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The Thread of Life – Part 3 (Job & the problem of evil)
April 25, 2021

The Thread of Life – Part 3 (Job & the problem of evil)

April 25, 2021

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The Thread of Life – 31 Stories that point to Jesus

(Part 3 – Job & The Problem of Evil)

Welcome to Jesus Church – Love all of you online too

We are on our 3rd week into reading through the Bible

  • Week 1 was creation… last week was the fall
    • And what we see in that story – Genesis Chapter 3 (intro of evil)
    • Adam & Eve were tempted by the Devil… who did 3 things
      • He questioned God’s Words
      • He questioned God’s Love
      • He questioned the very nature of good & evil
  • And the enemies goal is to get u to trust in yourself instead of God
    • To reject God’s plan for your best life
    • And just do what FEELS RIGHT to you
    • But that’s what we call sin… and sin leads to death

Again: Sin not wrong b/c its forbidden… forbidden b/c its wrong

  • Wrong b/c its not best 4 ur life… must trust God 2 know whats best
    • And today we dive a little deeper into this problem of Evil/Good
    • So turn in your Bible’s to the book of JOB
    • Chronologically most believe Job comes after Genesis 11
  • And the question wrestled w/ throughout Job: Problem of Evil
    • How do I reconcile a God who created the universe out of love
      • While reading the chaos of the daily news cycle
      • Or having a child born with physical deformity/handicap
      • Or human trafficking… or another mass shooting
  • How do we fit all of this together… and its not a new question
    • We have been wrestling with this question for 1000’s of years
    • So please don’t expect us to solve it in next 40 minutes

Plan today: Lay out ideas of Job – Look at this problem he wrestles with

  • Take a couple weeks to wrestle with it ourselves
    • Pull in some other scriptures
    • See what the Bible has to say about the problem of evil
    • So this is sorta a 2 part sermon… have to come back next week
  • Start today in Job… Job is a stunning piece of literature
    • It’s considered an ancient epic poem
    • Reads sorta like Shakespears McBeth
    • So it tells a story… does so through poetry (like a play)

But it opens w/ narrative (not poetry) – Its most important part of story

  • Because it gives you some background on what’s happening…
    • And what we find out is happening behind the scenes…
    • The main character Job does not know… never finds out

Job 1:1-3

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright, he feared god and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a. large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. 

Job 1:6

One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

So those of u who hear that and Satan in heaven makes brain melt

  • Remember this is an ancient epic poem (not history textbook)
    • We need to read it literarily – not literally
    • Meaning… read it in the way it is supposed to be read
  • Imagery here is heaven as an ancient middle eastern throne room
    • And God is the King on the throne
    • In his throne room is his court (governor/judge/messenger)
    • All God’s angels are is there around the throne
  • The way I imagine Satan entering the scene… sorta like Maleficent
    • The king has all of his trusted subjects in his court
      • A huge celebration… and here comes the uninvited guest
      • Bursts into the middle of the court… makes scene
    • Comes in – and all we know is his name is Ha Satan (The Satan)
      • Not sure at this point in Bible if this is a proper name/title
      • B/C All Ha Satan means in Hebrew – The accuser

So a villain of some kind comes into the throne room of God

  • Aggressively starts to come at God… and accuses (go figure)
    • God asks “Where do you come from”
    • Satan’s answer “To and fro throughout the earth”
    • Which is a way to say… it’s none of your business
      • I’m not under your authority – I do my own thing
  • So there’s an exchange b/w the villain and God in his throne room
    • And look what happens next…

Job 1:8

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on the earthlike him, he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. (even this is odd… like God is egging him on)

Job 1:9-11

Does Job fear God for nothing? Satan replied. Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? (top xian cliché – why do we want a hedge… I was a concrete wall) You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and heard are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

So here is what is going on in this scene from a Hebrew perspective

  • This is a public shame in a HONOR/SHAME society
    • First “The Accuser” is saying: Job doesn’t love you for you
      • He loves you for all of the blessings…
        • He’s Rich/Famous/Nothing to worry about
    • Second accusation is deeper… God, your like a corrupt politician
      • You manipulate people with blessings & cursing’s
      • Just to get what you want
        • Saying: Hey, love/worship me and I’ll bless you
        • Don’t love/worship me and I’ll punish
  • So these are the accusations from Satan to God himself
    • And it’s almost like Satan is betting against God
    • Saying: The love u have w/ these humans… its all circumstantial

TAG: But the crazy thing is God takes the bet (look at v.12)

Job 1:12

The Lord said to Satan, very well then. Everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself, do not lay a finger.

