Monday, November 26, 2012

Praise Him in the Storm

In 38:1 of Job, God finally speaks, and it says he does so out of a storm. Which storm is it talking about? A literal storm or the storms in Job's life? Or perhaps both? I vote both, but it doesn't matter. I like that God speaks out of the storm either way.

So, many want to ask, are the storms of life Gods judgment or not? Again, the answer seems both. The flood was told as a story of judgment over the earth. But Job's storms seem to come as a life lesson. The New Testament tells that it rains on both the wicked and the righteous. God's sends the storms, and he knows why. That is good enough for me.

God then proceeds to ask Job a bunch of questions. The answers appear to fall into two categories. Category 1: Not me, I don't know, or no. Category 2: You, only you, or no one else but you. God is showing Job that He is God and Job is not. And as God, He does not answer to anyone, even the "righteous" Job. Job needs to hear this because he thinks he can stand before God as righteous. He can't. Two chapters of this before God relents.

I need to chew on this. How does this affect me? Even if I don't challenge God with my righteousness, because that would be very stupid of me, do I virtually do the same thing when I feel sorry for myself? When I get angry? When I am depressed or sad? If God is in control, how should I handle the sunshine and the storms? Yes, I need to chew on this a while.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Of mice and men

There is the old story of the mouse and the elephant, who were crossing a rope bridge. When they got to the end, the mouse looked at the elephant and said, "We sure shook that bridge, didn't we?" Of course, the mouse had no impact at all, and that is the point.

So I read Job 35:6, and I think of the mouse and the elephant. If I sin, me, a mouse, a speck on a rock flying through space for a moment of time, if I sin, is the infinite creator God wounded by my action? Although he is hold and perfect, does my imperfection make him anything less? Can I actually harm God? Me? The mouse?

And in verse 7, if I am righteous, perfect, holy; does that make him any better? Does it make him more God?

Verse 15 is stunning, and Job needs to understand it. "He delivers the afflicted by their affliction." Job, though he thought he was righteous, needed his affliction to ultimately reveal the truth to him that he was not the center of the universe, not even close.

37:13 is another stunning verse that speaks volumes to me about how much God is God and I am not. "Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen." I can't and don't see the big picture that God sees. When I surrender to him, a part of that is taking whatever comes my way, trusting in his wisdom and grace. 

God does not regard those who are wise in their own eyes. (37:24) God owes no man an answer for his actions. Our actions, righteous or not, do not alter who he is or diminish him in any way.

Still doesn't work

Job Chapter 32

So they stopped talking to Job because he was righteous in his own eyes. (Job 32:1) I can relate, can you? Ever been in a conversation with someone who refused to admit any wrongdoing? I have. And I have probably been on the other side of some of those conversations too, sad to say.

Job seems to be somewhat of a hard-head. Elihu burned with anger because Job justified himself rather than God. To Job, it was all about his righteousness, and what God owed him as a result. And his friends found no answer to refute Job either.

In 34:9, Job is chastised by Elihu. "For he (Job) has said, ‘It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God.’" Job was righteous, but his righteousness seemed to be predicated on obtaining God's favor because of his righteousness. But no one can stand before God as righteous through their own behavior. The joy the God wants us to find in him is joy that is predicated on who God is, and not who we are or what we do for God. 

In verse 36, Job's answer is compared to that of wicked men. Job? Wicked? Yes! But thanks to God that he saves the wicked! Without that hope, I have no hope. It is as if wickedness is not determined by mere action, imagine that! Yet throughout time, including this time, men try to earn their way to God, and plead their righteousness before Him. Didn't work for Job, don't think it will work for anyone else either.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wisdom, what is it and where does it come from? If not for God, can wisdom even exist? If not for God, is it not all randomness?

Chapter 28 ends saying that wisdom is the fear of God, and it involves turning away from evil. That makes sense, because if we truly see God for who he is, would not turning from sin be the logical choice? Isn't it those who deny his holiness the very ones who are so willing to spit in his face? Like spitting in the face of Santa Claus, because you know he lacks any real power, and is just a department store flunky. Wisdom is not found in the things of earth, although there is profound wisdom in their making. True wisdom is revealed by the one who possesses it. The world's wisdom says live for today, eat drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die. But God's wisdom goes beyond death and gives life.

In Chapter 29, Job speaks of the good that he has done while he lived a life of plenty. In Chapter 30, he speaks of how the tables became turned, and now not only are his fortunes gone, but everyone also now looks down on him. Verse 11 "Because God has loosed my cord and humbled me they have cast off restraint in my presence." And then in verse 24 this statement, "“Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand, and in his disaster cry for help?" God did not need Job to accomplish his purposes. Perhaps this humbling lesson is one that Job needed to learn? 

I think Job has a hard time seeing this. He talks about how God numbers his steps, but struggles with the path that he is on. I think most of us would do that same.

