Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Job: A Story of Love and Loss Part II

Pawns, Props or Possessions?

I should have my head examined. When I begin to teach and to put forth ideas of loving God solely for which He is rather than for anything that God might give us or even protect us from, my convictions are tested. When I refer to Job or to James chapter one, and even Habakkuk 3: 17-19 God says, OK Gregg, do you really believe this or do you simply teach it? The last few days since I have been dwelling on this topic have challenged me, challenged me to my core as God continues to mold me through various trials.

We left off yesterday having minutely stated that Job’s wife, his ten children, his servants; his status and his livestock were not the central theme of the book of Job. The central theme of the book of Job is simply – is God worthy to be loved for who God is rather than for what God gives us or does for us? This is important in order to learn from Job’s experience the valuable truths and principles God recorded for our benefit.

In this post, I want to deal with the question or actually statement that it seems as if Job’s “family, possessions, and anything else he holds dear are just inconsequential parts of the story… Job’s children are just helpless pawns in a game between God and Satan.”

The issue is, as it always is, viewpoint. Whose viewpoint do we consider when we humbly and honestly come to these conclusions? This is a crucial question which demands a correct answer.

First, Job’s wife, children, servants, etc. are not pawns in a game or contest. Satan has viciously impugned God’s character. He has accused God of what we would consider to be bribery. Satan has also impugned an extension of God, Job, of having unrighteous motives. God, being, God has every right to respond to this challenge as he pleases.

Second, you must stop viewing this story and every other “story of life” from a human perspective. I know since we are human that is the natural reaction. I also know that throughout history and particularly in our country since the late 1700’s or early 1800’s God’s sovereign ownership and providence has been challenged. Nay, not just challenged, but rejected. 

When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden he told them that the day in which you sin, you will surely die. (Genesis 1:17) We know from further revelation in scripture that Adam and Eve did die that day spiritually, and they began to die physically. At this point God had every right to deal with Adam and Eve as he saw fit. He could have destroyed them right there and then. They transgressed his law, they despised him, and they had no defense. They did not deserve anything but that which God has said would take place, they would die. 

We know, from having the “rest of the story” that God chose to extend his grace to them. He gave them what they did not deserve; continued life and a covering for their shame and sin. This leads us to some difficult conclusions.

First, God does not owe any of us anything including life. Life is not a “right” or desert. God doesn’t owe us anything length of days on this earth whatsoever. If we are given life it is a gift from the grace of God. God does not owe us a long and prosperous life either. There is no evil in God, nor has God wronged anyone if their life span is any shorter or any longer than any other human being.

Second, since God is the creator, God is the owner of all that he has created. Ouch! God has the sovereign right to do as he sees fit with his creations. (Romans 9:21) If God chose to give life to Job’s ten children it was an absolute gift of grace that they were given. If God chose to end those lives in their early to mid thirties or forties then God has that right. 

Third, since God is holy, righteous, just, and perfect, nothing that He does is wrong or evil. Through everything that God does his attributes are working perfectly and harmoniously in alignment with his character.

God had a definite purpose in giving permission to Satan to destroy his crops, kill his animals, servants, and precious children. God’s purpose was to show to Satan that Job did love God for who God was and that Job loved God more than anything else. If God owed Job’s children anything at all, one might say they were helpless pawns. If God wronged Job’s children in any way, one might say they were helpless pawns. God did not owe his children anything other than perfectly righteous treatment. God dealt righteously with Job’s children, he gave them life, allowed them to enjoy his manifold blessings, and then as God promised, sinners die. They complied with the righteousness of God. If they didn’t die then God would be unjust. He never promised anyone Job’s children a certain amount of days nor does he promise us any certain number of days.

God does not play games. Nor does God unjustly or righteouslessly use people. God is very serious about his character, his nature, or what is often refered to as his glory. He will not give his glory to another. (Isaiah 42:8) God was not going to give glory to Satan by allowing his challenge to stand, nor was God going to give his glory to Job for being smart enough to worship God for what he could get from God.

By the way, Job wasn’t even considered important in this story. God never answered Job’s questions. God never explained himself to Job, nor did God defend his actions. As a matter of fact in Job thirty eight God appears to Job and actually takes Job to the “proverbial” wood shack for a “shellacking” if you know what I mean?

What was important in this story was God’s character. God is worthy to be loved even if my crops are destroyed, my wife tells me to curse God and die, my servants are killed, my livestock is destroyed, and my ten precious children are taken from me.

