Does God deceive people?

No.

The Bible says God doesn’t lie. In fact, it’s impossible for him to lie. He wants everyone to know the truth, so all his words are flawless and true. His promises are always trustworthy. If he says he’ll do something, he’ll do it. His words never fail. He’s not a mere flawed human being, after all. If a prophet claims to be speaking for God, but what he says turns out not to be true, you can be sure that that message didn’t actually come from God. If it had, it would have been true.

Yes.

The Bible also says God does inspire false prophecies. Sometimes he completely deceives people with his prophecies. He said he intended to test his people by sending them false prophets. God is in control of whether people see false visions. He has been known to send deceiving spirits to intentionally trick prophets into making false predictions.1 He has also been known to have his prophets knowingly make false predictions.

So God’s claim that you can tell a prophecy isn’t from him if it’s false… is false. In fact, the Bible says all prophecy comes from God, so he must be responsible for all the false ones. And there are a ton of false prophecies in the Bible.

Was God actually deceiving people all those times, though? Could it be that he was just mistaken about what was going to happen? Or maybe he changed his mind about what he was going to do? Nope. The Bible says God knows everything, which means he’s never wrong. And he never changes his mind, either. Therefore, every single false statement he makes is a LIE. And God makes a lot of false statements in the Bible.

God told Jacob he would no longer be called Jacob. But everybody still calls him Jacob. Even God continued to call Jacob Jacob after he told him he would no longer be called Jacob. He said “Jacob! Jacob!

As soon as Moses gave him the idea to get someone else to help with his mission, God told Moses that Aaron was already on his way to meet him. But God didn’t get around to actually telling Aaron to go meet Moses until 13 verses later.

The Bible has accounts of God saying he will send a hornet to drive Israel’s enemies out of the land. It has accounts of him later saying he did do that, making it unnecessary for the Israelites to do it themselves. Yet it has no accounts of him actually doing that. Only accounts of the Israelites driving out their enemies themselves, with no help from hornets, doing just what God claimed they didn’t have to do.

God said he was going to write on some new tablets the commandments that had been on the tablets Moses had broken. But then he made Moses do it instead. Plus, the commandments written on the new tablets ended up being very different from the ones on the old tablets.

God claimed that the blood of sacrificed animals would make atonement for the sinful lives of his people. But the Bible says it’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Who are you going to believe, God or the Bible?

When God told Isaiah that he was going to start doing good to his people for a change (even though he claims he never changes), he said “in its time” he would “do this swiftly”. In other words, he’s not going to do it any time soon, but he wants to make it sound like he will.

Jeremiah said God is like a deceptive brook, because God deceived Jeremiah, and Jeremiah was deceived. God calls people what they are not. He sends people a powerful delusion so they will believe a lie. And then he sends them to hell for not believing the truth.

God told Ezekiel he had drawn his sword from his sheath to destroy Jerusalem. He said his sword would not return to its sheath. Then he told his sword to return to its sheath.

John the Baptist said if anyone accepted Jesus’s testimony, they would certify that God is truthful… but no one does accept it, which leaves us with no reason to think God is truthful.

Jesus (who according to the Bible is God) claimed that the righteous will be resurrected and rewarded, despite the fact that there is no reward after death. Jesus’s kingdom will be on the earth and will consist of people from all over the world. Yet he insists that his kingdom is not of this world. At the last supper, Jesus said he wouldn’t drink from the fruit of the vine again until the kingdom of God came, but then he did.

Obvious falsehoods

Sometimes the things God says are just so bizarrely obviously blatantly false that nobody could even be expected to be fooled for a second.

When Moses asked to see God, God told him he couldn’t see his face, because no one could see God and live. That was clearly not true, since Moses was already in the habit of speaking with God face to face. The Bible says people can see God’s face, and that seeing it is desirable, not deadly. Not seeing God’s face is what’s deadly.

God said the inhabitants of the promised land had already been expelled from the land, when that obviously hadn’t happened yet. Later, God said he was going to judge all nations for scattering the people of Israel, enslaving them, and stealing their land. Really, ALL nations did all that?

