On Challenging God
by Lonnie Lane
As our conversation continued I spoke about knowing God while he talked of church and how his family is active in church. “But what about you?” I asked. He then voiced some very real questions about God as to why suffering exists in the world. He is a doctor, after all, in order to help alleviate suffering. “When I meet God,” he stated emphatically, seemingly assured that he would and that he’d have opportunity to speak his mind to Him about why He allows suffering, “I’ve got some things I intend to say to Him,” he said meaning he’d like to tell God that he doesn’t like the way He is running the world.
Many years ago a friend of mine was involved in what she identified as a “philosophically based prison program.” The premise was based upon an eclectic blend of “isms,” of different Eastern philosophies and ideas of god (small ‘g’) which provided prisoners with a new sense of self-identity and of reality that would sensitize them to goodness. Again, the concept of “being good” was presumably the solution, in this case to the criminal mind. She was, with genuine altruistic intent, going into prisons to teach and impart this philosophy.
I had recently become a Believer in Jesus having had my own sense of reality greatly altered when I “met God.” He was nothing of what I thought He might be. As a Jew for one thing, I never expected Jesus to be God! But I also knew I met with a power for “goodness” that was emphatically beyond any ability of my own to “be good.” Upon sharing my new-found faith with this friend, she told me, “If I ever meet Jesus Christ there are some serious things I have to say to Him, eye to eye, on equal footing.” I knew she meant the suffering the Jews have endured in His name, but also of why evil exists at all. But I also knew there would be no “eye to eye” encounter where she would “mouth off” to Him, nor opportunity to let Him know how she felt about Him. She assumed He was no more than a person, albeit one of great influence, than she or anyone else. Where or how she would meet Him wasn’t addressed.
I took her to see the movie called “The Hiding Place” which is the story of Corrie Ten Boom’s life in which she and her sister Betsy are arrested by the Nazis for hiding Jews during WWII. They are sent to a concentration camp where Betsy becomes very ill and eventually dies. Before she dies she affirms her love for Jesus and with His love she forgives the Nazis who have tortured her and so many around her, and for all the evil they were perpetrating, and encourages Corrie to forgive them as well. She forgave them! My friend, who is also Jewish, could not get past that. Knowing that six million of our Jewish people and millions of others suffered unimaginably horrible tortures, and died equally cruel deaths at the hands of the Nazis, how could she possibly forgive them? This was where her “philosophically based program” fell apart for it provided no escape from the impotent rage against such injustice.
We returned to my home after the movie as she and her daughter would be spending the night
Several assumptions present themselves through these two scenarios of wanting to meet the Lord “face to face” to challenge Him. The first is that God “is,” that He exists, and then that He is approachable, and that we will be able to have an audience with Him. It also assumes that we would have the freedom to speak our minds and to demand of Him an explanation, a defense if you will, for why He allows evil to exist, or is even possibly the cause of it, considering how much suffering is done in His name, though let it be known that such suffering is far from anything He would do or ever sanction. It is a tragedy that the only picture of Yeshua that some people have is of how others have misrepresented Him.
What isn’t factored into wanting to confront God about this issue of evil is what they would like God to do in response to their challenge to Him. What would He say or do to assuage their anger or displeasure with Him, as if they were the only ones who ever had such questions? Is their expectation that He would be accountable to them and be obliged to respond to their satisfaction, which is to say, to make the necessary adjustments to remove evil from the earth? This would presume that we, the created, have license to challenge our Creator and that our very questions would demand that He be required to be accountable to us. The created holding the Creator accountable? This would make man god over God and would mean man’s will would prevail over God’s will. Who then would be God?
What also appears not to be factored in here is the awareness of God’s omnipotent power, that of the One who can speak the universes into existence with a Word and who continues to “uphold all things by the word of His power” ( Hebrews 1:3). Selah -- which means stop and give some thought to that! And what about God’s
When I think of how big He is, how all powerful He is, I also recall that He is as good as He is powerful. His authority is unchallengeable, and his lovingkindness is unquenchable. When I came to the Lord He was often portrayed to me as the Gentle Shepherd who is meek and mild. While I knew He was that, I also knew as a Jewish person, that wasn’t all that He is. As we’ve said many times before, the New Covenant sits on the foundation of the Old Covenant and the previous revelations God had given of Himself. I soon became aware that it is not only the Jews who have a limited view of God, not knowing Yeshua. The church’s view of Him is greatly diminished as a result of not valuing the Old Covenant revelations of God equally with the New Covenant. I have known people who belong to Christian denominations or individual churches that regard the Old Testament as obsolete, as of no import or input in order to live the Christian life. All they need to know, they think, is in the New Testament. Some of these have no musical instruments in their services because they do not see them mentioned in the New Testament. Never having read of the worship of the Levites or of King David’s jubilant worship of God expressed so unashamedly and continually, they fear to include it lest they offend God. This to me is a picture of their misinterpretation of God’s will and of His heart for joyful singing and dancing before Him in worship as King David did.
