Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Have you ever thought that God was wrong? Maybe you just didn’t agree with the way life was going or what God was allowing to happen. Such a feeling isn’t the type of emotion we usually share with others. It is, however, the type of emotion that makes us demand answers from God. We want Him to explain Himself – and I’ve been there. I’ve been in that place where I wanted to know what God was doing and why, because I completely did not agree. After all, what kind of god would allow me to experience such a difficult path? Where were my answers? Why was He so silent? But then something interesting happened… the Holy Spirit led me to the book of Job, which led me to a place of conviction. In humility, I had to ask myself: who am I to rebuke the decisions of God? Who was Job?
When we consider Job’s plight, we come to understand that he was a man, who over a short period of time, had lost his children, his wealth, and was experiencing a serious decline in health. When his friends came to visit, they demanded that Job confess his sins – but Job refused. Job was not aware of any hidden sins to which he needed to repent. Nonetheless, he could not fully explain why he found himself in such a predicament. Determined to not lose hope in God, Job called out to Him in prayer. In his distress, Job said:
Then call, and I will answer; Or let me speak, then You respond to me. How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. Why do You hide Your face, And regard me as Your enemy?Job 13:22-24
I understand Job’s frustration, but the irony of Job’s request is that Job had it wrong. Job was not God’s enemy. He was actually quite the opposite. If we go back to Job 1:8, we read God’s description of Job to Satan. He states: 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?” Unfortunately for Job, he wasn’t given any insight into his situation. He could only see what was in front of him and so he chose to speak from a place of pain and anguish. In compassion, God would eventually visit with Job, but God wasn’t coming to merely offer comfort.
Job 38:2-3 gives us the beginning of God’s response to Job. He said: “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” Sometimes we forget that God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts, our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8) We are not equals, and should not assume that God is moving in a certain direction because we cannot understand otherwise. At one point in Job 40:2, God even asks Job: “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”
When I arrived at that scripture, I had to stop and take a moment to reflect. We know that it is okay to reason with Him, as seen by Abraham and Moses, but who are we to think that we are in a place to rebuke God? Proverbs 9:10 tells us that: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This means that true understanding comes from and is of God. Job, in his distress, started to rely on the knowledge that comes from self. Yet, if we give God our respect and trust even when the “whys” are unclear, we will learn to make peace with His sovereignty and thrive in His wisdom.
God’s Request of Abraham
One of the greatest examples in the Bible of this is found in Genesis 22:1-19. Before we reach these scriptures, we learn of a man named Abraham. God promised him that He would make him a father of many nations. There was, however, one problem. Abraham and his wife Sarah struggled to conceive. They even went as far as to make a plan B with a woman named Hagar, but God in His mercy, kept true to His promise. Sarah would bear a son, who was named Isaac. By the time we reach Genesis chapter 22, it seems like everything is going according to plan.
Nevertheless, something strange happens. We read in verses 1 & 2: Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Now, we have a problem. God was asking Abraham to do something contrary to the promise God had previously given him. Furthermore, there no explanation was provided for this request, and honestly, it could feel a bit cruel – but that depends on your perspective.
We find out Abraham’s perspective in Hebrews 11:17-19, where it is written:
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
Abraham already received Isaac in an impossible manner, so why couldn’t God do it again? It was Abraham’s faith that allowed him to believe that God had it right, even though to most, the request would seem so wrong. I believe Abraham surmised that God wouldn’t break His promise, so no matter the detour, the ending was sure. Because of Abraham’s faith, we read in verse 3: So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
The Task At Hand
Abraham believed in God, and God accounted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). His faith allowed him to be obedient, without complaining, because he trusted in God’s outcomes. Too often today, we’ve become ensnared by the logic of this world and what our eyes can see. I’m completely guilty of this. Yet if we only live in this world, it will become all that we know. We’ll rebuke God’s presence, because we no longer understand His character. Job, although not perfect, knew of God’s character and so he cried out, believing he would be heard.
In our own distress, it’s important that we ask God – what does obedience look like to You? What are You asking me to do right now, so that You can take me where I need to go next? Abraham’s primary concern was obedience. It was his faith that allowed him to focus on the task at hand and trust that God would handle the rest. What is your task at hand? What is mine? If we go back to Job, we will see that his task was to arrive at a place of repentance for uttering words he did not understand. Once he did, he was restored. The time has come for me to repent, and maybe you too. Once we’re restored, it will be our faith that allows us to hear the voice of God, no matter the ask.. no matter the situation, and in response, we will honor God with our obedience.