Job 24-28: Why, God?
Do you notice how many questions Job has? And his questions are directed to God. Why God?
“Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know Him look in vain for such days? “Job 24: 1, 2 We want answers to life’s questions, especially when life is difficult and things are not happening the way we thought they would. And when we look at others and their success, we think life is just unfair sometimes. We cry out just like Job, just like Habakkuk. Why did this happen? How can I get out of it? When are you going to do something? Natural questions we have all had. Problem is they are the wrong question.
The question we are to ask is: How can God be glorified in this situation? The chief end of man to is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The Holy Spirit reveals a truth to us we intellectually believe in our mind. The next step is God will then put us in a test where we must take a step of faith based on the truth He has revealed to us; this is an act of our will. When we do this, we often face difficulties, suffering and trials for a season. When we endure and come through the test, we can look back and see how we can trust Him with all our heart. For trust is a commitment of the heart. Do you see the three entities of our soul, our heart involved here: the mind, the will and the emotions. This is how we gain understanding of the truth and experience the faithfulness of God and gain wisdom in how to apply the truth and principles. And whenever we need wisdom we can ask, for God gives it liberally, but we must not doubt. We must be fully persuaded. The man born blind in John 9, the disciples ask the wrong question, who sinned, this man or his parents? Neither, said Jesus, it was to display the work of God in his life. John 12: Jesus facing arrest and taking the cup of sin and wrath of God ask the question: Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father glorify your name!”
Why do the wicked prosper? Romans 2: 4 tells us- “… knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance.” Realize at the same time, God does not treat us as we deserve to be treated. Psalm 103 begins with the well-known verse: “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!” Then in Psalm 103:10 we read: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” Aren’t we glad and should we not bless the Lord with all that is within us? Of course we should. Peter also shares God’s motive is God is not willing that any should perish, but would come to repentance. This is the reason for His patience and longsuffering. He gave the wicked in the days of Noah 120 years in which to repent. None did. Should we not desire the same thing as God desires- which is the repentance of sinners? We are glad God has not punished us as we deserve, why do we so want to see these sinners punished, for as Paul writes, this is what we used to be.
What we are studying in these repetitious discourses and arguments between Job and these three men is we are seeing a popular belief of many who profess to be Christians, who like these three men, have put God in a box of their own understanding. Their belief says, sin always is judged and the source of suffering. Therefore, if you are suffering, you are suffering for your sins. And God does rebuke, chasten and even scourge His own children in their disobedience. But it is proportionate punishment. He does not discipline in anger or wrath but in love. And Paul says our suffering is light. It also is for a reason to produce a harvest of peaceful righteousness if you are trained by it. Must have the right attitude, a teachable spirit not a rebellious, stiff-necked, unteachable spirit.
In fact today, one of the great problems is Christians claim to have a loving, faithful, just and Holy God. We do not balance our teaching regarding God’s coming judgment. We do not choose to confront our society about sin, or we will be persecuted. Our silence is filled with the voice of those who say, you must tolerate our ways, not condemn them. So the question from the doubters, the unbelievers, the skeptical is: If God is all powerful, why do bad things happen to good people? And why are the wicked prospering? In other words, what’s in it for me? Looks like between the Christian who is struggling to make ends meet and the godless are living life with gusto- why should I become a Christian?
Why is God absent when He is so needed? Why is God so silent when we think He should speak? And we realize we have certain expectations of how our God is supposed to act.
Job has certainly come to realize the plight of the poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless, the victims, as he describes them so vividly in these verses in Job 24. He speaks of orphans and widows who have been taken advantage of. Interesting, James writes in James 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
If we are not careful, our theology comes to be more like the theology of these three men than we would like to think. For example, they believe if you are good, you will be rewarded for being good. If you sin, you will suffer and if you repent you will prosper again.
America has been a country blessed with prosperity. Our forefathers founded our country on biblical principles. And for years America has considered Christianity part of our culture. And believed it was part of the reason for our greatness and goodness. Christianity was our national religion. It was part of our culture and considered to be good for us individually and as a nation, it was even considered patriotic. It is almost as if we expect God to bless us as our national right. Even though we condone and/or tolerate or are silent about things we He has told us are wrong.
The things which occur in these foreign countries: Diseases, violence, wars, poverty, famine, were because they were not Christian nations. The benefits we had in America were a result of our Christian faith. As a result we were blessed with: security, comfort and prosperity. Our exterior needs were being met as we lived in a rich, fertile abundant land.
I have traveled to other countries where I observed the difference. On two occasions I was carried to and from meetings by and armed driver because crime was so prevalent. I looked at a river in Brazil which was completely black and the smell alone would make you nauseous. On the banks on the other side, was a dump, where people lived in cardboard boxes, cooking food on open fires.
But look what has happened to our culture:
- We are addicted to entertainment.
- We love and seek prosperity.
- We crave and expect security.
- We long for approval, recognition and love.
We love our lifestyles. We love our possessions. We want to be happy. And this is what we expect God to provide, if we obey Him. As I said last week, ‘we don’t want to be good for nothing, we expect to be rewarded. ‘ I hate to say this, but I see in the belief of these three men, some of the same beliefs I hold. And there are truths in their beliefs, for God rewards us as Christians for obedience, but Jesus said our motive for obedience must be our love for Him. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” And in Hebrews 11 we read: “Without faith it is impossible to please God and those who come to Him must believe that He is and is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. “ (Not what they can get from Him. He is our reward. ) This is why we ask God examine our hearts to see what our motives are and if there is any wickedness in us. This often means the Refiner must place us in the furnace to separate us from the dross, from the things of this world, which we can cling to like they were precious idols. Lot’s wife could not keep from looking back, even though she had been warned not to do so—she could not bear losing her possessions. It cost her – her life.
