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Friday, February 20, 2009

Skin for Skin

Today I read Job chapter 2. It's not a pick-me-up, but it's good to read. Again, when God asked Satan where he had been, Satan's reply was essentially, "Just, you know, walking around on Earth." When, in fact, the answer was, "Causing pain, death, destruction on God-honoring people." Satan is the original PR spinmeister. 

I found it peculiar that God didn't deal Satan a full accusation. The way verse 3 is phrased, God took responsibility for what happened to Job. He said that Satan incited Him to ruin Job's life. He blamed Satan for instigating the calamity, but God talked of Satan's acts as if He Himself had done them. You'll find variations on this theme every time you discuss the subject of God giving authority to kings, even evil ones, to rule over their people. We all want to tone down that idea, that God merely allows evil leaders to rise to power. I'm not so sure that's right. God is sovereign. I believe He takes responsibility for what He allows to go down . . . not to say He's guilty of evil, but when He gives someone the ability to do evil, He doesn't claim He didn't know or that His hands were tied. He's God.

But God also praised Job for his integrity. Would all the suffering be worth it if you knew God, the high ruler of the universe, was praising me for my integrity? It would certainly help. 

But Satan was skeptical. He accused Job (and all of mankind) of being willing to trade the lives of everyone he knew in exchange for his own. I actually love this accusation, because it is disproved time and time again. There are many people throughout history who have been willing to die for their fellow man (for good and bad causes). This, I believe, is the true mark of God's image upon us.

So God let Satan do whatever he wanted to Job, short of killing him. And this time, there's no mistaking who is doing the action. The text specifically says that Satan struck Job with boils (and who knows what else). The Bible clearly leaves out some of the gory details. Job's wife told him to just end it: curse God. Get it over with. Die already.

And before we get too hard on Mrs. Job, remember that she lost everything, too. She's not an outsider to all the pain and suffering. But Job corrected her. He had welcomed all the good for his entire life, and now he was ready to accept the nasty. And he didn't sin. I haven't heard this come up much, but . . . do you think God may have been responsible for Job's positive attitude? Yeah. I'd say He was. Job had a close relationship with Him, and I would suppose that God rewarded him with the power to stay true. Just my guess.

And then Job's friends came by, saw Job in his suffering, sat down with him, and said nothing for an entire week. That was the best advice they ever gave him.

Seriously, I wish I knew when not to talk. I wish I was always true to God for better or worse. I hope I can be comfortable accepting God's sovereignty over everything. I hope I can accept the strength that comes from God and give Him credit when He helps me.

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