Job 19-21

Job 19-21…Why is this world broken?

Why is there evil in the world? Related to this is the question of why the wicked seem to get away with their wrongdoing. There’s no easy answer to this problem, and this fact forms the basis of Job’s reply to round two of his friends’ speeches. In this speech, for the first time, Job does not address the Lord, but instead counters his friends’ claims. This speech is also much less emotional.

The biggest problem with retribution theology, Job begins, is that it doesn’t really explain the ways of the world. As he looks around, he finds numerous examples of the wicked prospering. They grow old, they are safe, and they are successful. What’s more, they die happy, even though they deny God. The picture that Job paints here is similar to the one that Eliphaz drew of the good man, so it may be that Job intends a deliberate contrast. Ironically, Job’s friends have accused him of opposing God by challenging His ways, but it is they themselves who have been, in essence, telling God how the world should be run.

The book of Job doesn’t answer the problem of evil. We need to look elsewhere in Scripture to consider various aspects of this difficult question. Psalm 73 is a good place to start. Here the psalmist considers the apparent success of the wicked and wonders if he has been faithful in vain. The turning point comes in v. 17, where the psalmist begins to understand the final destiny of the wicked beyond this life. Then his heart is encouraged, as he considers his own eternal destiny with the Lord.

Isaiah 40:29

Isaiah 40:29…”He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

In our prideful, unbelief, we think we’re strong enough to function without God. Its easy to think this way because we cannot see God, and quickly forget about Him. His word is clear though, teaching us that we need Him, and that He wants us to depend upon Him for everything. When we go to Him in utter dependence, He gives us strength. Not necessarily strength to always win, or be successful in a worldly sense, but strength to persevere with an eternal perspective. Strength to fix our eyes on Christ, who is to be esteemed above everything and everyone. Strength to love in difficult circumstances and strength to hold our tongues. Strength to refrain from lust, and strength to trust God’s goodness when we don’t really understand His purpose. This is all to be for His glory, not ours. However, this strength is only granted when the object of our worship is Him. If we go to Him as a means to some other end like health or wealth or special earthly blessings, them we miss the point. Christ didn’t die for us to experience the American Dream more fully. The Creator of the Universe devised a rescue plan because we needed to be saved from our sins, and have no other hope against His wrath. We have to see ourselves as completely without hope or power, and incapable of standing before Him on the day of judgement, outside of Christ. When we grasp this, we’ll see the true beauty of Christ, and the grace and mercy of our Father in heaven. Until then, we’re trying to use a god that actually doesn’t exist, which is a dangerous place to be.

Isaiah 40:27

Isaiah 40:27…”Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God?'” God asks this question here, because He actually knows all, and is omnipresent. When people are big and God is small, its easy to assume that an unanswered prayer means He doesn’t care or isn’t paying attention, or that we just didn’t believe hard enough or didn’t use the right words. Of course we cannot control God like a puppet, so there are no magical words, and He is glorified simply by our going to Him in utter dependence. So, the purpose of prayer, mainly, is for us to depend completely on our Father. It’s about our humbling ourselves and petitioning Him for help. Our prayers should regularly consist of praise and thanksgiving for our salvation in Christ, like in Ephesians 1:3; “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” If we’ve been saved, then He knew us before He spoke creation into existence (Ephesians 1:4), so our way has never been hidden, and we’re not disregarded at all.

Ephesians 1:4
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

Isaiah 40:23

Isaiah 40:23…”He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.”

God is sovereign over authority in this world. He places people in positions of leadership for His glory. Since we’re not Him, we can’t fully understand His plan, but because of His character and word, we know that His plan is good. If we’re in a position of leadership, be it in our families, churches, or work, He put us there. As Christians, we are constantly either telling the truth about what Christ is like through our actions and words as leaders, or we’re giving false witness. This is true of the times when we do nothing as well. When we fail to lead through not speaking or not acting, we abdicate our responsibility, and lie about Christ. Thankfully, He perfectly led, and always spoke and acted in holiness. If we repent and believe in Him, His perfect life is imputed to us. However, we need to take spiritual inventory of where we are falling short, because where there is no recognition of sin there is no repentance, and where there is no repentance there is spiritual immaturity.

