World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson



Continuing with passages on God's sovereignty over human affairs, this section contains teachings on God's total knowledge of human thoughts and actions. Nothing is hidden from God. There is no place to hide from Him. Hence the believer should be sincere in his thoughts, and he can have confidence in the truthfulness of God's justice. We do not deal here with the question of divine foreknowledge: see Predestination, pp. 689-93. In Buddhism, Jainism, and many schools of Hinduism, the functions of omniscience and omnipotence to judge human affairs are not fulfilled through God's agency, but rather through the omnipresent workings of karma: see Divine Justice, pp. 183-91.

Our Lord! Lo! You know that which we hide and that which we proclaim. Nothing in the earth or in heaven is hidden from God.

Islam. Qur'an 14.38

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways.

Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 139.2-3

Mark well three things and you will not fall into the clutches of sin: know what is above you--an eye that sees, an ear that hears, and all your actions recorded in the book.

Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 2.1

To God belong the East and the West; whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God; God is All-embracing, All-knowing.

Islam. Qur'an 2.115

Qur'an 14.38: Cf. Qur'an 2.284, p. 189; 26.220, p. 752. On angels as God's watchers, see Qur'an 13.10-11, p. 190. Abot 2.1: Cf. Abot 3.20, p. 187. Qur'an 2.115: This has been interpreted by Muslims to mean that God appears to people of every culture and religion, east and west. God, who is one Unity (tawhid), embraces every one of his creatures. Cf. Amos 9.2-4, p. 187.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Christianity. Bible, Hebrews 4.12-13

Surely God--He has knowledge of the Hour; He sends down the rain; He knows what is in the wombs. No soul knows what it shall earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it shall die. Surely God is All-knowing, All-aware.

Islam. Qur'an 31.34

The eyes are not prevented [from seeing] by a hedge; God has nothing hid from him.

African Traditional Religions. Ovambo Proverb (Angola)

You who dive down as if under water to steal, Though no earthly king may have seen you, The King of heaven sees.

African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

In the Book of Songs it is said,

In your secret chamber even you are judged; See you do nothing to blush for, Though but the ceiling looks down upon you.

Therefore the moral man, even when he is not doing anything, is serious; and, even when he does not speak, is truthful.

Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 33

See you not that God knows all that is in the heavens and on earth? There is not a secret consultation between three unless He is their fourth, nor between five unless He is their sixth, nor between fewer or more unless He is in their midst, wheresoever they be.

Islam. Qur'an 58.7

Hebrews 4.12-13: For a similar passage in the Hebrew Bible, see 1 Samuel 16.7; cf. Jeremiah 17.10, p. 189. Doctrine of the Mean 33: Cf. Great Learning 6.1-4, p. 724. Qur'an 58.7: Cf. Matthew 18.20, p. 271, where a similar image is used to make a different point.

The great Ruler of all these worlds, beholds as if from near at hand the man who thinks he acts by stealth: the Gods know all this of him. When one stands or walks or moves in secret, or goes to his lying down or uprising, when two sitting together take secret counsel, King Varuna knows, being there the Third.

This earth belongs to Varuna, the King, and the heavens, whose ends are far apart. Both the oceans are the loins of Varuna, and He is merged within the small water drop.

If one will go away beyond the heavens, still he cannot escape King Varuna; his envoys move about here from the heavens, and, thousand-eyed, they look upon the earth.

King Varuna observes all that which lies between heaven and earth and beyond them; the twinklings of men's eyes have been counted by him; as a dicer the dice, he measures everything.

These fatal snares of thine, O Varuna, that stand stretched seven by seven-and-threefold, let all these catch up the man who tells a lie, but pass by one who speaks the truth.

With a hundred nooses bind him, Varuna, let him not who lies escape thee, Looker on men! Let the mean fellow sit stretching his belly like a cask of which the bands have been cut.

Varuna is that which is the warp, Varuna is that which is the woof, Varuna is of our own land, he is of foreign lands. Varuna is transcendant, he is immanent.

Hinduism. Atharva Veda 4.16.1-8

The sun shines and sends its burning rays down upon us, The moon rises in its glory. Rain will come and again the sun will shine, And over it all passes the eyes of God. Nothing is hidden from Him. Whether you be in your home, whether you be on the water, Whether you rest in the shade of a tree in the open, Here is your Master.

Did you think because you were more powerful than some poor orphan, You could covet his wealth and deceive him, Saying to yourself, "I cannot be seen"? So then remember that you are always in the presence of God.

Not today, not today, not today! But some day He will give you your just reward For thinking in your heart That you have but cheated a slave, an orphan.

African Traditional Religion. Yoruba Song (Nigeria)

Atharva Veda 4.16: Varuna is the Vedic god who represents the divine attribute of justice, weighing sins and also forgiving them. Etymologically, he is related to Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda. Cf. Amos 9.2-4, p. 187. Yoruba Song: On the theme of delayed recompense, see Qur'an 3.176-78, Ecclesiastes 8.10-12, p. 186.

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