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Bargaining with God

Bargaining with God is something that many people have tried.  Chances are, you’ve tried to bargain with God at sometime in the past.  When faced with a desperate situation, people will sometimes try to persuade God to “rescue” them by offering God something that they had not offered God previously.

“If You heal my wife then I will never get angry at her again.”

“If You deliver me from the consequences of my sin then I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life.”

“If You give me just five more years to live then I will use that time to tell others about Your goodness.”

But what does God think of this type of bargaining?  Is He that easily persuaded?

There are several biblical incidents where God seems to engage people in such bargaining  tactics.

For example, there’s Hannah.  She grieved her inability to provide her husband with a son, so she prayed to God, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head” (1 Sam 1:11).  And God gave her a son.

Then there’s Samson.  His sin and disobedience resulted in the loss of his supernatural strength, allowing the Philistines to overpower and capture him.  In his most desperate moment, Samson asked God to give him supernatural strength just one more time.  In return, he would use that strength to bring down the Philistine temple.  And God gave Samson his request.

Perhaps the most blatant example of a person “bargaining” with God is Jacob.  While traveling to Laban’s house, Jacob says, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” (Gen 28:20-22)  And God answered the wishes of Jacob.

There’re other examples that we might consider.  Abraham (Gen 18:22-33), Jephthah (Judges 11:30-31), Pharaoh (Ex 8:8; 8:28; 9:28), etc.

There are enough Biblical incidents where people appear to be bargaining with God that we have to ask ourselves whether this is a legitimate “stage” of grief.  Is God open to bargaining with us?  Is bargaining just another way of expressing our belief that God is in control and He is the only One who could affect the future?

Or is our bargaining perceived by God as a lack of faith?  Does God despise the “offers” we bring to Him in our bargaining?

Our sermon text for this coming Lord’s Day is Isaiah 55:1.  There is a biblical principle contained in this single verse.  Please read Isaiah 55:1 and discern what that principle is.  Once you have identified the principle, then apply this principle to the question of bargaining with God.  I think the answer will be quite obvious when you begin with the proper Biblical principle.