“Where Is God in the Hard Times

These notes are for a class I teach at First Baptist Church New Braunfels, Texas

These are my own notes that I prepare each week for my class, feel free to share the notes with others. Please credit the notes to Chaplain Doll at Healingthestorm.com 

Where is God in the hard Times: Lesson One

Job 3: 24-26 I sigh when food is put before me, and my groans pour out like water. For the thing I feared has overtaken me, and what I dreaded has happened to me. I cannot relax or be still; I have no rest, for trouble comes.

Job_and_his_wife_01

We see in these few short verses the depth in which Job is suffering, he has lost everything, his physical world has come crashing down around him and all that is left is desolation. The very foundation of His understanding of God and his understanding of the universal moral code is in question. The experience Job finds himself in, has taken away his peace and his rest and in exchange, he is left with the reality of suffering that comes from his troubles.

When we look at Job’s life before he faced these struggles, we see a life that was filled with ease, comfort and restfulness; he was free from oppression, free from the dangers of war and bandits. He lived a life that we would describe as a perfect life.

It must be noted that Job’s lifestyle was a result of his obedience to God, his piety, his hard work and commitment to his family, It did not come from greediness, evil towards others or selfishness. His gains came as a blessing from God not from lording over others.

In Chapter three, job said the very things he feared and dreaded the most, has actually happened. Three different but very common events took place: natural disasters, raids by foreign adversaries and the loss of personal health generates the calamity that has fell on Job.

  1. The first calamity is the results of a Sabeans raid

Job 1:13-15  One day when Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and reported: “While the oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing nearby, the Sabeans swooped down and took them away. They struck down the servants with the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

The Sabeans were an ancient people who lived in the southern Arabian Peninsula. During the time of Job the Sabeans were a tribe that was given to war. The kingdom of Saba’ has been identified with the biblical land of Sheba. Easton’s Bible Dictionary

  1. The second calamity was the result of a lighting storm 

Job 1:16 He was still speaking when another messenger came and reported: “A lightning storm  bstruck from heaven. It burned up the sheep and the servants and devoured them, and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

  1. The third calamity was the result of a raid by three bands of Chaldeans.

Job 1:17 While the messenger was still speaking when yet another came and reported: “The Chaldeans formed three bands, made a raid on the camels, and took them away. They struck down the servants with the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you!” 

The Chaldeans where from the southern portion of Babylonia, Lower Mesopotamia, which is in the modern country of Iraq  Easton’s Bible Dictionary

  1. The fourth calamity was the result of major windstorm

Job 1:18-19 He was still speaking when another messenger came and reported: “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house. 19 Suddenly a powerful wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on the young people so that they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you!

  1. The fifth calamity was the result of physical illness

Job 2:7 So Satan left the Lord’s presence and infected Job with terrible boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself while he sat among the ashes.

All these are natural fears that people at the time feared the most. However, they are also the same fears we face today. We face the fears of natural disasters, crime, accidents, and uncontrolled events that in a moment change our lives forever. We fear disease, health problems, sickness and death.

Jobs fear was not the loss of his belongings; it was the fear of losing his order, the fear that his life would be turned upside down, the loss of control, the loss of understanding God, as he knows him.

 

D.A Carson in his book “How Long O Lord” makes a few observation about the first three chapters of Job

_Job_on_the_Dunghill

  1. All suffering ultimately falls within the Sovereignty of God – God is not the author of evil nor is He the author or creator of suffering. However, He is sovereign over suffering.

Job 1:12 Very well,” the Lord told Satan, “everything he owns is in your power. However, you must not lay a hand on Job himself.”

Job 2:6 “Very well,” the Lord told Satan, “he is in your power; only spare his life.

Job 2:9-10 His wife said to him, “Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God and die!” “You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said

  1. The emphasis we see on Job’s goodness demonstrates there is such a thing as Innocent suffering.

Recompense Theology was very common during the days of Job. The belief was God repays good for good and evil for evil. If you are right with God only good things will happen to you, if you are sinning then only bad things will happen to you.

This prevailing thought is still present today; i.e. you are sick because you are not right with God, have not prayed enough, lack faith, don’t read your Bible, don’t give enough etc.

D.A Carson points out:

Some suffering in this world is not directly related to any sin.” pg 158

“Although the Bible insist that all sinners will (eventually) suffer, it does not insist that each instance of suffering is retribution for sin. Doubtless if this were not a fallen world, there would be no suffering; but just because it is a fallen world, it does not follow that there is no innocent suffering.” pg 159

  1. It is not a sin to vent our despair, confess our pain and suffering, to share our despair and grief.

We see in chapter one and chapter two, that although Job lamented his situation, he did not blame, curse God or sin in sharing his grief.