Friday, November 9, 2012


In Chapters 26 and 27, Job offers some final words to his friends. As I have read through their discourse, I see two different perspectives. First is that of the friends. They are apparently free of the pain that Job is experiencing. Their perspective is one that says God loves them, and their proof of that love is based upon the fact that they are doing well. Therefore, they see Job's misfortunes as the result of Job's lack of favor from God. They label Job a sinner. But are these conclusions valid? Can God be put in a box? Can we expect God to handle people in only one manner?

Then there is Job's perspective. He sees himself as innocent, blameless. He struggles with the way that God is treating him. He cannot accept that he is a fault in what has happened. He rejects the condemnation and advice of his friends.

So what is the truth? Job is angry with his current lot in life, he sees God as in control and responsible. Yet he also understands that God is not to be trifled with, and that God is not answerable to him. He seems to feel that God has the right to do as he pleases. Imagine that! He seems to understand that while he can question God, God can choose if he wants to answer him.

So which is truth? Does God punish sin? I think the Bible is clear about that. From the flood to the death of Ananias and Sapphira, there is punishment for disobedience. Yet there are stories of suffering for those who did not seem to deserve it either. Did John the Baptist deserve beheading? What about Moses not entering the promised land, does that seem right?

One thing I learn here is about perspective. While it makes sense to view things from my perspective, I also have to realize that my perspective is not the only one there is. If I want to know the truth, I have to be able to view things from other perspectives as well. What is God's perspective? What are the perspectives of others? Maybe I should stew on that, and keep reading.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Yada Yada Yada...

And the dance goes on, with Job asserting his innocence, and his friends continuing to insist that Job's issues are a result of his sin. It is like a political debate, with people not answering questions directly, with a staunch refusal to admit any defeat, no change of heart or position, and attributing statements to your opponent that were not made or are taken out of context.

There are some great statements, but as I read through Chapter 25, I just see a see-saw of wind blowing in one direction, then in another. Maybe the next few chapters will straighten it out for me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

These Guys Won't Stop

Chapter 15 of Job

Eliphaz starts our Chapter 15 with more verbal sparring, calling Job's thoughts "empty notions" and referring to the "hot east wind." Nice friends. In verse 5, he basically says Job's words are directed by his sin, and that he is like a used car salesman. Where can I get that evangelism course?

He really comes up with no new wisdom, just more condemnation and telling Job that he should listen to him. At times, it almost reminds me of a political debate. No substance, just a lot of show, and no one is coming with an open mind, no one listens to the other, they just draw lines in the sand and dare the other to cross it. Also kinda sounds like some churches I have been to.

I love Job's response in Chapter 16. "You are miserable comforters, all of you." Tell them how you really feel Job!

Job goes on to talk about how God must be angry at him, and how his trials are directly attributed to God.Oh that someone would step up and plead his case for him! As I read this, I wonder if many of the feelings he expresses are the feelings that Christ, the only truly righteous one, felt as he suffered on our behalf.

And then there are verses 11 and 12 of Chapter 17: "My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day;  in the face of the darkness light is near." Where is that coming from? Does Job know something no one else knows? Does he have a hope that goes beyond his current circumstance?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chapter 12 and 13

Job takes a stand now...

Like I said in the previous post, they speak like no one except them can understand the things of God. Job seems to think so too, for in verse 2 he says, "No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you." Go Job!

Verse 5 (This should be a poster somewhere): "In the thought of one who is at ease there is contempt for misfortune" --Maybe have a picture of a well dressed man turning his nose at a beggar. The book of James addresses this some.

Job then goes on to say that what has happened has come from the hand of God! Blasphemy, for this falls far short of Prosperity Theology, not to mention what is shoveled from most pulpits on a given Sunday morning. God is not a meanie! He wants me to have riches and happiness and so on...

How dare He go on to explain that God's sovereignty reigns over every aspect of every thing, and that God is in control of the good and the bad! (Okay, enough sarcasm, but it makes the point, I think)

In 13:4 Job tells his friends, "As for you, you whitewash with lies; worthless physicians are you all." (And people say that I am harsh!) Or verse 5, "Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom." (Did he just tell them that the smartest thing they could do would be to shut up? Sounds like it!)

How about this one... (verse 9) "Will it be well with you when he searches you out?" (Is God gonna be happy with you when you meet him face to face? That is a powerful and gutsy question!)

But listen to Job's attitude toward God as expressed in verse 15: "Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face." (Bring it on God, you are still my only hope. But that doesn't mean I like it and won't let you hear about it!) I think God loves that attitude.

I see this attitude in the Apostle Peter. One moment, he is proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah, the next he is telling the same Jesus that he doesn't know what he is doing (by saying that he must suffer and die). And there is Nicodemus, one moment saying that "We know you are a teacher from God," and the next moment arguing that he can't crawl back into his mother's womb to be born again. What patience Jesus exhibited with both men!

Job is going to speak his mind, and he is not going to let these men with their feeble theology whitewash his problems. Good for Job. We need more Jobs.