Wednesday, March 28, 2012
What's fascinating, though, is that God's answers, the explanations that Job has been so hungry for, are shown to be beyond his reach. God doesn't explain; rather, He points out to Job why Job can't understand. With question after question, from chapters 38-41, God says, "Job, you couldn't get it even if I did explain it to you." And those chapters are great for reminding us of the greatness of God, of who He is and who we are.
This morning one specific question stood out to me. And it's not the one I would have thought. There are some amazing questions God puts to Job. Some give us a glimpse into the parts of God's creation in which He delights. In 39:5-12 God affectionately speaks of the wild donkey and the wild ox; He joys in their freedom and in their strength. In vs19-25 of the same chapter He seems to take special delight in the fierceness of the war horse. Other questions soar poetically, such as 39:26, "Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and spread its wings toward the south?"
The question that grabbed my attention, though, was the first question God asks Job. 38:4, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth." Nothing particularly memorable about that, right? No poetic language, no wild and free animals; no power of creation or mysteries of God here. Just a simple, straightforward question: "Job, where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Where were you, Job, when I began building the earth on which you now walk, the earth onto which you were born? Job, where were you when I decided the laws by which this earth would be governed?"
I suppose the reason this question was so memorable to me is because of its simplicity. What would be the answer to it? How could Job respond? "I wasn't yet here, Lord. You hadn't yet knit me together in my mother's womb, fearfully and wonderfully making me. I hadn't yet breathed air (which You created) into the lungs You gave me, thereby drawing the oxygen that is necessary for life (which you breathed into my nostrils) into the body You fashioned from the earth--the earth You created."
God's 1st question to Job could rightfully have been His only question couldn't it? "Job, you are asking many questions. Let me ask you one." And the discussion could have ended there. But God wanted to make the point abundantly clear--both to Job and to us. He is far greater than we are. He is far wiser than we are. He knows things we don't know, He understands things that are beyond our ability. And while it isn't wrong for us to ask Him to help us understand, it is wrong to question Him. Why? Because we are unable to take hold of who He is, much less of what He does.
In 37:5 Elihu said, "God thunders wondrously with His voice; He does great things that we cannot comprehend." Elihu may not have had it all right, but that statement is good theology. God does great things that we can't comprehend. But even when we can't comprehend, we can trust. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, even though we are led there by the Lord who is our shepherd, we will fear no evil. Why? Because He is with us. We can rest in His presence when we can't understand His plan.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
That part of the line of battle which is most fiercely assailed by the enemy is sure to be that which he knows to be most important to carry. Men hate those they fear. The antagonism of the enemies of the gospel is mainly against the cross. From the very first it was so. They cried “Let him come down from the cross and we will believe in him.” They will write us pretty lives of Christ and tell us what an excellent man he was, and do our Lord such homage as their Judas’ lips can afford him; they will also take his sermon on the mount and say what a wonderful insight he had into the human heart, and what a splendid code of morals he taught, and so on. “We will be Christians” say they, “but the dogma of atonement we utterly reject.”
Our answer is, we do not care one farthing what they have to say about our Master if they deny his substitutionary sacrifice, whether they give him wine or vinegar is a small question so long as they reject the claims of the Crucified. The praises of unbelievers are sickening; who wants to hear polluted lips lauding him? Such sugared words are very like those which came out of the mouth of the devil when he said “Thou Son of the Highest,” and Jesus rebuked him and said “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” Even thus would we say to unbelievers who extol Christ’s life: “Hold your peace! We know your enmity, disguise it as you may. Jesus is the Savior of men or he is nothing; if you will not have Christ crucified you cannot have him at all.”
My brethren in Jesus let us glory in the blood of Jesus, let it be conspicuous as though it were sprinkled upon the lintel and the two side posts of our doors, and let the world know that redemption by blood is written upon the innermost tablets of our hearts.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Psalm 119:71 says, "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes." As curious as it sounds, there is often good that comes from bad. There is a joy that can be found in hardship--as long as we take hold of the fact that God can and does use those hardships for His glory in our lives.
Commenting on this truth, J.C. Ryle said"Let us mark this well. There is nothing which shows our ignorance so much as our impatience under trouble. We forget that every cross is a message from God, and intended to do us good in the end. Trials are intended to make us think, to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, to drive us to our knees.Health is a good thing; but sickness is far better, if it leads us to God. Prosperity is a great mercy, but adversity is a greater one if it brings us to Christ. Anything, anything is better than living in carelessness, and dying in sin. Better a thousand times to be afflicted, like the Canaanitish mother (Mark 7:24-20) and like her flee to Christ, than live at ease like the rich fool (Luke 12:20) and die at last without Christ and without hope."
No one enjoys hardships. But if we can take hold of the fact that God will use them for His glory, and to teach us of His goodness, and to use them to minister to others, we can learn to embrace these times.