Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Questions, Questions, Questions

I’ve often been intrigued by the questions people ask and what we can learn from them. Michael Card, in one of his songs, uses the phrase “questions often tell us more than answers ever do.” I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know that one can learn a lot from questions.
I’ve noticed that the Bible contains a lot of questions. God, people and even Satan ask questions. Sometimes it’s to find out answers and sometimes it’s to provoke thinking.
From time to time in this blog I’m going to probe some of the things we can learn by looking at the questions that are asked.
To get us started let’s look at the question in Psalm 85:5. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
This Psalm was a psalm of the “Sons of Korah” and is referencing God’s anger against his people because of their sin. The first thing we need to realize is that God is angered over sin. Psalm 7:11 says that God is angry with the wicked every day. Our culture has a difficult time with that concept. Most people view God as a benevolent grandpa type who feels such love for everyone that he doesn’t care much what people do. He just wants everyone to be happy. The Bible doesn’t portray God this way. The Bible tells us clearly that sin is rebellion against the reign of God over the world and because of it he is angry.
Running throughout the Old Testament, however, is the theme that there is grace with God. Psalm 103:9 says, “He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.”
Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.”
However there is a conundrum implied in the Old Testament. In Numbers 14:18 we read, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression...” That part sounds pretty good – like the modern view of God. But the verse goes on “…but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and fourth generation.” How is it possible for God to forgive and at the same time not clear the guilty?
The answer is to be found in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. God punished him for the transgressions of his people, Isaiah 53:8. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” I Peter 2:24. “For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
You see, God is able to clear the guilty and be merciful to us because the punishment fell on Christ and he bore that punishment for us. All of those who trust in Christ are cleared of all guilt. However, those who do not trust Christ must bear the anger of God on themselves. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36

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