According to Solomon, God told David he hadn’t chosen anyone to be the ruler of Israel. The person God was talking to was a ruler he had chosen for Israel. And he wasn’t even the first one.

Right after complaining that his people weren’t giving him any sacrifices, God claimed that he had never told them to make sacrifices for him. Another time, God accused his people of robbing him, when they were actually doing just the opposite, and giving him gifts.

Jesus said no one born of women was greater than John the Baptist… whose whole purpose was to point to someone who was born of a woman and was greater than him. Jesus also claimed John the Baptist was Elijah. But if John the Baptist himself is to be believed, he was not Elijah.

When Jesus found out that Peter knew he was the Messiah, he said that had been revealed to Peter by God, not by a human. It was actually Peter’s brother who had told him that. Jesus also said no one but God knows who the son of God is. Either that’s not true, or the billions of people who think Jesus is the son of God are wrong. Or both.2

Jesus claimed that people don’t need to worry about finding ways to provide for their basic needs. He said God makes sure birds have food without having to do any farming or anything, and God values humans much more than birds. So God will definitely make sure all humans always have everything they need without even having to work for it! If that was true, there would be no need for people to help the poor. Poverty wouldn’t even exist.

Jesus said a dead girl wasn’t dead. The Bible says she was dead, and everyone knew it. If she really wasn’t dead, the story of Jesus waking her up would be non-miraculous and pointless. Jesus said no one but God is good. Does anyone believe that? It would have been believable if he’d said no one was perfect, but that’s not what he said. Jesus said a poor widow had donated more money than anyone else. That would only even be metaphorically true if you think about it from a self-centered perspective.

Jesus said everyone who believes in him would be able to do all the miraculous things he did and more. He said everything is possible for believers, because they can ask him for anything they want, and he will do it. All it takes is the tiniest amount of faith, and you can move mountains. Yet in reality, there are lots of people who have way too much faith, and not even they can move mountains.

You don’t even have to actually test this claim to see that it’s not true. Just think about what will happen if two believers3 ask Jesus to do two incompatible things for them. They’re not both going to get what they asked for.

God contradicts himself

God contradicts himself a lot, so his words clearly aren’t all true. He claims that Israel is his firstborn son, and also that Ephraim is his firstborn son. How can you have two firstborn sons? He won’t stop calling someone a prostitute, despite briefly acknowledging that she’s paying for sex, not getting paid.

God says he’s perfectly content with Jerusalem and wants to live there forever. Later, he claims he’s always hated Jerusalem and wants to destroy it. He criticizes his people for conforming to the standards of the nations around them… a few chapters after criticizing them for not conforming to the standards of the nations around them. He tells a prophet he won’t be angry with his people forever. Then he tells the same prophet he will be angry with them forever.

Jesus says if you don’t judge, you won’t be judged, and he also says everyone will be judged. He says only a few people will find everlasting life. Then he says many will come and take their places in the kingdom of heaven. He says teachers of the law don’t get to enter the kingdom of heaven, and he also says they do.

Jesus says he didn’t come to bring peace, but then he says he is bringing peace. He says he will always be with his disciples, and also that he won’t always be with them. He says if people know him, they must know God, and also that people who know him don’t know God. He says the Father is distinct from him when it’s convenient. But then he also says he and the Father are one. He says his disciples are going to leave him all alone. And then he says he won’t be alone then because the Father will be with him.

Jesus says anyone can ask and they will receive, or knock and the door will be opened for them. He also says he will never drive away those who come to him. But then he says many people who have been his followers will stand outside God’s kingdom, knocking at the door and asking to be let in, and God will refuse them. (The all-knowing God will claim he doesn’t know them.)

Jesus said people we think of as dead have actually been living all this time. But he also said the dead wouldn’t live until they heard his voice, which hadn’t happened until then, if it had even happened yet at all. The Bible says people (like Jesus) who say the resurrection has already taken place have departed from the truth.

Jesus told a criminal that the two of them would be in paradise together later that day. Jesus also said no one but himself had ever gone to heaven. Was that criminal the first ordinary mortal ever to go to heaven? Even if he was, Jesus’s claim that he would be there with him that day is contradicted when he states a few days later that he still hasn’t ascended to the Father.

