When talking to unbelievers, have you ever been told that God is a liar? Unbelievers will sometimes bring out some Bible versus and try to show a contradiction about God by claiming the Bible shows that God actually lies. One easy way to help clear up the confusion is to think think about the context of the verse. There are 3 key points to remember when looking at a Bible verse, context, context, context.
Unbelivers commonly bring up 6 different verses as their ammunition. These 6 versus can be found on the website The Skeptics Anointed Bible. We’ll look at one of the verses here.
1 Kings 22:23
Now, therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.
So let’s look at the background to this passage. King Ahab continued to do evil and also worshiped Baal. He also refused to listen to Elija and accused Elija for bringing a drought on the land. Elija told King Ahab that the drought was due to HIS sins. Then we get to the classic story where King Ahab held a contest with Elija representing God against 400 prophets of Baal. Elija came out the winner as the true prophet. King Ahad should have repented of his sin and followed God, but he continued to rebel agains God and continued to sin.
Later, Jehoshaphat came to Ahab for help in a battle for Ramoth-Gilead. Ahab wanted to consult the Gods and summoned 400 false prophets who told him that God would have Ahab win the battle. Jehoshaphat knew the prophets were lying and asked for a true prophet which Ahab didn’t want to do since Micaiah, the true prophet, never told Ahab wanted to hear (because Ahab was a sinner). But they summoned Micaiah who told them that they would lose the battle and Ahab would die.
This is where Micaiah has the vision (1Kings 22:19). Micaiah saw God on His throne. God asked “who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth-Gilead and going to his death there?” (1Kings 22:20) God had already given Ahab a death sentence and time to repent. One spirit in the vision volunteered for the job. God asked how the spirit will do it. The spirits answered that he will be a deceiver in the mouths of his prophets and entice Ahab. Remember that the false prophets had already said Ahab will succeed. God told the truth to Ahab through Micaiah, but Ahab refused to listen. So the spirit told Ahab what he wanted hear. He simply gave Ahab what he wanted when Ahab refused to listen to the truth. Again, was a vision and highly symbolic, but you get the picture.
Second point. The Hebrew language often uses commands when the action is merely giving permission. For example, when God hardened Pharoh’s heart (Exodus 7:3). Pharaoh’s heart was already hardening. God simply didn’t stop this from happening. Some New Testatment examples are in Matthew 8:32 when Jesus allows the demons to go into the pigs. They asked to go there and Jesus let that happen, but it’s written that Jesus said, “Go!” Another example was with Judas in John 13:27, when Jesus said, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” He didn’t really tell him to go, Judas had already made that decision. God didn’t do the action, but allowed the actions to happen so that His plans were completed.
When a nonbeliever gives a Bible verse that seems to contradict what you know about God and His character, remember to look at the context. This simple step can often clear up any confusion. Remember, when it comes to studying the Bible, it’s all about context, context, context.