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With grateful hearts, we share our thoughts on redemption through Jesus Christ and His saving blood and what it looks like in our daily walk.

We gladly welcome your comments and input.
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

What About Job?

When dealing with pain in suffering, something we all face, Christians often bring up Job. I often hear the phrase “what about Job”. My response is “what about Job”? I have no problem with Job. I think we must take all of scripture and rightly divide it. I think it is all important. My problem is that it seems to me a lot of Christians place a whole lot of emphasis on Job and base major parts of their theology and doctrine on Job. However, I have found very few Christians seem to really understand Job. It is a complicated book to dissect for sure and I certainly don’t consider myself an expert, but I would like to touch on a few reason why I think it is dangerous ground to use Job as a basis for major parts of our theology, or to quote Job himself and use his words as inerrant proof text of God’s role in suffering in our lives.

I think we need to be very careful how we interpret Job. One of the most often quoted versus in Job is “God gives and takes away”. An understanding of the book of Job and his place in this world I believe gives more clarity to how we can interpret these scriptures.

Job first of all is a narrative, nothing more. Also Job had ZERO covenant with God, none whatsoever. He did not have the law, and did not live under covenant with God. Also, Job had no scripture to rely on and learn the things of God. These are key points because later in the book God charges Job with making incorrect statements and Job admits he said things that were not true.

We have to understand that just because someone says something in the Bible does not make it truth. There are plenty of examples of this. It is true that they said it, but not necessarily a true statement. Christians very often rely on this scripture and Job in general to explain suffering in this world.

I think most people miss the mark greatly on suffering and calamity. I think attributing it to God is a direct ploy of our enemy Satan. I know that kind of talk isn’t always received well, but it saddens me that people attribute bad things in their life to God and rarely talk about our enemy the devil. I think the devil loves this and uses it to his advantage. Christians so rarely understand their authority in this life, and as a result they do not confront their real enemy head on. To me it is a an easy way out to just attribute bad things to God, and say things like it is for “his glory” or “well God must be wanting to show me something through this sickness/trial”. That isn’t the Jesus I know. Jesus was and is the healer. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is our provider and we are not living under the law of the old covenant. We are redeemed from the curse of the law.

Frankly, if you believe in your theology that bad things (sickness/calamity) come from God, and that God may or may not heal you then I believe your faith suffers. I don’t see how it can’t. I would rather believe with all my heart, in all my doctrine and theology that God is going to heal me (in fact already has healed me through the work of Christ on the cross), that he is going to see me through whatever trial I am facing, and that through it I will learn and grow in my faith and walk with him, not because he was the author of it, but because He is teaching me as He guides and shows me the way out of it. I will give Him glory in the victory. For the sake of clarity I am not talking about persecution and suffering for being a Christian and for spreading the gospel. The scripture is very clear that we will suffer for His names sake.

Furthermore, OT folks (including Job) didn’t have the H.S. living on the inside of them. They didn’t have the covering of Jesus blood. They did not have Jesus interceding for them. WE DO!! Praise God. We were “raised with Him and seated in heavenly places”. That means now, not to come, but now. “He was given all authority for the benefit of the church which is his body”. We are the body of Christ today, right now. The power that flows through Him is flowing in us. We are joint heirs, sons and daughters, kings and lords. Jesus is our King and He is our head. If my head is Jesus my feet are full of power. Knowing God sent His only son for my redemption, knowing Jesus is the healer, knowing I am redeemed and a son of God, a joint heir, who am I to say God is allowing calamity or sickness in my life, after all He has done for me when I was yet a sinner? I can’t and I won’t. When I stand before Him I would rather be wrong in the fact that I believed that all good came from Him and he never “allowed” or put bad things upon me.

Sidebar: “allow” is a big word that can mean a lot of things. I will post on this in the future, but for the sake of this conversation “allow” means: was instrumental in taking his hand of provision off of us in order that we would face a trial so we could grow.

I would rather stand before Him and say father I know you loved me, and I never attributed the trials of my life to you. I didn’t always understand them, and I sought your guidance, your grace, your wisdom, and your strength to see me through them, and in the victory I gave YOU the glory.

