God is all-knowing. We know that. We teach and proclaim that. What then do we do with a verse that declares that men did something that never entered God’s mind?
Jeremiah 19:4-6 – 4 Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, 5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind— 6 therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
Does verse 5 above indicate that there is something God did not foresee? Did God miss the depth of man’s evil? No, not at all.
Contextually, this passage comes in the middle of Jeremiah’s promise of judgment from God upon the people. God lists for the people his grievances against them. There are some who not only worshipped false gods, but who also added the horrible evil of child sacrifice.
In that context, God says that he did not command that the people sacrifice their children, nor did it enter his mind. He is not saying that it did not come to his knowledge that they would do such a thing. Instead, God is letting them know that it would never have entered his mind to command such a thing. God is not going to be pleased by the evil ritual of child sacrifice. Such is at the darkest root of mankind’s heart.
What do we learn here? Of course, we learn that there is nothing in Scripture that points to there being anything God did not know. We also see that God is not at all like the evil and false gods created in the minds of men or inspired by demons. God does not command humans to practice vile things like child sacrifice in order to gain his attention or blessing. And we learn that the human heart is desperately sick, dark and depraved. Mankind, left to ourselves, will go to places God would never command in order to find ways to manipulate deity. But there is only one way to salvation, by grace through faith in Christ.