5 minutes reading time (1073 words)
Is it OK to Question?
In the previous post, Ken Smith pointed out that Job teaches us about suffering and how to help people who are experiencing it. Listening is good. Telling them to repent for they MUST have sinned is not!
Another thing we learn from Job is that it is OK to question God.
Job 13:3 "But I wish to speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God."
Job 13:21 "Remove your hand far from me and stop making me afraid with your terror."
Job 13:24 "Why do you hide your face and regard me as your enemy?"
Many people are afraid to question God. But to have a relationship with anyone, it has to go both ways. There has to be dialogue. We can't have a relationship with God without it.
And Job is not the only person to question God. In Genesis 18:22-33, Abraham asked God virtually the same question six times: "If I find a few good people in Sodom, will you change your mind about destroying it?" Most of us would have lost patience after 2-3, but God allowed Abraham to keep going.
David questioned God numerous times in the Psalms.
22:1 "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"
27:9 "Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, God of my salvation. " (Job was also concerned that God hid his face from him)
38:21-22 "Do not abandon me, LORD; My God, do not be far from me! Hurry to help me, Lord, my salvation!" In these verses David almost sounds like he is giving orders to God!
There are several more in the Psalms, but it is clear that David was not afraid to question God.
Is it really ok to question God? Consider these three passages about Job.
Job 1:22 "In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety."
Job 2:10 "Should we receive what is good from God and not also receive what is evil? In all this Job did not sin by what he said."
Job 42:7-8 "After the Lord had spoke these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My anger is stirred up against you and your two friends, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job will intercede for you and I will respect him, so that I do not deal with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has,"
So clearly Job was still in good standing with the Lord. How well did God think of Job? Consider this in Ezekiel 14:14 and 14:20 God says "Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, declares the sovereign Lord." God is putting Job on the same level as Noah and Daniel above the rest of mankind. A pretty lofty place for someone who was willing to ask questions of God.
Of course, Jesus made Psalm 22:1 even more memorable when He quoted that line on the cross. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" How could God abandon a righteous person like Jesus to die on the cross? Jesus was an exception. He alone was TOTALLY righteous. God let Him suffer on the cross for each of us.
God makes it clear to Job that all the bad things that happen are not always a direct result of our sin. What the book of Job makes clear to us – but clearly NOT to Job – is that Satan is usually the one behind the bad things that happen.
Just as Satan can take good things and make them bad, God takes bad things and makes them good. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
Reflecting on Job, Charles Spurgeon wrote, "Our sorrows shall have an end when God has gotten his end in them. The ends in the case of Job were these, that Satan might be defeated; foiled with his own weapons, blasted in his hopes when he had everything his way."
God knew how Job would respond to his suffering. Satan did not. If Satan had known that Job would maintain his faith in God and that his story would comfort and strengthen God's people for ages, would he have gone through with his plan? Would Satan have really put Jesus to death on the cross if he had known a resurrected Jesus would come back to be Lord of all?
When God does respond to Job and asks Job difficult questions, God makes several major points.
1. I am on a much higher level than you are. I not only know the boundaries of the seas, but I am also the one who set them.
2. I not only know where the mountain goats live, I am the one who put them there.
3. The list of God's creation that Job does not understand goes on and on. Horses, eagles, hawks, ostrich, ox, and on and on. I know how all these live because I made them. You do not even know how they live.
4. He lists several of the constellations – Orion, the Bear, the Pleiades. Clearly these are all beyond Job. Yet God created them as well.
Since humans really know so very little about the world and the universe, there is no way we can possibly understand how suffering could work out for good. We can't see the future and, despite what we know of history, we don't really have a very good view of the past. If we can't see the beginning or the end, there is no way we can see how any one circumstance can work out for good.
In his sovereignty, God sees the past, present and future. He is in control and, therefore, can make good come out of the most awful circumstances. That means that even if he says, "No," to your prayers, he has a better, "Yes!" waiting for you.
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