Q Can God move forward and backward in time? Did he know that Eve would eat the apple before he created her?D., via cyberspace
A This is a great New Year's question because it's about time and God. As the Christian/secular year ends (not the Chinese, Muslim, Hindu, or Jewish New Year), we make New Year's resolutions. This secular custom reflects the deep human need to add a moral and spiritual dimension to the passage of chronological time.
This need began when religions began. The marking of the seasons became the occasion for marking sacred time. The birthing season for flocks in spring was overlaced with the sacred story of the Exodus at Passover in Judaism, and the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ at Easter. Fall harvest time became the feast of Tabernacles; the darkness of winter solstice became the festival of lights of Hanukkah and Christmas.
Even though Muslims allow the sacred month of Ramadan to float through the year by not correcting the 113/4 day difference between lunar and solar calendars, they still link it to the natural passage of time through their blessing: "May you celebrate Ramadan during every season of the year." This produced a duality in time.
There is what the Greeks and later the Christians called "chronos," which means the natural and equal slicing of time into tick tock moments, each of which is equal to the other. Above chronos is what was called "kairos," which is time filled with special moments not equal to ordinary moments that surround them. In Hebrew, this distinction is captured by the words, "kodesh" and "hol," which are translated as "holy" and "profane."
Sacred time also has two dimensions. There is the cycle of holidays that creates the collective rhythms of sacred time during the year. There is also a personal dimension to sacred time that marks rites of passage from one stage of life/death to another.
The times of birth, adulthood, marriage and death are all ritually sanctified moments of personal sacred time. They define passage of our personal lives just like holidays define passage of our collective lives. The secular New Year has religious origins but has become a completely secular marking point for our culture. It's revealing that secular customs are not nearly as rich and compelling as religious rituals. Our secular New Year's rituals are exhausted after a drunken New Year's Eve party and some college bowl games. All that does not even equal one singing of "Silent Night" or one Passover seder meal.
So (no, I have not forgotten your question) what does God have to do with all these religious manipulations of time?
God cannot change the passage of time, or else the universe would have no order, and God is the creator/orderer of the universe. What God can do is teach us there are no moments of time that are truly profane, ordinary or insignificant. There are only moments in time that we have not sanctified. Our sanctification of time is made possible by our free will, God's greatest gift to us as human beings made in God's image.
This comes to the part of your question about Eve in the Garden of Eden. God did not know and could not know what Eve would do in response to the command to Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
If God did know what Eve would do, then she would not have been free to choose to do any other thing. That's not freedom, and without freedom of the will there is no moral accountability. We're not morally responsible for what we had no choice about doing. Without freedom of the will, we're not fully human, and God wants us to be fully human so we can freely discover and love God.
Our freedom is a gift and a chosen limitation of God's omnipotence. Put simply, God knows everything except what we will do next. That's why the Bible clearly states all God can do for us is to set before us in love and wisdom the choices that will determine, over time, our destiny and the destiny of our planet.
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:
therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."
-- Deuteronomy 30:19 (KJV)May the New Year be filled with holiness and God and many ways to choose life. Happy New Year!