave it] has become more evident in our times today than ever before.
For example, many in the past generations, like me of the 1960s, marveled and even were awe-struck at the invention of the tape-recorder/player and tape records. It was a giant leap from the bulky turn-table and wax records, both now mostly junked or made into museum pieces, curiosities for young generations, or nostalgia pieces for old folks.
Before long, the cassette recorder/player and cassette tapes became the craze. These were amazingly lighter, more compact and more portable. But it didn’t take too long either for cassette tapes and equipment to become passe.
Then came the compact disc [CD] record and player. Many [like me!] thought these had to be the ultimate achievement of science and human technology. But no. MP3s and USB sticks came along with the computers — which themselves have become more and more “miniaturized” over the decades.
What’s next? It’s anybody’s guess — or imagination!
As God observed, in Genesis 11:6, “…now nothing that they [human beings] propose to do will be withheld from them.”
Man to do marvelous things!
God created mankind in order to become His children — just like Him in many ways. But God wants to make sure that, before He grants mankind His divine powers, man will only use that power for good and righteous purposes. It is a tragic irony that, with every advance in technology, man has chosen rather to use it for evil and wicked purposes — to benefit only the self and one’s group, to the disadvantage and even the destruction of others.
God will not have a repeat of what happened to the archangel Lucifer, who turned wicked and has become Satan — God’s adversary or enemy. [See: Where Did the Devil Come From?]
God is a holy and righteous God because He has willed, has set His mind, not to ever sin — not to go against His own principles. He has not sinned, does not sin, cannot and will never sin! [See: The Divine Prerogatives.] So must man exercise his free will to never sin but to follow God’s righteous, holy and perfect ways! [See: Why Is the “Unpardonable Sin” Unpardonable?]
Thus made “perfect” in his spirit (Hebrews 12:23) — his attitude and conduct — man will do marvelous things as God does! God the Father Himself and Jesus Christ will marvel at what good and wondrous things mankind, made divine and perfect, can and will do! What an awesomely exciting future to look forward to!
Meanwhile, as the apostle Peter admonished: “But as [He who] called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy'” (1 Peter 1:15-16), and “…what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11).
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.