We introduced a new tough question in our last response. The question is – “Is It Right To Question God?” If you didn’t read that, please take a look at it here to get the context of both the question and our first answer.
Here’s the next part of the question and our thoughts.
You wrote –
“The reason I do not totally get it is because it seems like an ad hominem argument—a smear against the inquirer that distracts from the question.”
I don’t think God was attacking Job’s character in order to distract from the question or undermine Job’s argument. Job lacked revelatory insight from God, which led him under intense suffering to say what he said. God revealed new information through the process of asking Job questions. Even if the information was already available and Job had either not availed himself of that knowledge or ignored the available knowledge, I still don’t think God’s questions would have been ad hominem. God was not attacking Job’s character. He was revealing Job’s lack of knowledge and understanding and giving Job the information he would need to know and understand God in new ways.
What new information did God reveal to Job? One thing was His absolute Omipotence – knowledge of everything, His understanding of all things, His complete wisdom about everything. Another was His Omniscience – being everywhere at the same time. God also revealed His Omnipotence – having all power.
God spent much of His response to Job to address His power as Creator. We know what we know about God’s creative power from what Moses wrote in Genesis, but Job lived centuries before Moses. What we read in Job would have been the earliest revelation concerning creation.
One example is how God revealed to Job that He created animals and humans on the same day –
“Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you.”Job 40:15
God revealed that to Job centuries before He revealed it to Moses (Genesis 1:24-31).
Job is an extraordinary Book of the Bible. Job learned so much about God and His character. Job also learned the nature of God’s justice and the purpose of suffering.
As for whether it is right for humans to question God, I think it matters what is the question. There are questions we can ask and there are those we should not ask. Asking God the right question comes from having the right view of our relationship to God –
“Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His? Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, And array yourself with glory and beauty. Disperse the rage of your wrath; Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him. Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low; Tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together, Bind their faces in hidden darkness. Then I will also confess to you That your own right hand can save you.”Job 40:8-14
If people question God as if they are equal to Him, then their questions are not right. However, if they respond rightly that God is greater than they, then their questions may be right. They will question God as creatures, not as creators. We cannot save ourselves. Only God can save. Right questions come from hearts made right before God.
There is also a second reason: the scary thing behind all these questions is that they challenge the inerrancy of scripture by suggesting contradiction between God being good and fill in the blank. Thus to say “God says in the book of Job that these questions are neither appropriate nor necessary to ask because He is the creator and we are the creation” is a circular argument in a sense, similar to “The Bible is true because it says it is.”
God thought highly of Job. Remember what He asked Satan at the beginning of the Book of Job –
“Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
I believe God allowed Satan to afflict Job because God wanted to reveal Himself to Job in greater detail. If Job’s questions were not appropriate or necessary to ask because God is the creator and Job was the creature, God didn’t have to speak to Job at all. God wanted to instruct Job and bless him even more than before.
We are also beneficiaries from Job’s experience. Even non-believers speak about the ‘patience of Job.’ His story has been well known for thousands of years. Ezekiel spoke highly of Job in his prophecy (Ezekiel 14). James, the brother of Jesus, wrote –
“My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”James 5:10-11
Yes, the Lord is compassionate and merciful. The experience of Job and how God spoke to him are evidence of that.
As for the inerrancy of Scripture, I don’t think questions that suggest contradictions between God being good and what we read about Him in Scripture are problems – unless what He did contradicted His nature and character.
I believe God is Perfect and that includes His Word. King David wrote these words in a song –
“As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”1 Samuel 22:31
The way of the Lord is perfect and His Word is proven. That makes the case, I believe, for the lack of error in what God says and does.
There are many things in the Scriptures that are hard to understand, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be understood. It often takes time and great effort to get to the root of truth and uncover its many dimensions.
I do agree that to say the Bible is true because it says it’s true sounds like circular reasoning. However, if the Bible is true then saying it’s true because it says it’s true is not circular reasoning. It’s simply a statement of fact. Truth begets truth.
Challenging God’s ‘goodness’ is truly a human challenge because of how people understand goodness. We view goodness through our human lens, but what if we were able to view the goodness of God through the divine lens? Would that make a difference in our understanding of Divine Goodness? I think it would.
The question then becomes how humans can look at anything through God’s eyes. How do we do that when God’s view is so much higher and larger than ours? As God told Isaiah the prophet –
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:8-9
While those words are helpful, we gain a broader understanding of how God’s lens is different than the human lens by searching the context. It addresses the need of humanity compared to the resources of God –
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you— The sure mercies of David. Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, A leader and commander for the people. Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, And nations who do not know you shall run to you, Because of the Lord your God, And the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.’ Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways,And My thoughts than your thoughts. ‘For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. ‘For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; And it shall be to the Lord for a name, For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”Isaiah 55
God calls humanity to Himself through His perfect Word. God is our resource for salvation and abundant living. I believe we can have full trust in the inerrancy of God’s Word. In those things that appear difficult in Scripture, we focus our best efforts to discover the truth. It may take a lifetime to find much of the truth that is there waiting for us to discover, but the effort is well worth the discovery.
We are able to see through God’s eyes when we humble ourselves to His greatness and submit to His Truth. As Jesus said to Thomas –
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”John 14:6
We see truth as we see Jesus –
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:1-2
Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. If we want to see through God’s eyes, we look through the eyes of Jesus.
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”Hebrews 1:1-4
Thank you so much for your question! We hope this is helpful in your walk with Christ.
Previous Tough Questions
You can read answers to other tough questions from Christian teens here.
In the next part of our special series, Tough Questions From Christian Teens, we will answer the question –
Where Do Christians Go When They Die?
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.