If you’re so smart? (Learning from God’s past about our future)

June 24 – Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

by Pastor Pete Scheele

Read Job 38: 1 – 11

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Grace and peace to you as you learn from God about your future, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When people sit down and read the book of Job, often they are looking for answers to questions like, “Why is there pain and suffering in our lives?” “Why does God allow bad things to happen in my life?” “Why does God give such a blessed life to some people and not to others?” It’s human nature to think that if I am faithful and true to God than He will bless me and make my life better, but if I keep falling into sin then God has the right to punish me. Well that’s the theology that Job and his friends had about their relationship with God, but it was completely wrong, because that’s retribution theology or work’s righteousness. God on the other hand has a relationship with all of mankind that is based on His love, grace and mercy, the theology of the cross. The theology of the cross is based on God’s Grace alone, Faith alone, Christ alone.  The theology of glory or retribution, is work’s righteousness based on our works, Christ works and our decision to work together with God. Works righteousness is the world’s view of our relationship with God, while God’s view of our relationship with Him is based on His righteousness given to us by His Grace Alone, Faith Alone and Christ Alone. God’s relationship with us is based on His love for us, not our works in any way.

The book of Job is about a challenge that the Devil has with God.  That challenge between the devil and God is all about God’s relationship with Job and Job’s relationship with God.  It’s also about God’s relationship with each of us and our relationship with God. The book of Job begins with God pointing out to the devil the great relationship that He has with Job.  The Devil says that Job’s relationship with God is all based upon the things of this world, God says that it isn’t and thus the challenge begins and God allow the devil to take all the things of this world away from Job including his health. Job in his miserable condition of pain and suffering has three friends, a young man and his wife come to talk to him about their reasoning for this horrible situation and Job says that it can’t be that way and if it is true than Job has some questions for God to answer. In the discussion between the friends, the young man and his wife, Job comes up with some questions that they all want God to answer for them.  I’m sure that most of us here also, have a few questions we would love to ask God about the bad situations we find our self or someone else in.  “Why did that person have to suffer so much?”  “Why did this one person have to die and a much worse person, in our view, get to live?” “Why do people who are dishonest become wealthy while we struggle to make ends meet?”

In the 38th chapter of Job God comes in a whirlwind to talk to Job, but God doesn’t come to answer any of Job’s or his friend’s questions.  No, instead of answering Job’s and his friend’s questions God asks Job some questions about His relationship with Him. We read, Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) What do we really know about God and the world that He created that gives us the right to tell Him what should and shouldn’t be? Do we truly understand everything about this incredible world that we live in or are we just learning?

 “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.” (Job 38:3) ‘Get dressed for action like a man’ means God’s going to do a little wrestling with us. That right as people who wrestle with God and His Word, the Israelites of today, that’s us, and like the Israelites of the past, we all need to be ready to wrestle with God at times to help us understand our true relationship with God and His relationship with us. Job in his wrestling with God’s actions in his life expresses his hope and his relationship with God to his friends in the midst of his suffering and misery by saying this, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.  26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another!” (Job 19:25 – 27) Job knew the misery and suffering that he had endured was not the end and his hope was placed on Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection even though it would be many years in the future before Jesus would even come and accomplish our redemption. But now Jesus has come and by His life, death and resurrection we are redeemed of all our sins so that we can not only see God but live with Him now and for all eternity in the heavenly home prepared for us.  That was Job’s hope but his friends have given Him some doubts. What are your doubts about the heavenly home Jesus Christ has prepared for all believers?

Let the wrestling match begin. Are you ready to answer some questions that God has for you to help you understand the relationship that God has with you, the same relationship that God had with Job?  God asks us these questions to show us were we really are in our relationship with God as we try to tell God how to run the world and all that He created for us. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
” (Job 38:4 – 7)

In this first question God is reminding us that He is the architect, contractor and laborer of all of creation. Have you ever asked questions like, “Why isn’t the earth bigger or smaller then it is?”  “Why is the earth at the distance that it is from the sun and the moon, would it make any difference if we were at different distance away?” “Why does the flower, on the front of your bulleting cover, have such a long pistol.”  Could all these perfect measurements just be by chance or does God know just what needs to be so to enable life to exist the way that it does on this earth? When we look away from our troubles in this world and come to see the incredible precision that God has made the world and all of us we start to get a perspective of God’s loving relationship with us. When God created the world and us as the crown of the world all of creation rejoiced.  How are we rejoicing in all that God has given to us in this world or are we just looking at all that we have destroyed?

The second question deals with God’s creative work on the second and third days of Creation as God through Moses tells us, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.’ (Gen. 1: 6 – 10)

God’s question to us about this is, “Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, 11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” (Job 38:8 – 11) Water is an incredible power, as we all have seen in floods, storms and just a hard rain showers.  Water is the source of all life and yet are we in control of it?  God is in control of the wind and the waves, as Jesus showed His disciples as they tried to cross the Sea of Galilee, in our Gospel lesson for today. Can we really control the power of water or have we just learning how to regulate the power of water so that we can use its benefits?

Does it strike you odd that God doesn’t answer Job’s or his friend’s questions?  He doesn’t even refer to Job’s suffering. Instead, God raises Job’s sight from his own troubles to the marvelous order of the created world.  God patiently instructs each of us to see the big picture.  Satan though, wants us to focus on ourselves instead of the big picture of all that God has done to show us His loving relationship that is filled with His Grace and mercy and not our mistakes.

We don’t have all the answers because God does – even when things seem their worst, even when everything seems out of control as it did that dark day two thousand years ago when it appeared that Satan really had won, when the disciples had no clue why the heavenly Father would abandon His Only Son on the cross to die. Jesus Christ bore our sins on that cross that we might not have to die for our own sins.  As Job learned about his relationship with God he said to Him, I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to Me.’ I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye see You; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2 – 6)

In the early days of the automobile, a man’s Model T Ford stalled in the middle of the road. He couldn’t get it started no matter how hard he cranked. Just then a chauffeured limousine pulled up behind him and a wiry, energetic man stepped out from the back seat and offered his assistance.  After tinkering for a few moments, the stranger said, “Now try it!” Immediately the engine roared to life.  The well-dressed benefactor introduced himself. “I’m Henry Ford, I designed and built these cars, so I know what to do when something goes wrong.” God, our Creator, knows how to “fix” our lives when they’re broken by sin or anything else. He may not do it the way we want or expect, but He does it the right way. He especially did it when He gave His Only Son to die on the cross for our sins.  That’s the Big picture we need to keep in our minds for it teaches us that we can always trust in God and share that trust with others.  Amen.