Rev. L. Althouse
April 16, 2006
Background Scripture: Job 38:1, 4, 16, 17; 42:1, 2, 5; Mark 16:1-7, 9-14, 20.
Devotional Reading: Luke 24:1-9.
A writer of a letter-to-the editor wanted to know, “How could God permit Tsunami and Katrina?” In the next edition another letter-writer castigated the first for asking such a question. “God will punish you for your arrogance,” he promised.
In the Bible I find that God seldom, if ever, punishes us for asking questions, even those that appear to be irreverent. It is God from whom we have received our questing minds. He has placed within us a curiosity that constantly drives us to find answers.
In the early chapters of Job, we marvel at Job’s implacable faith: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (1:21) For the most part, he suffers in silence, the source of the proverbial “patience of Job.”
Finally, however, Job responds, not in cursing God as his wife suggests (2:9,10), but in impatiently challenging God to give him answers satisfactory to his reason: “Oh, that I knew where I might find him … I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would learn what he would answer me … and I should be acquitted forever by my judge.” (23:2-7)
He believes, rightly, that he has done nothing to merit these blows and is certain that God cannot justify what has happened to him
And now it is God who remains silent while Job and his friends engage in theological debate. For much of chapters 2 through 37, Job repeatedly argues to assert his integrity, until at last God does reply - although not with answers, but questions:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.” (38:2,3)
Job believed that God could not justify his tragedies, but now it was God who was asking the questions: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!” (38:4,5)
In a series of some 40 unanswered questions, God renders Job speechless, ending with “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” (40:1,2)
Questions & answers
It is apparent that God never expected Job to answer any of these questions. It was simply his way of saying, Job, if I answer you, how can you with your human mind comprehend my answers? Job’s answer confirms this: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer thee?” (40:4)
God speaks to Job again (40:6 through 41:34), but now when Job answers, it is a positive response: “I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted … Therefore I uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (42:2,3)
Job has finally learned what we all must learn: because of the way that God has made us, we must ask questions for which the answers are always beyond our comprehension. Job was saved, not by his theology, but his personal experience of the God who can be apprehended, but not comprehended. “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee.” (42:5)
So it was on the first Easter and every day since then. We commit ourselves to Jesus Christ, not because someone reports a vacant tomb, but because we have the opportunity to experience the risen Christ in our lives. And, experiencing him, we encounter all that we can know of the Father who sent him in our midst.
This farm news was published in the April 12, 2006 issue of Farm World.