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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why it's OK to question God!

How can you have the audacity to question God? How dare you question whether or not the Bible is God's word? How dare you question the Genesis account of the creation of the earth and universe? How dare you question God's motives and purposes? Your questions indicate a lack of faith! Your questions indicate a prideful and rebellious spirit! Why can't you just accept what God and others have revealed about him? You are one of those blasphemous and perverse people that is always learning but is never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth!

Perhaps you've heard some of this kind of stuff from believers in times past? Maybe you've said some of those things to "doubters" before? What about the point that is being made by the folks who employ these questions and statements? Is it wrong to question God?

I would say that it is not only OK to question God, but that God expects questions. Think about it: If God truly exists and is our Creator, isn't it obvious that "He" gave us a brain to use for thinking and reasoning? If it is natural for humans to investigate and explore, then who placed that tendency within us?

You don't think that this natural tendency exists within the human heart? Don't we begin to investigate and explore the world around us as babies? Doesn't an objective review of the evidence seem to indicate that we are somehow programmed or hardwired to investigate and explore. What's on the other side of that mountain or ocean? What's out there in space? Why do things work the way they do? We've been asking these questions since the dawn of human history.

What about the Bible? Does it have anything to say about questioning God? As a matter of fact, it has a great deal to say on the subject! In fact, if it is inappropriate to question God, then most of the great heroes of the Bible are in trouble!

Consider some of these examples from Scripture:

Abraham once asked God: "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son?" (Genesis 15:2, NLT)
On another occasion, he asked: "Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city - will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes?" (Genesis 18:23-24)

When Moses went to investigate the phenomenon of the burning bush, we are informed that he had a great many questions for God:
"Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11) "If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' they will ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what should I tell them?" (Exodus 3:13) "What if they won't believe me or listen to me? What if they say, 'The Lord never appeared to you?" (Exodus 4:1)

When God sent an angel to commission Gideon to rescue the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites, Gideon had a great many questions: "If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn't they say, 'The Lord brought us up out of Egypt'? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites." (Judges 6:13) Then Gideon had the audacity to ask God for some signs that God would do what "He" had promised to do. (Judges 6:17 and verses 36-40) Did God zap him? No, "He" gave Gideon the signs!

The entire book of Job is an account of a man questioning God's motives and fairness in allowing all of the misfortunes and sufferings that have befallen him. Does God zap Job? No, "He" actually answers him!

One of the Psalmists asked: "O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?" (Psalm 10:1) David wrote: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?" (Psalm 22:1) Another wrote: "Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Get up! Do not reject us forever. Why do you look the other way? Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?" (Psalm 44:23-24) Asaph wrote: "O God, why have you rejected us so long? Why is your anger so intense against the sheep of your own pasture?" (Psalm 74:1) and "Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?" (Psalm 77:7-9)

The prophet Habakkuk was full of questions for God: "How long, O Lord, must I call for help?" (Habakkuk 1:2) "Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery?" (1:3) O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal - surely you do not plan to wipe us out?" (1:12) "Will you wink at their treachery? Should you be silent while the wicked swallow up people more righteous than they?" (1:13) "Are we only fish to be caught and killed?" (1:14) "Will you let them get away with this forever?" (1:17)

And then there is that most famous question of all - the one that Jesus Christ asked while he was hanging on the cross. The question that echoed the question of his ancestor David so many years before. In the Gospel according to Matthew, we read: "At about three o'clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' which means 'My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'" (Matthew 27:46)

Hence, if the Bible is your standard, then you would have to conclude that God doesn't mind questions. In fact, I would say that all of the evidence (both inside and outside of Scripture) points to a Divinity that wants us to investigate and explore. I think that God wants us to keep asking questions - It's the only way to grow! And don't be afraid of finding answers - the truth is not a fragile thing. If something is really true, then it will stand investigation and exploration.

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