7 And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.
One of the attributes of God is omniscience, which means that “he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it” (2 Nephi 9:20). This omniscience is not limited by time: “All things are present before mine eyes,” He said to the prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 38:2). And in D&C 130:7, He describes a globe where the angels live, “where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future.” So God knows what will happen in the future. This is not surprising, but it is hard for us to comprehend, because we are definitely bound by time.
We remember the past with some degree of accuracy, although we certainly don’t remember everything. We are reasonably aware of our present circumstances, although we frequently recognize our limitations in both perception and discernment. But the only way we interact with the future is by imagining it. We can plan and we can dream, but we can’t know what will happen. None of us can. It is only when the future becomes the present and then the past that it becomes real to us.
But God is not bound by these limitations. Alma tells that “all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto man” (Alma 40:8). I’m not sure how literally to take this statement. Does time not exist at all for God? Is it purely a mortal phenomenon? Can He move freely through time? These possibilities are beyond my comprehension. The plan of salvation itself has a sequence, which implies that time is an eternal reality, not just a characteristic of our mortal experience. For myself, I interpret Alma’s statement as an affirmation of God’s omniscience: all is as one day with God because all things are present before His eyes. He knows what will happen in the future, so the constraints we associate with time don’t exist for Him. He lives with a full knowledge not only of what has already happened and of what is happening now, but also of what will happen. Truth, as he tells us in D&C 93:24, is not only “a knowledge of things as they are, and as they were,” but also “as they are to come.”
Setting goals (and New Year’s resolutions) would certainly be easier if we had that kind of 360-degree view! But the point is that, in a limited sense, we already do. What does it mean to have faith or to have hope? Doesn’t it mean that we trust what God tells us about the future? He knows all things, including what will happen tomorrow and next week and next year. Are we willing to seek His help and then to follow the guidance that He provides, with the humble recognition that His comprehension of truth is perfect and complete? Can we acknowledge as the apostle Paul taught that “we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12)? Can we follow Mormon’s example in the passage above and take action based on our confidence that God knows “all things which are to come?”
I am grateful for a God who knows everything: past, present, and future. I will remember that reality today as I pray to Him, as I plan for the future, and as I fulfill the duties of the day.