Tuesday, April 25, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 51, Job Has No Answer For The Lord

The Lord pauses in His discourse on the creation to ask Job a question. "The Lord said to Job: 'Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!'" (Job 40:1-2) Throughout the book we have seen Job declare that God is his enemy, that God has afflicted him for His amusement, that God has treated him unfairly, and that God hates him and has abandoned him. Job has deeply desired an audience with the Lord so he can plead his case. But now that he has it, now that God challenges him to make his accusations to His face, Job no longer feels the same way. He's been given a glimpse of God as He really is and this has made him see himself as he really is, "Then Job answered the Lord: 'I am unworthy---how can I reply to You? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer---twice, but I will say no more.'" (Job 40:3-5)

Job was telling the truth when he insisted to his friends that he hadn't committed any sins worthy of his tragedies. He wasn't a perfect man, but he was a man who lived for the Lord and didn't wallow in sin. But now, with the thundering voice of God coming out of the storm, Job is humbled by His great majesty. Even if he were a perfect man, he would still be very small in comparison to this powerful God. So he says, "I won't say another word. I'm not worthy to open my mouth in Your presence."

Job is ashamed of the accusations he has made against God. He knows now that he was wrong. God has been with him this whole time and has heard every word and has seen every tear. Have you ever been angry at God and later felt ashamed of it? I have, and the last time wasn't so long ago either. Something looked like it was going to turn out badly for my household and I was angry with God about it. I was like Job, crying out, "But Lord we've been living for You as best we know how! We haven't committed any sins worthy of this terrible problem. How could you let this happen to us? We've been faithful to You; why have You let us down?" After two or three months of struggling with the fear of the outcome of my situation, it became suddenly very clear that God had everything under control, that He had a plan in place all along, and that He wasn't even going to allow my household to face the thing we feared. When I realized how wrong my attitude had been, I felt ashamed. I felt unworthy to speak to the Lord or even raise my eyes to heaven. The best thing I could do, after repenting, was to be like Job and say, "I put my hand over my mouth. I will say no more." I was wrong, just like Job was wrong, and I was ashamed of the accusations I'd made against the Lord.

"Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: 'Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Would you discredit My justice? Would you condemn Me to justify yourself?'" (Job 40:6-8) Job's friends have suspected him of secret sins, terrible sins. He's spent a fair portion of the book defending himself and declaring his innocence. He concluded that since God allowed trouble into his life, God must be unfair. God must hate him. So now the Lord says, "You went too far in trying to prove your innocence. You blackened My name in the process. You accused Me of unrighteous motives that I don't possess."

"Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like His? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at all who are proud and bring them low, look at all who are proud and humble them, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I Myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you." (Job 40:9-14) The Lord declares, "You have judged Me as unfair. You judged Me without all the information needed to come to that conclusion. Who made you a judge? Can you robe yourself in glory and splendor as I can? Are you able, with just the majesty of your presence, to humble the proud? Do you have the power, as I do, to judge the wicked and bring them down? If you could do all these things, then I would have to admit you also possess the power to save yourself, but you do not. You need Me, Job. I alone can save you. And it's my great pleasure to do so."

It is faith alone that saves us. No amount of good works will ever justify us when we stand before the one and only righteous Judge. When the Apostle Paul described the difference between works and faith, he used Abraham as an example and said, "If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about---but not before God." (Romans 4:2) Even if a man like Job or Abraham had lived a perfect life, his boasting of it could only be done in the presence of other humans. He would still have been humbled when face to face with God. He would still have cried out, "I am unworthy!" If Abraham had done enough good works to get into heaven, he could brag about it among men, but he would have nothing to brag about in front of God. This is because when we get a glimpse of God's perfection, we get a glimpse of our imperfection, and that's when we realize nothing but faith in the God who saves will ever be enough to make us right in His eyes. The Apostle Paul concludes that Abraham, just like the rest of us, was justified by faith and not by works. "What does Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'" (Romans 4:3)

Job didn't lose his faith in the existence of God, but he did lose his faith in God's goodness. When we look at the Scriptures and think of all those who were saved by their faith, at the core of their faith is a belief that God is good. Everything hinges on that. Only a righteous God can save. Only a good and loving God can provide a way of salvation for sinful mankind. We can't judge His character by the things that happen in this world. For a time Job was so completely stunned by his circumstances that he doubted everything he had ever believed about God. He judged the character of the Lord by the things that had happened to him. The Lord will never explain to him the reasons for his troubles, but He will show him that no God who isn't good can create something out of nothing, like the universe. No God who isn't good can create life and intelligence, as He did with man and the animals. No God who isn't good would say of mankind, "They have all gone astray like wayward sheep! They have rejected Me, the One who loves them, and have followed after false gods and have believed the lies of the flesh. But I will seek them anyway! They are worth any price to Me! I would die for them, I love them so!"

Only a God who is good could love those who don't love Him. Only a God who is good would seek and save those who have walked away from Him. "This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:10) A God who is not good would have let us go our own way. A God who is not good would have concluded we deserved anything we got. But our good and loving God said instead, "No, I won't let this happen to them! They may deserve wrath but I want to offer them mercy. They will never perform works good enough to save themselves, but they don't have to. I will do all the work for them. Their faith in My work will save them. I don't want to spend eternity without them."

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