Ever stop and think… why would the Lord, strong and mighty, wait patiently for the doors to open?
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! – (Psa 24:7-8 ESV)
Today I told the story of Job to my Sunday School class of precious 5 year olds. One of the things I love about teaching kids is that I always seem to discover new and exciting truths in old familiar stories. They are not new truths, of course, just things I hadn’t recognized before.
Job had everything any person could ever want; he had a big family, he had perfect health, and he was the richest man in the world. He was even commended by God as being righteous. When Satan accused Job before God, God gave Satan permission to take away everything Job had. When Satan took away Job’s livelihood, family, and health, Job did not blame God for his troubles but worshiped Him instead. Job proved Satan wrong. Satan had told God that Job only worshiped Him because He had blessed him. But throughout the book of Job we find that Job worshiped God even when things went bad for him. The two most well known verses from Job sum it up nicely:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21)
“Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15)
I have always filed this story in the “we ought to worship God at all times” category. That is completely true. Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” But today while telling the story of Job I learned these three things afresh:
Number 1: It is Satan’s hand that harmed Job, not God’s. It seems obvious, but it was the wording of the verses in chapter 1 that caught my attention. Satan incites God: “Stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” But God answers, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand.” (Job 1:11-12, emphasis added.) Satan is good at spinning his own evil to God’s credit. It comes out in common phrases like, “If God is good, why do bad things happen?”–thus pinning the blame on God with the implication that all bad things are His fault. The question would be better phrased, “Since God is good, for what reason does He allow the devil to continue doing evil?” Thus God is not the enemy, the devil is. And that question, deserving of much more time than will be given to it in this post, is answered all over the bible….
Number 2: God’s love for us is independent of our circumstances. When things do not go well for us, we do not need to doubt God’s love. Before we started the story, I asked the kids about their Christmas’. They enthusiastically told me about all their favorite presents. As a segue into Job, I asked, “So, how do we know God loves us? Is it because we all got awesome presents for Christmas!?” I was so proud when the class resounded: “NO!” So I asked them to raise their hand and tell me how we know for certain that God loves us. One little boy (who normally doesn’t answer questions) shot up his hand and said, “Because Jesus died for our sins!”
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
God’s love is not found in the blessings he gives us. God does not show His love for us in that we have good health and prosperous lives. It is God who blesses us with those things, but it is not the demonstration of His love. Furthermore, God’s love is not depreciated when blessings are scarce. We know God loves us because He became sin on our behalf to make us the righteousness of God in Him. No matter what the condition of our lives, we always know He loves us because He died on the cross for us.
Number 3: Just because things are bad does not mean God thinks that we are. When things do not go well for us, we don’t have to assume it is because we’ve done something wrong. Job was commended by God Himself as being a righteous man, and yet he had troubles. God’s love for us is not measured by circumstances, nor is our righteous standing before Him.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
This peace we have with God exists even when peace in our life does not. We lay hold of God’s love through faith, and it is through that faith in Him that we are made to be completely righteous. Present circumstances neither confirm nor deny our standing, it is promised to us in God’s word–period.
I did not expect these truths to be pointed out to me through Job. But they strengthen me so that, at some point, when Satan tries to incite God’s hand against me, I can rest in the knowledge that it will not be God’s loving, nail-pierced hand that reaches out to hurt me, but it will be His hand that holds me tight as I walk through the fire with Him.
"And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’" (Matthew 20:11)
God does not play favorites. Each of us will enter His presence through faith in His Son. Because of that, there is no Christian with a higher level of righteousness. We have the righteousness of Christ, and Christ’s righteousness is complete.
There is no room for jealousy, no room for exalting one another, no room for assuming one is closer to God than another because he has “borne the heat of the day”. In the presence of a holy God we must all be completely holy or we must not approach Him at all. Therefore, through faith in His Son, God has made us equals.
Though faith is a matter of the heart, and I would typically be the first to defend that mere logic or intellect is not how a person is brought to knowing the Lord, Jesus seems to emphasize here that to grasp the Word of God with one’s mind is of extreme importance!
- “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (Matthew 13:13)
- “Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.'” (Matthew 13:14)
- “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:15)
- “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.” (Matthew 13:19)
- “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:23)
But even in our desire to know God with our mind, heart, and soul, we strive for something unattainable, yet worthy of our energy.
- “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:17-19)
The love of God teaches us that we are not to be afraid of Him. Fear involves punishment, but we have confidence for the day of judgment because we are as He is—that is, He has given to us His righteousness. God loves us, so we don’t need to be afraid; He will not give us the punishment due our sin. Rest in the knowledge that His wrath is appeased at the cross of Jesus Christ.
“[Hezekiah] trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses.” (2 Kings 18:5-6)
We esteem King Solomon for having asked the Lord for wisdom instead of money and power–and rightfully so! God Himself esteemed Solomon and honored him for His request! We esteem Solomon, and follow in his footsteps, asking the Lord for wisdom, knowing full-well that without the Lord, we are utterly foolish.
But Hezekiah shows us something better than wisdom. No; he shows us the culmination of all wisdom: he trusted in the Lord and held fast to Him. He didn’t depart from following God–something to which Solomon could not lay claim.
I will continue beg the Lord for His wisdom, but I think I’ve found a better request than Solomon’s–Lord, “increase my faith!” (Luke 17:5)
Help me to trust in You!
If you are seeking God for direction, remember that He is much more interested in the conduct of your life than the course that you take. He will be with you wherever you go. Whatever school you choose to go to, the questions is: what kind of student will you be? Whichever girl or guy you marry, what kind of spouse will you be? Whichever career you pursue, what kind of employee will you be? Yes He can, and will, direct your path—but much more important, He wants to direct your heart.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”