Monday, November 16, 2009

God Sovereignly Initiates Affliction

From Soli Deo Gloria

Job 1:1, 5 (Josh Hicks emphasis and parentheses added):

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil...and when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them (that is, his children) all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Earlier, I told you I wanted to address the subject of the sovereignty of God in the context of this book of Job, so let us begin. Here we read of this "blameless and upright" man of God. Not only do we see his personal holiness via its proclamation thereof in Scripture, we see the effects of his holiness making waves in his family dealings. As an aside, we see Job's actions here being a far cry from the ways in which the majority of fathers in this day and age have utterly failed to exercise headship, culpability, and responsibility for their families.

More over, we see that the text immediately notes the godliness of Job, and his concern for his family. Mixed in amongst these mentions is that of his great wealth. It's funny, though, how his wealth does not give Job the security to live in sin and licentiousness. No, he is "blameless" and is much concerned with the holiness of not only himself, but his family. Thus, it is established...Job's a man of God, not harboring sin, or pride, or greed, or envy, etc. Now we read this (Job 1:6-12, my emphasis added):

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

We may deduce several thoughts from this passage. I will consider a few. Number 1, this book, as shown in this passage, is not primarily about suffering, or even Job's suffering. This book is about God's sovereignty over all things. Secondly, Satan is not equal in power, stature, or grandeur with God Almighty. There are folks in this world who go for the idea of a balance between good and evil that is in perpetual warfare against one another. I believe it's the ying yang that tries to symbolize this foolish concept. No, it is plain that Satan is subject to God just like any other creature. Consider the fact that Satan does not address the Lord, until he himself is called to do so. You will also note that Satan doesn't ignore God's spoken word, nor does he lie (for he knows the futility therein) to him as to treat the Lord's question with indignity. So it is as it has always been...God-Almighty, Satan-not even close.

Thirdly, though Satan is the accuser of the brethren, in this particular case, it is not Satan who brings up God's loyal subject, Job. Rather, it is the Lord Himself who initiates the conversation and its subject matter. Next, Satan acknowledges God's goodness by proclaiming what God has done for and given to Job. Herein we see that demons and devils do not deny God or Jesus' existence, they do not even deny is goodness, holiness, sovereignty, etc. They believe these things about God (as they should), but they do not care. This would be why James notes that mere faith that God is true is not necessarily saving faith.

Lastly, Satan shows his absolute powerlessness apart from God's granting. In somewhat understanding the natural heart of man, he says that Job doesn't fear God for no reason. He then, as I have already noted, talks about the kindness God has shown Job, and implies that this is why he serves so faithfully. But Satan has failed to recognize the reborn heart of man, one regenerated by the Holy Spirit, so he continues with his foolishness and asserts that if God takes all these materialistic things, and family, away, that Job will surely curse Him. But it's important to note that Satan, by saying "stretch out your hand", is admitting that God is the One Who ordains, has power over, and permits affliction in Job's life. This is further recognized when God gives Satan the authority to take away Job's things, but limits it when it comes to Job's life.

And so, we see that God is sovereign in not only the giving of gifts, riches, and family, but he's also sovereign in the initiation, planning, and execution of affliction in the lives of men. In light of this, we ought to remember the first chapter of James' epistle. James spends the first several verses speaking of trials, afflictions, and temptations. Then, in verse 17 he notes that every good and perfect gift is given by our Father in heaven. The sentence before that starts with "Do not be deceived, brethren", noting that these folks, because of their current trials and hardships, begin to question the goodness of God. But he reminds them that these afflictions, though they don't appear to be so, are really perfect and good gifts from God above, he is molding us according to the good pleasure of His will.

So, then, let us echo Job while facing trial, hardship, temptation, or affliction and proclaim that the Lord gives and He takes away, BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!

Josh Hicks

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Praise God that He is sovereign in all things...great and small.

2 comments:

Ike said...

Job eventually settles into a deeper place where, without answers to his questions, he trusts in the omni-competence of God: "I know that you can do all things" (42:2). What God can do is more important than how God explains himself. What if he did tell us every mystery right now? Would we be satisfied? I doubt it. It would only pander to our pride. Far better to leave it all with God, as our faith deepens from questioning to admiring. We don't live by explanations; we live by faith.

"I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able." 2 Timothy 1:12

Wayne Dawg said...

"We don't live by explanations; we live by faith."

Perfect -

Thanks Ike