God misrepresents himself

God told Abraham “I am the Lord.” He said the same thing to Jacob. Then he told Moses that he had not made himself known to those guys by his name “the Lord”.

God likes to describe himself as “slow to anger“. But the Bible portrays him as constantly getting ridiculously angry over insignificant things, and killing people before they have a chance to actually do anything bad to deserve it, or anything good to redeem themselves.

Samuel was impressed by David’s big brother’s appearance, and thought God would probably choose him to be king of Israel. But God told Samuel that he judges people by their character, not their appearance. If that’s true, why does God always seem to choose kings who are tall or handsome, as well as evil?

When God saw his people sacrificing their children, he said that was something he had never commanded. But he certainly had commanded people to sacrifice their children. He had told Abraham to sacrifice his son (even if he didn’t really mean it).

Jesus claimed that the Old Testament scriptures contained a bunch of prophecies about the Messiah that more or less match what the New Testament says about Jesus, but that aren’t actually in the Old Testament at all.

Jesus said he hadn’t come to abolish the law. He said all of God’s law will remain in effect as long as the world exists. Yet Jesus constantly taught people to go against God’s law. And the Bible says he released people from having to follow the law at all. Jesus also said he doesn’t judge anyone… even though the Bible says God has assigned Jesus the job of judging everyone.

One of the excuses Jesus made for breaking God’s Sabbath law was that God is always at work… even though God had actually finished working thousands of years earlier. Jesus claimed that what he does is nothing more and nothing less than what God the Father does. Yet Jesus did things the Father doesn’t do, like sleeping and dying. And Jesus talked about things he relied on his Father to do, that he wasn’t in a position to do himself.

When people asked Jesus to show them a miraculous sign, he said he would not give his generation any sign at all. But of course, he did perform plenty of miraculous signs. Jesus said he wasn’t going to go to a certain festival, and then he secretly went anyway.

When Jesus spoke in public, he always spoke in parables, so no one could understand what he was saying, and then he explained everything to his disciples in private. Then after he got arrested, he claimed that he had always spoken openly to the world and said nothing in secret.

Jesus described himself as gentle and humble, but his behavior at the temple revealed him to be pretty arrogant and violent. Jesus said he testified about himself, and he said that if he testifies about himself, his testimony is not true. So everything Jesus said about himself must have been false.

False accusations

Several times, God said he was putting words in people’s mouths, which was a poor choice of words. Is he trying to make people think he’s dishonest? And he does indeed put words in people’s mouths, in the dishonest sense:

After God gave Balaam conflicting instructions and then tried to kill him for inevitably disobeying one of them, God later falsely accused Balaam of trying to bring a curse on Israel. God claimed that he had ignored what Balaam said and decided to bless Israel instead. But what God is actually ignoring is the fact that Balaam had done nothing but bless Israel himself.

The Bible says the Jews are the children of God, but Jesus said God is not their father.

When people asked Jesus questions he didn’t want to answer, he liked to reply “You have said so.” But they hadn’t said so. They had asked him. Either Jesus doesn’t know the difference between a statement and a question, or he’s a liar. In any case, Jesus is falsely accusing people of blasphemy.

Jesus complained that none of his disciples had asked him where he was going… after Peter and Thomas had both asked him just that, and he had refused to actually answer their question.

False threats

God told Noah he was about to put an end to all people and destroy all life on earth. He even said he was going to destroy the earth itself in the process. But that didn’t happen. Humans, animals, and the earth still exist. Then God said he would never destroy all living creatures again… even though he plans to do exactly that.

God said he would punish the Israelites in Egypt, but he never did. He avoided bringing any plagues on the Israelites while they were in Egypt. Then after they left Egypt, he said he was going to destroy them all, but he didn’t. It seems like he changed his mind, but the Bible says he never does that. So it must have simply been a lie.

After the Israelites angered God by celebrating a festival to the Lord, God told his people to go on without him. He said he couldn’t possibly go with them, or he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from killing them all. But then Moses convinced God that he should go with them anyway. God agreed to do it, and he did it without killing them all.

