“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 18: AUGUST 9
THE BOOK OF JOB
Where rebellion ends, fear begins; where fear ends, knowledge begins; where knowledge ends, wisdom begins; where wisdom ends, faith begins; where faith ends, trust begins; where trust ends, love begins; and where love ends, humility begins.
- Job loved God. The scripture in our reading today says that Job was upright before the Lord and did nothing wrong. Job even tried to cover the sins of others (his children) with constant sacrifices, knowing they weren’t right in their hearts before God.
- And yet God still permitted Satan to have his way with Job, first by killing his children and taking away all of his wealth and possessions, and then by plaguing Job with open running sores so that he was able to do nothing but sit in a pile of ashes and scrape the pus off with a piece of broken pottery. That hardly seems a fair way for God to reward someone who is blameless and upright. Surely God overplayed his hand with Job? Or maybe Job wasn’t as blameless as God and scripture lead us to believe? Maybe Job had earned all his misery?
- Like the book of Esther that we read yesterday, the book of Job has a whiff of the fairy tale about it, as if some details were pumped up and highlighted, while others were subdued or left out altogether because they didn’t support the narrative. Everything in God’s Word is meant for our edification, and if we approach it that way, we will be edified. So if things were puffed up or left out, it doesn’t matter: God will teach us what we need to know if we are willing to learn.
- God has made us to be curious and to want to know things. That’s how we’re hard-wired as his creatures. We can see that same inbuilt curiosity and desire to know things in animals as they try to figure things out. Our curiosity and desire to know things (i.e., figure things out) has been given to all his creatures by God. He doesn’t want us not to be curious, but like the sea, our curiosity needs to have boundaries, so God has limited our knowledge and understanding to certain bounds.
- Trying to understand God within the bounds of our limited intelligence will only get us so far. We can have an inkling of God, but we can’t possibly know everything about him, including how and why he does what he does. In earlier readings, we see that God rewards right behavior and punishes wrong behavior. This makes sense to us. These are rules we can follow. But God allowing us to be punished for a whim of Satan? This goes beyond the bounds of our understanding.
- Job’s friends tried to help him figure out what was happening to him and how he could get out of his dilemma, but their advice was premised on the simple equation of do good, get good; do bad, get bad. This equation does apply in most situations, but not in all. The friends assumed that Job wasn’t as blameless as he seemed and that he had done something bad to bring the bad on himself. I think most of us would assume the same. But Job stands his ground against their accusations and can think of no word or deed he’d done that would have brought this level of calamity onto him.
- AND THEN IN COMES GOD LIKE A TIDAL WAVE.
- We learn best when our focus is entirely on the situation at hand. If that situation is painful, we learn even better and faster. The desire to learn amidst the sensation of pain is solely to find a way to make the pain stop. In this regard, Job is fully open to this teaching moment arranged by God.
- And what a teaching moment it is! God pushes the limits of Job’s understanding of his situation by bombarding him with example after example of what he, as God, has done and is able to do. Wave after wave of evidence of God’s unfathomable power wash over Job until all he can do is cry out for mercy and humble himself before his Lord and Creator.
- Humility before God is not the same as being humiliated by God. In another part of scripture we’re told to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, resist the devil, and he will flee. We’re not told to have faith in God or even to love God, but to humble ourselves under him. Humility before God is an even greater level of submission than faith or trust or love. Humility presumes nothing and asks for nothing. It’s a simple open acknowledgement of your total powerlessness in the face of God, and an acknowledgement that everything you are and everything you have comes from God. Yes, you have free will as your sole possession, but you wouldn’t even have that if God hadn’t given it to you. Humility signifies that you acknowledge God’s superiority and infinite power in every regard, and that you wholly submit to him. Full stop.
- Humility means not demanding to know why God does what he does. Knowledge + wisdom + faith + trust + love (minus rebellion) = humility.
- Like Esther, Job also has a happy ending. The devil flees as soon as Job humbles himself under God’s mighty hand, as promised by scripture. God then gives Job even more wealth than he had before, along with a good long life.
What did you think of today’s reading? Do you consistently humble yourself under God’s mighty hand, or are you always trying to figure out why God does what he does? God gives us leeway to ask questions and even to (foolishly) question him at times, but every now and then he needs to remind us who’s boss and why, so that we don’t get ahead of ourselves.
Humility before God is the most underrated of virtues and also the most important, if we’re to have the kind of relationship with God that he’s inviting us to have.
The schedule for the BIBLE READ-THROUGH is directly below: