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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

God Out of the Box

It is all one; therefore I say, He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.” Job 9:22

One of the difficult things about reading Job is how to sort through the advice given by Job's friends. Although in the end we know God finds them with fault and finds Job faultless, it is difficult to see how that could be possible in the middle of things. Job's first friend Eliphaz looks at Job's situation and says Job must have sinned against God to have this much suffering brought upon him. A lot of the things he says about God are found elsewhere in Scripture, God does bring punishment and destruction down on the wicked and there is wisdom in examining your actions if calamity is brought upon you. After Job denies that he has sinned against God and wishes that God would just kill him, his second friend takes a stronger approach. Bildad sees Job's struggle through suffering as offensive and says surely there is malice in your heart and you must repent, because God just doesn't destroy righteous people. Once again, Bildad is not entirely wrong in his assessment on how God acts during certain circumstances. Job then responds in a way that seems even more blasphemous, he claims that if there were a fair judge between him and God, he would be in the right. The advice given by Job's friends is not all that different from the advice many of us would give to a friend in a similar circumstance. Our view of God's justice is clean and systematic where he punishes the sinful and prospers the righteous and nothing can exist outside of that box. But that is exactly where Job's friends, and likewise many of us, err. God's justice is not a systematic equation of fairness or a black and white labeling of right and wrong. God's justice is whatever God does, regardless of what we find fair or equitable. Job sees this. Job sees that God can still be just and sovereign and destroy both the wicked and the righteous. The all-powerful glory and sovereignty of God is the point. It is so easy for us to put God and his attributes into a neat little box and build our controlled world around a God who is predictable and safe. That is the sin of Job's friends and it is a sin that I so frequently fall into. God is neither predictable or safe and the proper response to his interaction in the world is not to control him, but to worship him in the awe of his terrifying might.

Lord Jesus, let us fear you because you are a God who is not safe, who does what he pleases and is always just!

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