Posted in Job, Psalms

The Song in the Night 

“At night His song is with me… I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’” Psalm 42:8-9

It is one thing to love and praise God when everything is going good; it is another thing to love and praise Him when it feels like darkness is crushing you.

In this dark night of the soul, we can’t see God’s purpose or understand His goodness, yet it is most important that we learn to sing at this time – I’m calling it the song in the night. Why is this song so important?

  1.  It forces us to focus on who God is instead of what He does for us. Satan’s accusation against Job was that he was using God and didn’t really love him. (See Job 1:9-11) Do we really love God or are we only using Him because we love ourselves? The song in the night purifies our worship.
  2.  It forces us to either go deeper in our faith. “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls, all Your waves and breakers have swept over me.” (Psalm 42:7) Trees planted by water have shallow roots. Trees in a hostile environment either have roots that go very deep, or the tree dies before maturity. Listen to how deep the roots of the Psalmist have gone in this time of difficulty: “As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2) Instead of turning away from God, His pain brought him to a new place of thirst for God Himself.
  3. We are no longer dependent on the faith of others. Darkness isolates us and raises questions about God’s goodness. Do I really believe or have I only been part of a social group who wants to believe in a personal God so they can be protected from life’s hard realities? God allows this time so that we can experience Him ourselves instead of on the coattails of others.

Does it feel like darkness is suffocating you? This could be your faith’s greatest hour. It’s time for you to take up the song in the night.

Posted in Job, John, Matthew

War Horses

“I am meek and lowly of heart, take My yoke upon you and learn from Me and you will find rest in your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30

The Greek word “praus” is translated “meek” in our text, but it is difficult to find an exact English word to match what it means. Ancient Greeks used this word to describe a stallion that was broken and could be ridden. One commentator writes: “The horse was perfectly trained and ready, it would obey the master, the rider, no matter what was going on around it, so that it could be trusted in the heat of battle not to do something stupid or foolish; once the rider knew that he could trust the animal, and that it would obey him no matter what, he called it a meek horse even though it could have been a powerful, thoroughbred stallion, capable of killing enemies in battle.”

Jesus is saying that He’s like the war horse. He didn’t fear anything, whatever the Father showed Him, He did (John 5:19). If the Father told Him to go right into hell itself to cast out a demon, He would go there. He walked in perfect rest because He only had to pay attention to His Father and had no fear of anyone or anything else.

Why did God describe a meek horse to Job? (Job 39:19-25)  I think it’s because all that God had allowed in Job’s life was for the purpose of making him meek and fearless, like this horse. Job walked uprightly before God but he still had things that he was afraid of. “What I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.” (Job 3:25) After all of this trial was over, I am convinced, Job was unafraid of anything. The worst had happened and God had brought him through.

What if we face what we face because God is trying to destroy the power of fear in our lives? I believe God wants to make us war horses the Holy Spirit can lead into any battle, at any time, knowing that we won’t go by our emotions, our past experiences, or our opinions, but only by His prompting. The Father doesn’t want us hiding in fear until Jesus rescues us out of this wicked, scary world – He wants to lead us right into the midst of darkness to bring His kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven!

Posted in Genesis, Job

The Age of the Earth – Part Two

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was (or possibly became) formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

Here are the four reasons I believe the heavens were already in existence before the six days of Genesis one:

  1. Darkness is only on the face of the earth in verse two; it isn’t filling the universe. Job 38 describes the earth at some time after it was created as having clouds as its garments and being “wrapped in thick darkness.” (Job 38:9)
  2. When God says, “Let there be light,” on day one, He was not creating light, He was allowing the light that was already filling the universe to appear on the earth.* Evening and morning on earth are describing a solar day as the clouds dissipate enough at God’s command for light to appear again on the face of the earth.
  3. The difference between “bara” and “asah.” In Genesis 1:1, God creates the heavens; on the fourth day He only works on them. The word “create” in Hebrew is “bara,” the word used on the fourth day in connection to the stars, sun, and moon is “asah” (often translated “made”). Bara indicates something brand new while asah never involves something new, but rather something preexisting that is being worked on.
  4. On day four God doesn’t create the heavens, He only works on them by completely removing the cloud cover so they can be seen from the earth. This is similar to the work He does on the earth in day three. He doesn’t create the earth on the third day, He gathers the water so that dry land appears, and then calls the dry land, “earth.” In a similar way, on day four He doesn’t create the heavens, He removes the clouds so the heavens can be seen from the earth.

