Asking questions seems to an intrinsic part of what it means to be human. From children’s perpetual “What’s this?” “Why?” “Why not?” to the philosopher’s “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” “Is there any purpose to our existence?” questions fill our minds.
We may not be a child or a philosopher and we may not speak our questions out-loud, but we all have them: “Why did this happen or not happen to me?” “Why did I deserve this wonderful or awful, incredible or dreadful thing?” “Is there a God and does he care?”
If we are a Christ-follower, the questions don’t necessarily stop. In reality they often become more complex when our everyday experience of the Christian life does not line up with our expectations of what it is supposed to be. Much of the modern religious message is that if you are a Christian, tithe, and vote the right way, life will be wonderful, you’ll have plenty of money and never get sick. Sounds great and those rules are easy to follow.
Well, maybe the tithing isn’t—but if you are above a certain income level, a tithe is far from a sacrificial part of your income and you can congratulate yourself by giving it and rationalize you don’t need to give more. Few churches today would challenge you on that assumption.
But what happens when reality intrudes and you lose your job, health, or a loved one? You assumed you followed all the rules. It seems like God didn’t keep his part of the bargain. At these times the questions without easy answers bubble up.
Where do we find answers?
Without wanting to sound trite or irreverent, a bit of folk wisdom applies here: “When all else fails, read the instructions.”
God has not left us without answers. The answers to all our questions, in everyday or challenging times are in His Word, in the Bible. The problem many of us face in the struggles of life isn’t that there are not answers, but that we haven’t taken the time to read them and work to understand and apply them.
It is work
Getting the true answers to life and what we can honestly expect from God, honestly understanding what the Bible teaches, is not a quick and easy grabbing a verse out of context and “claiming it” because we like what it says. Nor is it blindly following promises of media preachers who make great prosperity promises or our innate selfish desires that agree with them even though we’d never be caught listening to them. Getting true answers from the Bible involves:
- Taking the time to understand what theologians refer to as “the whole counsel of God. ” This which means reading the entire Bible and understanding how each section fits into the complete story of redemption.
- Reading verses in the content of paragraphs and whole book they are part of so that you don’t twist something to mean what the passage never meant.
- Understanding the historical, cultural setting to properly interpret between what is timeless and what applied to a specific situation.
- Praying for understanding and insight as you read, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide you.
Helping you read through the Bible in this way is the goal of this blog.
Back to Genesis and Job
Now to comment on how we can begin to find answers to the big questions in life in Genesis and Job. You may wonder why in the reading plan, the first three days are in Genesis and then you read Job—here’s why:
Foundational answers we find in Genesis and Job
Genesis and Job cover a similar time period with Job taking place about the time of the patriarchs. We’ll go into more about Job in teaching notes on that book, but it’s important to understand that Job was not a Jew—he was outside the line of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and yet God chose to tell his story to us.
Genesis and Job cover the beginning of the human race and our relationship with God. As they do that the books answer many of the BIG questions of life:
- Why are we here? Who made us?
- Why death? Why suffering?
- Who is Satan? What power does he have?
- Is God involved in our lives? What can we expect from Him?
- Does being good guarantee a good life?
The reason many people struggle with life, especially when life is difficult is that they have never taken the time to study these two books in detail. Here is our plan for doing that:
- First, read them (click here if you don’t have the reading plan and download the PDF).
- Journal, write your comments and questions
- Read the blogs and articles on this website and check out the resources listed here. Watch or listen to Video: Job and Genesis, Foundational Answers to the Big Questions of Life
- The video may not answer all your questions, but it will give you insight into what the Bible honestly says about why bad things happen to good people and what we can honestly expect from God.
- Pray for understanding so that when the trials become part of your life (and they always do) you’ll be able to go through them with a correct view of the sovereign and loving power of God and not with false expectations based on popular views of God that have little to do with Biblical reality.
Finally, there is nothing more important that you can do this year (and every year) than commit to reading the entire Word of God and work on how to apply it to your life.
Some day you will stand before Jesus and give an account of how you lived. Though none of us will have lived up to all we wanted to be and do, at least be certain that your standard of measure, as you lived your life was based on the right information. The Word of God, the whole counsel of God is the only thing that will give that to you.