Posts tagged ‘omniscience’

Job’s Patience or God’s Glory?

Who hasn’t heard the story of Job?  The wealthy Old Testament man of God who lost everything, his animals, his servants, all his children, and even his health.  The Bible tells us that Job was such a godly man that God trusted him to not curse God when faced with terrible times.  God knew his heart…an advantage Satan didn’t have when he challenged God.  Job’s life is virtually destroyed in the first 2 chapters of the book.  Then his “friends” come to comfort him.  In order to do that they lecture him in one speech after another for the next 36 chapters!  Of course Job refutes them, but it is a lot of back and forth while they try to convince Job that he has sinned and that is why God is punishing him.  He is accused of being arrogant and self-righteous, and they are disgusted and angered when he declares his innocence and refuses to back down.  Job never does curse God.  He curses the day he was born.  He does, however, accuse God of doing wrong to him, declaring that he is right and God is wrong.  Finally, in the 38th chapter God makes Himself known…and boy, does He make Himself known!!  BOOM!  His voice thunders from the whirlwind (The Message calls it the eye of a violent storm).

The whole scene reminds me a little of one of my favorite scenes from the Disney movie The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  Aslan, the great lion has just agreed to sacrifice himself in payment for the treachery of the boy Edmund.  The White Witch turns to Aslan, and before the great crowd of Aslan’s followers, boldly asks, “How do I know your promise will be kept?”  Alsan roars his great booming roar, and this evil, powerful enemy falls to her knees before him.  I’ll include a link to the scene on YouTube, just because it is fun:-)  ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgl4tqw2OKs).

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell Me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements?  Surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it?  To what were its foundations fastened?  Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”  God begins in Job 38:4-7 (NKJV).  Who put the seas in their place and put the barriers around them and told them to stay put?  In the next 105 verses God lets Job have it.  He declares, in no uncertain terms, exactly who He is.  He is the God who measured and designed the entire earth.  The God who put the waters where they belong and set the doors to keep them in place.  The God who has commanded the dawn since the beginning of time.  The God who holds the treasury of snow and hail for times of war.  The God who can pinpoint the exact location where lightening bolts and wind begin.  The same God who created the gentle deer and designed the number of days of her pregnancy, and the behemoth, and even greater, the Leviathan who could not be defeated by man.  And where was Job during all of that?  Was he present?   The point?  Job, do you really think you have the knowledge and insight to be able to accuse me, God Almighty, of doing wrong?

In chapter 38:2-3 (NCV) God begins by addressing Job, “Who is this that makes my purpose unclear by saying things that are not true?  Be strong like a man!  I will ask you questions, and you must answer me.”  This is where Job says, “gulp.”  After 2 chapters of God’s greatness and might, Job is hoping God has forgotten him, but God pauses in His questioning.  Chapter 40:1-2 – The Lord said to Job:  “Will the person who argues with the Almighty correct Him?  Let the person who accuses God answer Him.”  Here is the part, the roar that drops Job to his knees.  And Job’s response?  After going on and on defending himself in the bulk of the book, this is what he has to say (vs 4-5 NKJV):  “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You?  I lay my hand over my mouth.  Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”  Zip, button, lock and throw away the key…his mouth is shut tight.

What is the most common thing we hear about Job?  The patience of Job?  Don’t we often boil the story down to this poor man who lost everything, remained faithful to God, and then was blessed two-fold afterward?  Is that the real message though?  Was Job really all that patient?  Have you read the book lately?  He didn’t look patient to me.  I am by no means downplaying the terrible things he went through.  If I were in his shoes, I am pretty sure I would do some of my own questioning of God.  But why do we call Job patient when he wasn’t really all that patient?  I think the book of Job has some hard things in it that make it much easier to focus on Job’s suffering.  First of all, we get a behind-the-scenes look at God and Satan having a discussion about God’s people.  We see Satan asking for permission, and God giving it, to cause harm to one of His people.    That is not an easy picture to understand.  And anyone who is looking for an excuse to hate God could very easily find it there.  On the other hand, those who love God, and fear Him with reverence, will be comforted in knowing that even Satan must stop at the boundaries God sets up, because God is in control.  Then we have the middle of the book with all the drivel of Job’s friends.  Quite frankly, I did a lot of eye rolling when I read their lectures…and a lot of, “for heavens sake!  What kind of friends were these?!”  We have Job’s self defense and accusations of God’s “wrong-doing” that do not demonstrate the patience of Job, sorry.  I just don’t see it.  BUT THEN.  Then we have the omniscience, and omnipotence of God declared in a thunderous voice from the eye of a violent storm by God Himself!  And that declaration left a mouthy man dumbfounded, speechless, and feeling a millimeter tall.

