Tuesday, March 21, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 17, Job Answers Zophar, Part Two

Zophar has accused Job of scorning the sovereignty of God, but Job's speech today clearly shows that he believes God is in control over all things and that He takes an active part in events on the earth.

"To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His. What He tears down cannot be rebuilt; those He imprisons cannot be released." (Job 12:13-14) Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall according to the will of God. He is in control of nations and their leaders.

"If He holds back the waters, there is drought; if He lets them loose, they devastate the land." (Job 12:15) God is in control of nature.

"To Him belong strength and insight; both deceived and deceiver are His." (Job 12:16) This could mean that both the wise and the foolish belong to the God who created them. Or it could refer to the very situation Job finds himself in: that Satan, like man, belongs to the One who created him and he cannot do anything God does not allow him to do. Satan would have us believe he is God's counterpart, His equal, but this is not true because God has authority over Satan.

"He leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waists." (Job 12:17) God is in control of the politics of the world. He gives authority and He takes authority away. As we learned in our study of the kings of Israel and Judah, at times God provides good leaders to bless a nation, but at other times He provides bad leaders to discipline a nation.

"He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established." (Job 12:19) God is in control of the churches and temples. He is able to defrock those in high positions who have become spiritually corrupt, no matter how long they have been in authority.

"He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of the elders." (Job 12:20) God is wiser than the wise. Even the most aged and respected of advisers may find their counsel frustrated if it is the will of God.

"He pours contempt on nobles and takes away the discernment of elders." (Job 12:21) God does not show favoritism. He is able to humble the prideful man of high birth as easily as He humbles the prideful peasant. He will not withhold discipline from an elder who has gone astray no matter how well respected he might be in the community. A human judge might be persuaded to be more lenient when persons of wealth or celebrity are brought before him, but God is not impressed by such things.

"He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light." (Job 12:22) The Lord Jesus said, "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open." (Luke 8:17) Wicked plans, backroom deals, and deadly conspiracies take place behind closed doors but there is nothing hidden from God. A person might be able to fool his fellow man but he can't fool God.

"He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and disperses them." (Job 12:23) Just think of all the kingdoms mentioned in the Bible that are no more. At one time nations like Assyria, Babylon, and Rome were the greatest and most feared kingdoms on earth. But God sets the times and seasons for the rise and fall of every kingdom. If a kingdom stands today, it stands only because it's God's will for it to stand. If a kingdom falls today, it falls according to the will of God. Man thinks he is in charge of these things, but God controls the nations as easily as a chess player controls the pieces on the board.

"He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; He makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; He makes them stagger like drunkards." (Job 12:24-25) King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is a good example of this. He was so prideful that the Lord humbled him by taking away his reason for a time. Nebuchadnezzar would have been considered legally insane during the years the Lord disciplined him. Have you ever noticed the way some individuals cannot handle power or celebrity or wealth, how they seem to become more and more unhinged as time goes on? We tend to think they have simply allowed their power or their position to go to their heads, but Job suggests such madness is from the hand of God as He humbles the one who begins to view himself as a god. The Apostle Paul warned against being lifted up in pride and believing we have achieved anything on our own without the help of God, "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Job concludes this portion of his reply to Zophar by saying, "My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you." (Job 13:1-2) Zophar dismissed Job's complaints and questions as foolishness, as if Job did not understand that all people and all things are in the hand of God. Job replies, "Do I seem blind to you, Zophar? Am I deaf? Of course I know and understand that nothing happens outside of God's control. I know that bad things happened to me only because God allowed them to happen. I'm not any less intelligent than you are; I have sense enough to know that nothing can happen to me unless God says it can."

Job's anguish is not relieved by knowing that the Creator has all rights over the creation. His broken heart is not comforted by the belief that nothing can happen to him outside of God's will. What Job wants to know is why God allowed bad things to happen to him. Isn't that what we all really want to know? As Job says, we are not blind to God's sovereignty or deaf to His holy word. We know He has all power over all things and can do as He pleases. What we don't know is why He sometimes allows bad things to happen to good people. In faith we believe that God is good and that He has a purpose for everything He does, but we want Him to explain His reasoning to us. Something we will have to come to terms with in this Bible study is that God never does explain Himself to Job. The question Job keeps asking remains unanswered. Job has to decide whether his faith is big enough to trust God even when he doesn't understand Him. This is a decision we all have to make. Do we trust God as much in the bad times as we do in the good times? Do we trust Him even when He doesn't answer our questions? Do we still believe He is good when troubles come? Do we still feel secure in His love even when He is silent?

No comments:

Post a Comment