*Scofield Study Bible: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Comments: “Neither here nor in verses 14-18 is an original creative act implied. A different word is used. The sense is made to appear; made visible. The sun and moon were created ‘in the beginning.’ The ‘light’ of course came from the sun, but the vapor diffused the light. Later the sun appeared in an unclouded sky.”

Posted in Job

The Untamable God

“No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him; who then is he that can stand against Me? Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.” “I am angry at you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.” Job 41:10-11; Job 42:7

The first passage quoted above is a comparison God makes between Himself and Leviathan, a sea monster He created. (This animal that Job was familiar with has clearly gone extinct as no living animal compares to all God says about this creature.) In His lengthy description of this animal God makes it clear that no one can tame the Leviathan, no one can put him on a leash for his girls, no one can frighten him with spears or arrows, and no one dares to rouse him. The point of the argument is that if this is true about a created animal, how much more is it true about the God who made it and everything else that exists.

The Lord is angry with Job’s three friends because they have sought to tame God by their theology. They were sure that they understood what was going on in this world and how God would act in any given situation. They were confident that what was happening to Job was brought on by something Job had done because surely God would never allow so much suffering to one who was innocent. Their theology put God in a box that ultimately was about their own protection. God was angry by their short-sighted, man-made beliefs which sought to limit His sovereignty, so we must be careful not to make God out to be something that He is not today.

“You have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.” What did Job say? That it’s not always fair in this life; that sometimes sin isn’t punished in this life; that sometimes righteousness doesn’t seem to pay off in this life; and that it often feels like God is indifferent to the injustices that are happening on His planet. 

Part of learning to be meek of heart, like Jesus, is to trust God’s heart even when you don’t understand His ways. He is accomplishing a good purpose in every judgment He brings, every circumstance He allows, and in every test that He orchestrates. He gets no pleasure from our pain, but He will use our pain to speak to us eternal truths that will in the long run save us from greater pain. God is good, but He won’t be tamed, and that’s one reason that it is an adventure being one of His children.

Posted in Job

Trying to Put God on a Leash

“Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls?…Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering. No one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against Me? Who has a claim against Me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to Me.” Job 41:5; 9-11

God is describing to Job an animal called Leviathan in the text above. It’s a wild animal that has now gone extinct, but there are many other animals God created to be wild.

Job’s friends tried to put God on a leash. “Here’s how God works,” they argued (my paraphrase). “God blesses the righteous with temporal blessings and punishes the wicked with temporal hardships. Therefore, Job, you clearly have done something wicked because you are suffering.”

Job responded to them with equally long arguments that can be summed up by something like this: “You guys have it all wrong. There are many examples where wicked people don’t get what’s coming to them in this life, and where the righteous suffer – I am example one of this! I have been righteous but am suffering horribly. Your formula for God is wrong.”

When God revealed Himself at the end of the book, He said that Job’s friends had spoken what was wrong about Him and that Job had said what was right. (Job 42:7) But Job still needed to repent when God confronted him. He felt God somehow owed him something for the righteous life he had led and for the righteous acts he had performed. What was happening to him was “not fair,” so he had longed for a face to face encounter with God to tell him so.

God eventually gave Job that encounter and in the text above is rebuking him for trying to put Him on a leash. God will not be told what to do and does not owe mankind anything. Job then apologized: “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)

Have you tried to put God on a leash? Have you questioned His ways because you feel entitled to a better life? Why not repent now and lay every sense of entitlement down at the foot of the cross. May the mystery of who He is lead us to worship more than ever.

Posted in 1Timothy, Hebrews, Job, John

The Mediator

“He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9:32-35

The longing of Job was for a mediator. Someone who could stand in the gap between him and God. Someone who could remove God’s judgment and then place one hand on God and one on him to bring them together. This longing, which is also the need of all human beings, was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Jesus was God, the eternal Son. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1; 14) Jesus was and is fully God. When the Jews asked Him if He had seen Abraham, He replied, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58) This is a clear reference to God’s Name in the Old Testament.

But Jesus was also a man. Hebrews 5:9 says that Jesus was “made perfect.” How could God be anything less than perfect? He was always perfect as God, but to become the perfect mediator He had to become a human being. “Once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him and was designated by God to be high priest.” (Hebrews 5:9) As our priest He offered the perfect sacrifice for sins, Himself. He needed to be God because He had to take the place of the whole human race; and He had to be man because it was man who had sinned. This sacrifice removed God’s wrath from all humanity and transformed God’s throne into a place of grace instead of judgment. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Jesus Christ – fully God and fully man. We don’t have to understand the mystery of who He is to believe and worship. “There is one God and one mediator between God and human beings, the man Christ Jesus.” (1Timothy 2:5)