by Mike Ratliff
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:1-7)
Why does God discipline us? Is there a specific reason that rises to the top as the root cause of all of the other reasons we need God’s disciplining hand upon us? I read a piece by Martin Luther earlier today that stated that if God showed us how wicked we really are, we would die. We don’t like to hear that because we have another problem that is tied directly to our inner wickedness. It is pride. Our pride is what makes us resemble our enemy. His original sin was pride. He rebelled against God as he attempted to usurp God’s throne.
From Genesis 3 we learn that Man’s original sin was based in rebellion as well. Adam and Eve believed the lie from Satan that God was holding out on them and that if they disobeyed God then they would become like God, knowing good from evil. Of course they foolishly did that and learned that the knowledge of good and evil carries with it a huge price. Their pride condemned mankind to both physical and spiritual death. That is why we need a saviour.
Those whom God has saved are deeply loved by Him, therefore, He disciplines them to grow in faith and cleanse them unto Christ-likeness. Of course, in our study of Job, we don’t yet see that this is case for Job, however, if we jump to the end of the book, we see that Job has issues. The pain, or suffering, that God brings into our lives is designed to accomplish His purpose in our hearts. This is God’s discipline. It can be very painful. It can seem as if God has deserted us. It may seem that our salvation was only a dream and not a reality.
Let’s join Job as he responds to his three friends who have brutally charged Job with blatant sin and rebellion against God, which is the reason for all of his suffering. Job knows that this is not the case. He resents their charges against him and he is confused because he knows that he has not committed those sins of which he is being accused.
Then Job answered and said: “I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all. Shall windy words have an end? Or what provokes you that you answer? I also could speak as you do, if you were in my place; I could join words together against you and shake my head at you. I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain. (Job 16:1-5)
This is an indictment against his friends that, even if he had sinned and brought about his disaster, they should still have not attacked his character as they did. Instead, they should have shown some compassion. Their treatment of Job was from a problem solving mind set. I am a Database Administrator and have worked in some area of I.T. since 1973. I am able to do good work because I have good problem solving skills. Unfortunately, this is not the skill set that is needed in Job’s case. His friends stomp all over Job’s character accusing him of all sorts of crimes that he was not guilty of at all. They saw his suffering and assumed that they should state the “truth“ to him so that he would repent and be healed. They tried to solve his problem instead of empathizing with him and waiting on God.
“If I speak, my pain is not assuaged, and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me? Surely now God has worn me out; he has made desolate all my company. And he has shriveled me up, which is a witness against me, and my leanness has risen up against me; it testifies to my face. He has torn me in his wrath and hated me; he has gnashed his teeth at me; my adversary sharpens his eyes against me. Men have gaped at me with their mouth; they have struck me insolently on the cheek; they mass themselves together against me. God gives me up to the ungodly and casts me into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, and he broke me apart; he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces; he set me up as his target; his archers surround me. He slashes open my kidneys and does not spare; he pours out my gall on the ground. He breaks me with breach upon breach; he runs upon me like a warrior.” (Job 16:6-14)
In these verses we see that Job has reached the point of giving up because God has worn him out. He calls God his adversary. He claims that God has turned His wrath and hatred against him. I remember back when I was a fairly new Christian who was very serious about my faith. I was growing and being used in Church. Then I had employment problems, financial problems and my son had health problems. Why did God desert me? Why did He hate me all of sudden? Why did I have to go through all of that and other brothers and sisters in Christ didn’t? I identified with this lament of Job’s very well. What had I done to bring God’s wrath upon me and my family? Of course, with hindsight, I can look back on that time now and see some of what God was doing. I was certainly not a very mature Christian. At least, I wasn’t as mature as people thought I was or as I thought I was. I needed this, but I didn’t think I did back then. It was a tough pill to swallow. What was God beating out of me with His rods of discipline? He was working on my pride.
I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin and have laid my strength in the dust. My face is red with weeping, and on my eyelids is deep darkness, although there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure. “O earth, cover not my blood, and let my cry find no resting place. Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God, that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor. For when a few years have come I shall go the way from which I shall not return. (Job 16:15-22)
Part of our pride problem is that we think we deserve to be heard by God when we are suffering. We must be pretty special since God saved us. Well, that is just pride speaking. The truth is pride shattering.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
If we are in Christ then we are included in that statement. How can we act like we are hot stuff and deserve special treatment when we know that God chose us from the foundation of the World based upon the criteria that we are not wise, not powerful, not noble, but are foolish, weak and ordinary. Why did God do it this way? He is the potter. We are the clay. He can do with us as He wills. However, when we are in the fires of tribulation, as Job is here, then we can be blind to this.
Job tells us that he wants an advocate to stand between him and God to argue his case. Does this sound familiar? Sure, who is the Christian’s advocate? It is Christ. He is God, but came to Earth as a man. He became one of us, albeit sinless, for many reasons, but one of those reasons is to be the advocate before the father on our behalf. This is a wonderful blessing for Christians. When we stand before God to give an account, and we will do so, we will not be cast into Hell because we have an Advocate before the Father who pleads our case based upon His own Righteousness.
Job is worn out. He is nearing the end of his endurance. God knows this. He knows all things. As we saw in an earlier post, God is sustaining Job in the midst of His suffering. In the next post we will look at the prayer Job prays to God that He would send him some relief.
Powered by Qumana