Week 1, Day 5
READ: Job 1
BACKGROUND: The authorship of the book of Job is uncertain, and scholars suggest that it may have been written by Moses, Elihu, Solomon, or even Job himself. The events that occur in the book predate Moses and the Law (before 1500 B.C.) and they were likely recorded as the book of Job sometime between their occurrence and the time of Solomon (950 B.C.). While following the central character, Job, and the many afflictions he suffers, this book wrestles with one of the great questions that we ask as human beings: Why is there so much evil in the world and why do good people suffer?
Thoughts from chapter 1 (by verse):
3 – During this time period a man’s (sorry ladies, it was a very male-dominated culture and women couldn’t even own property) success and wealth was primarily determined by how much livestock he owned. When Job is called “the greatest of all the men of the east” it means he has more livestock than anyone else.
5 – It was common in the days before the Law (and the formal structure of the Levite priests) for the patriarch (the man of the household) to serve as priest for his family before God. Job does this. So did Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob
6 – “Sons of God” means angels. This phrase is also used to describe angels in Job 2:1, Job 38:7, & Genesis 6:2.
12 – Satan has to ask for permission. God is sovereign and Satan knows he can do nothing if God doesn’t allow it.
16 – “the fire of God fell from Heaven” may refer to lightning
20 – Tearing the clothes and shaving the head were common cultural expressions of mourning. Notice though, he very clearly indicated that he was in mourning and yet he “fell to the ground an worshiped.” Mourning and worship are not mutually exclusive in this verse.
THINK: Here’s the million dollar question: How does one go about adequately addressing the problem of evil and suffering in a devotional blog post? I’d like to start by shattering any expectations you might have and admitting right off the bat that I can’t. Countless pages have been written about this topic and yet the questions remain. Why is there so much evil in the world? Why doesn’t an all-powerful God just stop it? Why does he allow bad things to happen to good people? Every single one of us has these questions from time to time, especially when bad things happen to us and we deal with loss and grief and pain.
The reality is that if we step back for just a moment to gain some perspective on our situations we often find that they’re a direct result of our own poor choices. Or the poor choices of those around us. And sometimes we blame God for not stopping or preventing the consequences of our own free will lived out. Because we’re created with wills as human beings, God doesn’t always allow us to just pray our way out of situations we’ve behaved our way into. But not all suffering is a direct result of our sin. What about the things in our world that we’d identify as pointless or needless suffering? What about natural disasters like fire from Heaven burning up Job’s 7000 sheep? What about tsunamis or tornadoes that kill and destroy? Why do they occur, and why doesn’t God just stop them?
I don’t know.
I know that on some level those things happen because our world is broken. And I know that our world is broken because of sin. Adam’s sin, my sin, your sin, our sin. And I know that God is at work right now to set all things right and make all things new and restore creation. And I know that the cross – the event in all of human history that most defines undeserved pain and suffering because of the evil of this world – was a part of God’s healing process. And I know that God is sovereign and his thoughts are higher than my thoughts and I wont always understand. And I know that just because God is sovereign and he permits evil in the world – because he created us with the will to choose it instead of choose him – does not mean that God causes all kinds of evil and sends tornadoes to destroy and kill and maim people or sends warlords to kidnap and exploit children.
I know that I long for the day when creation is restored and all things are right and evil and suffering are no more. And I don’t know when that day will be or how much longer we will endure the many horrible things of this world. But there is hope! No matter what we endure we know that God will use it to draw us to himself and teach us about his love. We know that he works all things out for the good of those who love him. And no matter what we go through in this life and no matter how painful it seems we can learn a few things from Job:
- God is sovereign and we can trust that he is in control.
- All of our suffering is temporary, and one day we’ll live in a better world.
- God gives and he takes away. All that we have is his, not ours, and we don’t deserve any of it.
- We can worship in the midst of our pain. In fact, sometimes our worst moments provide fertile ground to experience God’s love and provision most powerfully.
ASK: Are there times when I’ve been mad at God because of things that happened in my life, and, if so, what is a more appropriate response? How does it make me feel, in the midst of all the evil of this world, to know that God is at working making all things new again?