God got offended by the Israelites’ reaction when they found out that the land he had chosen for them was full of big scary people. He said as a result, not one of the people who had come out of Egypt would see the promised land. Then he said one of them would. Then he said two of them would. And that’s just the ones he let actually enter the land. In addition to those, he also let Moses see the land that he had claimed no one who had come from Egypt would see.

The never-changing God helped Hezekiah recover from his illness, after telling him he would never recover. During Hezekiah’s reign, God also told the people that Jerusalem was about to be destroyed, but that disaster never came.

You can’t trust God to do what he says he’s going to do. If God says he’s going to destroy a person or a nation, or if he says he won’t do that, it’s entirely possible that he’ll end up doing something completely different from what he said, depending on how the person or nation behaves. And it’s not like he initially expected them to behave differently than they actually would. God knows exactly what they’re going to do long before they do it. So he has no excuse for saying something else is going to happen.

God forced Jonah to tell the Ninevites that their city was about to be destroyed, even though God and Jonah both knew that wasn’t going to happen.

When Peter drew his sword, Jesus warned him that all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Peter died by crucifixion.

Broken promises

God made promises to Abel, Noah, Abraham, etc., and they all died without getting what God had promised them.

God promised that Eli’s family would serve as his priests forever. Then he decided he didn’t like Eli’s family, so he took back his promise and cursed and destroyed them instead. Far be it from God to keep his promises.

Similarly, God told David that his dynasty would last forever, and specifically that he would never reject David’s son Solomon. Then after David died, God decided to retroactively make his promise conditional. He told Solomon he would only keep that promise if Solomon always obeyed him.

Solomon didn’t always obey God, and God rejected him. Later, he demoted David’s descendants to only rule over the smaller kingdom of Judah instead of all Israel. And then later, he put an end to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah altogether. That’s certainly not what God had led David to believe would happen.

At least when God said he would never reject the temple Solomon had built for him, he didn’t wait until Solomon was dead before revealing that that promise was conditional.

Some parts of the Bible say God’s promise to David was conditional to begin with,4 but even then it would be deceptive. Being all-knowing, God knew all along that David’s descendants would not obey him and so would not actually reign forever. So why did he mislead David by making these conditional promises focusing on an imagined desirable outcome, rather than telling him what was actually going to happen?

According to Psalm 89, God additionally promised David that his enemies would not get the better of him, and the wicked would not oppress him, because God would keep his covenant with him forever. Then David’s walls and strongholds were destroyed, his enemies defeated him, and everyone around plundered him, because God rejected him, renounced his covenant with him, stopped helping him, and decided to help his enemies instead.

Through Haggai, God told his people he would bless them from then on. But later, he decided to curse them all. Through the prophet Isaiah, God swore that he would never inflict his wrath on his people again, or even rebuke them again. But God does continue to constantly rebuke his people and talk about how he’s planning to punish them, all throughout Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and quite a few times in other later books as well.

The Old Testament says God told his people he would never break his covenant with them. The New Testament says God has discarded his old covenant as obsolete, and made a new one.

Jesus told people that if they came to him, he would give them rest, and he wouldn’t burden them much. He said anything they might have to give up for his sake, they would get back a hundred times as much during their lives on earth. What he didn’t tell them was that none of that was true, and all his followers would invariably be persecuted. Jesus even said that anyone who obeyed him would never die. I guess that’s technically true, since no one really obeys Jesus, but it’s certainly misleading.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus repeatedly says he’s coming back soon. It’s been 2000 years, and he still hasn’t come back. If he had, we would know. Judging by his description, you can’t miss it. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise… because by being slow, he’s breaking his promise. Jesus actually admitted at one point that he doesn’t even know when he’ll come back. So why did he say he would do it before his generation died out?

God says you (unlike him) had better make sure you fulfill every vow you make, because people are free to choose what they do or don’t say or do. But according to the Bible, that’s not true. You can only say something will happen and have it happen if it’s God’s will for it to happen.

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