Let’s face it. There are aspects of God’s Word that are very confusing. Some passages are just plain weird and others seem contradictory. For those of us who believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word in the original manuscripts (an important qualifier), this is troubling.
If God’s word is perfectly true, then what do we do with apparent inconsistencies? Furthermore, why didn’t God just communicate things more clearly in the first place? Certainly he knew these issues would be cause for disbelief, argument and interpretive error. Why invite confusion?
I’m sure he has his reasons.
Some problems resolve through careful exegesis and better understanding of ancient cultures. Our English translations are the worthy products of teams highly skilled scholars, but they are not perfect. Even scholars disagree. That’s why it’s a good idea to read challenging passages in multiple translations and to consult commentaries representing different opinions.
But, I don’t think God allowed ambiguity so that we will read more scholarly opinion.
Perhaps difficult passages of Scripture offer us an opportunity to examine our own hearts and our false constructions of God.
Jesus himself appeared to create a contradiction when he healed people on the Sabbath. One good example is when Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth by the Pool of Siloam.
Jesus could have healed that man on any day of the week, but he intentionally healed him on the Sabbath knowing that it would be viewed as a violation of the fourth commandment. Sure enough, “Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others asked, ‘How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?’ So they were divided.” (John 9:16)
Did Jesus, the Son, contradict God the Father?
Jesus did not break God’s Law; he broke the Pharisees’ interpretation of God’s Law.
There was no contradiction; only misinterpretation.
The Sabbath was always intended to be the one day each week that God’s people experienced rest, equality and shalom. It was to be a day lived in the Kingdom of God, an important feature of which is wholeness. Therefore, far from violating the Sabbath, Jesus brought the very heart of the Sabbath to the people he healed.
These Sabbath healings were opportunities for the Pharisees to examine their perceptions of God. Some apparently did. Others could not imagine that God would behave outside of the lines they had drawn for him.
The Pharisees thought that God should fit within their construction of the law. Jesus wanted them to see that there was room for them in God’s heart.
When it seems like God is contradicting himself perhaps He is challenging our constructions of who God is with who he actually is.
Do you find parts of the Bible confusing and/or inconsistent? Have you ever seen God in a new way after wrestling with difficult Scripture?
“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30