It is very important for us to understand that as believers today we do have a covenant with God, and it is not just the new covenant but the perfection of the old. Under that covenant we are covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and that blood covers us from the wrath of God. That doesn’t mean we don’t open the door for bad in our lives through sin, and that doesn’t mean that the devil doesn’t attack us, he surely does. So trials, calamity and sickness can surely come our way. We live in a fallen world where sin is prevalent and the devil is still the prince of this world, but he no longer has that authority over Christians because he has been defeated. We have to exercise our authority though or he will continue to attack us and defeat us.

Finally I would like to make one last point about Job. Jesus, Paul, and Peter never mention Job in the N.T. In all their teaching and quoting the O.T. none of them felt it necessary to mention Job even when talking about suffering and perseverance. James does mention Job, but it is important to note that he mentions him as an illustration of God’s faithfulness to bring us out of trial, not put us through it.
In closing I will re-iterate that we must be careful to rightly divide the whole Word of Truth. All scripture is inspired by God, and is important, but that means measuring and weighing scripture in light of it all. With this in mind I think many Christians are clinging way too hard to Job. So again I say “what about Job”?


Authors note: Portions of this post were taken from a comment I left on another blog.

7 comments:

pilgrim said...

Very good post, N.T. This book of the Bible is so misunderstood & misquoted, by everyday Christians and ministers as well. If a thorough study was made of this book, it would be very revealing as to how Job & God related to each other. The 1st chapter says God found Job perfect in all his ways. He feared (reverenced) God, made sacrifices (burnt offerings - a form of worship & sanctification) and was prosperous in an abundance of wealth, family, and the respect of his community. He knew & followed God in every way known to man at the time. God even said there was no one like Job in the earth "a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil" Job 1:8
But Satan hated Job, and accuses God (yes, Satan had access to heaven's throne room) of putting a hedge of protection about him to keep him from failing. The devil states that Job will curse God once all that is taken away. Satan thinks that Job only serves God because of his prosperity, and would fall into sin if he had nothing in his possession - no wealth, no privileges, no family, no standing in his community. Satan, the God of this world, challenges God to remove His hand from Job to see if Job remains faithful or rejects God and curses Him.
How did Job open the way for this attack from Satan? The little chink in his armor was his fear for his children. Job knew that they lived in the lap of luxury, and took for granted all the blessings they had received from God. They partied continuously, and were reckless with their share of the wealth. So Job, like any good parent, tries to make up the difference for them by giving burnt offerings for each of them and interceding on their behalf. Job questions their lifestyle, and fears they may have sinned against God. He worries that they will lose all if they continue in their loose living. So he falls into continuously trying to make up the difference for them, which indicates doubt & concern about his relationship w/God.
We see in the continuing chapters that he loses everything but his wife, who even tells him to curse God & die. His friends(?) also advise Job to reject God & give up. Job begins to doubt why he was ever born, becomes desolate & even wishes to die, though he will not curse God. But it is at this point that he admits "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came". Job 3:25-26
After this, Job begins to draw on his confidence in who God is. He disregards his friends counsel, and praises God for his wonderful works. He repents of his sin. He forgives his friends and prays for them. As a result of this, God again comes into Job's presence and sets him into a future with doubled prosperity of what he had before. He received wealth, sons & daughters, true friends and he lived another 140 years enjoying it all. He had learned to honor God in all that he possessed, but even in having nothing he realized that God was his all in all. It required complete surrender on Job's part to the Lordship of God and His kingship over every aspect of his life. "So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning..." Job 42:12a

serious/silly/me said...

I think this post rocks. I have some thoughts to add, soon. But you pretty much summed it up nicely. Now if peeps (you know who I'm talking about it) would read it! :o)

Meems said...

Whew... you've got me saying it too... WHAT ABOUT JOB? Great post, NT... so much said.. so many great points.

I get chill bumps from the inside out when I think of all the bad happenings in the world that have been attributed to God by well-meaning and sincere folks. I want to shout from the roof tops... HE DIDN'T DO IT!!!! And HE DIDN'T ORCHESTRATE IT and HE DIDN'T AUTHOR IT... NO, he sent his one and only precious Son to redeem us from the curse and then He handed us the authority bought by His shed blood, His name, His word to participate in that redemption. Gave it; gifted it to ANYONE who would receive it. Like you said Job didn't have any of those resources or tools... AND HE still didn't blame God.

The whole post was really good but I think my favorite line (if I can even pick one) is this... When I stand before Him I would rather be wrong in the fact that I believed that all good came from Him and he never “allowed” or put bad things upon me.

