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Enjoying God Blog


Most people come to the concluding five chapters of Job with great anticipation. Having endured the seemingly endless cycle of repetitive speeches, the time has finally come for God to speak. Now that Job has endured indescribable suffering, now that his three friends and Elihu have had their say, what might one expect God to say? Amazingly, all the things one might think God would say are nowhere to be found. It’s important that we take notice of what God does not say to Job.

First of all, there is no condemnation of Job, no reversal of the divine verdict on his character that was given in chapters one and two. God does not agree with the assessment of Bildad, Zophar, Eliphaz, or Elihu. He says nothing that would lead us to believe that Job's suffering was the direct result of Job's sin.

Second, there are no apologies. Nowhere do we read anything like: "O my dear child, Job. I'm so very sorry for what has happened. You've endured a great many trials on my behalf and I want you to know how much I appreciate it. You've hung in there and shown yourself to be a real trooper. You’ve resisted the temptation to curse my name. I promise I'll do my best not to let this sort of thing happen again." As Larry Crabb put it, "Job apparently expected God would listen to what he had to say, pull slowly on his beard, and reply, 'Job, thanks for sharing your perspective on things. You've got a point. Frankly, I really hadn't seen things quite the way you see them. Look, I've made a bit of an error but I'll straighten it all out right away.’” (Inside Out, 146). Not!

Third, there are no compliments. After all that Job had endured so that God might prove his point to the devil, one might have expected to hear something like this: "Job, bless your heart! You have no idea how proud I am of you. It really means a lot to me that you've persevered so valiantly. You exceeded all my expectations. We really showed that devil, didn't we!" God says nothing to Job that one might think would be appropriate for someone who had suffered so much. There are no words of encouragement or consolation; no words of how much good his experience will accomplish in the lives of others who face tragedy and the temptation it brings. There are no words of praise for his having stood his ground when the barrage of arguments came from his three friends. There are no "Thank-you's" for having held his tongue in check from cursing God when it seemed the reasonable thing to do.

Fourth, there are no explanations. This is perhaps the most shocking omission of all. At the very least you would expect God to lay it all out in black and white before Job. But nowhere do we find something like this: "Job, let me begin by explaining to you how this whole thing came about in the first place. You see, one day Satan came to me and insisted that the only reason you worship me is because I treat you so well. I couldn't let him get away with that. I had to prove him wrong, and, well . . . the rest is history, as they say!"

Nor does God say, "Job, I know you've been wondering how I could permit this to occur and not be guilty of injustice and hard-hearted cruelty. Well, it's like this . . . " Nor do we find: "Job, you've struggled with why the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. Sit down and take out pen and paper. You'll undoubtedly want to take notes. There are ten reasons why you, a righteous man, suffered so horribly and faced so many countless temptations. Number one: . . . "

Amazingly, there is no discussion of the problem of evil, of divine justice, of human sin, or any such thing. In fact, God supplies no answers at all to any of the questions raised by Job or Eliphaz or Bildad or Zophar or Elihu, or by you and me! Instead, it is God who asks the questions! It isn't God who appears on the witness stand to undergo cross-examination in order to make sense of what has occurred. It is Job, of all people, who is cross-examined. More than 70 times God asks Job an unanswerable question. Says Phillip Yancey:

"Sidestepping thirty-five chapters' worth of debates on the problem of pain, he plunges instead into a magnificent verbal tour of the natural world. He seems to guide Job through a private gallery of his favourite works, lingering with pride over dioramas of mountain goats, wild donkeys, ostriches, and eagles, speaking as if astonished by his own creations” (Disappointment with God, 190).

For 35 chapters Job has been crying out, "God, put yourself in my place for a while!" God now responds and says, "No, Job, you put yourself in My place! Until you can offer lessons on how to make the sun rise each day or give commands to the lightning or design a peacock, don't pass judgement on how I run my world." In other words, God says, "Until you know a little more about running the physical universe, don't tell me how to run the moral universe. How do you expect to understand the complexities of my dealings with mankind when you can't even understand the simplicity of my dealings with nature?"

