Tag Archives: sovereign

Is it Okay to Contend with God?

Job and his Friends Contend with God

Job’s life has crumbled. His wife turned on him. And his friends don’t help. After listening to their back-and-forth dialogue that accomplishes nothing, God interjects. At last he speaks.

At one point God says, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?” (Job 40:2). In this rhetorical question, two thoughts stand out. The first is the idea of contending with God, and the second is correcting him.

Is it Okay to Contend with God?Contend with God

Though we could view God’s question as implying that he doesn’t want us to contend with him, I don’t think this is what he means.

One understanding of the word contend is to debate. Another is struggle. When it comes to God, these are strong words. It seems foolish for us to debate God, to struggle with him. God is sovereign. And we are far less than sovereign. Who are we to question him?

Yet I can’t think of any place in the Bible where God punishes his people for contending with him when they do so with respect. I can’t find a single verse that commands us not to question God or debate his ways. In fact, I think God enjoys it when we ask questions—serious, soul-wrenching questions, just like Job.

For in asking questions, we seek him. And that’s what he wants. God enjoys it when we ask questions, just like Job. For in asking questions, we seek him. Click To Tweet

Correct God

However, there’s a right way to contend with God and a wrong way. The wrong way is when we think we know better than him, when we try to correct him and tell him he made a mistake.

When we do this, we forget God is sovereign, and we try to elevate ourselves over him. This is foolish. And it separates us from God. This isn’t what he wants from us.

The Bible says, be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). In parallel fashion, we can also say, contend with God and don’t correct him. That gives us the balance we need. God enjoys our sincere questions, but we must never forget he is our sovereign Creator and we are the created.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Job 39-40, and today’s post is on Job 40:2.]

God’s Sovereignty At Work

In the story of Jonah, we see God’s sovereignty at work, with God exercising control over nature. Here’s what God does:God's Sovereignty At Work

  • He sends a wind [Jonah 1:4]
  • He calms the sea [Jonah 1:15]
  • He provides a fish to shallow Jonah [Jonah 1:17]
  • He commands the fish to deposit Jonah on dry land [Jonah 2:10]
  • He makes a vine grow to give shade to Jonah [Jonah 4:6]
  • He causes a worm to chew the vine and kill it [Jonah 4:7]

Furthermore, God’s sovereignty allows him to show mercy towards the people of Nineveh and not destroy them as he had originally planned.

However, God does not exercise control over Jonah, allowing him to do what he wants, when he chooses,and how pleases. Jonah has free will—and God does not interfere with that even though Jonah’s choices cause him a lot of grief.

God gives Jonah the freedom to mess up—or to do what is right.  That’s how God rolls.

God’s Sovereignty Allows Him to be Benevolent

God is sovereign; it is one of his characteristics.To be sovereign means to have supreme rank, power, and authority.God's Sovereignty

The word sovereign appears hundreds of times in the Bible (mostly in the Old Testament) and is usually used as a title for God or in addressing him, as in “Sovereign Lord.”

Many people object to the idea that God is sovereign; it offends them or causes fear. That may be because of a tendency to see sovereignty from a human perspective. They assume that God’s sovereignty allows him to be malevolent; that is, he is just waiting for us to mess up and then he will do us harm—or give us grief just because he can.  But that is not his nature.

God is good and just. His sovereignty actually allows him to be benevolent.  He wants to do good to us, to offer us good things we don’t deserve (grace) and to withhold punishment that we do deserve (mercy).

God’s sovereignty allows for benevolence; his love prohibits malevolence.

God as a Potter

The Bible contains many word pictures that help us to understand better our relationship with God.I have eight of them that I will share in the coming days.Note that each offers but a partial picture into God’s character and none is all-encompassing, but they are highly illustrative.Here is the first:God as a Potter

God is a potter and we are the clay.

He molds us and makes us into whatever he wishes, sometimes into elegant vessels and others into common utensils. From this, we can see God portrayed as being in control, creative, a craftsman, a workman, and sovereign. God’s sovereignty, is something that is not too popular in today’s world.

Correspondingly, we, as clay, are moldable, subject to his will and pleasure; we have no real will of our own.

[Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:6, Isaiah 29:16, Isaiah 45:9, Romans 9:21]