God Might Have You Believe A Lie
The notion that God would allow for us as Christians to believe a lie seems unthinkable and borderline blasphemous. If God loves us, He surely will not allow for us to believe something that is not true, we reason. In our eyes, for Him to do so is to go directly against the promises He has made to us. If God were to allow us to believe a lie, wouldn't that make Him against us, and not for us? We have rehearsed the line over and over again, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Many sing this on a weekly basis, and so for God to allow us to believe something He knows is not true cannot be the case.
However, every prominent character in Scripture will attest to this idea being true. God allows us to believe something He knows is not true. In the case of Abraham, we see this played out. God promised to bless the world through Isaac. He believed God, and so Isaac was everything to him. God was doing what He promised to do, and Isaac was living proof. However, the story takes a sharp turn. God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. That’s right; God commanded Abraham to kill the son He had promised him. God did not tell Abraham that Isaac would die, but that Abraham was to sacrifice him. God cannot lie, but He can allow for us to believe something He knows is not true. God knew all along that Abraham's knife would never reach Isaac's chest.
How about Joseph? He must have grown up hearing about the promise which God gave to his great grandfather Abraham. He must have heard of how God had a special place in His heart for Abraham's descendants through Isaac. Growing up, hearing the story told again and again, and seeing that special care through his own father Jacob, it must have come as a shock to his system to be held captive by his brothers and sold into slavery. As he was being led toward Egypt, one can only imagine the sorrow he felt. Slavery was his doom, and it seemed he would never see his family again. Not only did he become a slave, but he was unjustly thrown into prison while in Egypt. If there was ever a time for despair, if there was ever a time to disbelieve what he had been taught, it was there. Yet, we know how the story ends. The things which his brothers had intended for evil, God had intended for good; not only for Joshua but for all of Egypt and his own family (Gen. 50:20).
I could continue with Moses at the Red Sea, Joshua leading the Israelites into the promised land, Elijah fleeing from the wicked Queen Jezebel, Jeremiah calling the rebellious Israelites to repent, David fleeing King Saul, or Paul dealing with the thorn in his flesh, but the trial of Job seems to stand out from the rest as a case study. It is a story we are generally familiar with, and it is a story we all understand – maybe not fully in experience, but we are able to sympathize and feel a sense of the pain Job experienced. Yet it is a story that displays God in a way many Christians do not ordinarily think about.
One of the first things established in the story is the righteousness of Job. It is not that he was sinless, but that he walked by faith, morally upright, pleasing to God. This was to display to the reader that the suffering he would endure was not punishment for a certain sin. The importance of this is made clear as the story continues, primarily because it is the main accusation and against him by those who are 'comforting' him.
The second thing that becomes abundantly clear is that Job does not hear from God until the end. At the outset of the story we are introduced to the scene taking place around the throne of God, and we understand that Job has no clue what is happening. God never warns Job of the coming trial, nor does God inform Job of what is taking place as the suffering starts. We assume Job is living his normal life, expecting the day to be the same as the rest. Then we observe that Job sits in the silence of God for most of the duration of his suffering. In the end, we see that God never tells Job why He allowed him to suffer.
The trial of Job was the work of God through the hand of Satan. It was not Satan trying to get back at God, nor was it a cosmic battle of equal and opposing forces. God is the one in control, and Satan is the instrument carrying out the plan of God. Satan is among the number having to give an account to God for his works. It seems as though this is a regular occurrence and nothing is out of place. When he gets to the front of the line, it is God who brings up Job, not Satan. "Have You considered my servant Job?" God asks. Satan, full of malicious intent, immediately sought to prove Job's unrighteousness, and God allows it. God even sets the borders for the framework in which Satan can carry out his evil works. He very well could have stopped Satan before any damage was done, but He didn't. God sets the boundaries in which Satan can work. Therefore nothing evil that happened to Job or happens to you is outside of the control of God.
In God's allowance of evil against Job, three aspects of Job's life were affected. These areas of Job's life would have given ample evidence for Job to plunge into disbelief. First, his possessions were taken from him. Possessions in the Old Testament were a sign of God's favor and blessing. Second, his children died. Posterity meant legacy, so ten children meant that Job would leave a great legacy. Third, Job lost his health. It was all he had left, and it too was taken from him. With his blessings, legacy, and health gone, Job had every evidence that the things he had heard of God were just not true. Both his wife and friends gave counsel that sounded plausible. "Curse God and die," his wife said. "It is your sinfulness that has caused this," concluded his friends. Yet in all this, Job did not lose faith.
God gave Job ample evidence to believe something that was not true. His experience screamed at him that God was not good, and that this was happening as a result of his disobedience. Our experiences may very well be carrying out the same effects.
Sickness causing you to doubt the goodness of God.
Depression shouting to you that God does not care.
Marriage issues that make you question God's designation of roles for the husband and wife.
Sexual attraction which wholeheartedly agrees with you yet disagrees with God's Word.
A series of unfortunate events that seem to indicate the lack of God's attention.
The essence of every trial and every temptation is a test of belief. Will we believe our situations, or will we believe God? Will we believe our feelings, or will we believe God? Will we believe our rationale, or will we believe God? As was the case for Job, we often have experiences that feel as though God is saying, "I am giving you every reason for you to believe that I don't care, but I told you I do." How will we respond? Whom will we believe?
It is often difficult, in the midst of a trial, to get over the fact that God is bringing this upon you and there is nothing you can do about it. In that situation, we are prone to demand that God justifies His actions. Why me and not him? Why me? It very well might be the case that there was nothing you did to deserve your situation; it very well might be that you are much more mature in your faith compared to the next person, but this has become your lot in life for the time being, and there is nothing you can do to escape. The truth of the matter is that God is so committed to you living by faith in Him that he will go to the lengths of placing you in situations that will cause you to question Him.
In the last few paragraphs of the book of Job, we find one of the most profound conclusions to a time of testing. Job is responding to God, and he says, "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you." Job had found a much greater understanding of God through the trial. His faith had been tried as gold is in a fire in order that the dross could be burned out and a purer and finer gold produced. The dross of sin and self-dependence is burned away through the fires of trials and suffering. When we are placed in situations we had not intended for; God is working in us something we could never produce on our own. When we believe and trust the Word of God, even though experience and reason are inclined to believe something other, our faith is made stronger, and we will say with Job, "I have heard of you, but now I see you."
 Although there is a difference between God commanding Abraham to do something against His revealed will and character, and God placing Abraham in a situation where Abraham doubted Him, the principle remains the same. Furthermore, this does not teach us that any of the commands of God for us in Scripture are against His will, but rather in this situation, God was testing Abraham’s faith in the promise of God. It should also be noted that God does not directly command us as He did Abraham. Today, we have the written Word of God to follow.