Why Does God Need to "Investigate?"



I've already posted quite a few blogs on the Investigative Judgment (IJ) doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist church and how I feel about it in light of the Bible but I thought I would re-visit the concept. One question that pops to mind when you study the IJ is, Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything? My answer is: Yes! God knows everything and He does not need to investigate anything. So why the IJ doctrine? Allow me to share with you a few Bible stories. At the end of each of them I'm going to ask those same two questions: Why does God need to investigate? and, Doesn't He already know everything?

Story 1: Adam and Eve


In Genesis 3 we read the story of the fall of man. As soon as Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit the Bible says that, "the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'" Adam answers by saying that they hid because they were naked to which God replies, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? Adam then blames Eve and turning to her God asks, "What is this you have done?" 

Four questions are present here. Now, if God is all-knowing, why did He ask these questions? Whats more, each of them is a question of "investigation." So my question is, Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?

Story 2: Tower of Babel

After the flood the people of earth decided to build a tower that would reach to heaven so that they would have a place to go in case of another flood. Genesis 11:5 says that, "the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building."

Why did God "come down"? If I am in my bedroom upstairs and I hear a strange sound downstairs I'm going to go down to investigate or find out what it is. So again I ask, Why did God come down? To make matters more interesting the Bible says He came down "to see". Here, once again, we see God investigating. But why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?

Story 3: Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodom and Gomorrah were notorious for their wickedness. If these two cities were around today they would make Las Vegas look like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show.The cities became so bad that God had to destroy them. However, before He judged the cities He investigated first. The Bible says in Genesis 18: 20-21, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

Here we read that God has heard the cries of people who are fed up with the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah. Now instead of saying, "I know that already and now I'm going to judge them" God essentially says I'm going to go down there and check it out for myself to see if its as bad as they say it is. He then sends two angels into the city and after the men of Sodom tried to rape them He judged the cities and destroyed them.

Once again I ask, Why did God need to investigate? Didn't He already know everything?

Story 4: The Passover
God told Israel that He was about to judge Egypt. The Israelite s were to put blood on the door posts and that when He passed by a home He would look to see if the blood was there. If it was He would pass over and if it wasn't He would judge that household. 
Doesn't God know men's hearts? Didn't He already know who was His and who wasn't? Then why the blood? And further, once the blood was there why did He have to look to see if it was? Didn't He already know who put the blood on the door frame and who didn't? Again, Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?

Story 5: The Fall of Jerusalem

The Fall of Jerusalem also serves as an example of this. Even though Israel had become so wicked that it was impossible to hide it God investigated before He judged them through the Babylonians. God said in Zephaniah 1:12, "At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent..."

Search Jerusalem with lamps? Why? Isn't it obvious that they are evil? Don't you know all things Lord? Then why "investigate" to see who is wicked and who isn't? Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?

Conclusion

Whats evident about all of these stories is that God investigates before He judges. If God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow then why would the final judgment be any different? Of course God doesn't "need" to investigate. He already knows everything! Then why does He? Because God cares about us. Investigating before judging is Gods way of speaking our language. Its His way of condescending to our finite level and meeting us where we are. It's His way of saying, "I don't demand that you trust me, I prove that you can." God is transparent. He has nothing to hide. The investigation is not for Gods benefit, its for ours. Its for all his creatures.

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