What is this?
These Sabbath School lesson outlines aid Sabbath School teachers & members in their weekly study
& preparation for Sabbath School classes.
Join the Discussion
Use the form at the bottom of the page to share with other readers your thoughts about this lesson.
Sabbath School Lessons on Glimpses of God
Read the Quarterly Online
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
What about Ellen White?
to learn why I generally do not cite Ellen G. White in the lessons.
Looking for old Sabbath School lessons?
Sabbath School lesson study outlines from previous quarters are saved in the Sabbath School lesson archive
Got questions or comments?
Go to our contact form
and drop us a note.
SabbathSchoolLessons.com operates like grace: it is free, but not without cost.
We're counting on your ongoing financial support to help us continue providing these
lessons to Sabbath School teachers and members around the world. You may cancel your monthly contribution at any time.
Get these Sabbath School lessons by e-mail! Subscribe to the Bible Study of the Week mailing list:
Subscribe in a reader
Lesson 9: The Bible and History *
Introduction: One of the most interesting topics is the apparent
conflict between human free-will and the foreknowledge of God. This
is not one of those subjects that is fun to debate, but makes
absolutely no difference in life. Instead, this is an issue that
goes to the heart of the gospel story. Let me give you an example.
If God knew that Jesus would not sin and would defeat Satan at the
cross, then God did not risk His Kingdom to save us. If God knew
that Jesus would not sin, then how could Jesus have sinned? This
suggests that Jesus was not tempted like we are tempted. Let's
plunge into our study of the Bible and see if we can find some
- God's Omniscience
- Read Isaiah 44:7, Isaiah 46:10 and Daniel 2:28. What does
God say about His foreknowledge? (That He knows the
future and others do not.)
- Read Psalms 139:1-3. What does this say that God knows
about us? (He has a GPS on us! He keeps track of my
- Read Psalms 139:4. What does this say about God? (This is
much different than just keeping track. God knows what I
will say before I say it!)
- God's Omniscience and Human Free Will
- Read Jeremiah 1:4-5. What does this teach us about God's
knowledge about our future?
- Notice that God says to Jeremiah that before he was
born God not only set him apart, but God appointed
him to be a prophet. What does this say about
Jeremiah's free-will? How can Jeremiah be a free
moral agent if God chooses him before he is born,
and pre-selects him for the job of speaking for God?
- Read Genesis 22:1-3. Did God know in advance whether
Abraham would obey? (The texts we have previously studied
would say, "yes.")
- If God did know in advance, did that affect
Abraham's free will?
- Read Genesis 22:9-12. Did Abraham obey God?
- Look again at verse 12. How can God say, "Now I
know" if God already knew? (I've read some "fancy"
explanations for this, but this plainly suggests
that God did not know until Abraham raised the knife
- Read Job 1:6-12. How well does Satan know God? (No doubt
better than any human.)
- If Satan understands that God knows the future, why
would he enter into a contest like this? Would you
bet against someone who knew the future? (The only
reasonable conclusion is that Satan knows that God
does not force our free-will. That means that Job
could have cursed God and Abraham could have refused
to sacrifice Isaac.)
- How important is free-will to you? (Frankly, I would be
glad to give up some aspects of my free-will. In those
areas of my life where I struggle with the same sin, it
would be nice not to have to worry about falling into the
old cycle of sinning and repenting.)
- My guess is that you agree with me. If so, for whom
is free-will important? (Certainly Satan would argue
it is important, otherwise he does not have a "fair"
fight. Free-will is probably most important to God.
He wants people to love Him voluntarily, rather than
being like robots, without free-choice. If God
wanted robots He could have created them in the
- If we all agree that we have free-choice, God does not
control our decisions, and Satan could reasonably wager
with God about a person's future, how can God say that He
perfectly knows the future? (I've got two illustrations
that might help.
- First, think about a chess game. Although the
players have free choice on what moves they will
make, you could list all of the possible moves.
Those moves have consequences, so you could list all
of the possible consequences. Thus a really powerful
computer could "know" what the future is for every
move, without knowing what specific move the player
would make next.
- Second, assume you are sitting in a big, round,
above-ground swimming pool with no water in it. On
the outside of the pool is the history of your life
from beginning to end. You cannot see this while
sitting in the pool, but you can get up and look to
see any point in time in your life. Would it be fair
to say that you "knew the future?" You could always
look and know. But, you could also refrain from
looking. Science suggests that time is curved. If
God stands outside of time, He can move back and
forth and "look" at any point to view the past or
- What is wrong with my illustrations? (Read Isaiah 55:9.
You may have many ideas about what is wrong with my
explanations, but the main problem is a mere human trying
to explain and understand God. We are not up to it!)
- The Importance of Foreknowledge
- Read Daniel 2:25-28. Who does Daniel say is the source of
knowledge about the future? (God. God spoke through
Nebuchadnezzar and through Daniel.)
- Read Daniel 2:31-35. If you are not familiar with this
story, read the rest of the chapter. What does this
statue mean? (It is an illustration of the future. It
predicts the coming rise and fall of world empires right
up until the end of the world.)
- Read Daniel 2:46-47. What did Nebuchadnezzar think was
significant about God's knowledge of the future? (It
demonstrates that we serve the God of gods.)
- Read Daniel 2:19-22. What did Daniel think was
significant about God's knowledge of the future?
- Why is God's knowledge (and control) of the future
important to you?
- Is there any downside to believing that God knows
and controls the future? (If my children are killed
in an car accident, I can blame God.)
- Do you agree? (God's knowledge and control over
the future has to be balanced against human
free-will, our free-choice. There is a tension
between the two.)
- History as Conflict
- Read Revelation 12:7-9. Did God have complete control
over this historical event? (This is an excellent example
of the conflict between free-will and God's control over
- Read Revelation 12:10-12. Why are we in the middle of
"woe?" (Because an angry and energetic Satan is in our
- Read Revelation 12:17. Why do bad things happen on earth?
(Because Satan is loose, angry and has a limited time to
get his way.)
- Let's go back to the story of Job. Could Job have ever
guessed what was the reason for all of the problems in
his life? (I doubt it. The debate between Job and his
friends was over whether Job deserved what was happening
to him. He said he did not, and they said that he
- If Job had known the real reason for his problems,
would it have made it easier for him?
- Should we always view life in the context of the
conflict between good and evil?
- Let's go back to the questions I raised in the
introduction. Could Jesus have sinned? (Yes. If we have
free-will, so did He.)
- Did God know whether Jesus would sin? (He could have
known. He could have known in the "chess board"
sense, or He could have known by looking. But,
whatever the explanation for God's knowledge, His
knowledge does not conflict with free-will.)
- When Jesus was on earth, did He know that He would
not sin? (I doubt that He did.)
- Friend, does this discussion help you? God gives all of
us free-will. God has the future open to Him, and He can
control the future. However, He did not control our
free-will, and that results in some bad things happening
that are not God's will. The most important question for
us is this: will we trust God while understanding that we
live in a sinful, conflicted world?
- Next week: The Promise of Prayer.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.