Friday, September 26, 2014

Oh How the Mighty have Fallen!

Last week, we examined the life of Job and how he had a proper perspective on the suffering that had been placed in his life. By understanding that he is not entitled to the blessings that God has given Him, we see clearly why Job was called, "a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil."

But Job's excellent perspective doesn't last forever. After his wonderful friends (read in a sarcastic tone) tell him that he is being punished for his iniquity before God, Job's response indicates a troublesome perspective on what God should be doing in his life.

It starts innocently enough. Job is going through so much struggle in his life that he begins to wish that he had never been born in the first place. Everything has been taken away from him, and his health is now deteriorating. He feels miserable, and as everyone knows, men take sickness in wimpier ways than do women, so that's probably happening here too.

It is not in vain that he states in Job 3:3-5,
"Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it."

But of course, his suffering will soon leave him in a little bit more interesting position. Let's just stop with me boringly narrating and get to the point. In Job 7, Job replies to his friends by saying that the Lord brings suffering both to the just and the unjust (the most common theme taken from the book of Job), but then he goes on to say that if God were indeed correcting his actions, he'd rather be left in sin, than go through this discomfort.

But let's not take my word for it. Let's look to Job's exact words in Job 7:17-21,
 "What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be."

Oh, Lord, you just really shouldn't care about lowly man to convict him of his sin. To convict him of his sin is to put a burden upon that man, and why should you care to make him better?

But it quickly seems to deteriorate to a much worse position. In his next reply, Job mentions how God has sovereignty over all events of man. At which point, he begins to say, it doesn't matter how he interacts with the Lord, as the Lord will do what He will regardless.

Indeed, according to Job here, even prayer is not helpful in any of these situations. Listen in on Job 9:16, 
"If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice."

Ouchey-ouch. That's really all there is to say, And Job 10:2-3 makes an even more compelling case against God,
 "I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me. Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?"

But my goal today was not exclusively to write a hit piece on Job, condemning him to the pits of hell. Job would later repent of much wrongdoing done in the book of Job, and I was reading through the book to see what that wrongdoing specifically looked like over these last few days. This is how far I have gotten.

But to share this particular endeavor of Job's frailties is still more than an intellectual exercise. I believe it can be instructive to us to see how this mighty man - this man who was "perfect and upright, one that feareth God and escheweth evil" - could fall to such a perspective.

No matter who we are, we must be cautious and know that we are not above being tempted and brought down. We must not give into a prideful feeling of how solid our relationship with the Lord is. As soon as we do, we might find ourselves like Job falling into sin.

But we can learn even more specific lessons from the life of Job as presented here. To begin with, one should never desire comfort over conviction of sin. Yes, the Lord's correction can be painful. The Bible does not say for naught (Twice!) that the Lord "Chastens" whom He loves.

It won't be a pleasant experience, but it will be a worthwhile experience that presents true opportunities to rest greater in a relationship with the Lord. It is as the Bible says,
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 

Second, we must not ever use the sovereignty of God as an excuse for sin in our lives. We don't need to witness to those around us because God is in control and will make them come to know Him as He directs anyway. The Lord's sovereignty is not an excuse for our laziness. He still wants us to support and serve Him.

But if we get too wrapped up in us, we might find ourselves falling into a sinful. We might, like Job, fall into disarray. Let's not be mighty men (and women) of faith who fall. But let's actually be mighty men (and women) of faith. That part sounds pretty snazzy.

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