I’m certainly not talking about everyone or every part of the church, thank God, but there are many who have missed the fact that to God both the “old” and the “new covenant” are one building upon the other,
Israel knew Him as Yahweh, the Self-existent One who exists outside of time and space, as El Shaddai, the Almighty -- or should we say “all mighty” for all power exists in Him and comes from Him, as El Elyon, the most high God above whom in authority or position none can exist. He is not to be treated casually nor with any flippancy or with disregard. Israel knew Him as holy. They met Him when He came down onto the mountain at Sinai and the whole mountain and ground around it shook and quaked as fire and smoke raged on the mountain top. His voice and His holy presence terrified them so that up to three million people backed up in terror and fear. Yet Moses at God’s call was able to approach Him. There are numerous other “epiphanies” in the Old Testament, times and events when God presented Himself, generally to only one person, in our time-space world. When He did, He came in various manifestations of His innate power. But always it was for Israel’s good. The greater the manifestation of His power, the greater the significance of His presence and of His message. I include several episodes here in order that my doctor friend and anyone else with similar thoughts might re-evaluate who this Jesus is.
If Daniel had ever wanted to demand of God as to why he was taken into captivity and made to serve his enemy, this experience would have scared it right out of him. But actually, from what we know of Daniel he remained reverent and committed to Yahweh from the time of his captivity as a boy onward. And even though he was faced with some dire consequences (like being fed to hungry lions) because of his reverence for the Lord, he refused to disregard Him and bow to another as god, and the Lord saw him through miraculously.
The prophet Ezekiel also had a visitation from God. In every place in the Old Covenant where it reports that “an angel of the Lord” came to someone, He said or promised what only God could accomplish and said it in the first person. It is assumed, therefore, that in each instance, a pre-incarnate Yeshua had paid a visit to the person for a God-ordained reason. Again, ask for God’s Holy Spirit to help you picture and have understanding of what is written here:
John the disciple of Yeshua when He walked the earth as a man, knew Him so well, having lived with Him for three and a half years. But when in a vision he encountered the Risen King, here’s what he later wrote of his experience:
It is only by the blood of Yeshua (Jesus) that our sins are forgiven so that we will be able to stand at all in God’s presence. Otherwise we might be destroyed by His holiness, it is so great. I do not fault my doctor friend for not knowing Yeshua this way. He’s never been taught, nor has he evidently read this in his Bible, assuming he has one. Nor have many who seem to take a casual attitude toward the Lord Jesus. We are called to intimacy with the Lord. He offers us sweet fellowship with Him. For those who have not experienced His interaction with you by His Spirit, it is the most precious and tender relationship one can ever know. It is intimate because He knows everything about you and loves you in the hidden deepest parts of your person where no one else can. There is nothing you cannot share with Him, for He knows anyway and wants you to include Him, to share with Him those parts of your life that are important to you. But intimacy is not to be mistaken for casual familiarity.
He is never to be treated casually nor with any disrespect. His patience toward us does not mean we can be challenging, nor disrespectful. He is not “the man upstairs.” He is your Heavenly Father, Creator and Sustainer, Savior and Lord. He is also your Teacher, leading you through your life experiences. Some of us heed His wisdom and direction; others do not. Yes, we can ask Him questions. I do it all the time. But demanding? No. Challenging, as if I know better than He, or as if He owes me something, is a misperception of my place before our Most Holy God. His holiness rather is my security. I told Him recently that I think I love His holiness above all His other qualities. His holiness means I can trust Him to always be true, to always be loving even if He is gently correcting me for my own good, and I can rely wholly upon Him to be unerringly righteous. I rest secure in His ultimate authority in the universe. Nothing will challenge who He is so as to dislodge Him as absolute Sovereign who is likewise absolute in His goodness. I find that to be my greatest security. My God is God!
The Hebrew prophet Hosea speaking for God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). God likewise spoke through Isaiah saying, “My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge” (Isaiah 5:13). It is a lack of knowledge of Who Yeshua is that will keep us from that same trust in Him and being in His loving presence even eternally. But knowing Him, loving Him, honoring and obeying Him, yielding to Him as Lord of our lives -- ah, in that is fullness of joy and peace.
None of us can ever be “good” enough to warrant God’s favor. In the end, only God is truly good. The “good doctor” above is surely not the only person to be thusly unaware. I have shared all this in order that for any with similar thoughts perhaps we might “snatch them out of the fire” (Jude 1:23). For those of us who choose to give our lives to the Lord and to love and to honor Him, may this anthem be yours:
Should anyone feel moved to pray after reading this but you aren’t sure how to, perhaps you might like to pray something like this with me:
If you have prayed that prayer, tell someone about it. Write me back and tell me if you care to. And begin to talk with God. He is the Best Friend you’ll ever have the privilege to know.
Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.