Sunday, October 4, 2020

Abraham, David, & Job: When God Invites us to Ask Him Questions

What are the questions that keep you from walking with God? What are the questions that cause you to not want to be a Christian? What are the questions that as a Christian you have that you wish you understood more deeply? That is the theme of this series.

Now many of you may have been told in the past, in church, that it was wrong to ask questions.  That you aren’t allowed to question that you just have to shut up and believe whatever the pastor tells you.  Well that is not what we believe here and it’s not what the scriptures teach.

The scriptures show is time and again that God loves to encourage us to ask questions.  So today we’re going to look at a few times during the Old and New testaments when God encourages his people to ask him questions and then God answers.  And during this message I want you to have that pen and paper ready to write down your questions and be ready to turn them in at the end, ok? Let’s get started.

First of all we turn to the old testament and the great father of faith and trust in God, Abraham.  If you recall Abraham lived near cities called Sodom and Gomorrah.  And Abraham’s nephew Lot, actually lived in Sodom.  

Three mysterious visitors come to Abraham’s tent and visit with him.  They were on a hill overlooking Sodom. It says in Genesis 18:16-20:”16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.[c] 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.””

God asks himself, should I hide what I’m about to do from Abraham? Nope. He tells Abraham that he’s about to destroy these cities.  And so he invites Abraham to understand why God would do such a thing.

20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” Genesis 18:20-21

 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

So Abraham right here is essentially asking God, “Lord, you are really good, right? You wouldn’t destroy a whole city if there were some good people there right.”

So slowly Abraham, counts down, what if there 50 righteous people? What about 45, what about 30, what about 10?”  And God always replies, saying, for the sake of 10 righteous people I would spare the whole city.

So God’s reply to this first situation is, yes, I am good, I would not destroy the righteous, he is saying, this entire city is evil.  So trust me.  And later, God sends his messengers to help Lot escape from Sodom before it’s destroyed.  But he tests Lot first, to see if he will do the right thing. And Lot does.  So he is spared.  He spared 1, from the city, but destroyed the city, and all the wicked in it.  It’s a firm reminder that God will deal with those who do evil.  They won’t get away with it.

Second, we turn to Psalm 10, a song written by King David.  Psalm 10 says this, “Lord, why do you stay so far away?
    Why do you hide from people in times of trouble?
The wicked are proud and make evil plans to hurt the poor,
    who are caught in their traps and made to suffer.
Those greedy people brag about the things they want to get.
    They curse the Lord and show that they hate him.
The wicked are too proud to ask God for help.
    He does not fit into their plans.
They succeed in everything they do.
    They don’t understand how you can judge them.
    They make fun of all their enemies.
They say to themselves, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us.
    We will have our fun and never be punished.”

Essentially David is crying out to God and asking why aren’t you dealing with evil people?  Why do evil prosper? 

And we could ask the same questions today right?  It seems like a lot of the richest and most powerful people in our country are quite corrupt and do evil things and don’t praise God for all they have.  Why do the wicked prosper? 

And we see through this psalm that David keeps crying out to God, to please do something. Rise up and respond to our prayers for help against these evil people. 

The answer here is a bit of a mystery.  God is a very patient God.  He allows for things to play out in the world.  And we as the people of God must cry out in prayer for God to bring justice to the world.  But there is another force in the world, the kingdoms of the evil one, that is prospering our enemies. 

But we understand through this psalm that through God is very patient, he will eventually deal with every evil person and judge them according to his righteous laws.  We should take comfort in that, though the wicked do well in this life, they will be dealt with by God in the next life.  And we will receive our divine inheritance in the next life.

Finally, we turn to the book of Job. Job was a prosperous and righteous man who suffered a great deal under attacks by the evil one.  And Job throughout the book of Job asks God hundreds of questions and cries out in his pain, after losing his wealth and his family and becoming sick, he begs God to explain why these things happen. 

This addresses that famous question, If God why is there suffering?  And the answer that God gives is quite surprising. He never really answers Job’s questions.  Instead he helps Job understand that he must trust in God, who made the universe, who designed trees and grass, and designed the human body, that there are some things that are just beyond the comprehension of humans, and in those things, we must trust God. 

In conclusion, God invites us to ask questions, and he often responds, and gives us answers, but there also comes a time when we must put our faith and trust in God, and trust that our heavenly Father really does have our best interests in mind, even in suffering and loss. And we can trust God, because God is not like us, he is infinite, his ways are different than ours.  So, our ushers are going to go around wit the plates and collect the paper and pens, and thank you for participating and maybe next week we’ll address the question you wrote down.