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Answering The Atheist
April 8, 2007 / Volume 7, Issue 14

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Does God ever lie? Some texts say no, God cannot and does not lie (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; 2 Samuel 7:28; Titus 1:2), but other verses reveal that God does lie by proxy, in sending prophets or lying spirits to deceive (1 Kings 22:23; 2 Chronicles 18:22; Jeremiah 4:10; 20:7; Ezekiel 14:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:11). Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Since the Scriptures outright say that God does not lie, and the questioner has listed some of those texts, it is not necessary that we examine that facet of this question. Thus, we will turn our attention to the texts which are identified as showing that God does lie by proxy.

Let us begin with the last of the verses listed, 2 Thessalonians 2:11. We read, "...God will send them strong delusion, that they shold believe the lie..." In verses 9-10, we find that "lying wonders, with all unrighteous deception" are attributed to the lawless one, who works according to Satan. It is not God who has told the lie, but Satan. However, those who have accepted the lie, and "...did not receive the love of the truth..." and "...did not believe the truth...", God permits to believe the lie, perish and be condemned.

In Ezekiel 14:9, the Lord indicates that He will induce or deceive a prophet. Contextually, we are reading of a time when the people of God were being unfaithful, setting up idols for themselves. If such a one came to inquire of a prophet (v 7), and the prophet presumed to speak (v 9), the Lord would stretch out his hand against both the idolator and the prophet. This is much the same as was found in 2 Thessalonians 2, for the people and many prophets had forsaken the Lord's way. He would use their own departure as His means of bringing judgment upon them.

As the Lord permitted the people ot be deceived through the words of the false prophets spoken of by Ezekiel, so it is in Jeremiah 4:10. The rebellion of the people caused them to hear the lies of the prophets, and the Lord was content for them to do so, for the people did not love the truth.

The words recorded in Jeremiah 20:7 are the prophet's complaint against the Lord, as he suffered imprisonment due to the message he spoke. Jeremiah was reluctant at times to be a prophet for the Lord. He said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name." (20:9; 1:5-7), and yet he could not hold back from speaking the message of God. He'd been induced or persuaded (KJV reads deceived), and could not remain silent about the things of God.

1 Kings 22:23 and 2 Chronicles 18:22 are the same occurrence in Scripture. Ahab, who was an evil king in Israel sought to war against Syria. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah was to join him in this mission, but Jehosphaphat first wanted to consult the Lord. Ahab had his prophets (who prophesied falsely) speak, and they blessed the excursion. But Jehoshaphat knew these were not prophets of the LORD. Thus, they inquired of Micaiah. He spoke the truth, that indeed the prophets had spoken falsely, and that destruction awaited Ahab if he went. Micaiah stated, "The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets..." As with other cases listed above, the Lord permitted the deception of those who were deceived. Ahab had no love for the word of God, nor for those who spoke it (see 2 Chronicles 18:7).

When one believes error, the Lord will allow it to be so. His truth is always available, but if one has not the love of the truth, he will believe the lie. In each case listed, the Lord permitted folks to believe the lie, and in some cases used it as a means of judgment, but He did not lie. There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible