Sunday 17 October
Tragedy and Realism
We venture back into the book of Job, which informs us about God, the heavenly realms and THEODICY, the subject of God and justice in the light of human suffering.
Last week we learned that the best relationship between God and humans can be corrupted by a third party. In the book of Job, that third party is called “The Satan”. It’s a bit like Ivan “the” terrible (The terrible – he is renowned for it). The “The” is meant to amplify what he is like.
“The” Satan is our adversary and false accuser. He intrudes to spoil our peace and is hell bent on frustrating the real blessings of us having a beautiful relationship with God.
It is not apparent to many of us as we read this translation is that the “One day” introduced in verse 13 is the same “One day” in verse 6 which we looked at last week, where The Satan is granted permission to afflict Job – He wastes no time whatsoever.
So that means that it falls before any sin could have been committed by Job or his children as they are beginning their feast – this impending affliction is not a result of any judgement or punishment by God.
I love the verse “God’s mercies are new every morning”, but the truth is we do not know what any day holds for us until we travel through it.
Job’s day ahead will undoubtedly be the worst he will ever have as messengers of tragic news arrive, one after another and although we have seen into the courts of heaven, Job is in the dark. There is an ironic sense in this, but although we are informed here, many of us are in the dark when troubles come our way too.
Disaster 1 destroys much of Job’s farming venture. His highly valued donkeys and oxen are stolen by the Sabaeans, a trading people from Sheba and they also murder all the field hands who worked for Job – except the one messenger who relays this to Job verse 15.
Disaster 2 verse 16 brings the “Fire of God”, destroying pasture and all Job’s sheep – along with the shepherds of Job. This is not lightening hitting dry scrub – but a disaster specifically sent from the heavenly realms – Satan’s role in this is not spelled out – but we are able to deduce it.
Disaster 3 destroys Job’s transport and trading capabilities verse 17. All his camels are taken by the Chaldeans, a people from the area later to be known as Babylon. The herdsmen are all slain, except one messenger.
Disaster 4 in verses 18 and 19 is a hurricane like wind that comes from the dessert. Its power raises Job’s home to the ground – that is a direct hit on the intended target. During the collapse, all Job’s servants and children in it or nearby are killed.
The death of Job’s family is not told to us – but again we are meant to put two and two together and make four.
The scale of these tragedies is as horrendous in extreme as a stark contrast to the rich blessings Job had enjoyed previously. It is the life in all its fullness John 10:10 talks about: The height of the highs is richer precisely because the lows can also be so low.
How do we respond when difficult news or situations arise? Well in verse 20 we see Job is not looking up to heaven and shouting “why me”. Instead, he humbles himself before God and begins a time of ritual mourning.
As was the custom, he shaves his head and sits in the dust and most importantly, he continues to revere his God, remaining a devoted servant.
In verse 21 we are given God’s assessment of Job and His man who is a man of living faith exactly as God had previously asserted in heavens court. Job proves it by worshipping and praising God. No matter what cards life deals real Christians – worshipping God remains a core practice.
So, if you know people who used to attend a church and no longer worship on the Sabbath, unless they are infirm or ill – it is most likely that their faith in God was not a living faith – they have not had the beautiful relationship with God which He offers.
Job’s declaration or prayer and praise are right on the topic. He began life bare as he emerged out of the womb and had no material blessings. Now, here on mother earth he is in the same situation – he has nothing materially once more.
Job says something that we can find in Psalm 139:13 – God is God, He made us or “knit us in our mother’s womb” He has every right to give and to take.
At Christian funerals we more or less accept this concept. We mortals arise out of the dust or biological particles in the earth and we will also return to the dust – ashes to ashes, dust to dust…
Job is not surprised by this because he accepts God’s sovereignty – God gives and takes and our days on earth are numbered.
Job calls God the “LORD” In the Hebrew that name for God used here is YAHWEH. Again, this is not obvious as we read it but the surprise here is that this event is occurring before God reveals this name in Exodus 6:2.
Even though this book is later on in the Old Testament, chronologically Job is happening before the Exodus.
Job has this beautiful relationship with God – He knows Gods personal name before others know it – Job was truly blessed and his relationship with God was very special.
Job does the opposite to what The Satan predicted – he does NOT curse God and the falsehood the accuser spouts is shown up for exactly what it is – slanderous drivel.
Verse 22 ends the first test with the verdict, not guilty. God does give and take but Job and all people of living faith trust in our personal and amazing God.
Job continues to be blameless; God shows up the Satan for what he is like and its a round one knockout as Job is declared the winner of this first test.
So, what can we deduce from this passage then?
God wants us all to have this special relationship – if you want to have it – speak to Him, or a friend, elder or Christian that you know has this, and can help you to have it too.