I'd rather die being wrong about that than live this life thinking God is doing some of the very things to me I'm praying to get rid of ... just doesn't make good walking around sense (as my dad would say- in a very country speak).

Thanks again for a very heartfelt and open post.

Meems said...

NT: yeah... it's me again.

I've been thinking about a teaching I heard recently that so resonates in my spirit about this issue with folks using Job as the end-all to explain away that it is God who "gives and takes away".

In this teacher's remarks he mentioned how people seem to want to nail down an iron-clad reason exactly why the trouble came to Job's life. The Bible doesn't really try to be specific about WHY the calamity came but in the New Testament in James we are given a couple of things for us to focus on from Job.

1. The importance of steadfastness, endurance and perseverance in the midst of calamity... looking to God to bring us through it.
2. The end result of God's dealing results in a manifestation of His mercy and His kindness.

These should be the major things we learn from the book of Job.

So many times we want to focus on things God never told us to focus on. We tend to major on some of the minor issues and minor on the things God says are major.

Just a few more thoughts...

Nathan Talbot said...

Pilgrim: Great post and great insight.

S/S/M: Don't leave us hanging. Looking forward to your thoughts.

Meems: Great thoughts. The two points in your second post are great. It goes back to my thoughts that people are basing way to much of their theology on this book of the Bible. I think those points are a good view of what this book is about and what we should take from it.

It really hurts my heart when people attribute such horrible things to our loving Father. I was blessed beyond measure with an earthly father that loved me, cared for me, and would do anything for me. I know he would never hurt me with excrutiating pain to teach me some lesson. When I think about that love and his actions toward me, and think about God's PERFECT love and His sending His only son to die for me I cringe at the thought of anyone thinking/blaming Him for the excruciating pain in their lives.

Adam said...

"I think most people miss the mark greatly on suffering and calamity. I think attributing it to God is a direct ploy of our enemy Satan."

I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. Is. 45:7

Meems said...

Hi Adam,
Not trying to put words in your mouth but so we can clarify for our readers our stand on the scripture you’ve cited. I can only assume since you haven’t left any of your own thoughts that you prefer to hang the calamities of all of life on this one scripture in Isaiah.

First off, the obvious is that this is one scripture. We don’t base theology on one scripture. NT’s points were well made that it is of utmost importance to rightly divide the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15).

Secondly, Isaiah was prophesying. He was speaking to God's beloved, chosen Israelites. Reading the entire context of the chapters preceding and following it is clear God is saying many things about how things will be done, how they will happen and how they will turn out.

I'm fairly confident anyone would agree it's important to take all of this into consideration along with the fact that prophetic words almost always include bits and pieces from (possibly) the past, usually the present and more likely 'what (and how) will happen' in the future. Many times in the course of a prophetic voice, God (speaking through human vessels) will move in and out of time (past, present, future) without any explanation or reason. We see this throughtout scripture.

Like so many other references in the chapter you have cited, is it possible the Lord could be referencing the times when He will do whatever it takes to make the world right to make Israel known to the world as the chosen place in the earth where Jesus will come back to set up His earthly kingdom? Just thinking it is quite possible. This explanation seems to go along with the whole context of God's character when taken as a whole. Because there is much said in scripture about the calamities that will befall peoples/the earth/the unbelievers.

There are many places in the Bible where God warns... he's not left us without knowledge of what “is to come”, when the world as we know it comes to a close. Keeping in mind, every person on the face of the earth has the opportunity when the gospel is preached to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Those who refuse that gift will definitely be faced with calamity for eternity. God created Hell, not for the His beloved created people but for the fallen angels. People get to make a choice about where they spend eternity. God isn’t in the business of forcing folks to worship Him.

Right now … in New Testament, New Covenant times, God is operating in the mercy and grace provided by the shed blood of His only Son, Jesus sent to die for all mankind.

NT pointed out the same differences our brother Job lived under who had NO covenant with God.

Many folks choose to live under the Old Covenant still today. We like to look at the Old Covenant in light of the New as we are instructed to by the writers of it. The New Covenant offers us a new and better way of living.

...so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Heb. 7:22

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. Heb 8:6

Poor ole' Job wasn't so poor afterall ... even though he didn't have any covenant, he had no Holy Writ to refer to... Even then he was smarter than many folks today not to blame God or curse Him in the midst of tragedy. In the end of his life he was better off than when he started.

Now that would be a good lesson to learn from Job!