Monday, November 29, 2004

A hard and austere man: Job 7:11-21

God testifies of Job, that he was a righteous and upright man. This did not mean, however, that he was perfect in his knowledge and understanding of God. In Job's response to Eliphaz, he reveals a common misconception of the character of God. Job, in his calamity, sees God as hard, austere, and exacting. Job's view is that God, for some unknown reason, has set him as the focus of His attention. Job knows that no man can be completely justified before God and, if God chooses to search deep enough, He will surly find some iniquity worth punishing. Job feels trapped in the exacting gaze of God. Job pleads, "will You never turn Your gaze away from me, nor let me alone" (Job 7:19) Job's hope is that God would seece His search of Job's hidden sins and just let him peacefully "go the way of all the earth."

Job's view of God is similar to the servant in the parable of the talents. Jesus tells this parable in which two of the three servants use the talents given them to gain increase for their master. The third servant did nothing, but hid his money in the ground, so that he would not lose it. His excuse before his master was, "Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours." (Matthew 25:24-25)

Both this servant and Job misunderstood the nature and character of their God. God, when he passed before Moses, declared His own nature, saying "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness and truth; who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." (Exodus 34:6) The truth is that God is loving and kind. Job should have known that God was not simply "out to get him". Even when God does bring calamity, it is always for redemption and in it there is always the grace of God. If we truly understand the nature and character of God, then we will find it easier to bear under any difficulty and affliction. We can trust that God is good and, even if it doesn't seem so right now, in the end we will "see the goodness of God in the land of the living."

David Robison

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