God never blamed or corrected Job for sharing his feelings of despair or even wanting to die. However, we must be careful that in our grief we do not cross the line of expressing our grief and began to blame or curse God or say blasphemous things towards God

“Within certain boundaries… it is far better to be frank about our grief, candid in our despair, honest with our questions than to suppress them and wear a public front of puffy piety. God knows our thoughts in any case.” pg 160




Where is God in the hard Times: Lesson Two

despair-1436325-1920x1280

Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
“That with an iron stylus and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! “As for me, I know that my redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. “Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faint within me! Job19:23-25 -NASB

Job Answers The Charges Against Him

A. We come today to a very interesting passage in the book of Job. Chapter 19 contains the second series of replies to his friend’s charges against him.

It also contains Job’s charges against God for treating him unjustly. The end of the chapter contains probably one of the most famous passages in the book of Job.

The NIV Application Bible Commentary summaries the arguments against Job by his friends and Jobs reply to their arguments.

Eliphaz: ch. 15

 

Job: chs. 16–17

 

Bildad: ch. 18

 

Job: ch. 19

 

Zophar: ch. 20 Job: ch. 21[1]

 

Elphaz: Your bluster is a disgrace; you are merely digging a deeper hole for yourself. What makes you think you are so much better than everyone else? Stop railing against your circumstances and accept that what has come upon you is the result of the corruption shared by all humanity. Since wicked people are ferreted out, you ought to consider how much you have in common with them.

Job: Talk is easy, Eliphaz, but I would be more encouraging if I were you. Meanwhile, God, why are you attacking me? You have abandoned me to be tormented by enemies and then you pitilessly join in yourself. If you can’t respond to my misery, I need someone to stand up for me. As for me, I am determined to stay the course of righteousness, though death is all I have to look forward to.

Eliphaz: your guilt by comparing how God treats the wicked to how he is treating you. You have nullified your own piety.

Job: I need protection from God’s attacks and call for an advocate to take up my case.

Bildad: God’s judgment of the wicked is severe, and those who are subject to it (including you, Job) can be classified as those who do not know God.

Job: Despite your accusations, I have done nothing; yet God, in his inexplicable anger, has made a mess of my life. I am an outcast, despised by all. I am confident that someone will come to help and that just when all seems finally lost, I will be vindicated. You supposed friends are in more jeopardy than I am.

Bildad: Give up the pretense; the wicked are doomed. You are among those who do not know God.

Job: It is God who has messed up my life, not me; a defender will arise and vindicate me from your insinuations.

Zophar: You offend me. You know how the rules work. Your self-righteousness betrays you, for all know that such pride characterizes the wicked.

Job: I realize that I am risking a lot by pressing legal action against God. Do you realize how many wicked people prosper despite their arrogance against God? He does nothing about it! In such a world it is a complex and terrifying thing to try to call God to account. If God does not consistently punish the wicked, couldn’t we conclude that he does not consistently protect and prosper the righteous?

Zophar: Your sin is pride, and God has judged you as wicked.

Job: The system (= God’s policies) is broken.[2]

As we can see the belief of Recompense Theology is very strong, his friend are convinced that Job’s suffering is directly tied to his sin.

At this point of the narrative, Job has already claimed his innocence to his friends.

Job now focuses his argument on accusing God of dealing with Him unfairly

Gavel

19:6 know then that God has wronged me and has closed His net around me.

Vs 21-22 Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, for thehand of God has struck me. “Why do you persecute me as God does, and are not satisfied with my flesh?

In Verses 23-24 Job wish is that someone would write his words in a book.

Why? Because Job wants his story told so that he is vindicated, he wants people to know he has not sinned. He wants an advocate.

“Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! “That with an iron stylus and lead”

In verse 25-We now come to a passage that is somewhat difficult to interpret, as there are three different interpretations to the following verses 25-27.

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. “Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!

There are Three Interpretations that come form these verses

The first interpretation states these verses are a prophetic messianic passage that Job is pointing to Jesus as the redeemer.

The problem with this interpretation lays in the Hebrew definition of the word redeemer, which is also translated as avenger or advocate.

Job is looking for an advocate to speak on his account to prove that he is righteous and has done nothing to deserve this suffering.

He is not looking for someone to solve his sin problem; he is not looking for a redeemer to forgive him of his sins.