The story of the book of Job is not the story of a man who went through hell on earth.  It is the story of the might and power of God.  It should leave us on our knees, hands over our mouths, in speechless awe of the God who rules from His thrown above…but who didn’t stay there!  In Job 9:32-35, Job cries out for a savior.  Someone who could make peace between him and God, remove his punishment, and allow him to speak without being afraid.  Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for us?  This same awesome God, who caused Job to shut his mouth, and leaves us with eyes wide, mouths gaped open and incapable of uttering anything other than “wow,” loves us so much that He took on that millimeter-tall, frail, unworthy form in order to rescue us from our own filthy dust and ashes.  Take the time soon to read Job 38-41, and soak up some awe.  And while you are at it, take a gander at the crucifixion of Jesus in Matthew 26 and 27, Mark 14 and 15, Luke 22 and 23, or John 18 and 19 (must be an important story!).

1 John 4:9-10 – This is how God showed his love to us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him.  This is what real love is:  It is not our love for God, it is God’s love for us in sending his Son to be the way to take away our sins.

So What is God’s Story, Really? Pt. 1

A while back we were talking about creation and the fall into sin in our adult Sunday School class.  During the discussion, one woman spoke up and said something that stuck with me…”God set us up.”  Heh?  Come again?  Oh, she wasn’t saying it with any kind of malicious attitude or anything.  She was just saying that, by putting the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, it appeared that God was setting mankind up for a fall.  He put the tree there, knowing it would be a temptation to eat from it.

Did God really set us up for a fall?  Did He put that tree there as a test to see if we could pass it up?  How fair is that?  That just goes against the unspoken rules of decency.  Everyone knows it just isn’t right to set someone up just so that they will fail.  It’s plain old cruel.

So does that make God cruel?  Can’t be.  He is love.  He is just.  And He is truth.  Those things alone do not add up to cruel.  Since God is not cruel, then we must ask the question:  Did God really set us up for a fall?  The answer is yes and no.

We know from the Bible that God is all-knowing.  Romans 11:33-36 (ESV) – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Since God is all-knowing, then, yes, He knew when He put that tree in the garden that Adam and Eve would eat from it.  But we need to back up further.  God knew before He created the world and everything in it that when He created the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and put it in the Garden of Eden, and made Adam and Eve, and told them not to eat of it, that Satan would tempt Eve, she would eat, and give to Adam, who would also eat.  God knew before He created any of it, that man would need a savior, that He would have to provide that sacrificial Lamb, in the form of His own Son, and that, even after sending Jesus to die in place of the sinful humans He created, that many, many would reject Him, hate Him, and chose to live as His enemies.  Why in the world did God bother??

In the words of my 10-year-old son, “Why didn’t God just click something and make everyone love Him?”  I believe that in that question lies the answer.  Why in the world did God bother with creating a world that would reject Him?  Why didn’t He just make us follow Him and love Him?  Because that is not what He wanted, or wants!  Even from the very beginning…before the beginning of the world, God wanted to have a relationship with us, His creation.  But He didn’t want a forced relationship.  God knew that forcing people to love Him would only lead to a false love.  It wouldn’t be real.  Even if it prevented sin from entering the world, and the forced love did not lead to bitterness and resentment.  It would still be a hollow love.  Love without meaning.  That is not what God wants.  He wants a love that brings with it deep devotion, abiding love that lasts for eternity, and is willing to give to Him everything that we have, because He has given to us everything we have.

This kind of love cannot be created or forced.  The love that God wants from you and me is a love that chooses Him.  When we give Him that kind of love, when we make a conscious decision to love God, He, in turn, promises us the reward of living in eternity with Him.

Now I want to put this in a very large nutshell for you.  Picture this:  God’s real story, a book from beginning to end.  God wanted a people with whom He could have a true relationship, based on a love that was chosen, not forced.  Knowing this, He set about creating a world for people to live in.  He placed a temptation before the people, knowing that they would choose to take it, and separate themselves from Him.  He already had a plan to restore that relationship once the ball was rolling.  It was a plan that was going to take a lot of time, and cost Him a lot of pain in a very personal way.  But He knew that, along the way, there would be those who would choose to love Him.  He planned to let the whole scenario play out as long as possible.  He loved each person that He created and put into the story of the world, even before they were created, and He desired to give each and every one of them the opportunity to love Him.  Eventually, He will close the book on this world, this place that He has built to cultivate people who will love Him and live with Him for eternity.  This earth was never intended to be a forever place.  It was always a time and a place on the way to eternity.  The middle step in God’s plan to create a family who could be with Him, and love Him, and talk with Him, and whom He could love and care for for all of eternity.

For those of us who are Christians, followers of Jesus, people who have chosen to love God, this is cause to praise and rejoice.  If you are reading this, and you have not made that conscious decision to love God, you still can.  God is going to close the back cover to this book very soon.  Most of the story has been written.  The final chapters are being playing out in our lifetimes.  Won’t you chose the God who went through all this trouble, sacrificed His only Son, and has waited so patiently for thousands of years so that you can share in His glory?  He loves you so much.  Chose to love Him.

“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.

 

walking on the narrow path.

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