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Caution, this blog may make you rethink your traditional religious understanding of the Bible. It will help you fall more radically in love with a loving and gracious Father!
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
The Suffering Question: The "Gospel" of Job
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 107:1 NLT
8 The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9 TheLord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works Psalm 145:8-9 KJV We've been in an extended study of the suffering question. We've been focusing on God's role in human suffering. In light of Grace, the New Covenant, His love and the Finished Work, what is God's hand in tragedy, disaster or death? So far, we've seen God is not sending firey judgment on nations. We asked and answered questions like, is God in control, is God the author of sickness and disease, is God the source of our troubles. As of late, we've been focusing on the Book of Job. We've addressed the traditional view that God gives and takes away. That God gives the devil some form of permission or access to your life to wreak havoc. Today, I sense the leading to head into the fray that was the theological debate between Job, his three friends, and the young man. If you study this long drawn out debate, you will find some of these same arguments made today in traditional religious quarters of the Church.
Why the debate?
When studying the debate phase of Job there are two principles you must understand. One why the debate was included in the Book of Job. As you can see this debate takes up most of the 42 chapters of Job. Why was it given so much attention?
This debate phase was included because of the infinite wisdom of God. He wanted a source we could all readily see as what happens when men debate about God without knowledge. God wanted us to see the concepts mankind comes up with when they attempt to understand, reason, and interpret God in light of their circumstances, their experiences and not the Word of God.
The second principle you must understand when studying this debate is knowing that this debate occurred between five people who had little to no information about God. That God Himself in a general sense rebuked all of them and said they had spoken wrong about Him. So to get a better understanding, know that none of these men knew anything, God corrected them, and only included this debate to illustrate what happens when ignorance about God meets more ignorance about God.
“Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Job 38:2 NKJV
Wrong concepts of God
Let's begin looking at this debate and see if you have heard some variation of these concepts taught in churches before? Now I am not going to give exact chapter and verse. I know it is a great benefit to study the Word for yourself. I will, however, give the chapter where the idea is spoken about and you can go and study it further.
1. God is an angry God, God is a God of judgment and wrath. God is judging you for your sins. Your sins are why you are suffering.
In Job 4, we see this concept being argued for. If you are suffering it must be because you've sinned and God is punishing you. If you didn't get the promotion it must be because you sinned too much. If you lost a loved one, your sin opened the door.
We've addressed this idea that God is sending judgment on nations or cities. Yet so many believe and teach that God is punishing you when you sin. Does sin cause problems? When we sin, there can be natural consequence. Cheat on your taxes and you could go to prison as an example. However, God didn't cause this or punish you. God punished Jesus' body on the cross for your sin and mine. He isn't punishing us also when we blow it. Let go of this lie of tradition that God is sending destruction because we sinned. 2. God chastens us with tragedy. God uses destruction and calamity to instruct us or mature us. In Job 5 we see this concept. This is a lie that is so often repeated by tradition it is nauseating. When one goes through a difficulty or experiences loss, tradition will say God was trying to teach you something. Is this God's method of instruction? Is God killing your children to teach you? Is He causing your business to go bankrupt to instruct you? Is God taking away your health to make you a better believer? God has given us His Spirit. God has given us His Word. God has given the keys to growth and maturity by following His Spirit within and knowing and understanding His Word. God doesn't bring destruction to make you wiser or more spiritual, reject that religious notion. 3. How can a man be just? How can a man be righteous? Man is but a worm. Man is so unworthy.
In Job 25, we see this concept. Man is nothing but a worm. Man is a sinner. Man has no right but to accept what comes. He is so unworthy before God. How often does traditional religion deny the truth of Christians being in perfect right standing with God? Our righteousness seemed easily revokable by our words or actions according to tradition. Religion likes us seeing ourselves as mere worms in the dust in respect to God. This is that suffering "gospel" so many preach. That we shouldn't expect any good this side of Heaven. A parking lot at the mall? How dare you ask for that? Don't you know all God cares about is you being more holy and submitted? If you dare believe God has a plan for your life or has a desire to increase you in any way then you are said to be preaching a false gospel. If you say God wants us to live in victory and walk in blessings and to enjoy life this side of eternity we are told how that is merely a "prosperity" gospel and God wants us to suffer and struggle here on Earth. God is a good Father. He has a perfect plan and purpose for your life. He has called you and given you gifts and talents and abilities He wants you to grow in so you can be a light to this World. Contrary to religion, He does want you to enjoy life and be a blessing to those around you. 4. God purposes you to suffer. God has preordained your calamity. God has predestined this tragedy. God has appointed you to suffer. In Job 23, we see another traditional lie. God ordains you to suffer. God has appointed you to go through this hardship. God's plan and purpose for you is not cancer. It's not loss of a loved one. It's not the dissolving of your marriage. Reject this lie. We have already dealt with this lie extensively. This is the insidious lie that God is controlling everything. In summation, we can see that when pressed with circumstances we don't understand, we can form traditions to try and bring clarity. Many have suffered things they just don't know why or can't make sense of. We don't have all the answers as finite humanity. What we do know for absolute certain is that God is good and not the author of our troubles or sorrows or tragedy. With that foundation, we know God is always with us, and He isn't the source of our trouble, so we can trust in Him.
The Lordis good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7 NKJV Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net