Sunday, April 9, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 35, Job Intends To Stay True To God

Job is angry and bitter. He feels God hasn't stood up for him and defended him from the accusations of his friends. He doesn't understand why God is silent and hasn't stepped in and fixed his problems. But he intends to stay true to God, even though right now he doesn't feel like God is staying true to him.

"And Job continued his discourse: 'As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not say anything wicked, and my tongue will not utter lies. I will never admit you are in the right; til I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.'" (Job 27:1-6) Job says, "I won't admit to sins I haven't committed. I know this would be the only way to gain the sympathy of you three men. If I would break down and confess to wickedness and weep in shame, you would all gather around me and pat me on the back and soothe me as I repent. But it would be a lie! I have done none of the things you suspect I've done. Almighty God knows I haven't done them, though He hasn't bothered to defend me against you. I haven't done any of the heinous things you imagine in your minds, but I would be sinning if I told a lie. I would be sinning against the three of you, against the Lord, and against my own soul. I stand here in the court of your opinion an innocent man and I will not plead guilty."

Until troubles came, Job never suspected his three friends were fair-weather friends. He expected them to stick by him in the good times and the bad times. Now he understands that with friends like these he doesn't need enemies. They have said things to him that no friend should ever say, so now he counts them as enemies. "May my enemy become like the wicked, my adversary like the unjust! For what hope have the godless when they are cut off, when God takes away their life? Does God listen to their cry when distress comes upon them? Will they find delight in the Almighty? Will they call on God at all times?" (Job 27:7-10) Job has come to this conclusion, "You 'friends' are like the wicked ones on the earth. May your fate be the same as theirs. You have not spoken for God but have spoken out of the error in your own minds and hearts. You were wrong when you said bad things never happen to good people. You were wrong when you said only the godly prosper in this world. We've discussed this til we are all weary of it. We've seen the wicked prospering in this world and we've seen the godly being mistreated. We cannot judge the state of any man's soul by his worldly circumstances. God will sort all these things out in the end. The wicked may prosper in this life, but this life is short, and after that comes the judgment."

"I will teach you about the power of God; the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal. You have all seen this yourselves. Why then this meaningless talk?" (Job 27:11-12) Job has proven his point, but the men won't admit it. In all his discourses against their arguments he has consistently given examples of the way the ungodly get ahead by oppressing the godly, of how the proud step all over the humble, of how the strong steal from the weak. This whole time his friends have been trying to teach him about the power of the Lord, but they've wandered pretty far off the path. So now Job says, "I will teach you about the power of God." Job is eminently more qualified to teach on the subject of the Lord than his three companions.

How does Job find the strength to stay true to God even when he feels like God has let him down? He finds his strength in knowing there is a life beyond this one. In the next passage we will see that Job believes there is a judgment seat where a holy Judge will know the secrets of every man and woman. Almighty God cannot be fooled, and He will see through to each person's heart. The godly will receive the rewards of their faithfulness. The wicked will receive the wages of their sins. Job may not see justice while he lives in this life, but this life is short and eternity is long. The rewards of the godly will last forever, likewise the punishment of the ungodly will last forever.

"Here is the fate God allots to the wicked, the heritage a ruthless man receives from the Almighty: However many his children, their fate is the sword; his offspring will never have enough to eat. The plague will bury those who survive him, and their widows will not weep for them. Though he heaps up silver like dust and clothes like piles of clay, what he lays up the righteous will wear, and the innocent will divide his silver. The house he builds is like a moth's cocoon, like a hut made by a watchman. He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more; when he opens his eyes, all is gone. Terrors overtake him like a flood; a tempest snatches him away in the night. The east wind carries him off, and he is gone; it sweeps him out of his place. It hurls itself against him without mercy as he flees headlong from its power. It claps its hands in derision and hisses him out of his place." (Job 27:13-23)

When the Apostle Paul warned Timothy that the love of money is the root of all evil, he said, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." (1 Timothy 6:6-7) Job makes the same statement today. The wicked may enjoy their ill-gotten gains for a time, but when they leave this world they will take nothing with them. Job knows that he may not see God's judgment fall on the ungodly during this lifetime, but he expects God to hand down a sentence when the wicked appear before Him in the judgment. Because he still believes God can be trusted, Job intends to stay true to Him. He doesn't know why tragedies have come into his life. He doesn't know why God hasn't defended his good name. He doesn't know why God hasn't stepped in and stopped the evil things that happen in this world. But he believes that somehow, someday, God is going to make all things perfectly and completely right.

We conclude today with a quote by Fyodor Dostoyevsky from his philosophical novel The Brothers Karamazov. I think it beautifully sums up all the things Job expects from his God. Job is angry with God, he needs to forgive God and come to terms with his hardships, and he isn't sure how he's going to do these things. But at the same time he believes in a better day, when all that's wrong will be judged, when all that's right will be rewarded, when all things will be atoned for. "I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they've shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened."

Below is our worship song link for today.
Earth Has No Sorrow That Heaven Can't Heal

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