The depravity of man and our old nature makes it easier for us to go down, rather than up. Listen to what Paul writes to the church in Corinth. First: Just a word about this church because it in many ways reflects the church in America in the 21st century. Corinth has two harbors and was a cross road for travelers and traders. It was commercially successful and prosperous based on their natural geography. They were primarily a Greek culture; education and wisdom were highly valued. They were religious, had a temple on every corner, 12 in fact, which encouraged an immoral lifestyle. The Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love featured temple prostitutes. Sexual immorality and greed were the norm for this city and culture. Their culture was identified with its acceptance. It was the Las Vegas of its day.
Listen to the list Paul writes in I Cor. 6: 9-11: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither sexual immorality nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. “I heard Adrian Rogers quote this Scripture and he followed it with- these people need to get saved!
And here is why we have no right to be judgmental: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of our God.” Today in American we celebrate same-sex marriage, acceptance of lifestyles which the Bible says are sinful. How in God’s name can we celebrate something which keeps people out of the kingdom of God?
Bildad makes his short reply in Job 25: His statements are true. Bildad speaks of the awe of God, of how God establishes order in the heights of heaven. Of God’s innumerable angelic forces. He asked the question how can man be righteous before God? Bildad speaks of the depravity of man by referring to him as a maggot. In Job 26, Job replies with sarcasm.” How have you helped the powerless? “I believe James studied the book of Job intensely. For James says your faith is like those whose talk does not match their walk. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2) In Matthew 25, the Lord Jesus is separating the sheep from the goats. He says to the sheep, to take their inheritance and then the Lord Jesus says I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink, naked and you clothed me, a stranger and you invited me in, sick and you looked after me, in prison and you visited me.” These three men have not lifted one finger to help Job, who is desperately in want and need of some TLC. (Tender loving care)
Job continues his discourse through chapter 27 and in chapter 28, Job asks this question twice? “Where can wisdom be found?” Where does understanding dwell? “ And he answers: “The fear of the Lord- that is wisdom and to shun evil”
UNDERSTANDNG THE NEED FOR THE FURNACE OF AFFLICTION
We are realizing God uses a variety of agents as our furnace of affliction to burn off the dross. He has allowed Satan the freedom to do these things to Job. But as we have observed, God limits what the enemy can do. He has the enemy on a leash; he can only go so far and no farther.
God uses men and women, who are sometimes family or friends against us. He uses sickness, the loss of possessions, unemployment, domestic trials. The furnace is a time of loss and separation from those things which keep us from loving and trusting the Lord with all our hearts.
We need the furnace the way our sick bodies need medicine; like the fruit tree needs pruning; like the gold and silver need refining; and like children need the rod of correction.
The furnace keeps us from going astray. “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey your word.” Psalm 119: 67 “It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees.” Psalm 119: 71
The furnace weans us from the evil, fallen world we live in. The prodigal did not think of his father’s house and his father, until he was broke, employed feeding pigs during a famine so severe, he would have eaten the pig’s food he was so desperately hungry. Rebellion brings famine and famine makes one hungry for what only the Father can provide.
The furnace tests our faith; produces growth; creates great need for fervent prayer.
The furnace prepares us for future usefulness and fruit bearing. In addition God has promised to never place more on you than you can bear.
God uses the furnace for construction not destruction. Our afflictions are not a result of chance, bad luck or fate. Nor are they just collateral damage from living in a fallen world. They come from and are initiated or allowed by God.
Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica was to encourage them in their trials. Paul not only wrote he sent Timothy. “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the Gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you in your faith, so no one would become unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.” (I Thess 3: 3)
Are you beginning to see the light? Paul says: “In Him we were also chosen having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will…”
Now the mention of predestination makes us nervous. Peter wrote this simple meaning of predestined or the elect; “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…’ (I Peter 1)
God’s sovereignty and man’s free will is a mystery to us. Most arguments regarding these truths come down on one side or the other. However they are both true. Spurgeon replied when asked how he reconciled God’s Sovereignty and mans’ free will answered. “I do not try to reconcile them. I never try to reconcile friends.” Man in his free will walks where he wants. Yet God uses his free will to achieve His sovereign purpose. I cannot possibly understand how He does this, I can only believe and look at my own life and confirm it is true.
On the morning I got saved. I chose to call AA. I chose to attend a meeting which God had allowed to take place within minutes of my location. It was starting when I walked into the meeting in the basement of a church on West End in Nashville not five minutes from where I was. He also sent a man to that meeting who did not usually attend that meeting, but on this particular morning, he told me in his quiet time he was impressed to go to this meeting that morning. He said I was the reason he was to be there. He took me to his office. He called my wife, Gina, at home and gave the phone to me. She answered and the rest is history….His Story. God began His Story in our lives.
“O the depths of His riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out.”
Job had a great truth revealed to him: “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding. “
Have you discovered this truth?
Do you see how God is showing us in extreme how he prepares an individual?
Do you understand what happens when a nation of individuals decides they will do what is right in their own eyes?
We are the people of God. We the people and we the problem…..