The role of Jesus as redeemer deals with the punishment of sin. Jesus is the one who has redeemed us from sin.

Jesus has paid the price of sin so we do not have to pay the price ourselves.

Unlike an advocate who speaks for another, Jesus does not argue our innocence before God the Father. He contends before the Father that we are justified through His blood.

The second interpretation is that since Job is accusing God of injustice he is looking for someone else to speak on his behalf.

In Job 4–21 Job escalates in these chapters his argument that God is unjust and his statements against God’s unfairness grow stronger

1. God is angry (16:9; 19:11).

2. God is pitiless (16:13).

3. God attacks violently (16:14).

4. God fails to judge the wicked (21:30–31).[3]         

Job wants to confront God so he is able to bring his complaints straight to Him and have God answer his accusations directly. Job 14:13-28

This interpretation come partly from Chapter 16, his desire for a written book and the wording of 19:25 in particular:

1. “Take His stand on the earth”

2. “Even after my skin is destroyed” referring to his scrapping of his boils.

3. “And yet from my flesh I will see him”

This interpretation claims Job is looking for someone here on earth to advocate for him

The argument for this interpretation is God cannot be the redeemer if He is the one who is being unjust to Job. So someone else must advocate for Job.

The third argument is God is the redeemer, and in death, Job will be shown by God to be just and indeed innocent of the charges brought by his friends.

The Early Church Fathers and many theologians back this third argument.

It also seems to fit with Job16:19 “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is on high.

This interpretation brings up the question of the Jewish concept of resurrection and if Job actually believes there is a resurrection.

Throughout these chapters it can be argued that Job believes death is the final end. This belief tends to go along with ancient and modern Jewish belief.

It can also be argued from these chapters that Job does believe there is life after death and he will be able to stand before God as his redeemer.

Next week we will look closer at these two possibilities.

[1] Walton, J. H., & Vizcaino, K. L. (2012). The NIV Application Commentary: Job. (T. Muck, T. Longman III, R. Hubbard, J. H. Walton, A. Dearman, S. N. Gundry, … V. Verbrugge, Eds.) (p. 223). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[2] Walton, J. H., & Vizcaino, K. L. (2012). The NIV Application Commentary: Job. (T. Muck, T. Longman III, R. Hubbard, J. H. Walton, A. Dearman, S. N. Gundry, … V. Verbrugge, Eds.) (p. 225). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[3] Walton, J. H., & Vizcaino, K. L. (2012). The NIV Application Commentary: Job. (T. Muck, T. Longman III, R. Hubbard, J. H. Walton, A. Dearman, S. N. Gundry, … V. Verbrugge, Eds.) (pp. 229–230). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.




Where Is God in the Hard Time: Lesson Three Notes

Last week we looked at the three possible interpretation of Job 19:25-27, this week we want to look at the principles of interpretation as we seek to discover the proper interpretation for this passage.

2 Peter 1:19-21 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.  For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Interpretational Principles We Must Follow

 There are four important facts that we must take into consider whenever we consider the interpretation of any passage.

Interpreting.png

  1. We must be true to the original writer and the original hearers – we cannot impose our agenda upon the passage. What is it the original writer is discussing and to whom is he writing?
  2. We must be true to the historical and cultural setting –we cannot impose our 21-Century Western thought and morals upon an Ancient Near Eastern mind set.
  3. We must be true to the original langue of the passage and it’s subsequent syntax – We cannot impose our modern English definition to an ancient text without first understanding the original text and definition.
  4. We must stay true to the context of the passage – The scriptures were not written using verses but where written in paragraph format and where intended to be read at one time.
  1. The inclusion of Chapter and Verses in the Scriptural text

The division of the Scriptural text was added for the convenience of the reader – they are not inspired nor do they hold the authority of the Scriptures.

a. Stephan Langton first added chapter divisions in 1227.

b. Robert Stephanus did not add verses until

c. The first Bible that was published with both Chapters and verses was the Latin Vulgate in 1555. *Don Stewart: Why is the Bible Divided into chapters and Verses? https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_273.cfm

  1. While chapters and verses are convenient in helping us find a specific passages or for memorization they can also cause problems.

Chapters and Verses often do not stay true to the passage syntax. i.e Romans 7:25 and 8:1

Chapters and verses opens the dangers of proof texting* and the danger of linking a number of individual verses to form a “Biblical teaching” – there is no such thing as the New Testament teaching of the 3:16 passages.

*Proof Texting is taking an idea and finding a Scripture verse to prove our point. Proof Texting leads to theological errors and heresies!

