Saturday, April 8, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 34, Job Says God Is Impossible To Understand

Job begins Chapter 26 by belittling the foolish words of his friends. Then he goes on to point out that none of them understands the ways of God because God is impossible to understand. His three companions have presumed to speak on God's behalf but they are speaking in ignorance.

"Then Job replied: 'How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble! What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?'" (Job 26:1-4) I can't blame Job for being so sarcastic. His friends have bitterly disappointed him. He should have been able to count on them to comfort him in his grief. If they couldn't think of anything good to say, they should have remained silent as they did during the first seven days of his mourning. Because of their judgmental attitude toward him, Job feels worse now than he did when his tragedies first happened.

He asks, "Whose spirit spoke from your mouth?" Their words certainly don't sound like the words of the Lord. They haven't shown him the love and compassion of the Lord. They haven't displayed the mercy of the Lord. Job can only conclude they are speaking from their own limited understanding through the spirit of man, or they are speaking under the influence of the evil one who has tempted them to accuse him of sins he didn't commit.

This next verse has been difficult for Bible scholars to translate and interpret. "The dead are in deep anguish, those beneath the waters and all that live in them." (Job 26:5) The KJV puts it like this, "Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof." Some scholars think Job alludes to a watery realm of the dead (the Hebrew sheol) while others believe he is making reference to sea creatures. The original language of verse 5 is so obscure it's impossible to say exactly what Job means. Either of these explanations seems likely because the next verse deals with the fact that nothing is hidden from God. He sees the realm of the dead and He sees sea creatures who live so deep in the ocean that no man has ever laid eyes on them.

"The realm of the dead is naked before God; Destruction lies uncovered." (Job 26:6) David said something similar in Psalm 139, "Where can I go from Your spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You."

Job wants to know who can understand a God who is big enough to see and know all things. Who can commune with such a vast intelligence as is possessed by the Creator? Who can stand before such power? "He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; He suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in His clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading His clouds over it." (Job 26:7-9) The Lord created every object in the universe. Those objects keep on doing what God told them to do. The planets and the moons and the stars hang on nothing but His powerful word. How can Job's friends presume to speak for a God like this? How can they possibly know what is in His mind when they don't even know how He causes the earth to keep orbiting the sun?

"He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at His rebuke. By His power He churned up the sea; by His wisdom He cut Rahab to pieces. By His breath the skies became fair; His hand pierced the gliding serpent." (Job 26:10-13) Rahab was a sea creature of ancient Canaanite mythology. The word means "proud one" and it is sometimes used to represent the nation of Egypt in the Bible, due to the pride of Pharaoh when he tried to oppose God by refusing to set the Israelites free. Several pagan religions in the region involved the belief of an evil sea god who attempted to prevent or undo the works of a creator god. In all these cultures the creator god was found to be more powerful than the sea serpent. Job takes this mythology and uses it as a metaphor for the power of God over everything that exists. He is the Creator, the one and only God. There is no one who can oppose Him, not even that prideful serpent Satan. God is sovereign over all things because He made all things, including the angel who ended up rebelling against Him.

"And these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him! Who then can understand the thunder of His power?" (Job 26:14) Job says, "The act of creation was like child's play to a God this great! We get a glimpse of His power by observing the sun and the moon and the distant stars and planets, yet these are but a small sampling of what He is able to do. How then can we know Him? His mind is so much more intelligent than ours. His plans are so much bigger than ours. Who can understand God?"

The Apostle Paul once said that mankind has no excuse for not believing in God. The very creation testifies to the existence of a Creator, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities---His eternal power and divine nature---have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (Romans 1:20) Job is able to look at the creation and come to the conclusion that there must be a Creator. But his soul longs for something more, just as all our souls long for something more. What we, the creatures of God, want most is to have a relationship with the One who made us. Job looks up at the night sky and views a portion of the universe and realizes he is very small in comparison to God. How can he know Him? Why would the mind of God want to communicate with the mind of man?

There was only one way to bridge the chasm between God and man. There was only one Man who could take hold of our feeble hands and place them in God's mighty hands. There was only one Mediator who could orchestrate an enduring friendship between us and God. This person is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us, the One who said of Himself, "Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) If we want to know the character and personality of the invisible Almighty God, all we have to do is look to Jesus. If we want to feel loved by our Creator, all we have to do is meditate on what Jesus did for us. If we want to commune with our Maker and enjoy sweet friendship with Him, we must do so through Jesus.

Job asks, "Who can understand God? We can't see Him. We can't speak face to face with Him, and even if we could, and even if He would explain Himself to us, would we have the ability to comprehend? What hope do we have that we will ever truly know Him?" The Lord doesn't answer all of Job's questions, but He does answer some of his prayers. Job longs for a mediator who can help humans to be friends with God. The Lord provided this Mediator through His own Son. The Lord did all the work in bringing mankind into fellowship with Him. He did for us what we couldn't do for ourselves. How can we understand God? By studying the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him we find everything we need to know to make it through our days on earth and to become children of God who will live forever in His presence.

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