There are some people out there who would love to see the Bible discredited. For some reason, they don’t want the Bible to be true. Perhaps it’s because the Bible points out things in our lives that are wrong, and it exposes our weaknesses and sin. But no one discredits a doctor if the doctor finds something wrong with him. Actually, the patient would thank the good doctor for telling him the truth about his condition, so that it can be dealt with. It should be the same with Scripture. We should be thankful to God for His Word, which not only points to our many shortcomings, but it also gives us a way out of our sin problem. But some say that they can’t trust the Bible because there are contradictions in it. But is this really true?
This will be the first in a series of articles addressing what some consider to be contradictions in the Word of God. The Christian Bible is a large and multi-faceted book that was written by about forty different authors from different cultures over a period of about 1600 years. It touches on many topics, yet it has an amazing consistency when studied. We believe it is truly “God-breathed” (i.e., inspired by God), and it is extremely relevant to us today. We also consider it to be the ultimate guide for the church (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
But what about these seeming contradictions within its pages. Can they be explained? We will now begin looking at these “contradictions” and attempt to clarify some of them, beginning with some that pertain to God’s nature and character.
SEEMING CONTRADICTION #1
Many people feel that there is a built-in contradiction between the existence of a merciful, all-powerful and all-knowing God, and the suffering found in this world. If God really is aware of the horrible suffering in the world (especially among the innocent), then why doesn’t He do something about it? Is He too weak to remedy the problem? If so, then He must not be all-powerful, as the Bible portrays Him. But if God really is all-powerful and He is also aware of all the evil and suffering here on earth, then why would He not wipe out all evil? Does He enjoy seeing people suffering? Of course not.
But the question is, do we REALLY want God to wipe out all evil and its causes? Remember, each and every one of us have caused suffering of one kind or another for someone else in our lifetime, in some way. So, according to this logic (since we have been a cause of evil), God would have to destroy each and every one of us in order to “fix” this problem. But rest assured, He has a better way. Earthly suffering may not be pleasant, but it is temporary. God is certainly aware of those who suffer, but He is not uncaring or unconcerned about it. In fact, He is always working “behind the scenes,” doing things we cannot see, and touching the hearts of people we may not even know. For those who trust Him, He is able to make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28), even “senseless suffering.”
This is certainly a tough topic, especially for the ones going through the actual suffering. We can sympathize with these people. It’s not a sin to humbly ask, “Why, God?” But those who angrily shake their fist at God, demanding an answer, will be silenced and shamed when He reveals the work He was secretly doing all along. Then with extreme embarrassment, they will whimper, “Oh, I didn’t know that…” We need to always be careful how we approach the Living God.
It is much like Job, who questioned God’s fairness about his suffering and was greatly humbled (Job chapters 38-41). Here is the answer to man’s suffering on earth. God is sovereign AND merciful. He will cause things to happen in each life according to HIS will. But it will be fair and in everybody’s best interest. So, let’s trust Him and let Him do His work. For those who trust Him, it will end well. That’s a promise (Job 13:15; 42:10-17; Psalm 9:10; Matthew 25:21; John 11:25; Romans 8:28).
See this link:
SEEMING CONTRADICTION #2
Scripture tells us that God is immutable, i.e., He is unchangeble (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17). But, on the other hand, there are verses that say that God repented, or changed His mind (e.g., Genesis 6:6; 1 Samuel 15:35; Jonah 3:10). Does this mean that God lied, or that He’s wishy-washy? Did He contradict Himself? Can we, or can we not, trust what He says?
We can indeed. When Genesis 6:6 says that “It repented the Lord that He had made man” (KJV), it simply means that He was sorry, or regretted it. Does this mean that God made a mistake, or that He didn’t know what would happen? Not at all. If God ever changes His mind, it is never because of “new” information. God never says, “Wow! I didn’t seethat coming!” No, His immutability is tied into His sovereignty and His all-knowing nature. But the thing is, God shares in our day-to-day victories and failures. While He does indeed know everything before it happens, He is never sitting there, bored, saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I knew that was going to happen; big deal…” No, He is interested and involved in our lives, and He is always wanting us to make the right choices. But mankind (as a whole) had committed itself to sin (Genesis 6:5). That’s why He was grieved about creating man. God already knew it would happen, but AT THIS POINT IN TIME, He was still moved with regret concerning that situation. The situation changed, but there was no change in God’s character. The same thing happened in 1 Samuel 15:35, where God regretted that He made Saul king over Israel.
Concerning Jonah 3:10, God changed His mind about destroying Nineveh. But the destruction of Nineveh was conditional, i.e., it depended on Nineveh’s continued disobedience. But they repented. God set forth the conditions and He has not wavered or deviated one bit from His original plan, i.e., blessings for obedience, and punishment for disobedience. Again, the situation had changed, but God has not changed in essence or character. In fact, it is His consistent character that requires him to treat the righteous differently from the wicked, as this very informative article points out:
So, no, God does not change.
SEEMING CONTRADICTION #3
Does God remember sin? Jeremiah 31:34 tells us that God says, concerning the sins of His people, “… and their sin I will remember no more.” In Isaiah 43:25 He says, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”
But Exodus 34:7 says that God “visit[s] the iniquity of the fathers on the children… to the third and fourth generations.” In other words, here He seems to remember their sins (or theirfathers’ sins).
Why does there seem to be a contradiction here? Does God remember your sins or not? First of all, God is omniscient, or all-knowing. He does not literally forget anything. When it says that He won’t “remember” one’s sins, it means He won’t remember them against the person, i.e., He won’t hold him accountable for his sins. That person is forgiven… but ONLY if the person is repentant. If you don’t want God to remember your sins against you, then you, too, must repent and trust in the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Second, why would God punish the children and grandchildren, etc., for the sins of the parents? That doesn’t seem fair!
The point here is that sin always has repercussions. The sin of the parents can certainly affect the lives of the children, especially in those cultures long ago when families were much closer and social ties were much stronger than in today’s society. In those days, it was much more likely that the customs, habits, and treasured traditions (whether good or bad) would be embraced by the children. Out of family pride, the kids would be inclined to act just as their ancestors did. If there were sinful patterns, they would likely be passed down.
But it’s not like the children had no choice, or that they’d be directly responsible for sins they didn’t commit. No, in each generation, the choice is there to either allow the cycle to be repeated, or not. They always had the option to confess their sins and the sins of their fathers (Leviticus 26:40-42). But ultimately, each individual is responsible for his own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:20). And God will only “remember” your sin that you refuse to confess.
So, in conclusion, these are not contradictions at all. Scripture has a perfect balance. We can be confident that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, and that we can trust it.