Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Is Job's God YOUR God?"

Day #105

Scripture Reading:  Job 1-2 ...

God is not whoever you and I determine we want Him to be or whoever we imagine Him to be.  God is who He is!  Throughout the book of Job you will find people with particular views of God.  The key "players" in this real-life drama are introduced in the first two chapters:  God, angels, Satan, Job, his wife and Job's three friends.  Many people read this account of Job and focus on Job, but while we learn some lessons about suffering and encouragement through the trials Job faced (James 5:11), the main point of the entire book is to reveal Job's God ... first to Job! ... and then to his friends and to all who have read his story throughout the centuries.

Job believed in God, worshiped God and served God, so why does God allow Satan to torment Job?  The scene is set in Chapter 1, verses 6-12.  Angels are God’s servants and messengers.  Clearly, the Bible teaches that the spiritual realm is not only real, but that God directs the angels to engage in the realm of this physical world according to His will.  The writer of Hebrews says, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).  Job 1:6 tells us, “One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.”  The words indicate that Satan was not a part of those who were coming to present themselves before the Lord, their Creator, but that he came to play his role as “the accuser.”

God says to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (1:8).  So begins the challenge as Satan declares that Job is only serving God because God has given him everything he could possibly want.  What follows is not God’s “knee-jerk response” to Satan’s accusation, but rather God’s purpose to use Job’s life as a testimony to His sovereignty over all things and His faithfulness to those who trust in Him.  Many centuries later Peter wrote about the inheritance of those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus and then says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Peter 1:6-7).

Knowing God and trusting Him helps believers to endure trials and suffering because we know He has a purpose in all things that is for our good and for His glory.  We know that these things are not just random, chance events; that we are not just “unlucky.”  In that familiar verse in Romans 8:28, Paul writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Amazingly, Job knew God in this way ... at least at the beginning of his “testing.”  God sometimes sends testing our way not to see if we have faith, but to strengthen our faith, to deepen our faith, and to use our lives as a testimony to HIM! 

When faced with his own trials and suffering the Apostle Paul prayed that God would take them away, but God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul responded, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:8-10).  Job’s God is our God, the only true God, and by knowing Him and trusting Him, we can endure whatever comes into our lives and testify that our God is faithful!!  

Those who know God's character understand Job's initial response:  "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised" (1:21).  He had just lost his children and the bulk of his possessions, yet He trusted the God He worshiped.  "In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing" (1:22).  Those who blame God when trials and suffering come, believing that He has let them down or left them, do not know Job’s God.

We could get into the discussion about the cause of evil, but again, those who know the God who reveals Himself in His Word know that God cannot do evil.  Satan did what God allowed him to do because Satan wanted to cause Job harm and to prove his accusation that Job only worshiped God because God blessed Him (1:10-11).  But God knew Job, and it was God's desire to reveal His glory and power and compassion and mercy TO Job and THROUGH Job. So it is in your life and mine.  As Joseph said to his brothers all the way back in Genesis 50, verse 20, so we can say to Satan or those who would try to harm us, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”

Job knew God.  Job's wife, on the other hand, apparently did NOT know God.  "Curse God and die!" (2:9), was her advice.  Yet, Job displayed both his knowledge of God and his faith in God when once again he responded, "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (2:10).  And again it is said of Job, "In all this, Job did not sin in what he said" (2:10).  Job apparently did not expect God to remove all trials and suffering from his life.  He knew God was with Him and like all who have faith, trusted God to do what was right and just and good.  Already, God was using Job to testify to God's character.  God does what is right - always!  Trusting God is never foolish; it is always the right thing to do.

But now come Job's three friends:  Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  These men thought they knew God ... but they didn't, and what follows will display their ignorance for all to see - an ignorance shared by many today who claim to know God.  For today the question is simple:  "Is Job's God YOUR God?"  Do you know Him?  Do you trust Him?  Will you serve Him?  He alone is worthy!

"O Lord, my God, I believe Your Word and I know You are a God of compassion and mercy to those who call upon You.  You never forsake those who trust in You.  Father in heaven, give me grace to trust You and to worship you in my present and future circumstances, through faith in Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord, today, tomorrow and forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen"

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