A change of heart

Job Sees The Light - Forty-first in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

In Job 40 the omnipotence and holiness of God are front and center. How terrible it would be if God were all-powerful but not holy— how useless if he were holy but not able to enforce his ways.

If he were not also a loving God, we would fear to come before him. But he is approachable, and we soon forget who we are in comparison. He knows exactly when we have overstepped his bounds and for our own good, corrects us, at times calling us up sharply, demanding the worship he deserves.

Give God the glory! (1 Chr 16:29; Ps 29:1-2)

Job 40:1-2 NIV Chapter 40 begins with God's challenge to Job to consider his words.

Let us look back at some of Job’s words, to understand why God has been offended. And yes, God has the right to be offended when we question his ways, even when he knows we have been severely tested. He is God.

  • Job 7:16-21 — Job questioned God’s purposes.
  • Job 9:30-31 — God, you don’t care! You hate me!
  • Job 10:1-7 — God, you don’t understand how I fee! And you know you’re in the wrong and no one can save me from you!
  • Job 10:20 — Go away, God.
  • Job 13:15-16 — I am godly, therefore, I can present my case to him.
  • Job 13:20-23 — We should examine how we enter the courts of the Lord.
  • Job 14:19 — God, you have destroyed my hope! Shame on you!
  • Job 21:7 — God, why don’t you give the wicked their just deserts?
  • Job 23:1-7 — Job tells God how wonderful and innocent he is.
  • Job 27:1-2 — God is unjust!

In summary, the faultfinder believes man is due a reward for his good behavior and good attitudes. God owes man! He ought to deliver the innocent if he has any sense of justice or fairness.

Job 40:3-5 NIV Job recalls his words, and repents.

As we were reading the book of Job, perhaps his complaints seemed very small in respect to his agonies. We would have cried out much more loudly and angrily. It would not have seemed wrong. We would have expected that God would overlook our complaints, and for a while he probably would.

Yet, in his divine purposes for those who belong to him, he requires more. And we have every reason to trust without seeing. God is not in the business of defeat. (Rom 8:28) What purpose is there in a trial that has no positive outcome?

Was it wrong for Job to protest his innocence and maintain his integrity before his friends? Some will say we should follow Christ’s example and be silent in the face of false accusations and insults as he was at the end. However, Christ did defend himself against detractors. (e.g. Mat 12:25-26; John 10:32)

It was not wrong for Job to refuse to wear the mantle of shame as his friends demanded. However, we now see that the effect of his strenuous defense of his own character was to vaunt himself and in his distress to doubt or blame God. The Lord warns against outbursts of anger and encourages calm and balance in our outlook. Stress increases our tendency to overreact, leading us to sin. (Phil 4:6 et al)

Satan did not win, and he misjudged Job. Job did have a soft underbelly, but it was not greed or even presumption, that is, he did not take for granted his wealth and did not miss it as a man who measured himself by it would have.

However, his strength of character did require the toughest blows to reform his mind. His devotion to God had blinded him to God’s economies, that when weighed in the balance, we can never deserve God’s acceptance through our personal righteousness and good works. Satan’s attacks through his friends and even a mere bystander caused him to more and more stand on his merits and refuse to be thought of as evil. Thus were his impurities drawn to the surface so that God could remove them, and see his own image in Job.

Job had known it would be so: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

Job 40:6-8 NIV The Lord will now reinforce his disciplinary words because a strong reprimand is needed to effect permanent change.

Job 40:9-14 NIV A vexing question: Are we so vile that we would blacken God so that we might appear superior? Yes, we would. (Jer 17:9)

Job 40:15-18 NIV Man has no voice like the Lord’s. How incapable we are of ruling over men in a way that maintains humility as a standard for behavior. Would that even occur to us? Is the glory of the Lord important to us? Do we truly worship God?

Job 40:19 NIV Some commentators believe the Behemoth (a plural word) to be the dinosaur; some think that he was the now-extinct seahorse, or a rhino or hippo.

Job 40:20-24 NIV The Lord is jousting with Job. Yes, man was made in God’s own image, but he was not first in the line of creation. Other creatures more powerful, much larger and not subject to him, preceded him by God’s design.

In our trials we at times question God’s intelligence and purposes. We believe he is not observing our needs and that we could better manage our estate. If you do, remember Job, and put your hand over your mouth.

God Preached Creation

Job Sees The Light - Fortieth in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

A recap: The story of Job is about a morally pure, exemplary man whom God permits Satan to ruin, as —it would seem — a test of his faith. Satan believes Job will curse God once his gifts and blessings are removed, and that he only serves and obeys the Lord to gain his favors.

In the aftermath of the death of his children and servants and the loss of his herds and his health, three friends come to grieve with him. Following seven days and nights of silence, they begin to speak to comfort him and to sort out the mayhem. Each one believes Job has secret sins, and as he protests that he is innocent, contentious sparring is the result.

An onlooker, a younger man, offers to set all in order by his insights and wisdom. He presents many thoughts, but is silenced when God himself comes in a whirlwind to answer Job. What will he say? Why did God ruin Job, even permitting the death of his children? Was it only to win a bet with Satan?

Now, in the denouement, we see that Job needed to have his world turned upside down in order to understand the sovereignty of God as an article of faith, not in a superficial way, and that his standing with God could not depend on his own righteousness.