Taking verses out of their context can cause us to imply Biblical truth into a verse that was not intended.

Don Stewart Sates: “In the original text of the various books of the Bible there are no such things as chapter and verse divisions. They were added later for the sake of convenience. While they are helpful, they are not authoritative in any sense of the term. In fact, they can cause a number of problems. Chapter and verse divisions give the impression that the Scripture should be read and studied in bits and pieces. This is not what the original authors intended. The entire context must always be considered. Consequently the chapter and verse divisions should be ignored when one attempts to properly interpret the entire message of Scripture.” *Don Stewart: Why is the Bible Divided into chapters and Verses? Blue letter Bible https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_273.cfm 

Interpretation of Job 19:25-27 

Bible-key-interpretationOnce we understand the original author’s intent, cultural and historical setting, the original langue and meanings of words, and we stay true to the passage context; then and only then can we apply the understand of the passage and its interpretation to our modern Western 21-Century mind set.

A. The Prophetic Messianic Interpretation:

  1. Job lived during the time of Abraham and prior to the Nation of Israel. The Jewish law had not been received and there were no sacrifices for atonement of sin at the time.
  2. There is no concept of a messiah that would come to redeem His people.
  3. No matter how much I want this passage to be a Messianic passage there is nothing that will allow us to interpret this as such.

B. Job is seeking for an earthly redeemer to speak on His behalf

  1. This interpretation is based on the belief that Job does not believe in an after life

Job 14:7-14 At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant. But a man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As the water of a lake dries up or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so he lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, people will not awake or be roused from their sleep.

2. This interpretation is based that Job does not have a concept if individual resurrection after death

There are Three views we can take concerning resurrections in the Old Testament.inspiration-resurrection

 (1.) There is resurrection that represents an individual’s return to physical life. Several Old Testament passages refer to such an occasional occurrence (1 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 4:35)

(2.) There is a concept of corporate resurrection: a people being brought back into existence from apparent extinction. This is represented in Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of the dry bones, where Israel as a nation is brought back to life

(3.) The doctrine of individual resurrection of the body in the afterlife is an established belief. There are no Old Testament passages, which speaks clearly of a bodily existence in a world to come.[1]

C. Job Sees God as His Redeemer

Job Clearly states that his redeemer is alive and will stand here on earth to advocate for him.

This concept is based on verses 26 “after my skin is destroyed yet I in my flesh I will see God” The belief is Job is referring to his own death

Verse 27 also gives the idea that Job believes he will see God himself. “Myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

This interpretation also has the backing of the early church Fathers and has been taught through out church History.

From a context, grammatical and ancient theological stand point I tend to lean towards the second interpretations that Job was looking for a human redeemer who would stand as an advocate for him before God.

[1] Walton, J. H., & Vizcaino, K. L. (2012). The NIV Application Commentary: Job. (T. Muck, T. Longman III, R. Hubbard, J. H. Walton, A. Dearman, S. N. Gundry, … V. Verbrugge, Eds.) (p. 228). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Next week we will look at the application and the lessons we can learn from this passage.





Where Is God in the Hard Time: Lesson Four Notes

 

I. The application and lessons we can learn from this passage is somewhat difficult as there is no consensus on the interpretation of this passage.

apply

A. As we have seen over the last few weeks there are three primary interpretations to the passage.

B. The application and lessons from this passage really depends on which interpretation we accept.

C. A survey of commentaries reveal a wide range of application, which leaves the reader with a confusing understand of this passage.

a. Job’s Redeemer is the foretelling of Christ our Redeemer

b. Job was looking for an earthly redeemer or advocate to speak on his behalf

c. Job declares God is his redeemer.

II. What are the lessons we can learn from this passage?

Lesson

A. Job’s friends steered the conversation away from God as they focused on the why of Job’s problems.

B. Job’s focus was on defending himself and declaring his innocence.

C. Job’s attitude towards God had changed

Job 1:20-22 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job 2:9-10 “His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Compare these verses to what we read in Job 19 Job’s thoughts are now that God did him wrong because he had done nothing to deserve the suffering he is going through.

D. Job’s pursuit became one of clearing his name.

III. Application for our lives today

apply-today-red

A. We need to be careful what we say to those who are suffering, in our desire to bring comfort we may actual bring more suffering.

B. It is very natural for us to ask the why questions of God and focus our energy on defending ourselves to God.

C. Throughout our struggles our attitude towards God often changes – we go from the highs of faith to the lows of hopelessness.

D. We pursue the fix rather than the acceptance.