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Question and Answer

Why did God ask Jacob for his name? If God is omniscient, wouldn't He already know?

You are right; God is omniscient. He knows completely, perfectly, and exhaustively all things from all eternity, past, present, future, potential, and probable. Thus, when God asks us questions, He never asks so He can be informed (Gen. 3:9–13; Gen. 4:6, 9–10; John 13:12). Rather, He questions us for His own redemptive and teaching purpose (Job 38–41). In Genesis 32:27, God asked Jacob for his name, and Jacob answered: “Jacob.” It is helpful to understand that Jacob’s name means cheater, deceiver, or trickster. So, when Jacob said to God, “My name is Jacob,” he was doing more than merely stating his given name. Actually, Jacob was confessing that he was a deceiver, a liar, a cheater, and a manipulator. Jacob’s confession was a significant moment in his life and gave Him a new understanding of the heart of God. To us, it’s an encouragement to be open to our heavenly Father’s questions.

BY Dr. Winfred O. Neely

Dr. Winfred Neely is currently working towards his third degree in at the University of Bristol, England. An ordained minister and full-time professor of pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute, Winfred has served churches across the City of Chicago, the near west subburbs, and Senegal, West Africa. He and his wife Stephne have been married for forty years and have four adult children and nine grandchildren. 

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