Instead of dealing with the complexities of temptation and human tragedy, God loudly asserts his absolute sovereignty over all of creation. He knows and controls every square inch of the universe, whether animate or inanimate. No snowflake or drop of rain escapes his providence. Every force of nature and every living thing within it are subject to his purposes. Such being the case with God's relation to nature, it stands to reason that he cares even more for those created in his image. It now seems ludicrous that a mere creature like Job would demand explanations from God. If Job cannot comprehend or control creation, what makes him think he can comprehend God's control of mankind?

Why, then, does God often decline to provide us with answers about his dealings with us, our sufferings, and the temptations that arise from them? I’m not sure, but Yancey suggests that God may keep us ignorant “because enlightenment might not help us” (191). We ask "why? why?", on the assumption that if we had a reasonable explanation, we could handle it better, be less bitter, and respond more humbly and submissively. But would we? Perhaps God keeps us ignorant because we are incapable of comprehending the answer.

"Maybe God's majestic non-answer to Job was no ploy, no clever way of dodging questions; maybe it was God's recognition of a plain fact of life. A tiny creature on a tiny planet in a remote galaxy simply could not fathom the grand design of the universe. You might as well try to describe colors to a person born blind, or a Mozart symphony to a person born deaf, or expound the theory of relativity to a person who doesn't even know about atoms”(Yancey, 193).

It would be like trying to pour the ocean into a thimble! God has told us: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are . . . my thoughts (higher) than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:9). And again, "as you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things" (Eccles. 11:5).

Perhaps God keeps us ignorant because ignorance is the most fertile soil in which faith can grow. In other words, ignorance in the midst of temptation compels us to do one of two things: either abandon God altogether, or trust him all the more fervently.

In one sense, God did answer Job's questions. If God is truly such a majestic and sovereign being who rules every molecule with magnificent precision and purpose, then what he has done or allowed in the case of Job must make perfect sense. Also, it is important to remember that there is something more important than knowing why God does what he does, namely, learning to cling to him in faith when everything else threatens to destroy your soul.

The cynical among us might argue that in the end, when all was said and done, it was easy for Job to resist temptation and to bow faithfully beneath God’s sovereign purposes. After all, God restored everything he lost, and then some (Job 42:10-17). “No wonder he kept his mouth shut. Look at what it got him!”

But these people overlook one important point: "Job spoke his contrite words [40:3-5] before any of his losses had been restored. He was still sitting in a pile of rubble, naked, covered with sores, and it was in those circumstances that he learned to praise God. Only one thing had changed: God had given Job a glimpse of the big picture. I have a hunch that God could have said anything --- could, in fact, have read from the Yellow Pages --- and produced the same stunning effect on Job. What he said was not nearly so important as the mere fact of his appearance. God spectacularly answered Job's biggest question: Is anybody out there? Once Job caught sight of the unseen world, all his urgent questions faded away” (Yancey, 240).

Job’s case was both unusual and exceptional. But that in no way detracts from what it tells us about Satan’s tactics. He is as relentless, as he is sadistic, in hitting below the belt, in kicking his victim while he’s down. We, too, will be sorely tempted in times of physical distress to curse God and die. Job wavered, but he didn’t break. God help us!



Having had numerous ''visitations'' from our lord, filled with the Holy Ghost, casting out demons from young women, hearing His Voice, ministering in the Gifts, I have been ''staying in my own lane'' in Ministry since August, 1980...Now, having found you, I have grown in knowledge of Election and Predestination, and the saints ''of old'''....You have been such a light for me to '''go on further'', and I THANK YOU!!!
What an astounding explanation. Thank you for this. I am currently reading Understanding Spiritual Warfare with my husband (so helpful in our prayers for our wayward daughter) - and as a Baptist it’s shaking me in my boots. Learning so much and excited to find your blog!
This is an excellent analysis.

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