Studying the Truths of the Old Testament | 06

AUTHOR: Holy Scripture

READ:

Read or listen to Job 40:1–42:9.

The Lord answered Job:

Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who argues with God give an answer.

Then Job answered the Lord:

I am so insignificant. How can I answer you?
I place my hand over my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not reply;
twice, but now I can add nothing.

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

Get ready to answer me like a man;
when I question you, you will inform me.
Would you really challenge my justice?
Would you declare me guilty to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God’s?
Can you thunder with a voice like his?

Adorn yourself with majesty and splendor,
and clothe yourself with honor and glory.
Pour out your raging anger;
look on every proud person and humiliate him.
Look on every proud person and humble him;
trample the wicked where they stand.
Hide them together in the dust;
imprison them in the grave.
Then I will confess to you
that your own right hand can deliver you.

Look at Behemoth,
which I made along with you.
He eats grass like cattle.
Look at the strength of his back
and the power in the muscles of his belly.
He stiffens his tail like a cedar tree;
the tendons of his thighs are woven firmly together.
His bones are bronze tubes;
his limbs are like iron rods.
He is the foremost of God’s works;
only his Maker can draw the sword against him.
The hills yield food for him,
while all sorts of wild animals play there.
He lies under the lotus plants,
hiding in the protection of marshy reeds.
Lotus plants cover him with their shade;
the willows by the brook surround him.
Though the river rages, Behemoth is unafraid;
he remains confident, even if the Jordan surges up to his mouth.
Can anyone capture him while he looks on,
or pierce his nose with snares?

Can you pull in Leviathan with a hook
or tie his tongue down with a rope?
Can you put a cord through his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he beg you for mercy
or speak softly to you?
Will he make a covenant with you
so that you can take him as a slave forever?
Can you play with him like a bird
or put him on a leash for your girls?
Will traders bargain for him
or divide him among the merchants?
Can you fill his hide with harpoons
or his head with fishing spears?
Lay a hand on him.
You will remember the battle
and never repeat it!
Any hope of capturing him proves false.
Does a person not collapse at the very sight of him?
No one is ferocious enough to rouse Leviathan;
who then can stand against me?
Who confronted me, that I should repay him?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.

I cannot be silent about his limbs,
his power, and his graceful proportions.
Who can strip off his outer covering?
Who can penetrate his double layer of armor?
Who can open his jaws,
surrounded by those terrifying teeth?
His pride is in his rows of scales,
closely sealed together.
One scale is so close to another
that no air can pass between them.
They are joined to one another,
so closely connected they cannot be separated.
His snorting flashes with light,
while his eyes are like the rays of dawn.
Flaming torches shoot from his mouth;
fiery sparks fly out!
Smoke billows from his nostrils
as from a boiling pot or burning reeds.
His breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames pour out of his mouth.
Strength resides in his neck,
and dismay dances before him.
The folds of his flesh are joined together,
solid as metal and immovable.
His heart is as hard as a rock,
as hard as a lower millstone!
When Leviathan rises, the mighty are terrified;
they withdraw because of his thrashing.
The sword that reaches him will have no effect,
nor will a spear, dart, or arrow.
He regards iron as straw,
and bronze as rotten wood.
No arrow can make him flee;
slingstones become like stubble to him.
A club is regarded as stubble,
and he laughs at the sound of a javelin.
His undersides are jagged potsherds,
spreading the mud like a threshing sledge.
He makes the depths seethe like a cauldron;
he makes the sea like an ointment jar.
He leaves a shining wake behind him;
one would think the deep had gray hair!
He has no equal on earth—
a creature devoid of fear!
He surveys everything that is haughty;
he is king over all the proud beasts.

Then Job replied to the Lord:

I know that you can do anything
and no plan of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, “Who is this who conceals my counsel with ignorance?”
Surely I spoke about things I did not understand,
things too wondrous for me to know.
You said, “Listen now, and I will speak.
When I question you, you will inform me.”
I had heard reports about you,
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore, I reject my words and am sorry for them;
I am dust and ashes.

