God… In All Authority {Learning from Job ~ Post 8}

 

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God is always in control.  He has all authority over everything.  That means over you and me and over all suffering, all pain, all heartache.  And not only is He in control, but His loving nature proves His trustworthiness and faithfulness to us even in the midst of intense trials.

If the book of Job has taught me anything (and it has taught me much) it is this one point that drives home in my heart…

God should not be questioned in contention nor His authority challenged.  He is in perfect control and He knows exactly what He’s doing… from the orchestration of the cosmos and natural world, right down to the personal lives of his children, right down to what’s going on in my life and in my heart—and in yours, too.

God is in control.  Nothing surprises Him and He is prepared to handle it all.  He also prepares and equips us (and has equipped us) with strength and ability to handle whatever He allows to come our way.  No challenge is too great — even though our difficulties in life may seem insurmountable.  After all, we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us! (See Phil 4:13.)  When we need more strength, more faith, more patience, more encouragement, He is there to supply our every need. (See Phil 4:19)

I think part of Christian humility is knowing who we are in relation to God and where we stand in Christ.  It’s easy for us to become self-inflated and even demand things in prayer because we think we know best what we need.  We definitely know what we want.  Wouldn’t you agree?

Like we learned from Job’s friend, Elihu, God can speak to us, draw us close, and teach us valuable lessons through pain (physical or otherwise).  And, like Job, we must learn that we shouldn’t contend with God.  He is on the throne.  He knows what He’s doing.

“Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?  You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”  (Job 40:2, NLT)

Aren’t you thankful to be safe under the wing of the One who has the answers?  It makes me feel safe, loved, and taken care of to know that God always has my eternal good as His number one concern.

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” (Psa 17:8)

Life isn’t as simple as Job’s friends wanted it to seem.  They believed that righteousness yielded only good and that wickedness yielded direct, earthly punishment.  Job pointed out unpunished wickedness, which is still seen all around us today.  But, one of Job’s lessons was that God holds the eternal balance of justice in His hands and judges righteously.  Every time.

Remember the words of Matthew Henry  from the last post?

“All is well that God does, and will be found so.” – (Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary of Ch. 34, v 16-30)

And remember the dialog between God and Job?

“Would you really challenge My justice?  Would you declare me guilty to justify yourself?” (Job 40:8, HCSB)

Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. …Therefore…I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:3b and 6b, HCSB)

Even though Job was wrong in not submitting to God in the affliction He allowed, he spoke truth about God on the whole.  He knew prosperity and health were not a measure of God’s love and blessing, just as lack thereof did not indicate God’s punishment for wickedness.  He knew that one’s character could not be judged by such outward displays in life.  Affliction does not always prove guilt.

So, Job learns valuable lessons.  And what about his friends?  Job 42:7 tells us of God’s righteous anger toward Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.  No mention is made again of Elihu*.

“After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. ” (Job 42:7,8, ESV)

A portion of Matthew Henry’s commentary on verses 7-9 follows:

  • Job’s friends had wronged God, by making prosperity a mark of the true church, and affliction a certain proof of God’s wrath.”  … “And as Job prayed and offered sacrifice for those that had grieved and wounded his spirit, so Christ prayed for his persecutors…”

So, if you are walking through a period of suffering, please remember that God is with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you!  And He isn’t out to hurt you.  God seeks your eternal best.  He has not been overthrown—He is in total control and seeks to bless you with spiritual growth, maturity, and spiritual riches.  Yes, our loving Father can use the very worst of human experiences to share His love and light with you and with the world.  He loves His children dearly (sacrificially!) and His grace is overflowing to the point of being overwhelming!

The book of Job is such a rich, deep treasure, isn’t it?  This portion of the sword of the Spirit can really arm us with insight during our afflictions and spiritual battles we face when in times of suffering.  I can say that studying Job in depth has helped to strengthen me as I learn to submit more and more to the loving authority of my Redeemer.

I know my Redeemer lives! (Job 19:25)

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lam 3:21-24, ESV)

How does God remind you that He is in total control and that it is safe to trust Him, even in times of intense pain or suffering?

Ali

*Of Elihu, John Gill says, “no blame is laid on him; he acting as moderator…”…blames “both” [Job’s friends] and “throughout the whole vindicates the justice of god in his dealings with him [ie Job]].” (clarification, mine)

This is the final Bible study post in this series.  The homework questions for this week are based primarily on personal reflection.

  1. What are your thoughts on trusting God?  How has the Book of Job shaped your perspective of suffering?  {For reading homework, read Job 38.}
  2. Read Psalm 121.  How has God shown you that He is your true helper?  Have you seen His hand in your life, reminding you that He neither slumbers, nor sleeps?  {For additional reading homework, read Job 39.}
  3. Is submission difficult for you?  In what ways?  How does submitting to God’s authority (especially during times of affliction) demonstrate and grow your faith?  How does submission arm you with strength?  {For reading homework, read Job 40.}
  4. How have you seen the theology of Job’s friends infiltrate the Church?  What might that type of theology reveal about someone’s views of God’s authority?  How does God’s mercy and steadfast love shape your views of His authority?  {For reading homework, read Job 41.}
  5. What one message from this study (or the Book of Job in general) is God pressing upon you?  {For reading homework, read Job 42.}

 

{This is the eighth and final Bible study post in a series done on lessons learned from the book of Job.  The posts, thoughts, and gathered research have all materialized out of my personal quiet times with God and morning Bible studies.  Feel free to print the posts in this series for your personal use, but please do not distribute.}

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5 thoughts on “God… In All Authority {Learning from Job ~ Post 8}

  1. This is such a rich in Him post, Ali. Thank you so much for availing yourself to Him and us. I’m going through something difficult right now, so this really spoke to me, to help me not feel condemned but to trust that He knows best. God bless you and yours!

    • Oh, Deb! So good to “see” you!! I’m so glad this spoke to you and was an encouragement, but I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through something difficult! I’ll be keeping you in prayer! Blessings to you and yours, as well!!

  2. First I must say your photo reminded me of a book series I’m currently reading by Jack Cavanagh (American Family Portrait Series) – If you have read you will know what I am talking about; great books. Love your post. I teach an adult sunday school class and we finished an intense look at Job a few weeks back and I learned SO much. Blessings!

    • I love that series!! I haven’t finished it, but I’ve read several (a few years ago)… I hadn’t made the connection with my photo, but can see it now! How funny! :). I would’ve loved to sit in on your class– Job is such a rich book! Lots to glean from! God bless!

  3. Pingback: Persecution: 4 Things to Remember

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