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Passage: Job 1-4

On Wednesday, June 11, 2014 (Last Updated on 6/10/2015), Stephen wrote,

“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. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

The reading above has been bothering me since yesterday and I am still uneasy about  the fact that God was incited by Satan and, to make the matter worse, without any reason.  The whole thing sounds like God tries to prove that Satan is wrong about Job and is impetuous in his action.  It is polar opposite of characters of God that I know of!  How can I reconcile this to who God is, at least, my knowledge of who He is?

Yujin writes... This bothered me as well. But, I considered this. Even though the text says that Satan incited God (Job 2:4), on both occasions it was God who drew Satan's attention to Job (Job 1:8; 2:3). So, one might even say that God used Satan to test Job. Remember, it was God that also established the parameters for each test. As a similar example, God used Satan to incite David to take a census of Israel (2 Samuel 24:1). 

Now, as to the matter of God's character and justice, how can we explain God's affliction of Job? I don't believe we have to explain it, for since He is God, He can freely and justifiably do what He pleases. He has no moral constraint except what He chooses to put on Himself. What is more, can God only test the wicked, by which He shows them to be genuinely wicked? Can God not test the righteous as well, even to show that they are indeed righteous? (Romans 9:22-23) 

Passage: Job 1-4

On Monday, June 10, 2013 (Last Updated on 6/9/2015), Yujin wrote,

And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause (Job 2:3).

Many have tried to needlessly vindicate God in the matter of Job's suffering by assigning blame to Satan. But is this right? Does God need to defend his actions to us or anyone else? If so, I think we would have completely lost the point of this book. Even in the verse cited above, God clearly says that He Himself was the cause of the calamity that befell Job. God says that Satan incited Him, but can God be incited against His will? If so, He would not be God. No, even though Satan incited God, God knew exactly what He was doing.

Now, while we might say that the suffering Job received was not deserved, we cannot say that God was unjust in bringing this suffering on Job. For as Job himself acknowledged, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). As Creator, He alone has this right to give and take away. He can both bless and punish without being subject to the moral restrictions that He has imposed upon His creation. Since God has made me, can He not freely do with me and do to me just as He pleases? Of course. Yet, some theologians put God in a kind of moral straightjacket, and in so doing, they forget that He is God.

Let us not do the same. Having a right view of God will also keep us from putting out foolish tests, "I will serve the LORD if He heals my son" or "I will know that God is true if..." Is God beholden to us? Do we not put ourselves in jeaporday by our own words?

But when we realize that God is God, the sovereign Creator, who does everything just as He pleases, then we will also recognize that our very sense of right and wrong does not rest in some eternal set of principles that pre-date God, as even someone as well-known as Norman Geisler suggests, but that God Himself establishes morality for His people according to His purposes. Murder is wrong because God says it is wrong. But when God does it, it is not wrong. For He is not beholden to the same rules that He gives to man. Therefore, when He chooses to kill Job's sons, this would be murder if anyone else did it, but we don't call it that because it was God who did it. As He brought us into the world, so He can also take us out of the world.

Job was confused because he could not understand why God would inflict such suffering on him. After all, Job was declared to be "blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil" (Job 1:1). As the book progresses, Job and his friends all try to answer the "why" because they feel they have to vindicate God's righteousness, or in Job's case, his own righteousness.

Now, Job is more correct than his friends because at least he admits that he does not know why God was doing this. He is not so presumptuous as his friends as to think it was on account of some sin in him. But even Job gains enlightenment when he comes to understand that he does not need to know why, and it is not his place to challenge God to answer him as to the why. It is sufficient for him to understand that God does what He does because He is God. Thus, God never answers job's question of why.

Friends, let us have such a view of things, recognizing that God is sovereign. He does all things just as He pleases and works everything in keeping with His eternal purposes (cf. Ephesians 1:11), which are often beyond our finding out (cf. Psalm 139:6; Romans 11:33).

At the same time, let us trust in His promises to us, by which we hope for an eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. For while God is not subject to the rules that He established for men, He is eminently consistent in Himself, so that He does not contradict His nature and, thus, cannot lie or be unfaithful to His promises (cf. Romans 3:4; Hebrews 6:18; Numbers 23:19).

