Job 1:1-12In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom. One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied.† "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. NIV
The Other Side of God†††††
I believe that I have faith in and serve the Almighty God Ė omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscience. He is all powerful, he is everywhere at all times and all knowing, he is God. It is this God that in his time and in his plan sent his Son Jesus to the cross for my sins. It is this God that has sent his Spirit to live in me and it is this God that has promised to return again to usher in a new age, a new kingdom. It is also this God that grows weary at times. Not physically like we get, but emotionally tired. His Spirit aches for his children. ††
††† We speak of God, of Jesus mainly as Love and rightfully so. He is the merciful, graceful forgiving shepherd.† Jesus is the face of grace. But we serve and worship a triune God, not only Jesus but the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We believe in Jesus we believe in God. God is our provider and our protector. But there is more to God there is another side of his nature. †††††
We read earlier the passage about Job. Not just a man of faith, but a man of great faith. He is called blameless and he shunned evil. He was living a blessed life Ė a full family and plenty of possessions were his. In the beginning of the book of Job, we are told a little about who Job is and what his life was like, and then we see an interesting exchange between God and Satan.†††††
Satan appears with the other angels before God. He had been out roaming the earth looking for someone to tempt, to test, to destroy. God offers him Job and praises Job for his obedience. Satan counters Godís faith in Job with the argument that Job fears God without cause. He is a man of little faith in reality because that faith has never been put to the test. If God would but remove his protection from him, but more than that if God would strike him, then Job would be like anyone else and he would curse God, he would turn his back on his faith. God says ok, Satan leaves and God then destroys Jobís possessions, servants and children. ††††
† God tested Job because he had faith in Job and he knew that Job had faith in Him. He believed that he would not turn his back on God but would instead come to God when his back was pushed against the wall. He believed that Job would exercise his faith. Job stayed true and in chapter 2 we see Satan coming again to God and asking about Job. This time God allows Satan to strike at Jobís flesh.††††
† The things that Job went through were terrible, were evil, and were horrible. These were bad things. Why would God do this to him, why would he allow this?†††††
Now you may be thinking that this is an Old Testament story and the times have changed. Jesus ushered in a new age. Jesus did show us grace; he did show us the complete way of faith and the way of salvation.
Acts 5:1-10Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price." Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. NIV†††††
Ananias and Sapphira had sold some property and as was the custom of the day they brought the proceeds to the church. This wasnít the law and this isnít a story about tithing. This is a story about expectations, honesty and the consequences of sin. The apostles and the members of the New Testament church lived in a community where they shared everything for the common good of all. So what was their sin Ė lying to the Spirit and lying to God. They lied to God and died. This was not just a spiritual death but a physical death as well.††
††† In the New Testament Age of Grace we see the consequence of sin Ė death. Why would God do this, why would he strike Ananias and Sapphira dead? Is this a loving and forgiving God? Is this the message of Jesus? We donít know the whole story of Ananias and Sapphira, we donít know their life, their faith. But we know that they sinned and they suffered the wrath of God for that sin.††††
† The stories of Job and Ananias and Sapphira round out the full nature of God and show us the other side of God. It is easier to see God as just love and mercy and grace. It is easier to see the God of the Old Testament as out of date. Jesus came and God changed, love came and wrath disappeared. It is an easier message to share, but it is not accurate. God is not dead nor has he changed. †††
†† Faith is not complete unless tested and faith will not grow unless exercised. Sin demands wrath, that fact has not changed. It is but by the grace of God in sending Jesus as an atonement for our sins that we have hope or we would have no hope at all. Yet that atonement applies only to the sins that we repent of, the sins that we give him, the sins that we ask forgiveness for. That forgiveness is available only by grace and our faith in Jesus, in God and our honesty with him.
