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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Is God Ever Satisfied?

In our last post about a resistant or hardened heart, we read of Job's repentance (Job 40:3-5). If we hadn't already read through the end of this biblical book, we would expect that now God would say, "Good job, Job! Your repentance is complete. Now I have blessings for you!"


Alas, that's not what happened. And finding out that God has some preaching to do could be a little discouraging to us. When we're in a similar place, we want to say, "Haven't I learned my lesson? What more do you require?" And God could easily seem to be the bad guy who is never satisfied.


If you have a history of dealing with people in your life who gave you the impression you never did enough or (whatever) enough, God's next response to Job could really trigger some underlying angst. Watch for that response now because maybe God seems to you to be a never-satisfied God. Do you sometimes think, "What's the use of even trying? It won't make God happy." Does that fuel your resistance or hard-heartedness? Possibly that heart response is a protective measure to avoid the feelings of failure or rejection that you expect from encountering such a god.


Allow yourself to get in touch with these responses. Only by facing them honestly will that stronghold over you start to be broken. So let's be patient and see God's purposes. Okay? 

Now we're ready to see what happened next. 


Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm and said,
“Now gird up your loins like a man;
I will ask you, and you instruct Me. 
 “Will you really annul My judgment?
Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?
“Or do you have an arm like God,
And can you thunder with a voice like His?
" Adorn yourself with eminence and dignity,
And clothe yourself with honor and majesty.
“Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
And look on everyone who is proud, and make him low.
“Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him,
And tread down the wicked where they stand.
“ Hide them in the dust together;
Bind them in the hidden place.
“Then I will also confess to you,
That your own right hand can save you. (Job 40:7-14)

God's continuing probing is because there are always layers of issues in our commitment to be addressed. Repentance and surrender are not one time responses. I often describe forgiveness as like pealing an onion. You take off one layer and there's another one below. 


Repentance and surrender are like that also. Layer after layer God gently peels away our resistance and hard-heartedness. 


And it seems from verses 8 and 14 that one of Job's "layers" is his belief that he can save himself. God says to him:  
  • “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?" (verse 8) 
  •  “Then I will also confess to you, That your own right hand can save you. (verse 14)


Don't we sometimes have a similar belief? We condemn others, even God, that we might be justified. We scorn and scold and condemn and act condescendingly toward others and it seems that we are superior because of it. We disregard the three fingers pointing back at us when we point our index finger at another. And we ignore Jesus' admonition that we should take the log out of our own eye before we try to take a speck out of someone else's eye (Matthew 7:3). And somehow we think focusing on the sins of others means we're saving ourselves.


The Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
gives these thoughts:  
"This second time also Jehovah speaks to Job out of the storm; not, however, in wrath, but in the profound condescension of His majesty, in order to deliver His servant from dark imaginings, and to bring him to free and joyous knowledge."

Again, for those of us who have a "dark" vision of God, this is very important. God's motive is always, always! for our good. To free us. To draw us closer to His loving heart.


The commentary continues:
"He does not demand blind subjection, but free submission; He does not extort an acknowledgement of His greatness, but it is effected by persuasion. It becomes manifest that God is much more forbearing and compassionate than men. Observe the friends, the defenders of the divine honour, these sticklers for their own orthodoxy, how they rave against Job! How much better is it to fall into the hands of the living God, than into the hands of man! For God is truth and love; but men have at one time love without truth, at another truth without love, since they either connive at one or anathematize him."

I'll confess that at times I'd rather be in the "hands of man." But what am I thinking? God knows my heart and loves my heart much, much more than any man. Other people don't know my motives. God does.

I remember the time that I took an action in a company of people at my home which was misconstrued by a person who delighted in my seeming fault. My "appearance" of perfection was marred. My vow to come across to others as "all together" was jolted into reality. And in that moment when I chose not to explain the intentions of my heart, I found comfort in knowing God knew my heart. He knew my motive and He found me blameless. Of course, I'm not always blameless in my actions, but because of Jesus's robe of righteousness around me, He considers me blameless (Ephesians 5:27).


God's interaction with Job gives us such comfort. And may we depend upon His view of us rather than other people!
 
Finally, the Commentary mentions,
"When a man who, moreover, like Job, is a servant of God, fails in one point, or sins, men at once condemn him altogether, and admit nothing good in him; God, however, discerns between good and evil, and makes the good a means of freeing the man from the evil. He also does not go rashly to work, but waits, like an instructor, until the time of action arrives. How long He listens to Job's bold challenging, and keeps silence! And then, when He does begin to speak, He does not cast Job to the ground by His authoritative utterances, but deals with him as a child; He examines him from the catechism of nature, and allows him to say for himself that he fails in this examination."

Oh what a gracious God we serve. God does not condemn; He convicts. God does not punish for past action; He disciplines by giving consequences to motive us to future obedience. God does not turn His face away; He looks at us with hope knowing His Spirit is more powerful than our sin.


Yes, after Job's repentance, God does go on in Chapter 40 to instruct Job more. But it is needed. Let us not become discouraged and give up when it seems like God persistently corrects us. He intends it for our good. Trust Him. And be assured, God's blessings for Job are coming!

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