Mar 11 2018 Job's Flawed Views of God
11th March 2018
Job 3:23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, And whom God has hedged in? 24 "For my groaning comes at the sight of my food, And my cries pour out like water. 25 "For what I fear comes upon me, And what I dread befalls me. 26 "I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, And I am not at rest, but turmoil comes."
Lord, we thank You for Your love for us. Thank You that You give us the opportunity to love others. We commit ourselves to You knowing that You gave Your life that we might have life. As we have worshiped and cast our cares on You – may we see Your divine work in our lives – may we not be afraid to let You work – and to make ourselves available to You in every way. May we join with You in the work that You might work through us in this world. In Jesus Name we pray.
Job’s first response is a lament.
A lot of what Job is is a Lament – a passionate expression of grief and sorrow –and a Biblical lament is directed at or towards God. In many ways, a lament is a complaint against God. Christianity today has lost the art and practice of Lamenting. We look at Job’s language (and we wonder how God didn’t strike him! – Remember this - A third of the Psalms are songs of lament. Most of the Old Testament Prophets. A book named Lamentations. These are all examples of Biblical Lamentation. For us – it can feel uncomfortable, irreverent, and even unchristian. The psalmists are brutally honest as they express their frustration with God. I think it is an appropriate biblical response to suffering and loss.
Here is a specific example:
Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I groan in prayer, but help seems far away.
2 My God, I cry out during the day, but you do not answer, and during the night my prayers do not let up.
We are familiar with this – because these are the words of Jesus on the cross. If you are uncomfortable praying a lament, then remember that Jesus did this – praying a psalm already written. If it is good enough for Jesus…
I encourage you to learn to make this a part of your spiritual practice. Find psalms that are songs of lament! I urge you to pray those psalms to God – at God. Become comfortable in lamenting. We say the Lord’s prayer – this is another Lord’s prayer – My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?
Most laments move from complaint to praise. In a psalm, it takes about 10 verses to move from complaint to praise.
Job’s is similar – but it is 41 chapters of complaint – and 1 verse of praise!
Eventually he gets there – but it is in an unconventional way. You could say Job was one of the biggest complainers in the world – but you could say he had reason to.
David, in Psalm 22 – is summarizing his own difficulties in running from Saul – and this doesn’t happen in the time it takes to read a psalm, but it is summarized and condensed to this one prayer. It is not like 10 seconds of complaint – but years of running from Saul and God rescues him.
These are God’s first words to Job after 37 chapters…
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:
(God speaking out of a whirlwind would indicate that God is not pleased and God is rebuking Job for his lack of wisdom.)
2 "Who is this who darkens counsel with words without knowledge?
"Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? (Job 38:2 NLT)
The fact that Job lamented and was brutally honest with God was not the problem – but the lament reveals an insufficient view of God.
God asks a question ("Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? (Job 38:2 NLT)) – and we saw this with God and Satan early on in Job (God asks, Where have you been? Have you seen my servant Job?) –
I encourage you to look for the times God questions people in scripture: With Adam (Adam, where are you? What have you done?, and Cain, after Cain kills Abel – Cain, where is your brother?!
And the question God asks boils down to this: Who do you think you are? God recognizes the Job lacks wisdom.
Some specific flaws in Job’s wisdom:
Job 7:17 "What is mankind that you make so much of them, and that you pay attention to them? 18 And that you visit them every morning, and try them every moment? 19 Will you never look away from me, will you not let me alone long enough to swallow my spittle? 20 If I have sinned– what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you set me as your target? Have I become a burden to you? 21 And why do you not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity?
Job’s first improper view of God is this: He sees God as overly demanding, overly exacting – and in many ways petty, in relationship to our sins. He sees God as a nitpicking God like an over-demanding father who is never pleased. Like the Dad who says – You went outside the lines here on your coloring. The child is so proud, and yet the parent only sees the flaws.
That is Job’s improper view of God.