After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. Now take seven bulls and seven rams, go to my servant Job, and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. Then my servant Job will pray for you. I will surely accept his prayer and not deal with you as your folly deserves. For you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” Then Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

Why do you think the Lord responds to Job like this? What observations did you make about Job’s response to the Lord? How does our view of God’s character impact your understanding of hell?

The written Scripture is CSB, however, the audio Scripture is ESV.

FOCUS:

Read or listen to the blog. What is one thing you learned about the character of God?

What About Suffering?

By John Daigle

 

Suffering can be disorienting in a way that few other things can. It is a universal human experience, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a physical illness, or disappointment in a relationship or in our paid or unpaid work. In our disorientation, it is understandable for our ideas about God to become disoriented as well.

According to data from a Barna Survey published in 2023, human suffering is the number one reason Christians doubt their Christian beliefs.

In his book, The Allure of Gentleness, Dallas Willard writes, “Most of us are inclined to think of the universe as anything but the kingdom of a benevolent and powerful God when we are having a bout with some painful physical or mental malady.”

In his book, A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis writes about his experience of losing his wife. He writes, “Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like.’ ”

One of the great dangers of suffering is coming to believe badly of God. He is able to accomplish our ultimate good, and yet he permits our suffering. Why?

God Is Love

To help us keep from believing badly about God in the midst of our suffering, we need to take seriously the words of 1 John 4:16: God is love. It is fundamental to his nature.

C.S. Lewis brings texture to the meaning of love in his work, The Problem of Pain. He writes, “Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

Could it be that God placing us in a world in which pain and suffering is possible is for our ultimate good? Even suggesting that feels like an affront to our American ideals.

In The Allure of Gentleness, Dallas Willard puts it this way, “It is only in the heat of pain and suffering, both mental and physical, that real human character is forged.”
He adds, “[Y]ou will never develop character by running from unpleasant situations.”

The development of our character is God’s ultimate good for us.

In a particularly helpful section, Willard writes, “If you think deeply about it, you’ll understand the great value of an environment that provides human beings with choice and the possibility of developing good character or poor character. When we tell children to “make good choices,” are we just hoping they will manage to stay out of trouble for the day, or that the “good choices” will become habits and the children will grow into people who naturally do the right thing? A world that permits the development of moral character—one that makes it possible for persons to become the immensely precious and even glorious beings that they sometimes do be come- is of much greater value than any world that does not.”

In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis shows that it is precisely God’s love that drives him to the advancement of his beloved’s moral character. He writes, “Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.”

Jesus

These are helpful words to guard us from the danger of believing badly about God in the midst of suffering, but they alone are insufficient.

Our best defense is in looking to Jesus. In his crucifixion, we see a God who is love, willing to suffer for us, and in his resurrection, we see that suffering never gets the final word.

In the eternal plan of the Trinity, I imagine the Son, Spirit, and Father strategizing about how the Son would enter human history and how he would die. Jesus could have lived a life of comfort and ease and died peacefully in his sleep. Yet he chose a lowly life, as a man of sorrows, culminating in humiliation, psychological torment, and physical pain and suffering beyond what many of us can even imagine.

Jesus said, “As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)

It is through the cross that Jesus chose to make himself available to all of humanity, and to you and me today. Behold the man upon the cross, who beacons us, in the midst of our suffering, to look to him and trust him.

Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)

As we look to him, we find a friend unlike any other, who can guide us, in the midst of the heat of suffering, into his loving character.

We look forward with expectation to the fulfillment of John’s words in Revelation, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

We see God for who he is when we see Jesus. In the midst of our temporary suffering, he was there, and he will be there.

PRAY:

Gracious Lord our God, you are beyond the full grasp of our minds but thank you for revealing yourself sufficiently that we may trust you, in good times and hard times.

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Week 6 of 7 Study

1 Comment

  1. Chris Campbell

    John,

    Well written and meaningful.

    I especially liked the last-sentence prayer.

    Reply

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