Passage: Job 1-4

On Sunday, June 10, 2012 (Last Updated on 6/9/2020), Yujin wrote,

Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed? My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same. A breath from God destroys them (Job 4:7-9).

This truth was given to me in secret, as though whispered in my ear. It came to me in a disturbing vision at night, when people are in a deep sleep. Fear gripped me, and my bones trembled. A spirit swept past my face, and my hair stood on end. The spirit stopped, but I couldn’t see its shape. There was a form before my eyes. In the silence I heard a voice say, ‘Can a mortal be innocent before God? Can anyone be pure before the Creator?’ (Job 4:12-17).

Eliphaz speaks these words against Job. His argument is based on (1) his personal experience and (2) a dream and vision. What I want you to notice is that Eliphaz is not blaspheming God but seeking to defend God's honor, yet his counsel here is wrong. We know this because in the end God says this to Eliphaz and his friends:

After the Lord had said these things to Job , he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”  (Job 42:7-8).

But why should God be angry with Eliphaz. After all, he was only relaying his personal experience. He was only sharing the "revelation" given to him in a dream and vision by the Holy Spirit. What's the problem here?

The problem here is that Eliphaz's experience is only a partial truth. Yes, God punishes the wicked but God can also allow harm to the righteous. Eliphaz's experience goes beyond God's revealed truth. While it is true that God judges the wicked, Eliphaz should not have, thereby, assumed that any and every suffering presupposes wickedness on the part of the sufferer. This goes beyond God's truth.

Another problem is with respect to Eliphaz's dream and vision. A spirit may indeed have spoken to him in the night, but it was not the Holy Spirit. It may even have been Satan, who has been a very active agent in this whole affair. But Eliphaz seems generally to be a god-fearing man. Can Satan entice and decieve god-fearing men? Yes! The Scripture says,

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

What does this suggest? A Christian can be deceived by Satan. Remember, Satan even tried to deceive the Lord Jesus in the wilderness of testing. The believer should not assume that his dream is from the Lord or that his vision must be from the Holy Spirit.

Speaking of misguided Christians, Paul writes this warning to the Colossian church:

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow (Colossians 2:18-19).

In the context of Colossians 2 Paul addresses deceivers inside the church that try to move the faithful away from a correct understanding of the deity of Christ, the grace of God, and the believers' freedom from the constraints of the Mosaic Law. Paul writes that these deceivers rely on philosophy, tradition, personal experience, visions, their own brand of worship, false humility, arbitrary restrictions, and even harsh treatments to the body to sway true believers away from God's truth (note, this is the argument of the entire 2nd chapter of Colossians).

Eliphaz and his friends were wrong about God because they did not understand God's truth. They relied on personal experience, dreams, and visions rather than God's revealed will. They did not stay within the boundaries of God's Word, as Job did, even when he could not fully understand why he was suffering. Rather than embrace known truth and stay there, Job's friends went beyond the truth to provide their own self-styled explanation for Job's suffering.

Friends, this is a warning for us as well. For Paul called the Corinthian church both worldly and unspiritual because of their personality-based, experience-based divisiveness. They became this way because they did not stay within the boundaries of God's Word, trusting instead their presumed spiritual gifts, the power of their "wisdom" and the influence of their "eloquence." Thus, they formed factions without merit. So he writes in conclusion and as a remedy to their spiritual immaturity:

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other (1 Corinthians 4:6).

As hard as it was for Job to remain faithful to God's truth in the face of suffering and loss, it must have been even harder when those he trusted the most tried to turn his heart away. His wife advised him to curse God and die. And his friends tried to convince him of personal sin.

Today, there is a movement to turn people away from the plain teaching of God's Word. They attempt to mix the false with the true and so confuse believers that are ill-equipped in God's Word. They emphasize experience, visions, dreams, and all-night prayers and fastings, as though these things are in any way evidence of spiritual connection or true insight. Paul says that such people have "lost connection with the Head [Christ], from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews grows as God causes it to grow" (Colossians 2:2:19).