Romans 2:2-8†Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done."† To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. NIV†††
†† Sin is in the world not only because of Satan, but also because of our weakness. We are in the midst of war, good vs. bad - spiritual warfare Ė holy versus evil. This war is being fought right here and as in any war there are casualties. Sin causes those casualties. In the book of James (1:13-16), James writes that sin comes from the evil desire that is in us, when we are weak and give in to that desire we sin and sin, if allowed to grow in us, brings death. When we repent of sin, that sin dies and does not grow. But the unrepentant sin in our life brings us into conflict with God and sets his wrath against us.††††
† Godís desire is for his children to be saved and to have a loving relationship with him. But I believe God grows tired, God is hurt at our weak faith and our excuses. And it is completely out of love and a desire to grow our faith and draw us nearer that God may bring adversity, trials, suffering and rough times into our life. He may do this for any one of three reasons.††††
† It may be to test and to grow our faith so that we may add to our testimony of his power and love. ††††
† It may be to save the soul of another person around us. ††††† It may be for discipline, to get our attention when we are not doing what he desires. God will do anything to save his children, the ultimate proof of which is Jesus on the cross. Saving each one of us is Godís main goal. The scriptures all point to Godís deep desire to save his children. The entire history of Israel in the Old Testament is this side of God. We see God always striving to reach his people, by providing, protecting and disciplining.
In the New Testament we are again reminded of Godís deep love for us, both in sending his Son and in the witness of the apostles and their lives.We often talk about finding God in the tough times, when we are at our lowest. So why is it so hard to say and believe that God placed us there in the first place so that we would find him?† ††††
† Job Ė a man of faith passed the test of God and defeated the work of Satan because of faith and nothing else. We often see faith as true only when it comes without doubt or worries or anger. We often judge faith based upon the outward appearance and the things that happen in our lives. Yet that is not always true. You can be faithful yet experience seasons of doubt or worry. You can be faithful yet have bad times and have bad things happen to you. Job went through that terrible period but stayed with God. David in the Psalms tells of his faith journey with God and the highs and lows, the doubts and fears, but in the end the unexplainable joy and peace and blessings from God. Honest faith, real faith when it is exercised will have strong and weak moments.
God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt after a long period of discipline Ė the final act of deliverance being the parting of the Red Sea. In speaking of the miraculous working of God in our lives, I have often referred to these as our own moments of Red Sea crossings. But there is something about the miracle of the Red Sea crossing that we must recognize. The Israelites arrived at the Red Sea by following God. They did not end up there by fate or chance or by being deceived by Satan. God led them there. The majority of miracles only come when trouble or tragedy is at the door. If we never go to the Sea, then we may not experience the true power of God. †††
†† Godís children are called to live a holy and faithful life. It is a life that ultimately leads us to heaven and eternal life. It is a life of peace and joy and blessings and love. But along the way God may lead us to the edge of the Red Sea. He may lead us into trials like Job or bring us to a place of decision like Ananias and Sapphira. It is at this time that we either lead a faithful, honest life and are blessed or we fail and give in to that evil desire and sin. Yet even then hope is not lost Ė for sin is forgiven when forgiveness is sought. It is only the sin that we leave in our heart that calls out the fullness of Godís wrath. Jesusí death on the cross absorbs that wrath, offers us forgiveness and cleanliness but only when we confess and repent of our sins.††††
† The story of Job may be just the story of one man in the Old Testament, or is it a window into heaven? Is it evidence of how far Satan will go, continually seeking from God, asking of God who can he have? The story of Job shows us that God is not held captive by our beliefs or our views of the world. Job saw this and more, Job found a much more powerful God, a much more majestic God through his faith journey with God.The Bible says that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This wisdom is what then leads us to know God in a deeper way when we realize that he has our life in the palm of his hands.†††
†† It is easier to see God as only involved in the good times and the bad times are solely reserved for Satan and his evil ways or to luck and chance. But God is involved in the good and the bad and I am glad that he is. It is easier to ignore the existence of Satan and evil, sin and Hell and the wrath of God. But fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.††
††† God demands obedience to Him, whenever our obedience fails than he expects repentance, and in the face of adversity or tragedy a Godly response. And when we sin, when we are unrepentant of that sin, then the truth is that we stand opposed to God and stand in the face of his wrath. God does not hide this part of his nature. In the Lordís prayer we ask for God not to lead us into temptation, the implication being that at times God does lead us into temptation. Throughout scriptures we see this side of God.††††
