“Know All Their Works”

K. Douglas Bassett

(Isa. 29:15; 2 Ne. 28:9; D&C 38:1–2; refer in Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Bassett, to 2 Ne. 9:20)

Not only does our Heavenly Father see all we do, but he sees us with such eyes of love that Enoch, who saw God’s reaction to sin in the time of Noah in vision, asked of God in surprise, “How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou are holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?” (Moses 7:29).
Explaining that he saw the terrible, inescapable consequences of unrepented and unforgiven sins, God said to Enoch: “And the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?” (Moses 7:37).
God knows all we have done. And while he cannot look on sin with the least degree of allowance, he looks on us with compassion beyond our capacity to measure. When the scripture speaks of the whole heavens weeping, I think of another picture, given to us by the Prophet Joseph Smith. This is what he said: “The spirits of the just are … blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith.” (History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2d ed. rev., 7 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 6:52.)
These words pain me when I think of those I have loved and who loved me who are surely now among the spirits of the just. The realization that they feel pain for us and that the God of Heaven weeps because of our unrepented sin is surely enough to soften our hearts and move us to action.

(Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God [Salt Lake City: Deseret book Co., 1997], 122–23.)

In the beginning, God, the father of our spirits, “formed man of the dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7). Because the Hebrew verb ysr (“to form”) is often used to describe pot-making, the original image intended may have been the Lord shaping man out of the clay. Those who seek to hide their counsels from their Creator rationalize, “Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?” (Isa. 29:15). The Lord responds to such people, “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?” (Isa. 29:16). The irony and ultimate futility of the creation’s impudence towards its Creator is one of Isaiah’s favorite themes. In Isaiah 45:9 there is a similar image: “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” And in Isaiah 10:15 the Lord says, “Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?” In its context, Isaiah 29:15–24 is directed against those who would resist, based on the wisdom of men, God’s marvelous work and wonder.

(David Rolph Seely, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4, ed. Kent P. Jackson [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 124.)

The prophets, both ancient and modern, have clearly taught that God knows everything. Psalm 147:5 reads: “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” In Doctrine and Covenants 38:1–2, Jesus Christ introduces himself in these words: “Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM … The same which knoweth all things.” (See also Alma 26:35.) The Prophet Joseph Smith also clearly taught this doctrine, as is indicated in his “Lectures of Faith” which appeared in the early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants:
… God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fulness and perfection dwell; who is omnipotent [all-powerful], omnipresent [everywhere present] and omniscient [all knowing]; without beginning of days or end of life; and that in him every good gift and every good principle dwell… .
… Without the knowledge of all things, God would not be able to save any portion of his creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which he has of all things, from the beginning to the end, that enables him to give the understanding to his creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in him. (“Lectures on Faith,” Lecture 2, paragraph 2; Lecture 4, paragraph 11.)
Joseph Fielding Smith quotes his grandfather, Hyrum Smith, as having said: “I would not serve a God that had not all wisdom and all power.” Then Joseph Fielding Smith continues, “Do we believe that God has all ‘wisdom’? If so, in that, he is absolute. If there is something he does not know, then he is not absolute in ‘wisdom,’ and to think such a thing is absurd.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:5.) President Smith indicates possible areas in which God is progressing (glory, honor, etc.), and then concludes, “Do you not see that it is in this manner that our Eternal Father is progressing? Not by seeking knowledge which he does not have, for such a thought cannot be maintained in the light of scripture. It is not through ignorance and learning hidden truth that he progresses, for if there are truths which he does not know, then these things are greater than he, and this cannot be” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:7).

(Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of The Book of Mormon [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 138–39.)

Commentaries on Isaiah: In the Book or Mormon