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God Isn’t An Enemy Always Poised to Destroy Us

The story of Job was rather unsettling for me. It made me slightly annoyed with God. As I perused the story briefly, I found the plot to be incredibly bizarre and offensive. God mentions Job’s name to the adversary, Satan. The roaming adversary responds by demanding to experiment on Job while insisting that that he can easily sway Job’s allegiance. Job responds to this test by asking God why. His questions are met with silence. Then, God suddenly responds with an answer that seemed like it could be pretty much distilled in, “Who is bigger here? Huh? Huh?”

Diving a little into the story, the book begins with a dialogue between Job and his three friends: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.  They are all trying to make sense of what is going on. Job insists he is innocent (ch. 9 vs. 20), accuses God of for being a bully (ch. 7, vs. 20), pleads for the torture to stop (ch. 9 vs. 34) and wishes for a chance to present his complaints before God (ch. 9 vs. 32).

Job’s friends blame Job with the fact that he may be harboring some secret sin. They stand strong on the fact that bad things only happen to bad people. That God is a harsh taskmaster who does not even trust His angels whom they confide in. They counsel Job to repent and make things right with God. As a result, they believe that in turn, his repentance will allow for God’s favor.

Unexpectedly, a fourth voice rings out. While listening to a dramatized version of the book of Job I was surprised to hear this fourth character join the conversation –Elihu the son of Barakel a kid from Buz. He is trying to be respectful and keep quiet because he is after all quite young; however, he’s just had enough. He refuses to let God be misrepresented in this way. He finally bursts.

Elihu tells Job that people are not God’s enemies and that it makes God happy to avoid destroying his creatures (ch. 33 vss. 8-33). “…It is wrong to say that God doesn’t listen, to say that the Almighty isn’t concerned (ch. 35 vs. 13),” he insists. He reminds Job that God “will bring justice if you [Job] will only wait” (ch. 35 vs. 14). He reemphasizes God’s power and justice (ch. 36 vss. 22-33; 37). An underlying thread of God’s goodness shines throughout his whole speech. Elihu isn’t perfect and he doesn’t understand everything – even he knows this. Yet, it is at the end of his speech that God speaks. It’s almost as if Elihu has set the stage.

God pops into the dialogue as if he is one of the debaters. He throws out an intense argument. With skillfully thought out questions, He takes Job’s gaze out of the immediate miserable circumstances and lifts them up to grander things.

“Then the Lord said to Job, ‘Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have answers?’” Job 40:1-5 (NLT).

At this moment, I wonder if God asks Job questions he cannot answer, because Job is asking questions God cannot answer.

“It is impossible to explain the origin of sin so as to give a reason for its existence. Yet enough may be understood concerning the both the origin and the final disposition of sin to make fully manifest the justice and benevolence of God in all His dealings with evil.”

The Great Controversy p. 492

Then, God invites Job to be God!

“Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like his? All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty. Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud. Humiliate the proud with a glance; walk on the wicked where they stand. Bury them in the dust. Imprison them in the world of the dead. Then even I would praise you, for your own strength would save you.” (ch. Vss. 9-14, NLT)

Show your stuff, Job. If you can do a better job than I, even I will give you praise.

Stunning.

Then, God points Job’s attention to two weird creatures: The Behemoth and the Leviathan. It seemed so random. Perhaps, they were some prehistoric beast –a dinosaur maybe. However, in a sermon a theologian suggested, those beasts were all but random.

A passage in the Biblical book of Isaiah gives us a clue as to who they might be.

“But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead! (Also see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

“Go home, my people and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the Lord’s anger has passed.

“Look! The Lord is coming from heaven to punish the people of the earth for their sins.

“The earth will no longer hide those who have been killed. They will be brought out for all to see. (Also see Revelation 20:11-15)

“In that day the Lord will take his terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling serpent, writhing serpent. He will kill the dragon of the sea. (Also see Revelation 20:7-10).” (Isaiah 26: 19-21; 27:1, NLT)

Here the prophet Isaiah describes a scene very similar to the scene described by the prophet John in Revelation (19:11-16; 20). However, Isaiah calls John’s “dragon –that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan” the “Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling, writhing serpent –the dragon of the sea.”

In ancient Middle Eastern mythology, the Leviathan is the god of chaos –a “wriggling, seven-headed serpent.” Job seems to mention this mythical creature in chapter 3 verse 8. Oddly enough, these creatures bear a striking resemblance to a description of Satan in Revelation 12:3-4.

Is God pointing Job to Satan and the monstrous problem of sin? If Job were to assume the role of god of the universe, this is something Job will have to deal with. I always assumed that God never told Job why he went through this terrible trial. Perhaps, that is not the case. It could be God is using poetic imagery to tell Job the story of what played out in the cosmic court room between God and Satan. All this in language familiar to Job. Perhaps, God is giving Job a sneak peek into the great controversy. Who really knows? But God.

In the end, Job decides that God can do a better job at being god.

“I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsels without knowledge? Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you and you shall answer Me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6, New King James Version).

Job realizes his ignorance. Sometimes, evil doesn’t make any sense –there is no good explanation. Yet, in the end God triumphs. Love triumphs. Justice triumphs.

Like JJ Heller said in her song Who You Are:

“Sometimes, I don’t know

I don’t know what You’re doing.

But I know who You are.”

Then God turns to Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar and said, “You were wrong too! Get Job to intercede and pray for you, so you don’t receive the punishment you deserve.” (ch. 42 vss. 7-9)

They were wrong. It wasn’t Job’s sin that caused this horrible trial. It was his allegiance to God. Bad things don’t only happen to bad people. God isn’t an enemy always poised to destroy us. No amount of repenting would have gotten Job out of his situation. An enemy had done this (Matthew 13:28).

Interestingly, God comes to earth later. He gives up his riches and honor to be in Job’s position. He gets dealt a worse hand than Job was dealt. There is no one to say, “…But spare his life” (ch. 1 vs. 12). As He dies everyone shakes their head and says, “He must have been really evil for God to treat him that way…” (Isaiah 53:4,5).

Little did we know that yet again an enemy had done this.

 

Article written by Joneen Wilson

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