Brace Yourself!

Job 38

1Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind:

2“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? 3Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.

4“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. 5Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying? 6What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone 7as the morning stars sang together and all the angels*shouted for joy?

8“Who defined the boundaries of the sea as it burst from the womb, 9and as I clothed it with clouds and thick darkness? 10For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. 11I said, ‘Thus far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’

12“Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? 13Have you ever told the daylight to spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night’s wickedness? 14For the features of the earth take shape as the light approaches, and the dawn is robed in red. 15The light disturbs the haunts of the wicked, and it stops the arm that is raised in violence.

16“Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you walked about and explored their depths?  17Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?  18Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know!

19“Where does the light come from, and where does the darkness go? 20Can you take it to its home? Do you know how to get there? 21But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! (Job 38:1-21, NLT)

Note: Read the entire chapter to see all of the questions God challenges Job with in this chapter.


The Daily DAVEotional

For the first 37 chapters of Job, we’ve listened to Job consistently defend his innocence against God’s so-called attacks on him, while his “friends” form a tag team of truth-tellers insistent on getting Job to admit his unrighteousness and recognize that he’s obviously experiencing punishment for some sinful act.

It’s at this point that God finally steps in and interrupts the conversation.

He begins with these two words:

“Brace yourself!”

God has some hard questions for Job, who, because he doesn’t understand why he is experiencing such calamity despite his sinless ways, concludes that God must get a rise out of bringing pain and hardship on people simply for the fun of it. I wrote about “Job’s Case of Cognitive Dissonance” here.

For the remainder of the chapter, God asks a series of rhetorical questions, the point of which is to underscore the fact that Job (as well as all humans) know almost nothing about God. He is so far above us, so much mightier and more powerful than us, how can we ever begin to think we can understand Him or His ways?

It is fashionable, especially in today’s culture to malign God’s character because His sense of justice or love or fairness does not match exactly with our own understanding.

Many think of God as selfish or narcissistic because He requires that we worship or “pay attention to Him.”

Others think of God as angry, wrathful or evil because he “slaughtered” all those people in the Old Testament.

But the truth is, we know virtually nothing about God. We think we know so much but we know so little. Our knowledge is limited and yet we think that our limited life experience gives us a front row seat to true enlightenment.

Just as God had some choice words for Job, He has those same words to those of us who might question His motives, His intentions and His character.

God created everything. Do YOU know how he did it? NO. Therefore, you can’t possibly understand the power and the process of creating the universe!

In addition to creating the universe, God also oversees the physical processes in the universe. He is in control of the sunrise and sunset.

What physical processes do you control and oversee? NONE!

So how can you criticize someone who is so far above you? You can’t understand the physical processes, but you think you can understand what justice is?

God’s point is that Job is responding from a position of utter ignorance when it comes to evaluating God, His motives, His character and His intentions.

We do the same thing today. We think that our understanding and our version of justice is correct, even though we have such a limited perspective and very little life experience when compared with the entirety of human history.

How arrogant is it to question the character of the God of the universe? It’s so arrogant that God employs sarcasm to illustrate the absurdity of Job’s baseless position:

But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! (Job 38:21, NLT)

In my mind, I imagine God saying what I might say to my kids, “But of course, you know EVERYTHING, don’t you?”

The obvious response to this is, “NO. You know NOTHING!”

Therefore, to take the position Job has taken, and to malign God’s character is nothing short of ridiculous!

Reflection

Have you ever lashed out at God and maligned Him for something you didn’t understand? What were the circumstances?

Why do you think people take the illogical position that our understanding of justice or love, or whatever is correct while God’s version of these qualities is distorted or warped?

What are some ways you can lovingly respond to those who might berate God and impugn His character?

 

Photo by Guillermo Ferla on Unsplash

Why Did God Forbid This One Fruit?

1Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the LORD God had made. “Really?” he asked the woman. “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?”

2“Of course we may eat it,” the woman told him. 3“It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die.”

4“You won’t die!” the serpent hissed. 5“God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.”

6The woman was convinced. The fruit looked so fresh and delicious, and it would make her so wise! So she ate some of the fruit. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. Then he ate it, too. 7At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they strung fig leaves together around their hips to cover themselves. (Genesis 3:1-6)


Genesis 3 is a pivotal chapter in the overall narrative of the Bible. It’s the chapter that most people refer to as “The Fall”.

In this chapter, we see the devil, in the form of a serpent, questioning Eve about the forbidden fruit.

The first thing to note here is that the nature of this forbidden fruit is not described. This fruit is sometimes thought to be, or assumed to be an apple. For example, the Apple logo, according to culturecreature.com, is a symbol for knowledge. But nowhere in this text does it say or give any indication that the fruit is an apple. Therefore, to say that an apple is a biblical symbol of knowledge is a misrepresentation of the text.

The devil’s tactic is to get Eve to doubt God’s goodness; to see this restriction as an indication that God is somehow holding out on Adam and Eve. He does this by telling Eve that eating the fruit would not result in death, as God had said, but instead would result in their eyes being opened and knowing good and evil for themselves.

What Satan says is partially true. He often will wrap a lie up inside a partial truth so that we won’t recognize the lie.

The truth in the statement is that their eyes would be opened. They would recognize their condition…that they were naked.

The lie is that they would become like God, knowing everything. Of course they wouldn’t know everything and they wouldn’t know good and evil.

Have you ever wondered why God made this particular fruit forbidden? Was it just random chance or was there a reason that this particular fruit was off limits? Why was it a sin? Was it only sinful because God made it off limits or was it sinful for another reason?

I believe there is a deeper truth at play that accounts for why God forbade this particular fruit.

Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was sinful because before this, Adam and Eve were completely dependent on God to know what was good and what was evil. Eating the fruit was desirous because, according to Satan, they would no longer need God to determine good and evil. They could determine good and evil for themselves. That was the lie.

God has designed us in such a way that He wants us to depend on Him for moral guidance. It is God who decides what is right and what is wrong. By following Him and trusting Him, we align ourselves with HIs moral code and values.

But the temptation of Adam and Eve, and the temptation we face every day, is to decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong, thereby, forsaking God, and making ourselves god, at least as it relates to moral authority.

This scenario of people rejecting God and His moral values in favor of their own moral values has continued through history and is still alive today.

Every time we reject a biblical command or a moral standard as outlined in the Bible because we don’t like it, or because we think it’s no longer relevant to us or because we think God is being too restrictive, we are following Eve’s and Adam’s example of grabbing the fruit and taking a bite. It was sinful because it was an act of rejecting God’s role as the moral authority of the universe in favor of making oneself the moral authority.  We still do this today and it is still sinful.

Reflection

What modern examples come to mind of people rejecting God as the authority of good and evil in favor of their own ideas of what’s good and what’s evil?

In what ways are you tempted to reject God’s moral authority (as outlined in the Bible) in favor of your own preferred moral values?

What would need to change in terms of your views or lifestyle in order to completely align with God’s standards of good and evil?

If you are a person who has always thought of the forbidden fruit as an apple, why do you think you thought that when the text never says that it is an apple?

 

Photo by Gabriele Lässer on Unsplash