But could this not have been presented to his mind in a kinder manner? We could also ask: Was it absolutely necessary for Christ to be crucified? No, and Yes. Some accomplishments are very hard won.

Were Job alive today, he would need to hear the Gospel message, that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) But he lived during the time of the law (See this post).

How could the gospel be clearly understood before the death of Christ? It could not, and that is why we today are exalted from the standpoint of history. Nevertheless, people who lived before Christ could belong to God as we today can or do.

There was an age of preparation before Christ came when he was known or perceived through prophecies, promises, sacrifices and ordinances, yet even then man could understand God's acceptance as a matter of his grace and that any boasting or resting in ones own works would not open any kingdom doors. There are commonalities of the saints across all the ages. Those in the prior age who grasped them would be prepared to receive the Christ when he came.

As God preached Creation, Job began to understand that he could not earn nor produce a relationship with God and to see he was presumptuous and prideful.

Creation is the best tutor to humble man. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. (Psalm 33:6-9)

In Job 39 God continues to preach creation with a focus on the winged fowl and the beasts of the earth (Gen 1:21-24). He discourses on the wild goats and hinds (Job 39: 1-4), the wild ass (Job 39: 5-8), the unicorn (Job 39: 9-12), the peacock, (Job 39: 13), the ostrich, (Job 39: 13-18), the horse (Job 39: 19-25), and the hawk and the eagle (Job 39: 26-30).

Perhaps in considering the obstinacy, blindness, boldness and sheer wonder of these, Job will reflect upon how great God is and how insignificant is man.

Job 39:1-20 NIV Job is reminded that he is very young in years compared with God.

Enjoy reading all of Job 39. It is all true and wonderful.

The general remark may here be made, that all the notices in the Bible of the subjects of science — which are indeed mostly casual and incidental — are such as are confirmed by the investigations which science in the various departments makes. Of what other ancient book but the Bible can this remark be made? …Subsequent investigations have served to confirm the accuracy of these descriptions, and they may be taken now as a correct account even to the letter of the natural history of the different animals referred to. (ref)

The Error of Legalism

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-ninth in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

Each of Job’s three friends and one young upstart have tried to convince him that he is in need of repentance— His devastation is so comprehensive that only God could have effected it! This proves that God is angry with Job which proves Job has done evil deeds.

But Job is not evil and God is not mad at Job. There is much fallacious logic in the Book of Job. It would be interesting to have philosophy students pore through it to find all the illogical arguments of Job’s detractors.

Job 38:1-3 NIV Now, in Job 38, God himself takes the stage, not to explain his actions, but to wake Job up from his misconceptions.

By these words, we perceive that God judges Job to be a man in need of correction, of deeper insight. Some commentators view his opening statement to be directed to Elihu: was not he the one darkening God's counsel? Yet it is clear that God is addressing Job. He has come to answer him by imparting wisdom, while not offering specific answers to his questions.

Job 38:4-7 NIV Since the Lord’s opening words are an obvious effort to lower Job in his self esteem, do they show that God considered Job his enemy or an evil man? No, he merely desires to correct his doctrinal error — his belief that he was due God’s favor and explanations based on his behavior, also known as the false doctrine or error of legalism or works righteousness.

Can a person pave his own road to eternal life? No? Why then did Christ state: …except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:20)?

Righteousness is a prerequisite to companionship with the Lord, is it not? Don’t good works prove our faith? Can we be saved without them?

True, our works show our faith, but if they are not enabled by oneness with God and not the works God has called us to do (Eph 2:10), then we are doing them in our own wisdom and strength, in isolation from God, we might say. If we believe these works are tickets to God’s favor and honor, then we have misjudged our powers and rights in this universe.

Though Job could not have known that God would require the sacrifice of his only Son as the means for men to receive his mercy, he could nevertheless understand that God as the Creator of all, and by his revelations to men of that time in history, could not — cannot be manipulated to respond and perform by man’s behavior. If that were true, who would be in control of the world? Who would be sovereign?

Yet, though we may not force his hand, we can enjoy him. We can walk with him and serve him. We can pray for his help and receive it. We can take pleasure in obeying his commands. We can put him first and wait patiently for his answers, by his help.

There is no fine line between doing good works to earn his help and doing good works by his help. There is a vast gulf, a huge divide, in the difference between self promotion and understanding God’s mercy. If Job would know God and the enjoyment of a relationship with him, then he must realize that he was not God’s puppet master. He needed to have a new vision of God and to consider his place in the scheme of things as the creature, not the One in charge.

Job 38:8-11 NIV Imagine the intelligence and strength of the Lord!

Job 38:12-15 NIV Imagine the brute rebellion of men who believe Evolution is the force behind Creation. Job was not presumptuous as they, yet it is said that overturning pride in a religious man who believes false doctrine can be more difficult than convincing an unbeliever.

Job 38:16-21 NIV Light shines by God’s design and illuminates the deeds of the wicked; God displays the beauty of the earth and hides wisdom from evil men.

Job 38:22-30 NIV Job is reminded that he is very young in years compared with God.

Reading God's questions to Job is humbling, yet uplifting. We are called to consider the greatness of the Lord. Do we normally do this on our own recognizance?

Job 38:31-41 NIV For a blog post, this is long enough. Enjoy reading the rest of Job 38.

Attention Readers

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