Sometimes we do things without knowledge. Sometimes we do things with full knowledge. For good and for bad, each position comes with its own set of consequences. The topic I have chosen to address today falls into the aforementioned category. Still more, the outcome of either standpoint in relation to said emphasis finds its end in eternity, for ultimate good or bad.
Over the past several weeks, we have been working our way through the Old Testament Book of Job. It is truly an incredible read with profound implications. Human propensity regarding religious reflection tends to simplify a god’s or gods’ interaction with avowed followers to the following formula: good behavior is rewarded outwardly with blessing; bad behavior is punished outwardly with affliction.
In Job’s chronicle, we are faced with a much different paradigm. The very beginning reveals an event occurring in heaven; one veiled to Job and all who surround him. In short, Job suffers because God is challenged by the evil one regarding Job’s devotion to God being solely based on material blessing; remove the hedge of protection surrounding Job, his family, and his things and dedication will be replaced with cursing. This is agreed to and God gives Satan permission to attack, with the stipulation of not affecting Job’s physical body. Satan’s plan backfires as Job remains faithful, prompting another challenge; touch his body and he will surely blaspheme. Job still remains faithful and the vast majority of the book is a dialogue between Job and his friends. They are convinced with stronger and more pointed arguments as the discourse moves along that Job is suffering because of some heinous deed he has committed. Job defends himself and demands an explanation from God in the process. God’s reply comes in a barrage of rhetorical questions. This is hardly the response anyone expected! God works in ways his creatures cannot understand! Job is left speechless. He is left to trust God even more deeply by faith and not rely on his own understanding coupled with the superficial assessment that good behavior equals blessing and bad behavior results in direct punishment.
With this summary in place, I want us to consider a very hard question put to Job by God in chapter 40 and verse 8. This is taken from the September 11th reading in our devotional Bible. I specifically appreciate the translators’ (HCSB) clarity of the original Hebrew. Make no mistake, the question applies to each and every one of us as much as it did to Job. God asks, “Would you really challenge My justice? Would you declare Me guilty to justify yourself? (HCSB)”
Like Job, especially when faced with pain, humanity tends to blame God. We proclaim that if He exists, His decisions of governance over reality are not fair. If an individual assesses their actions to be good, one expects a reward. If no recompense is identified, they want answers. This is a slippery slope which leads to unfathomable torment. For those who have eyes to see, the premise is wrong. It assumes, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, that human beings can define good and evil. This is a knowledge contained exclusively within God; He, in His Person, distinguishes good and evil. Our perspective should be summed up in a question the Apostle Paul asks, “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? (Romans 9:20, NASB)”
Job reacted to his plight without knowledge. When confronted by God, he repented and his entire worldview was reordered. Through the school of God’s providence, Job gained invaluable knowledge of God and His creation. By exposure to his story, you and I have also been given knowledge. With that in mind, when reflecting on the events in your life and how you appraise God and His universe, I repeat the later part of God’s question to Job…
Would you declare God guilty to justify yourself?