Isaiah 40:22

Isaiah 40:22..”He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.” Just like we have the power, if we so choose, to crush a grasshopper, God sits enthroned on high and has the same power to crush us today. However, because he is abounding in grace and mercy, and desires his created people to come to know Him, He waits, allowing time for repentance and faith. Throughout this day, approximately 150,000 people will die in the world, all of whom will kneel before Jesus as King. Few will have come to know the saving faith which comes through Him, resulting in sanctification in this life and eternity with God. Not many will have lived their lives in submission to Him regardless of their intellectual agreement with Christian things. Unfortunately for these people, who are described in Luke 13, their rejection by Christ and subsequent eternal damnation will be a surprise. Therefore, work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), lest you be deceived as described below.

Luke 13:22-30
22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’

He said to them, 24 ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, “Sir, open the door for us.”

‘But he will answer, “I don’t know you or where you come from.”

26 ‘Then you will say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.”

27 ‘But he will reply, “I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!”

28 ‘There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.

Isaiah 40:17

Isaiah 40:17…”Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.” This magnifies God’s love to the world. Although it is of such small account and value with him, for the redemption of it, he gave his only-begotten Son, John 3:16. Since we are to have the same mindset as that of Christ, we need to be careful to not focus our minds and hearts on worldly things. This is especially true of our relationships. Each person in our lives has been put there strategically by the Lord. We need to continually grow in our interest in the spiritual well-being of those around us. Do you care if those around you are growing in holiness? Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth includes a command from God to do this with our fellow church members:

1 Corinthians 5:10-11
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Isaiah 40:15

Isaiah 40:15…”Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.”

When we see God with a true, biblical perspective like this one, we understand how small we are. It is objective reality that God is larger and more powerful than we can fathom in our finite human minds. And yet, even we as Christians, who know this truth, fail to remember it on a daily basis. We often function as practical atheists, and forget about how unbelievably big God is. So, that particular government policy that you hate; God is behind it, and its for His glory. The people around you on a daily basis that annoy you; God put them there, for His glory. The difficult circumstance you are in that seems like some kind of cruel cosmic joke; God put you in that spot, for His glory. When people are big, and God is small, all of these things are viewed through a man-centered lens, which robs us of the joy we could have if we trusted in His good, sovereign providence. We are not here for our own glory and happiness, and when we seek self-glorification outside of God, He won’t be glorified in our lives, because we’ll never be fully satisfied. God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.

Isaiah 40:13

Isaiah 40:13…”Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?” Reading and understanding God’s word is essential to our spiritual well-being. Our default instructors include three sources, all of which will deceive us:
1) the world; 2) Satan; 3) ourselves. If we don’t allow God’s word to shape our worldview, we’ll allow those three to do so, which is very dangerous and deceptive. We must allow the Lord to be our counselor, but we can’t do that unless we know what He says, and He has spoken to us through His word.

Isaiah 40:12

Isaiah 40:12…”Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens.” The answer is God only. This verse is a powerful illustration, showing both God’s bigness and his power. His hand controls all things, and nothing is outside of his reach. This should bring us great joy with our current circumstances. God’s hand is on every last detail of our lives. If we consider this truth about God, and actually believe it, we’re left with a very hard reality about our complaints, both big and small. We’re complaining about God. We think we know better. We think we deserve better. However, if we were given what we truly deserve, we would all be in hell right now, under God’s eternal judgement. Thankfully, we have a Father who is also abundantly gracious and merciful, and has provided a rescue plan for us in Christ.

God in His own words explains it best in Ephesians 2:1-10:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Isaiah 40:11

Isaiah 40:11…”He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.”
Christ is the good Shepherd. He shows tender care for young converts, weak believers, and those of a lowly spirit. If we’re wise, we’ll approach Him with a humility which shows our utter dependence on Him. May we know our Shepherd’s voice, and follow him, proving ourselves his sheep.