Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thursday, January 20th

The closer you are to your target; the more damage you can do. That’s true in warfare. It’s true in fighting. It is especially true in relationships. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a little test.

There you are in your little (office, cubical, job site, etc.) and here they come. You know guy or girl I’m talking about! They hate you and you most certainly have a Judeo-Christian disdain for every bone in their “fearfully and wonderfully made” body. When you see he/ she coming your jaw clenches, your knuckles turn white and your toes curl up in your shoes. They walk into your world and let you have a dose of, “you do bad work, you can’t keep up, your hair looks soooo stupid that way…” pick one. How much damage did they do? Not much really; your shields were up as soon as you picked up their scent.

Now let’s change it up a little. Things in your life have gone bad. The unthinkable has happened. You sit on your couch; weeping on the outside and dying on the inside. A knock at the door… at last you have some companionship; a shoulder… an ear… a helping hand. Now for some friendly advice, perhaps even some solid biblical theology upon which you can begin to rebuild. Then it becomes apparent. For all of the “comforting words” being spoken to you the meaning is quite clear, “this is your fault.” Whatever pain has befallen you… it is now worse. Beware the sheep with sharp teeth. Now we are ready to rejoin Job…

Chapter 5 picks up in the middle of a passive/ aggressive shaming by Job’s comrade Eliphaz. Eliphaz tells Job that this must be a matter strictly between him and God. Eliphaz uses the principle of sowing and reaping to let Job know that if he reaped trouble he must have sown it at some point in the past. Verse 8 is the biblical version of, “Hey… you know what I’d do!” Eliphaz’s solution was simple in his mind. Calamity is the product of secret sin. Therefore confession reverses the calamity. “Go ahead Job… let ‘er rip.” “Tell God what bad boy you’ve been so we can all go home.”

What’s really amazing and scary all at once is that when you look at verses 9 through 19 every believer should be saying some “amen’s.” There are some very powerful and amazing truths in those 11 verses. Paul even quotes Eliphaz in verse 13 when he writes to the church at Corinth. (1 Cor. 3:19)

The scary part is that Eliphaz acknowledges this list of God’s beautiful attributes but in the same breath presumes to know Job’s heart and Job’s motives. I would really like to say that I have more in common with Job than Eliphaz. I would like to say that. The truth is; I have been “that guy.” The guy with too many words and not enough silence. Too much “God I know what you’re doing” and not enough “Let Your will be done.” Lord… please make me aware when I am being “that guy.”

Verses 20 through 27 also contain things that are very true about God. The problem is that Eliphaz is presenting this to Job as a sort of “health and wealth” gospel. “Job if you confess your secret sin… allllll this can be yours!!” Eliphaz is just certain that God wants to bless Job if he will just let go of this deep, hidden evil that has caused this tragic turn of events.

After chapters four and five, I was fairly certain that Job chapter six verse one should have read, “Then Job’s fist knew Eliphaz’s face… and Job was not ashamed.” However it did not. Let me just say; there is a lesson in itself. The things that Job could’ve done or said but didn’t, speak volumes. Job has now officially been kicked while he was down.

Job’s response for the first thirteen verses has only to do with him and God. “God I know this pain is from You.” Job is not saying he hates God for the pain. Job is not saying that God no longer exists because of the pain. He merely makes a statement of God’s sovereignty. Then he makes a request; “kill me… kill me now.” I don’t mean to make light of this. Job is not contemplating suicide. He is expressing the belief that death would be an act of mercy that will bring him into the arms of God Himself.

Job has not been afraid to correct his wife’s poor advice (2:9). He is certainly not going to be afraid to say something to these “friends.” The long and short of verses 14 to 22 is this; “You guys are as helpful as a dry river bed in the desert. Job names the areas of Tema in the north (named after one of Ishmael’s sons) and Sheba in the south. Both areas were part of the very dry Arabian Desert. Then in verses 24 through 30 he invites Eliphaz and his crew to examine his life. Job was not claiming to be sinless. He was stating that he believed that there was no correlation between some hidden sin and what was going on around him. He challenged this trio to find something in his life that he may have missed.

The truth of the matter is that what lies at the heart of Job’s pain and suffering is really the same thing that ultimately lies at the heart of most all of our own personal pains. It’s this; “Why God?” Or how about “Why me God?” It’s the lack of answers. If Job only knew what God was up to he could simply explain it to his wife and friends. They could hug, have a prayer for “traveling mercies,” and go their separate ways. But Job didn’t know that he had God’s loving attention or Satan’s jealous eye on him. It’s almost as if God wanted Job to trust in His character even if he didn’t understand all the circumstances. I wonder if He wants that same thing for you and me today.

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