This is the next installment in an occasional series on answering questions from skeptics.
How can God have emotions, such as jealousy, anger, and sadness, when He is omniscient? Since emotions are reactionary, how can God react when He already knows everything and has a divine plan?
God does have emotions, but does not react. For example, since God is always righteous, He always hates sin, and always has anger for rebelious people. When people are in a state of sin and rebelion they are under God’s anger, but when they repent and ask forgiveness, they move so that they are now under God’s love. God did not move nor react, but since the people changed, they moved from being under one relationship with God to being under a different relationship with God. To the humans, it may have appeared that God changed, when in reality God stayed the same but the people moved so they could see a different aspect of God.
Further, the Bible uses anthropomorphic language, giving human-like descriptions to things about God which are not human. The Bible speaks of God having eyes, arms, and nostrils, but we conclude these are anthropomorphic descriptions, since God is spirit and does not have a body. Likewise, God uses anthropomorphic language to describe God’s ways of dealing with us. For example, after Adam and Eve sinned, they tried to hide themselves. When God asked “Where are you?” He was not trying to find out something He did not know. Rather, He was demonstrating to them that something had changed in their relationship.
Without the use of anthropomorphic language, we would not be able to describe the nature of God, who is an infinite being, so that we, as finite beings, can understand. Even today we use terms like ‘seeing’ to describe understanding.