Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blessed be the name...

Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
What would we gain by praying to him?'
Job 21:15

Last night I was singing the Matt & Beth Redman song "Blessed Be Your Name" at our youth group. It's a great song of surrender and truth. Declaring that God's name is to be blessed and he is worthy of praise in the good times and the bad. At the end of the song is the couplet that says "You give and take away, my heart will choose to say Lord blessed be Your name".
I love to sing this line. I want to say to God that he can have his way in my life and I want to surrender to his will. However it frustrates me when the lines attributed to Job (Job 1:21) are taken as universal truth. That when every tragedy happens we are told "well, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away". When an expectant mother loses her baby, when a man looses his wife, when a whole family is wiped out by a hurricane, when a marriage falls apart - "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away".

What picture does this paint of God? I think people can tend to loose sight of the fact that Job later repents of this theology.
Job also says "Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me?" (Job "10:8)
and "I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion
and again display your awesome power against me....
Are not my few days almost over?
Turn away from me so I can have a moment's joy
(Job 10:16,20)

Why are these same passages not quoted as theological truths as with Job 1:21? Job says in 10:20 that joy can be found when God is turned away from us, and in 10:16 that God stalks us like a lion. Is this true? Of course not. Why then is it assumed that everything that is taken away from us is at the hands of the sovereign Lord?

In Job 42:3 Job says "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know."
and he repents saying in 42:6
"Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes."
Job realised that his blueprint theory of God was wrong and he had judged him in error. I love how despite Job's error in his thinking about God, God still does not reject him. Job was raw and honest and even though his theology told him he should reject God, he didn't. He worshipped God because God is God. I love that about Job, he was angry and desperate before his God and still he worshiped him.
We have an enemy who prowls around like a lion. It is not God, it is the great Satan who is our enemy and out to get us and bring disaster and pain and suffering to us. In ALL this God can bring good out of such tragedies and he does for he is God and worthy of all our praise. He is a God who can genuinely be trusted that he is out for our good.

9 comments:

D.J. Williams said...

You're so close, man :)

Ultimately, was God not still sovereign over everything that Job suffered? Satan did not do anything that God didn't ordain that he do.

Jonny said...

That last comment is almost a little patronising I would have thought!

Though Ferg, I was looking at ch1v22 just trying to think that the fact that Job did not sin in what he said, so I would think that we could take a theological principle from what he said.

...I've enjoyed thinking about it the last few days anyway!

Ferg said...

Jonny,
I agree that Job didn't sin as verse 22 says. However my point is that these words spoken from an honest heart ultimately leads to Job's despair.
Are the words of 10:8 "Your hands fashioned and made me; And now you turn and destroy me" a less pious way of reiterating what he had said earlier in 1:21 "the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away". He didn't sin and like I said in the post; God commends him because in the midst of his suffering he didn't reject God, even if his theology was off.

DJ,
Thanks!! If God ordained Satan to do it, then how could Job trust God? That's the point of my last sentence which I apologise if came across patronising.
I believe God can genuinely be trusted because he does not bring about our disaster or ordain that Satan kill our wife and kids.
Satan did it. Not God.

D.J. Williams said...

Ferg said...
"Satan did it. Not God."

Agreed, 100%.

"...he does not bring about our disaster or ordain that Satan kill our wife and kids."

" And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.”" - Job 1:12

Ferg said...

I'm not sure what you're implying but if you're implying that God does ordain that disaster comes our way or our wives and kids be slaughtered; that's your prerogative to believe that. I just cannot reconcile that with the God of scripture represented in fullness through Jesus.

D.J. Williams said...

I'm saying that in 1:12 God gives Satan free reign to do exactly that. How do you interpret that verse? Why didn't God just tell Satan no?

Ferg said...

Satan was assailing God's wisdom and character by saying that people only serve God because of the blessings he pours out on them.
Did you not see in verse 10 that God has to protect us from Satan? And verse 12 says that he takes his protection away, it still doesn't say that God ordained it or had it planned from the beginning of time. Yes he could have said no, but he was genuinely responding to Job's accusations. Satan was accusing God of being a machiavellian ruler.
In the context of the poem that is the book of Job, it could only be proven that God was not such a ruler by putting it to the test.
If God had put Satan to silence it would have proved his point, so God allowed Satan to put true love and submission to the test.
In terms of Satan needing permission everytime he does something, that premise cannot be taken from the book of Job. As it's pretty much an epic poem, Old Testament Scholars would agree that it would not be wise to take from the prologue literal details about God's general relationship with Satan.

You would also have to add from your point of view that God didn't just allow, but God ordained Satan to do these things.

D.J. Williams said...

Ferg said...
"As it's pretty much an epic poem, Old Testament Scholars would agree that it would not be wise to take from the prologue literal details about God's general relationship with Satan."

What OT scholars? Unless you're going to say that the story of Job is a parable (which we have no reason to do), we have every reason to deduce truths about God from the text.

"You would also have to add from your point of view that God didn't just allow, but God ordained Satan to do these things."</i"

When we're talking about an omnipotent God, what's the difference?

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