I like to think God has always known us, because it’s his “pleasure and will,” Ephesians 1:5, “to adopt us as his sons (or children).” And that’s not something I see God taking lightly, nor does any parent when planning to adopt a child. Knowing that child really well is very serious and very personal.
Human parents, however, may decide to adopt a child later in life, due to circumstances, like not being able to conceive a child naturally. But with God he “predestined” us to be his adopted children “before the creation of the world,” verse 4. That’s an interesting phrase, because Jesus also used it to describe “the glory you (Father) have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world,” John 17:24.
So, at what point before the creation of the world did the Father begin loving his Son? Was it just before the world existed, or a billion years earlier, or what? Well, the Father has always loved his Son, right? They’ve been Father and Son for eternity (John 10:30). “Before the creation of the world,” then, is really a term meaning “forever.” And Jesus himself supports that too, when he prays back in John 17:5, “now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” In other words, “Can we now get back to what you and I, Father, always had together before this physical creation existed?”
Adopting us as his children, therefore, has always been God’s plan, but has he always known us individually and by name too? It’s not beyond his realm of possibility, because he tells Isaiah that he “makes known the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10). So God has the ability to know everything before it even exists. He could know us individually and by name too, then, couldn’t he? And there are hints of that very personal knowledge he has of us when he tells Jeremiah, “I knew you before you were born” (Jeremiah 1:5). The same is said of Paul too (Galatians 1:15), and of David (Psalm 139:16), and of Isaiah (Isaiah 49:1). God knew all these men before they existed, they were that real to him.
But that’s not so strange on our human level either. A couple dreaming of having children picture having a baby boy or baby girl, and what type of personality each may have, and what names to give them that fit their ancestry and personality. Their children become very real and very personal to them, long before they’re born. Such is the power of their dream of having children.
But are we not God’s “dream” too? According to Paul in verse 5 we are God’s “pleasure and will.” Does he not think about us individually too, then, long before we’re born? And especially when he knows what he’s got in store for us, like “blessing us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” verse 3.
All this is God’s dream, which Jesus knew and prayed about in John 17:24 too, that one day we’ll all be a huge family experiencing being loved by the Father forever like Jesus has always been loved by him.
So, if we’re loved that much, God must know us extremely well.