Now, I know that many people resent and reject a God like this. They reject a sovereign God who has absolute control and ownership over them. They reject the notion that God does as he pleases for his ultimate good and glory including taking lives of human beings. But remember, nobody is innocent. We are all born in bondage to sin and we are born with depraved natures. God owes us nothing. God doesn’t do anything apart from or in violation of his character. 

That doesn’t stop the majority of the human race from either rejecting God outright (Romans 1) or inventing a God of their own imagination. (Romans 1:23) So, we imagine a God in our own heart or mind that we can love, or that we can accept, or that we are comfortable. This “imagined” God is always less than what God has been revealed in the Scriptures – therefore this imagined God is an idol and we are often guilty of idolatry.

God did not wrong Job or his children. He took from Job what was precious to Job in order to show Satan that Job treasured God and his relationship with God more than any earthly possession, including his children.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10b) By the way, Job seems to have used the Hebrew word “evil.” This of course was considered to be evil by human standards – that Sabeans, Chaldeans, lightening and wind would kill all that he had. This word also is translated as affliction, hurt, trouble, and even mischief. Job is not accusing God of treating him by means of being evil. Job is correctly assessing that all things, good or bad, that come upon us are from the hand of God.

I know I am over my word count. However, I wanted to put this to rest. Job was not the important issue in this story, nor was his children and possessions pawns. God owed Job or his children nothing. God chose to use what was his in a means that he chose in order to demonstrate to Satan that God is righteous in all that he does and that Job did fear God for who God was rather than having been bribed.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Wonderful post Geoff as usual but there is one question that my daughter asked me when she was still at school and I was unable to answer as I had never thought of it before,

Ready? Here goes, As you mentioned Adam and Eve today I think it is appropriate, Adam and Eve had two sons Cain and Abel(am I correct?)
well how did any other woman appear on the scene? Don't forget my then 12 yrs old daughter asked me that.

Enjoy your day.

JD Curtis said...

do you really believe this or do you simply teach it?

This reminds me of a story a visiting preacher told a couple of weeks ago.

A man went to visit Mother Teresa in Calcutta and spent a week or two following her around as she ministered to the poor in Indian slums.

Before he left, he asked her to pray for him that he would have clarity to distinguish God's exact will in his life.

Mother Teresa thought for a moment and said that even she did not have such a thing.

She advised the man that she would instead pray that the man might have trust in the Lord in that His will would be accomplished in his life.
I think that applies here.

The Old Geezer said...

Brother Gregg, Thank you for another thought provoking Bible study.

I'll be sure and check back to read your answer to Yvonne's most interesting question?


Lloyd said...

Thank you Gregg for the Bible study on Job. God's blessings. Lloyd

Gregg said...

Yvonne - in case you miss this response, I answered your question in a post that will come up in queue in two or three days. But allowe me to say that after Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden they began procreating and had many children, including more sons and daughers.

Two factors led to this: 1) it seems prior to the fall man lived to extraodrinary ages. Adam lived to be 930 years old. There is no reason, no evidence, nor information that would or should keep us from viewing these as normal 360 or 365 day years. So you can have a lot of children in 930 years.

2) At this time and until after the flood and giving of the law, there was no prohibition against incest. Adam's sons married and procreated with their sisters. Eventually cousins probably married, but until the earth was populated there was no genetic, physical, or moral problem with Cain, Seth, and other sons from marrying the only women available, their sisters.

OG - You are welcome Ron.

Lloyd - You are welcome, I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the blessings, blessings on you too!

JD Curtis - I appreciate your comments,thanks.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Hi Gregg I hope you did not find my question flippant, but as I explained my daughter then 12 asked me. I found your answer very good, I thought that incest was not so much a sin but caused birth defects. I didn't know Adam lived to 930. I will tell my daughter on Friday when I see her . Thank you for taking the time to explain, much appreciated,

arlee bird said...

That was a very clear explanation. This is still difficult because though I find nothing to disagree with in what you have said, there are things that I don't want to believe or find hard to accept for the reasons you have indicated. I am one small solitary person looking out for myself and loved ones and I am inclined to want to reject some of the ideas because I am afraid, weak, selfish, and worldly. I need to work on this.

Tossing It Out

AL said...

Another great post. My favorite song is based on Job 1:21 - Blessed Be Your Name.
"...On the road marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering, blessed be Your name..."
Great study on Job, gives me new perspective and a better understanding of the book, thank you!