Monday, March 7, 2016

Doubt - an Enemy?

Is doubt the enemy of faith?  I read a quote recently that made me think.

"The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; 
by doubting we come to the question 
and by seeking 
we may come to the truth."
~ Peter Abelard

Doubting is not the opposite of faith, nor is it sin, if we do not hold onto doubt, if we do not sink into it, if we do not let it take away from what we know to be true. 

Doubt always begins with a question.  "Is that true?"  "How can that be?"   
But questions have a built-in invitation for the inquirer to seek the answer.  While a doubting question can threaten faith, finding the answer always strengthens faith. 

In my experience, I have  found that when people struggle with doubt in their understanding of God, it is often the result of not having all the pieces of the picture. 

 If something - a question -  makes us doubt God's word, or God's character then we need to be diligent in seeking the answer. 

Let me share an example. 

In Numbers 16 we have the story of the rebellion of Korah against Moses and Aaron. 
Korah, was a Levite, a leader in Israel, but he was ambitious and greedy for more. He allowed bitterness and jealousy toward Moses fester in his heart until he could no longer keep it hidden.

Not wanting to stand alone in his rebellion, he organized a revolt against Moses. Rebellion spreads quickly and soon 250 men , all respected leaders of the people, joined with Korah. They came in the unity of their complaint demanding that Moses answer to their charge. He had overstepped his authority, taking too much into his own hand. They declared that they were just as holy, just as qualified as he was and Moses had no right to claim his own exalted position and deny them equal standing before God and the people. 

If you read the story you will see that God's wrath came upon Korah, Dathan and Abiram and the men with them and God declared that He was going to destroy them for their rebellion against Him and the ones God had called. God commanded the Israelites to move away from the tents of these wicked men, least they be consumed with them.  In verse 27 we are told that Korah and Dathan and Abiram came out to stand at the door of their tents with their wives and their sons and their little children. Verses 30-33 describes God's judgment against them - how the earth opened up under them and swallowed them up, with all their goods and everyone with them. 

Doubt questions - "Is this the God we serve?  One who would  destroy the children for the sins of their fathers? Does God punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty? Would God punish me for what my parents did?"  

What do we know about the character of God?
We know God says ,"For I am the Lord, I do not change." ~ Malachi 3:6,  and we know that God is a righteous judge. "He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness." ~ Psalm 9:8
We also know what God commands regarding the sins of the fathers and the sins of the child.
He says in Deut. 30:16, "The father shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers, a person shall be put to death for his own sin." 
And again in Ezekiel 18:20 we read ... "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself."

If God does not change and God is always righteous, then what do we do with this example in Numbers 16, where God seemingly does the opposite of what He declares in Deut. 30? Does God say one thing and 'sometimes' do another?   If He says that He will not punish the children for the sins of the fathers ... then how do we explain this story about Korah in Numbers 16?  Does this mean that we cannot fully trust God to be consistent in what He says and does?

Awwww....  of course not !  God is always the same, God is always true, God is always worthy of our trust and confidence in who He is !!!  

Let me show you the answer .... Turn to Numbers 26:9-11 and see that here is added a clarification, more detail added to the story as we find it in Numbers 16.  
While the men stood at the door of their tents with their wives and sons and little children ... it was only the men that were swallowed up, only the men that were burned - the children did not die

1 comment:

happy in KY said...

Thanks so much for this piece on doubt. I like how you show that it can be a positive thing in causing us to search the scriptures more to build up our faith. God is so patient with us!

I had to look up the scripture in Numbers 26, and sure are right! the children did not die. :)