Since this very same question has been asked by some of my Christian brothers and sisters and even myself, I decided to see how the Bible handles this question.
Some believe that to question the Bible, God’s direction, or even God Himself is tantamount to blasphemy or, on a smaller scale, a sign of disbelief.
I think it all goes back to motive. Why are we questioning God on some particular issue or doctrine or direction? If it is simply because we are trying to stall our obedience to the Lord, then we had best quit; if it is coming from a prideful heart that says, ‘I know better than God,’ then we are wrong to question; if we question God’s authority, then that too is incorrect behavior on our part.
If, however, we question because we desperately want to know the answer, because we desperately want to know who our Lord truly is, because we need to see the light in the midst of our own confusion, then I believe it is appropriate.
I think there is a significant difference between questioning that brings wisdom and a fuller understanding of God and the kind of questioning that simply seeks to validate man and man’s ways.
Wanting to Go God’s Way
First let’s look at those who question as a means of understanding God’s ways.
In Judges 6, we see that the Israelites had been severely oppressed by the Midianites for the past seven years. Countless times, the Midianites would ravage the crops and the livestock, leaving the countryside totally impoverished.
Then, an angel of the Lord appeared to a prophet who happened to be threshing wheat in a winepress. His name was Gideon. Threshing wheat sounds fairly noble, but the reality was Gideon was hunkered down in a winepress because he was afraid the Midianites would see what he was doing and ransack his grain. He was undercover, so to speak.
The angel greets Gideon, calling him a “mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). But before the angel can instruct Gideon in the way of the Lord, Gideon interrupts with a barrage of questions.
In Judges 6:13-14 (NIV) we read:
“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”
Gideon just questioned God’s goodness, His power, and His promises. That is pretty heavy. The amazing thing is that the Lord did not chastise Gideon’s questioning spirit. Rather, He answers Gideon with a task to accomplish.
Gideon is not excited about this new revelation. Why? He isn’t sure that he really heard the Lord. Repeatedly Gideon falters when told that he is the one God has appointed to save Israel from the Midianites, and repeatedly the angel of the Lord says that God will be with Gideon.
Eventually, a still distraught Gideon has to know for certain that the Lord had truly spoken to him and that this really was the will of God. So, he runs and puts together an offering of bread and a goat and brings them before the angel. According to instructions given by the angel, Gideon puts the meat and the bread on a rock and the angel touches the offering with Gideon’s staff—and boom!—both are consumed by fire. Gideon believes.
I can think of many more examples of some very godly men and women who struggled with God’s will just as much as Gideon — Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Job, doubting Thomas, Peter, etc. And though their questioning might have made them falter and might have caused them to wait longer for a promise to be fulfilled or do the right thing, God was with them because He knew that when it came right down to it, these men and women desired to serve God. They just needed to think outside of the box. They needed to gain the right perspective. They needed a lot of encouragement.
Wanting to Go Our Own Way
There are cases when questioning is a sign of an unchanged and unrepentant heart, however. Take the case of the questioning sessions instigated by the Pharisees in the New Testament. These sessions were a means to prove Jesus wrong and validate their own desires and philosophies. How arrogant they must have seemed to our Lord.
If your heart is humble before the Lord, not self-righteous, and if you acknowledge God as being the one in control with your best in mind, then don’t be afraid to question, just make sure that when you ask, you are seeking for answers in the right place. You can’t question God’s will and expect him to honor it if you aren’t willing to hear the answer.
Listening comes in several forms, but all forms start with a submissive and receptive heart. We must be humble before God.
We need to have an open Bible before us. Many times I am guilty of asking for better understanding or direction, for a reason why I must do what it seems God wants me to do, and instead of prayerfully and calmly sitting at the feet of Jesus and soaking in His Word, I am either repeating my question adamantly (I figure God didn’t hear me the first time), or I am complaining and feeling sorry for myself, or I am seeking for the answers through other literature rather than the Bible. It is pretty obvious I am not in the right attitude to listen to God.
There is nothing wrong with asking for wisdom. If we don’t understand, we need to pray for wisdom as it says in James chapter 1, believing that God will give it to us. Once we know the answer, then we must put it into practice.