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Who can compare with you


12/07/2012

Lessons from the Life of Job

In the opening chapter to the book of Job, our eyes are opened to a different world. We get given an insight into how the affairs of man are impacted by the decisions of heaven. Here it is in a nutshell. Satan appears before God. God boasts to Satan about Job. Satan accuses Job of serving God for mercenary reasons, i.e. for what God gives him in life, protection, wealth, honour etc. God gives Satan permission to test Job to prove that Job’s love for God is not mercenary but far deeper. Satan goes away (probably strategises with his deputies about the most effective way to accomplish his purpose – to get Job to abandon his devotion to God), decides shock and awe is the best way and in a moment of perfect timing robs Job of his livelihood and perhaps most tragically his children.

Job tears his clothes, shaves his head and falls on his face in worship declaring “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” And the comment by the author is this, ‘in all this Job did not sin by blaming God.’

Now forgive me, but my first reaction was, ‘well if God was not to blame, who was?’ In our world, having the power to prevent a crime and knowing it is going to happen can land you in trouble with the law, even if you are not the person responsible directly for causing the harm. For example, if I live near a busy road and allow my child to wander freely out the front door and they are killed by passing traffic, I am surely guilty of neglect if nothing else and it could be argued are partly responsible for the harm done. With that in mind I pondered the comment of the author. Why would Job have sinned if he blamed God? Isn’t God ultimately responsible for all that he allows?

My assumption of course was that Job had the ‘right’ to expect what God gave him. It is an interesting observation that we make so many assumptions about our \'rights\' when it comes to God. We assume that God owes us a duty of care. We assume that we can live just as we please and if anything goes wrong – blame God! But the Bible’s approach to life is somewhat different to ours. For a start, the Bible makes it clear that we are all sinners by nature and consequently sinners by choice. If God gave any of us what we deserved we’d be in the lake of fire already! As my old elder used to say, ‘If God cast us into outer darkness we could only \'claim he was a just God.’ We all, including even Job (as righteous in his walk as he was) continually sin against the law of God, so it is actually only the mercy of God that we are able to live the lives we have, even our very breath is a gift of a merciful God to his undeserving creatures. If God, for the purpose of glorifying his own name, determined to reveal through Job how his blessings give us life, health and prosperity to the degree that we each enjoy them (or not as the case may be) and that by revealing this to each one of us, we can appreciate the depth of his mercy to those who every day rebel against his authority and live as we choose, then maybe we should change the way we think about the Almighty. Perhaps we ought to re-orientate our thinking to see the world from more of a God-centered perspective. 

God if I am able to enjoy anything in life, it is because you in your grace have permitted it and provided protection from the real villain in the piece, Satan, who every day would assault me in a million ways if you did not erect a wall of protection around me and my family! Almighty God, may your name be praised for ever, for who can compare with your tender love and overflowing mercies.

 
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