† It is not easy to say and believe that God may have a role to play in tragedy and suffering, but the reality, the truth is that he is. We should be thankful that God is involved. Think about it. God loves us and has promised to us his protection Ė Godís desire is to see us in heaven some day, he does not want anyone to perish. So he is working in our lives in a manner that is designed to save us. It is much better to believe that God is in control and whatever we are going through is designed for our eternal benefit than to think that it is all up to Satan Ė whose goal is to just destroy and torment us Ė or that it is just luck that is guiding the universe.†††
†† Difficult events in our life may be hurtful, they may be painful but they are not necessarily evil. Sin is evil. Our problem is that we see good or bad from our experience and not from the global view of God. We judge based upon a very limited view and without all the information. God knows all and is over all of his creation. We will never know all of Godís desires and reasons. We see in part and understand in part Ė now. The horrific damage done by Hurricane Katrina and countless other storms and accidents is beyond our human ability to comprehend. Yet we must understand that nature is not running out of control. The laws of nature do not govern nature; those laws are manís attempt to explain the forces of nature. God controls nature, God controls his creation.†††
†† The bible tells us that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. But donít take this as we may be just an unfortunate casualty of a spiritual war going on around us. We are not just innocent victims of friendly fire or collateral damage. Each drop of rain, each teardrop from God himself is shed with a purpose and with life changing power. Each drop is personal and is a part of the Almighty himself.God understands the pain of our suffering, the trauma of our life. †††
††† He has experienced deep grief during the death of his son. He experiences constant heartbreak at the disobedience of his children. God knows our struggles and hurts. But he cares more for our eternal state than our present state. God wants to bless us now. But more than that, he wants us to live holy lives now so that we can live with him eternally. God knows more than anyone what it may take to get us to live for him.†††††
When tragedy, suffering, trials come our way† we shy away from saying that God did this or that or put me here, if it is painful or bad or hurts. It is easier just to look to blame or feel sorry for ourselves and to not look to God for healing, meaning and strength to move on. It is easier to stop and just blame Satan or someone else if we keep God out of it.††
††† It is easier to say that God allowed Satan to test us, to give us this or that. This is partially true in the case of Job. Yet even then Satan was only able to go after Job with Godís OK and after God had tested Job. Satan is not omnipotent nor is he omnipresent or omniscience. While Satan has great power and is devious and is a spirit, God has him on a leash, a chain to be specific. It is only during the Tribulation period at the end of the age that Satan will have free reign to do what he wants. ††††
† So what do we do? ††††
† First and foremost we must confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior and confess all of our sins to him. We must strive to be obedient to his desires and to serve him in truth. We must be honest with God so that we can be honest with ourselves. God has been honest with us.†††
†† When tragedy comes we must move past the blame game. Finding whom to blame generally does not bring healing. Finding blame usually only gives us a target to be angry at. We canít explain to people why the tragedy most of the time, but we can help them move through it. The closure, the peace that we seek is not found in the answers to those questions at first, but it is found when we respond to the events by seeking Gods ways. Many times when Jesus was asked those types of questions, the whys and how comes, he left those questions unanswered and instead spoke of the proper response to lifeís events.†††
†† God is love. He loves in a way that we can only dream of. And in that love is a deep desire to increase our faith in him and to add to his family. Through that love, God may bring us to a place of decision or to a place of suffering, either of which is aimed at bringing us closer to him. And in that love for us he must discipline those that remain in defiance of him. God is truth, his Word is truth. He rewards his faithful children with peace and blessings and joy beyond description. He also rewards unrepentant sin with his wrath. †
†††† And oh yeah, Job in the end he was blessed. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters before Satanís attack and God granted him another 7 sons and 3 other daughters at the end of the journey. And his possessions, God doubled all his possessions from before. 7000 sheep - 14000 sheep, 3000 camels -- 6000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen -1000 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys - 1000 donkeys. ††††
† He lived another 140 years and saw his kids and kids kids through the 4th generation. The blessings after the trial were far better than before and that doesnít even count the greatest blessing of all Ė heaven.†PrayerÖ..
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