I've heard a lot over the years about apparent contradictions in the Bible. Much of it comes from people whose aim is to show the Bible is false, and no amount of argument will persuade them of the obvious flaws in what they are saying. There are some open ait preachers who start with apparent flaws to draw an audience before presenting the answer. I'm not talking about those. Rather I'm talking about situations where God, for whatever reason, appears to contradict Himself.

Moses is regarded by Jews and Christians as a great hero of the Bible. This is the same guy who killed a guy then fled into exile for 40 years. When God called him back tried excuse after excuse before doing as God said. At one stage the people were thirsty, and God said to strike a rock, which then gave water. A similar situation occurred later, but this time God said to speak to the rock. Moses struck the rock as he had previously.

Why God gave different instructions I do not know. But He did. Why Moses didn't just do what he'd done the previous time, I don't know either - but at least he hadn't acted presumptuously - he waited for God's leading. But then he acted based on the last time this happened. God still provided the water - but was seriously unimpressed. When Moses looked down on the long-promised land, God told him to enjoy the view - he would die instead of going in.

I had a very similar experience in my professional life. Because of the way I work, I usually get my main jobs done within a day, or perhaps two for larger jobs. One job had been three weeks and I was not much closer to finishing than I was at the start. I finally complained to God that something wasn't right. At that stage, my professional life wasn't something I talked with God about. Since my stroke, I've focussed on simple jobs, and it's never been an issue. This job, one of two new companies a client had started up, should have been no different, but I couldn't do it.

God suggested a different approach, and I reluctantly started. Within a day the job was effectively finished, and I was excited. God had shown me a new way to do accounting. I launched enthusiastically into the second. I soon got bogged down and it clearly wasn't working. I reverted to tried and true accounting practices and it was quickly done.

We had a good laugh about that. I'd thought God had shown me a new way to do my job, whereas what He'd actually shown me was how I could mess up what should be a simple job if I don't talk with Him first.

The obvious lesson from this is we need not keep on doing what we've always done - we need to keep listening to what God wants us to do NOW. The word listening is often seen as passive but as Gideon shows, God is quite willing to do whatever it takes to convince us we're really hearing correctly. Sadly religion is like that - keeping on with the same old things rather than moving on with God.

A second example comes from Jesus himself. He said whoever wasn't with Him was against Him. Or did he say whoever wasn't against Him was for Him? Those who know their Bibles know that he said both. Was He having a bad day, maybe a bit confused when he got one a bit mixed up? Or was He making it clear, not at the time but in hindsight, that we need always to hear his voice rather than rely solely on past experience?