Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making Sense Of The Book Of Job

A while ago, a sister in grace highlighted to me a Facebook status update by Rev Rick Warren a few weeks after the tragic death of his son... it was a quotation of Job 2:10 - "Job replied 'Shall we accept only good from God, and never any trouble?' In his pain,Job said no sinful remarks."

That status update attracted more than 600 comments and a lot of them basically are saying "Amen!" to that verse, that suffering comes from God but he will help us pull through. This is very troubling to me because it shows that many people are not reading and understanding the bible in context.

When trying to understand bible passages, it is very important to be clear about the following:

1. Who said it?
2. To whom was it being said?
3. When was it said?
4. Where was it said?

Another important thing when studying the bible is to never lose sight of the big picture ie. the whole bible is about the story of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross; like what Mal said on his blog, there is a "scarlet thread" running through the whole bible.

I have not been writing for more than a year but this episode has inspired me to restart my blog; like what the tagline of my blog title says, I hope to help you make sense of what you are hearing in church as well as reading in the bible.

Since I am returning to writing because of Job 2:10, I think I might as well tackle the whole book of Job, especially since many people like to  (erroneously) quote from Job when they themselves or their friends are going through troubles. 

However, you have to be patient with me because the book of Job is heaaaaaavy reading, not only in terms of quantity (42 chapters) but also in terms of depth. I want to read through the whole book once, and then think about how to structure my series on Job instead of simply going through it chapter by chapter.

For a start, let me deal with Job 2:10. 

Firstly, it is vital to note that this verse was spoken by Job himself. The Holy Spirit recorded this down but He did NOT speak it.

Secondly, Job spoke this in response to his wife who cursed him in verse 9: Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!

Job 2:10 is not the gospel truth! It is the uttering of a man in deep suffering while quarreling with his deeply frustrated and anguished wife; a man who has a wrong opinion of God! (Spoiler alert: this is one of the main themes I will touch on in my series)

Does God give us troubles? Do we even need God to give us troubles when we are perfectly capable of looking for trouble ourselves? Anyway, if you read through Job 1 and 2, you will find that it is Satan who dumped all those troubles on Job. In fact, before Satan's attacks, Job was the richest man in the region because of God's blessings. Satan himself testified to it in Job 1:10!

Job 1:10 (NKJV)
Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

Is God a schizophrenic? One moment He blesses us and the next moment He almost destroys us? NO! God is love and God is good. There are so many verses in the Old Testament that says God delights in us and wants to see us well.

Psalm 18:19 (NLT)
He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.

Psalm 35:27 (NLT)
But give great joy to those who came to my defense. Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord, who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”

Psalm 36:8 (NLT)
You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights.

Psalm 37:23 (NLT)
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.

Psalm 132:15 (NLT)
I will bless this city and make it prosperous; I will satisfy its poor with food.

Psalm 149:4 (NLT)
For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

Micah 7:18 (NKJV)
Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,

Because He delights in mercy.

Many Christians are still confused about the heart of God; they think like Job, that God gives both good and evil to us. How can that be? God is light and in Him is no darkness at all! (1 John 1:5) Moreover, You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.(1 Thess 5:5)

If you are still not sure about who wants good for you and who wants to destroy you, then listen to what Jesus himself says:

John 10: 11-12 (NLT)
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.

Ask yourself this: Who sacrifices his life for the sheep? Who attacks the sheep? Can Jesus be both the Shepherd AND the Wolf as well? Can God be both light and darkness? Can God give both good and evil?

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