They are always going beyond what God has revealed in His Word. While they are afraid to directly challenge God's truth at first, they nevertheless, go beyond it with their careless prophetic pronouncements, trumpeting those that appear to be fulfilled and ignoring those that are not.

They often mishandle God's Word because their emphasis is not on truth but on supporting their own ideas. They will, thus, highlight one verse or one phrase, which would not be wrong if it were in keeping with the context, but they violate even the immediate context in which the verse or phrase is found.

Friends, be wary of anyone who relates this or that vision from the Lord.  It is at best unreliable and may even be from the devil rather than from the Lord. Don't be off your guard because they tell you they've been praying or fasting for days. This does not give any greater merit to any of their claims. Since you do not know the origin of such things, and there is no way to verify it, stay true to what God has already revealed in His Word, which is sufficient, that means, it is all you need, to live a life pleasing to God:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Passage: Job 1-4

On Friday, June 10, 2011 (Last Updated on 6/9/2015), Yujin wrote,

Friends, because we know the end of the story, namely, God's assessment of Job's friends, we have a universally disdainful view of them. This is right that we should, but I daresay that those who have never read this book would favor the friends over Job. And if we had not been told the scene in heaven at the beginning of the book, we would certainly have this opinion. They are not "bad" friends by any contemporary standard. When they heard about Job's loss, they tore their clothes and put dust on their heads. They sat with him for seven days without uttering a word. And if Job had not spoken, it might have been longer. How many friends do you have that do this? And their counsel to Job, though wrong, appears to be based on their best theological understanding, namely, that God blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked. I do not write this to argue that you and I should now have a high view of these friends. On the contrary we should continue to have God's view of them, namely, that they were wrong.

But, at the same time, let us understand that we are just like them and perhaps much worse. I have observed an interesting tendency. Christians today tend to identify with Job more than the friends, with Noah over the millions, perhaps billions, who perished in the flood, with Moses, even Joshua and Caleb, rather than the hundreds of thousands that perished in the wilderness. We have a very high view of ourselves. Perhaps this is why many Christians today have such a hard time embracing the sovereignty of God in His election of some to salvation

John Wesley was known to be one of the most hard-working evangelists that ever lived, riding thousands of miles on horseback through all kinds of weather and dangers to save the lost. He was the founder of the Methodist Church. He is also perhaps the foremost proponent of the theology of "free will" that argues that personal salvation is ultimately man's choice rather than God's choice. Wesley also believed that Christians could become perfect in this life. It appears Wesley also had a high of view man and lived his life and conducted his ministry in such a way to prove this true.

I admire Wesley for his great efforts in spreading the Gospel, but it saddens me that he, perhaps more than any other modern personality, has been instrumental in distorting the correct view of God's sovereignty and human depravity. His mistaken theology has elevated human ability through his theology of "free will" in salvation. And whether he intended this or not, this theology has stoked the current dangerous trend among Christians to think too highly of themselves.

As I said, it is right for us to disdain Job's friends, but let us not at the same time elevate ourselves above them, for we are no better. Let us understand that we were "dead in our trespasses," "by nature children of wrath," "condemned," "unable to comprehend spiritual truth," and lock step with the rest of humanity of whom Paul writes, "no one seeks after God, no not one!" Let us then rightly acknowledge that salvation, all of it, both the work and the faith, are the gift of God. Let us understand that we are only able to utter the words, "I believe," because we have first been born again by the Spirit.

Therefore, in the final analysis, it is not that we chose God, but He chose us. And there was no beauty, no ability, no goodness, nor any other virtue, that would induce Him to choose us over another, but He simply chose us because He chose us. This is His prerogative as God. As Moses observed when God declared His Name to him, God said, "I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” His sovereign choice, unmoved by any external influence, is central to His very name and authority. Since God's sovereign choice in salvation is connected to His very nature as God, to argue for any kind of "free will" as an effective agent in our salvation is not only to misunderstand salvation but it is also to misunderstand God.