Maybe it’s because the school year is winding down and my daughters have been facing tests and final exams. Or maybe I need more in-person conversations instead of spending so much time at home lately! But I’ve recently been intrigued by questions, especially those found in the Bible.
Two weeks ago I asked how you would answer seven questions that Jesus asked of others when He was here on earth. Today I’m in the Old Testament, looking at questions that people asked of God. And it’s so interesting to me that the questions they asked are the very same ones that you and I likely ask today.
Here are four of them.
Are You really good?
“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” ~Genesis 18:23, 25
Here Abraham is pleading with God prior to the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. He knows his nephew Lot and his family are in the city, and Abraham is asking God to spare it for the sake of the righteous people who live there.
I love what this tells me about Abraham’s relationship with God. He asks the question in verse 25 already knowing the answer. He is totally confident that God will do right and will be faithful to what He promises Abraham.
In a conversation just a few verses earlier, God told Abraham and Sarah that they will finally have the son they have waited many, many years for, the one who will become a great nation. The delay in seeing that promise fulfilled has not – at least as he pleads for Lot’s salvation – dampened Abraham’s faith.
I believe that God is good. Do you? Have you experienced it for yourself? It reminds me of Psalm 34:8. “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
Why did this happen?
“And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?” ~Joshua 7:7
The children of Israel, after a glorious victory at Jericho, have just been defeated by the small city of Ai. We can read ahead a few verses and see why God allowed it to happen. But Joshua doesn’t yet know about the sin in the camp.
Then there’s Gideon. The Lord sends an angel to tell Gideon the Lord is with him. Here’s Gideon’s response.
“And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” ~Judges 6:13
He, like Joshua, is asking why the current situation is the way it is.
And don’t forget Elijah. God led him to a widow to sustain him through a famine. While he’s staying with her, her only son dies. Elijah goes to God.
“And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?” ~1 Kings 17:20
In the case of Joshua and Gideon, we find the answer to the “why” in Scripture. It’s because of sin and God’s judgment that these things have happened. In Elijah’s case, we can read what the widow told Elijah after God breathes life back into her son.
“And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.” [verse 24]
Perhaps the “why” here was to increase this widow’s faith in God and confirm to her that Elijah was His prophet.
Is there any one of us who’s never asked God why? I have, and on more than one occasion. Maybe the “why” is eventually revealed to us or perhaps we never understand.
Here’s where I can run back to Proverbs 3:5, which reminds me to trust God with all my heart and not to lean on my own understanding. That’s all I can do when I don’t understand why. Trust God…and believe God is good (which takes us back to our first question above!)
“How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?” ~Psalm 13:1
Isn’t that one of the overarching questions in our lives, especially when times are hard? How long until this trial is over? How long do I have to suffer? How long until my prodigal child returns to her faith?
We can usually endure something if we just know the end date. If we’re confident that relief will come in two weeks, we can tough it out. It’s the not knowing how long it will drag on that is mentally stressful. (Truly that’s been one of the hardest parts for me of dealing with the coronavirus and its restrictions!)
I can’t give you a verse that answers this question specifically for you. I do know that God promises not to submit us to temptation longer than we’re able to bear it without an escape. [1 Corinthians 10:13]
And I know that difficulties are a part of life, but they do eventually end. The David who could ask “how long” could also see the joy that follows.
“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” ~Psalm 30:5
Who am I?
“And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” ~Exodus 3:11
God appears to Moses in the burning bush and tells him that he’s being sent to deliver the children of Israel from Pharaoh in Egypt. Moses doesn’t think that he’s the person for the task!
God’s answer in the next verse? “Certainly, I will be with thee…” That right there, that’s the only qualification Moses needed for the task, large as it was. And that’s the only one we need to do whatever God’s calling us to do.
Who you and I are is precious to God. He knit us together and knows all our thoughts [Psalm 139:2, 15] We are children of God [John 1:12] and the temple of the Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 3:16] He has good plans for us. [Jeremiah 29:11] So let’s live today knowing who we are in Christ!
I’m thankful we serve a God who hears our questions and has given us His Word to direct us as we seek answers!