This article focuses upon God and some of the supposed contradictory things he says about himself.
#1. God be seen?
EXO 24:9,10; AMO 9:1; GEN 26:2; and JOH 14:9
God CAN be seen:
“And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my backparts.” (EXO 33:23)
“And the Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend.” (EXO 33:11)
“For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (GEN 32:30)
God CANNOT be seen:
“No man hath seen God at any time.” (JOH 1:18)
“And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live.” (EXO 33:20)
“Whom no man hath seen nor can see.” (1TIM 6:16)
This supposed contradiction is built upon a faulty use and abuse of the words ‘saw’, ‘appeared’ and ‘seen’. The unbeliever takes the most literal form of the word, where someone actually physically sees someone else and applies it to these words, when they should know that other meanings or applications of those words apply.
In the four verses heading this section, God could easily be ‘seen’ or appeared’ to someone without showing his actual form. God has appeared to people in a cloud and the people ‘saw’ God without actually seeing him. Others ‘see’ God work in their lives or the lives of their loved ones without actually physically seeing God direct the answer to prayer.
It is dishonest of the unbeliever to use one definition when they know that other applications exist and apply to the terms used in the verses in question.
Then when we come to the section titled God CAN be seen, we find the same dishonest use of the definitions of the words ‘see’ and ‘face to face’. In the case of Moses seeing the backparts of God the unbeliever in their attempt to claim there is a contradiction, ignore Exodus 33:20 which says:
But, he said, thou cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.?
As we see, God is not being inconsistent or contradictory but only allows Moses to see what he can of the physical nature of God. The unbeliever is also dishonest in the use of the verse in question as they leave out the rest of the verse which goes:
Ex 33:23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.
There is no contradiction here. God cannot be seen by human eyes while they live on earth in their fallible and corrupt bodies. The same idea applies to the term face to face. The unbeliever assumes that God is going to stand right in front of a person and talk to them unshielded.
if a person cannot see God’s face and live, then God will not stand there in front of a person without some sort of covering. Being in disguise does not undermine or deny the face to face meeting. During the Watergate investigations, the reporter Woodward came face to face with Deep Throat but at no time did he see the face of the man who claimed to be Deep Throat.
A face to face meeting took place but one face was not seen. This is the dishonesty that is encountered by believers when they deal with the accusations of the unbeliever. The latter will distort or misuse the definitions of words and phrases to prove their point when in reality they altered the rules and changed the nature of words in order to say the Bible is wrong.
Then for the section God CANNOT be seen, we see that the unbeliever has used the verse that he ignored in the first section. God is being very consistent here and has not changed his tune. His face cannot be seen by fallible humans.
We can ‘see’ God by feeling his presence, seeing the results of his power or we can see God through his representatives and so on but at no time do we actually physically get to see God. There is no contradiction in any of these verses, just the dishonesty of the unbeliever and their failure to accurately apply the right meanings to the words used.
#2. CRUEL, UNMERCIFUL, DESTRUCTIVE, and FEROCIOUS or KIND, MERCIFUL, and GOOD:
“I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy.” (JER 13:14) “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.”
“The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.” (JAS 5:11)
“For his mercy endureth forever.” (1CH 16:34)
“The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (PSA 145:9)
“God is love.” (1JO 4:16)
Here we see that the unbeliever ignores the fact that mercy is a character trait that can be given or withheld, depending upon the situation at hand. They use the different situations and God’s attitude towards different groups of people to claim a contradiction exists; but what they fail to see is that mercy is not applied 100% of the time.
Of course we see the dishonesty of the unbeliever who has taken one version of scripture that says what they want it to say in order to make this claim. The NIV says:
Jer 13:14 I will smash them one against the other, fathers and sons alike, declares the LORD. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.
The key words are in bold. In other words, God is still merciful, etc., but he will not allow those character traits to interfere with his upcoming actions. God is free to use mercy or not as he states in another part of the Bible, ‘I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy.’ This means God chooses who deserves mercy, kindness and so on and who does not.
Just like we do in our criminal judgements and in bringing punishment to our disobedient children. But as you can see, those bold words paint a very different picture than the one the unbeliever is painting about God.
They are saying that God is without mercy, etc., when in reality God is still merciful, etc. but he just does not use those attributes for everyone. Some people sin so great that they are not worthy nor deserving of mercy and God withholds it.
Then we need to remember that being merciful and good does not mean we or God cannot bring justice and punishment to those who sinned or broke the law. Nor does the presence of those attributes mean that fairness and justice do not exist in our character.
The unbeliever distorts this issue because they may want mercy when they do not deserve mercy nor have given it to others.
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.” (GEN 22:1)
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (JAS 1:13)
This is another example of using one translation dishonestly. It also shows a very lazy and dishonest investigation in to the word ‘tempts’. The unbeliever cherry picks the definition in order to make their accusation.
If we look at the NIV we see another word, a better one that expresses clearly what God was doing with Abraham. We read:
Ge 22:1 Some time later God tested Abraham.
Again the key word is in bold. God was not tempting Abraham for how would asking you to sacrifice your son a temptation? Usually a temptation is trying to get you to do something you like not something you abhor so there really is no tempting being done here. A test is being done for God would like to see if we, and in this case Abraham, love God more than earthly rewards.
But God does not tempt people to do evil for God hates sin and punishes those who commit it. So we can see that the only reason a supposed contradiction may be seen here is because of the unbeliever taking the easy, lazy way out and misusing the word ‘tempt’ to bring a false accusation against God.