O watcher of men – like one who is waiting to criticize. We wouldn’t say it like that – and that is part of the problem – yes, it is good that Job is able to express it – that is what allows Job to move forward.
This has been very difficult for me in my life. My early experience with faith as a child was of this demanding religion that was nitpicking – like God is waiting to getchya – take one wrong step – and it becomes our view of God and how we base our relationship with God. God is saying to Job – I don’t want it to be that way. God wants His relationship with us to be that of the perfect father – that is what He is. The parent we all want or want to be. Someone who is able to forgive – to pardon.
Job 10: 2- the second flawed view:
2 I will say to God, 'Do not condemn me; tell me why you are contending with me.' 3 Is it good for you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands (me!), while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?
4 "Do you have eyes of flesh, or do you see as a human being sees?... 6 that you must search out my iniquity, and inquire about my sin, 7 although you know that I am not guilty, and that there is no one who can deliver out of your hand?
Job believes that God is not just – we would say – He is unfair. A good person is suffering while all these bad people have it easy. Job reminds us of this question – Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do bad people have it so easy? It is like Job is saying – you take the speck in my eye and turn it into a log. He is saying – I have done nothing to deserve what I am receiving. What I have done is not worthy of the suffering You are putting me through.
If we think others’ specks are logs, we will see God that way - as being unfair. It usually relates to how we look at someone else. We cannot disconnect our view of others from our view of God toward us. To the pure, all things are pure. Your view of God is so much tied to your view of others. If you are critical and judgmental, you will see God as critical and judgmental. This goes the other way too – when you see God as judgmental and critical, you will judge and criticize others.
We need to break that cycle by seeing God as He is.
This is the great and foremost commandment – love the Lord with your heart, soul, mind, and strength – and the second is like it – interconnected with the first … Love Your neighbor as yourself!
Let me read from Philip Yancy’s Disappointment with God. It had a major impact on our lives 35 years ago. He talks about Job and personal interviews… He interviewed a lot of people - one named Douglas, who left a lucrative career to start and urban ministry to serve the poor – and everything went wrong. His wife came down with cancer – a long battle of recurring cancer – In the middle of dealing with that and trying to do ministry – he got in an accident – and had a terrible concussion with terrible headaches that debilitated him. It ruined his eyesight, he gets dizzy, he can’t walk without help – and he continues.
Can you tell me about your own disappointment?
To tell you the truth, I have no disappointment with God. Douglas had always rejected the easy formulas of “Turn your scars into stars theology” – but “I have learned first through my wife’s illness and then through my accident, to not confuse God with life. I am no stoic – I am upset as anyone can be – I feel free to curse the unfairness of life and feel no anger toward God. He feels the same way: grieved and angry.
I don’t blame Him for what happened.
I see beyond the physical world to see the spiritual reality. We tend to think Life should be fair because God is fair, but God is not life.
If I confuse God with the physical realities of this life, I set myself up for a crashing disappointment.
Job 40:8 Would you indeed annul my justice? Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?
Imagine God saying that to you! Job blames God. And it is like God is saying, Are you blaming me? You want a piece of me?!
God is responding – this isn’t me. The world that he is now experiencing is so twisted from everything he once thought – The reason Job blames God – it is the only way to make sense of this unreal world we are living in. We do the same thing – we live in an unreal world that is making less and less sense. We will either blame other people or we will blame God – and neither is healthy.
From How to Read Job:
If we expect justice in every circumstance we face in life, we will be disappointed – and in our frustration, that disappointment will take God as its focus. Someone has to be blamed. Like Job, we take the premise that If justice flows from God and He is all-powerful, we should expect our experience to reflect the justice of God – but this attitude is flawed…
This mistakenly concludes that in keeping with God’s plan day by day, justice is done on earth. When justice is not seen, we conclude that God is not fair.
Justice WILL be done – but only at the point where ULTIMATE JUSTICE happens.
