Thursday, April 9, 2020

JOB’S PROBLEM WITH GOD IS OUR PROBLEM




Why do we do we become so discouraged with God? Part of our problem centers on the fact that we often fail to anticipate the amount of suffering we will have to endure. The other part is our failure to appreciate the necessary role that suffering plays.

Job certainly failed to anticipate the extent of his suffering; nor did he understand it. As a result, he accused God of injustice, instead of trusting Him to bring him through his ordeal:

·       Job 9:21-24 "Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life. It is all the same; that is why I say, 'He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.' When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent. When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?”

·       Job 10:2-3 “I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me. Does it seem good to you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands and favor the designs of the wicked?”

·        Job 27:2-6 "As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul.”

·       Job 16:12-17 “All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground. Again and again he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior…yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure.

Although, we should be hesitant about judging others going through a Job-experience, God wasn’t. Job had been sinning, and God let him know it. But first, His proxy, Elihu, prepared Job for the Divine confrontation:

·       Job 37:20-23 "Tell us what we should say to him; we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness. Should he be told that I want to speak? Would any man ask to be swallowed up? Now no one can look at the sun, bright as it is in the skies after the wind has swept them clean…The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.”

Job had drawn up his “case” against God. However, he was no more able to do that than to look into the brightness of the sun. In both instances, his sight was unable to penetrate their blinding light. Elihu also reminded Job that God does not oppress,” as Job had alleged. After this, God came upon the ignorant Job in anger and in terror:

·       Job 38:1-3 Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”

Job had been speaking falsely about God. While Job was convinced that his words were light, God had to show Job that they were darkness. He asked Job a long series of questions about the physical world, but Job could not answer a single one. How then could he dare to speak confidently against God and His spiritual world? In order to show Job how small and inadequate he was, God continued:

·       Job 40:7-12 "Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand.

Job wasn’t able to do any of these things, and yet he thought he could accurately judge God. Job got the point and repented twice.

Job had made matters worse for himself by thinking that he knew more than he actually did know. Often, we are convinced that we can speak authoritatively against God and His ways. But we are but little children before Him. There are things that they can understand, but many things they can’t. However, Job had failed to make this critical distinction.

Job also failed to perceive his need for God’s chastening to humble him. He “knew” that he was righteous and, therefore, entitled to the blessings of God. Consequently, he was convinced that he deserved better treatment from Him.

This is a danger to which even the most righteous are susceptible, perhaps even more than other people (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Consequently, Elihu exposed Job’s self-righteousness:

·       Job 33:8-12 "But you have said in my hearing-- I heard the very words-- 'I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt. Yet God has found fault with me…’ But I tell you, in this you are not right.”

Job thought so highly of himself that he was convinced that such divine treatment was totally unwarranted. We too have false expectations because we have an inflated estimation of our own merit and worthiness before God (Luke 17:10) and, consequently think that we deserve better from Him.

Even God’s Old Testament saints should have understood that their favorable standing before Him depended upon His mercy. As Elihu explained, even Job needed a “mediator”:

·       Job 33:19, 23-28 …man may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in his bones [to show him his ways]…Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, to be gracious to him and say, 'Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him'—then his flesh is renewed like a child's; it is restored as in the days of his youth. He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God's face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state. Then he comes to men and says, 'I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved. He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.'”

Even the righteous Job deserved death (Romans 6:23) and needed to be “spared.” He too required chastening and a Mediator with His still undisclosed redemption.

In contrast with the humbling that Job had to endure at his encounter with God, self-righteousness is the inevitable path to anger and bitterness when we don’t receive what we think we deserve. Our exalted estimation of ourselves tells us, “I deserve better from God. He had promised me the world, but I have only received a storm.” Instead, it is far more fruitful to recognize that “This speck-of-dust deserves nothing good from the Creator, but He will give me the world in His time.”

Our estimation of ourselves is too high, and our thoughts about Our Redeemer are far too low. Once we realize that we deserve nothing good from our Savior – and that everything we receive is a matter of His mercy, which it is – we are ready to begin to receive the world:

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)





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