Can You Argue With God And Win?
Jesse Thompson tells about a time when he was standing in line at a bookstore. He noticed that the person in front of him was about to purchase these two best-selling books: Conversations with God and How to Argue and Win Every Time.
After reading this I couldn’t help but think about the conversations that Abraham and Moses had with God when they pled with Him to spare a large number of people. You will recall how Abraham persistently asked God to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, lest the righteous be destroyed too. Like a reverse auction, Abraham kept asking the Lord to spare the cities if a smaller number of righteous could be found (Genesis 18). Then, there was Moses, who stood before God on two occasions when He seemed to be at His angriest with a young, obstinate Israel, and was ready to wipe them out with pestilence and make a mightier nation out of Moses. On both occasions Moses entreated the Lord on behalf of the people, and gave Him reasons as to why they should not be destroyed. (Numbers 14, Exodus 32).
On neither occasion do I consider these men to have argued with God. Much to the contrary, the word used in Exodus 32:11 translated “entreated” or “besought” literally means to stroke with flattery. It is used that way in 1 Kings 13:6, when Jeroboam asked the young prophet to “entreat now the face of Jehovah” so his hand might be restored. It is the idea of a child softly rubbing the face of her father to calm him.
Neither Abraham, nor Moses argued with God, but they did entreat Him persistently, and God honored their request. You can’t argue with God and win. Ask Korah and his clan what happens when you argue with God (Num. 16). The earth swallows you up.
Abraham and Moses were able to speak with God the way they did because they were friends of God (James 2:23 Ex. 33:11). They had a deep, abiding relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Some folks might think that such a relationship is out of reach for the common Christian, yet Christ uses two parables to encourage us to be persistent in our prayers and not lose heart (Luke 11:5-13 18:1-8). Paul tells us to pray without ceasing.
The point is that God wants to hear from His children, from those who have a relationship with Him, and He wants to hear from them often. Like parents whose child has left the nest and gone abroad, they long for his phone call home. Everyday doesn’t seem to be enough.
The Hebrew author writes, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The word boldly in the English leaves the connotation that we are taking a risk by standing before God to make a request, but the writer means much to the contrary. He is telling us to approach with confidence or assurance. Neil Lightfoot writes that in the ancient Greek the word “denoted the right of a full citizen to speak his mind on any subject in the town assembly – a right that the slave did not have.” It is not a risk that the child of God takes, but a response to an invitation. God says draw near, because you can and I want you too. What more of an invitation could He have given, how greater could He have expressed His desire for us to be in His presence, than by sacrificing His Son so we might stand in His Holy Place? What a privilege!
We must understand, however, that our requests may not always be honored as we desire. There are two basic reasons for this. The first may be that we don’t have the relationship with God that we should. If we are not living as we should, then we will not have the relationship with God that is needed to speak to Him like Moses and Aaron did. It is the prayer of a righteous man that is effective (James 5:16). The prayer of a sinner or rebellious child may not be heard (John 9:31 Is. 59:1-2).
Second, what we ask for may not be according to His will (1 John 5:14). God gives good gifts to His children (Luke 11:13). He knows our needs and our desires even before we ask Him (Matt. 6:8). We may be asking for something that the Lord knows is not best for us. That doesn’t mean we should stop asking. We may need to be more spiritual in our requests (James 4:3), but if we believe that what we are asking for is good and fits God’s purpose then we should not hesitate to ask. God has a storehouse of riches that is beyond our imagination, and He wants to share them with us. He only awaits our petition.
www.corinthchurch.org Athens, Alabama