Sunday, April 17, 2016

"A little knowledge is dangerous!"

Day #109

Scripture Reading:  Job 9 - 10 ...

Oh Job … you know God, but you don't know God!  You declare that He is Almighty and that He controls the sun and the stars.  You proclaim that He brings judgment and you confess that you do not deserve His mercy.  You testify that He gave you life and showed you kindness, and that in His providence He watched over your spirit (10:14).  Yet, you accuse God of punishing you and imagine that there is no difference between the blameless and the wicked (9:22) - that He treats both the same.  How many today join Job in questioning God when trials and suffering come their way?  But what good does that do?  There is a huge difference between confessing that you do not understand God’s ways and giving voice to your doubts by questioning God’s ways as though God might be making a mistake in judgment.  Job was crossing the line!

When it comes to Job’s friends, the popular saying seems to apply:  a little knowledge is dangerous!  The book of Job reveals a man who worshiped God, who sought God, who knew some right things about God, but who needed to go deeper, to learn more, to grow!  Job’s three friends apparently went to the same school.  How many people today know some things about God, but are in serious error in understanding His character and how He works in the world?  That's why God gave us His Word and is one of the reasons why Jesus said it would be better for the disciples if He went away, because He would send His Holy Spirit.  Knowing God requires the instruction of the very Spirit of God.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?  In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We (believers) have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.  … The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. … But we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:11-12, 14-16).  It is not surprising that people question God’s actions, but those with the Spirit learn to trust God’s character and God’s promises.  Job would learn to do so through his experience of severe trials.  Many since have done the same.

Jesus said, “This is eternal life:  that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).  Ignorance of God’s ways reveals the spiritual death in which most people on earth find themselves.  They often cry out to a God they don’t know or a God they don’t even believe exists, without really wanting to hear God’s answer.  They cannot possibly believe that God’s wisdom and power extends even over evil, and that He has a purpose in allowing even His children to endure trials.  Peter wrote, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (II Peter 1:3).  Paul taught the men of Athens about the “unknown God” (Acts 17:23).  To know something about some “god” does not bring hope, joy, peace or life!  Only truly KNOWING God leads to confidence and assurance that He is with you and that there is a purpose in suffering and trials.

Job needed to know ... YOU need to know, that God does not, cannot cause evil AND that He does not cause us to suffer or even allow us to suffer without reason.  As Job tries to understand, he foolishly and wrongly says that God "mocks the despair of the innocent" (9:23) and that "when a land falls into the hands of the wicked, He blindfolds its judges" (9:24) - "If it is not He, then who is it?" (9:24).  Job needed to be reminded, or to learn for the first time, that God can be trusted to keep His promises … even when it looks like the circumstances of life have gotten out of control.  To accuse God of wrongdoing is never a good place to go.  To question God's justice is to reveal one's own ignorance.  God Himself determines right and wrong and tells us that He cannot look on evil.  Remember, God was not causing Job’s suffering … Satan was!

But didn’t God “cause” it by challenging Satan and using Job as a “test case?”  Job was not the first or the last to suffer while believing in God.  The apostles and many of the early believers died for their testimony, yet with confidence Paul wrote to the Philippians, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him” (Philippians 1:29).  That was Job’s calling and we are still talking about him thousands of years later!  Perhaps that is your calling and mine as well. 

Job cries out, "If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more.  Then I would speak up without fear of Him" (9:33-35).   Job wants someone to stand between him and God and to bring reconciliation.  He could not know God's plan to do exactly that … to send a Mediator for us.

You and I need a Mediator, too ... but not to persuade God to be merciful.  He already IS merciful, and it was His love that sent His own Son to BE our Mediator, to pay our debt and to reconcile us to the Father.  "God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them ... We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We beg you on Christ's behalf:  Be reconciled to God!"  (II Corinthians 5:19-20).

Knowing God as He reveals Himself in His Word is necessary to avoid the reaction of Job ... to question God, to engage in self-pity and to end up being afraid of God rather than loving God.  Jesus does what Job was asking for:  He removes God's pays our debt and reconciles us to the Father and enables us to speak of God without fear!!  Job needed Jesus ... and so do you and I.  Praise God for the gift of His Son and for the knowledge He gives to those who seek Him.

"Lord God Almighty, I seek You and desire to know You above all else.  My heart yearns for You, my God.  You are worthy of praise and I thank You for Your providence, for Your salvation, for Your Son!! In Jesus, I come to You without fear, knowing You are a God of holiness and justice, but also a God of compassion, mercy and grace.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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