Job believes God has forsaken and abandoned him.
Job 16:11 God abandons me to evil men, and throws me into the hands of wicked men.
We know that God never abandons us from Hebrews 13.
12 I was in peace, and he has shattered me. He has seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; 13 his archers surround me. Without pity he pierces my kidneys and pours out my gall on the ground. 14 He breaks through against me, time and time again; he rushes against me like a warrior.
How many of your prayer times have been like that with God?
Fourth - Job believes that God is out to get him – and at times, we believe that God is against us.
I encourage you to read Romans 8:29-31 – if God is for us, who can be against us? IF God is on our side, and God is on our side. It may feel like His arrows have pierced us. But we need to have this view of God, that He is on our side.
He is on our team. He wants our best at all times.
Job is saying he has done nothing wrong.
2 What then would be one's lot from God above, one's heritage from the Almighty on high? 3 Is it not misfortune for the unjust, and disaster for those who work iniquity? 4 Does he not see my ways and count all my steps? 5 If I have walked in falsehood, and if my foot has hastened to deceit– 6 let him weigh me with honest scales; then God will discover my integrity.
Look what Job says – see that there – he is saying that God is lying! Let Him weigh me with HONEST scales. He is saying, God is dishonest – taking out false scales – weighing my behavior in those scales – and he is saying that God cannot be trusted.
The point of Job is this: God is showing that He can be trusted no matter what our experience tells us. That is what God wants from all of us.
Job’s problem is this – his lifelong understanding and belief system of how God should act, in fairness and justice, in no way matches his current experience of God. It happens to all of us. At some point, our experience will cease to match what we believe about God.
We think we don’t get angry or confused or complain or lament – but in all of that, He moves us to trust.
Job’s lifelong view of God does not match his current experience and now falters.
Job does get one thing right – and it is the most important thing:
Job 23:3 O that I knew where I might find him, that I could come to his place of residence! 4 I would lay out my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. 5 I would know with what words he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. 6 Would he contend with me with great power? No, he would only pay attention to me. 7 There an upright person could present his case before him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge.
All that is going on – the one thing that Job does with his complaint and lament – the goal is to restore his relationship with God. Job is less concerned with getting all his stuff back. This relationship with God he thought he had – is gone – and it is all focused on restoring that relationship.
Job does this in an unconventional way –and it is not pretty. There is this progressive movement of Job toward God (after his initial outburst). Although it is unconventional and seems offensive or unchristian in the way Job does it – Ironically - His friends do it in the most conventional way – what they say, SOUNDS right, and yet they are moving AWAY from God.
Job 23:8 "If I go to the east, he is not there, and to the west, yet I do not perceive him.
He is looking for God – and it feels like God has hidden Himself in the times we need Him most – we have all been there – We think he has shut the door (and barred it, as CS Lewis says – in our darkest hour) we are pounding and He is not opening…
9 In the north when he is at work, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I see no trace of him. 10 But he knows the pathway that I take; if he tested me, I would come forth like gold.
Job got THIS right. He understood that God’s work primarily is in the soul of a human - Through all of this, we see that God is doing the work of transforming who we are on the inside. Sometimes that work is very difficult for all of us. There are so many impurities, like gold, that need to be burned out – and the fire gets hot.
11 My feet have followed his steps closely; I have kept to his way and have not turned aside. 12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my allotted portion.
Tim Keller: March 21 – “Gold – Job has had times of great darkness in which his speech is little more than crying in pain. These spiritual valleys are inevitable for people of even the strongest faith. We must also remember that even when Job is saying things he will repent for later, he is still praying. Yes he is complaining and crying but to God, but never let it stop you from worshiping. Why, because in his best moments, Job comes to see that his suffering is not punishment but purification, and that if he holds onto God, He will become pure gold. Job is saying God knows what he is doing.
I will be refined into something great like gold through fire.
He used to see the suffering as pointless, but now is priceless