Notice that Satan is wanting God to strike down Job

  • But God says… No, I don’t do that (That’s not who I am )
    • You are the one that wants to ruin Job’s life – Not me
    • But what God does do… lift his hand of protection off Job’s life
  • And if you are thinking – Wait… what?!?! (EXACTLY)
    • Does the story say “WHY” right here… NO
    • And I hate to say it… but we never find out why
  • So if u wanna find out what the Bible has to say on problem of evil
    • Why do bad things happen to good people
    • You open up 2 Job… find another book of the Bible – This isn’t it
    • This book answers something else

TAG: Next week we will tackle that question and concept of Freewill

Job 1:13-19

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the elders brothers house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

So tragedy strikes: b/c it’s a poem we don’t know if this is historical

  • But because it’s a poem its hyper stylized… worse case scenario
    • Sons all die – Daughters all die – Wealth gone – Life destroyed
    • And all he is left with is his wife… and she is horrible
    • She only has one line in entire book: Curse God and Die
  • Husbands: Read Job & be grateful for wives – go buy her something
    • Think of this… Satan goes thru all of Job’s life
    • I’ll kill ur kids / Take this away… that away / leave you nothing
    • Whoa… your wife – You can keep her… that’s all you man
      • I don’t even want her in hell
  • So he is left with nothing at all and then Verse 20

Job 1:20-22

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said (famous line) Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised. In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Disclaimer: Tons of ways to interpret Job – lots of debate/controversy

  • Its tricky: This is my belief thru study of an accurate reading of Job
    • And this is a very strong/common theological position to take
    • But there are definitely other readings out there
    • However… when we get to the conclusion
      • That is pretty much universally accepted

To start: Talk about the line – The Lord give/take away

This is definitely the most iconic line in Job… maybe the Old Testament

  • And we here it all this time – especially in times of tragedy
    • So you are at a funeral… parent gets up after death of a child
      • Weeping the dad says: The Lord gave & has taken away…
      • May the name of the Lord be praised
    • The business lady to has risked everything to follow her dream
      • She felt like the Lord was leading her down this path
      • Five years later and its falling apart – Bankruptcy court
      • The Lord gave & has taken away… name of Lord be praised
  • Line sounds really good – Very Godly (Kinda is… amazing response)
    • But what if it isn’t totally right… what if Job’s thinking is wrong
    • And that line is actually: BAD THEOLOGY

Think about it… Job is saying: The LORD gave & He has taken away

  • In Job’s mind – He thinks that God did all of this to him
    • He thinks God killed his 10 kids… destroyed his life
    • Now… you know the back story (Job doesn’t)
  • Is Job’s belief true to what we read at the beginning (NO)
    • There is this whole other character in the plot – The Satan
    • None of this is God’s idea… he is involved… has part to play
      • But none of this is God’s idea or God’s plan (kill kids)
  • In fact I’d say a main ideas of Job: To show u this thinking is wrong
    • There is a fascinating dynamic we have interacting w/ the story
      • B/C you as the reader know what is going on – Job doesn’t
      • It’s like we get to see behind the curtain into heaven
    • So we know – Whole thing wasn’t God… it’s Satan (still weird)
      • But Job knows none of that
      • He thinks God did all of this… but I will praise him thru it

Now if you have read Job – Does this outlook last??? NO

Job 2:11-13 (Next comes in Job’s friends in Chapter 2)

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads (ancient ritual for mourning). Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

  • And from here on – majority of book is a debate b/w Job & friends
    • It all revolves around the problem of evil
      • But problem is: Job & friends work off wrong a premises
      • That God is the one who destroyed Job and his life

TAG: But it leads Job & his friends to very diff conclusions (look at both)

First Job’s friends (Ch. 4 – One example)

Job 4:7-8 (Elephaz)

Consider now: Who, being innocent, has every perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. (reap what you sow)

What Job’s friends argue here and other places over and over

  • Is called CAUSE & EFFECT – Goes around comes around
    • Bad things happen 2 the bad… Good things happen 2 the good
    • And its based on the idea of Justice (God is just > world is just)
  • This idea has been around a long time – See it in prosperity gospel
    • Its in the Christian music scene

Chance the Rapper

When the praises go up, the blessings come down and blessings keep falling in my lap (and this is the formula at play with Job’s friends)

  • Idea is: If you love and worship God – He will bless you
    • Definition of blessings is riches and worldly success
  • But if you don’t love and worship God – He will curse you

Now – IS THIS FORMULA TRUE??? (yes & no)

  • There is truth in it… you reap what you so – That’s right in the NT
    • As a general rule: God does bless those he loves…yes
    • Blessings & Cursings in Deuteronomy
  • But what happens when praises go up – bad things come down
    • That’s not a hit single… but that’s Job’s life
    • Some of you would say… Ya that’s my life

Think about the statements his friend makes

Job 4:7

Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished…

  • I can think of quite a few people
    • Think of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary
    • Think of the unborn babies killed every day

… Where were the upright ever destroyed

  • Um… Jesus comes to mind
    • The Apostles
    • Every single martyr that died for faith in Jesus
  • So it’s not all wrong… but definitely not all right (not even close)
    • Problem: Job’s friends view is way too simplistic

Yes – God is just but our world in not

  • And God doesn’t run off this simplistic formula
    • Where we can figure it out and manipulate it to our gain
    • But that’s basically what Job’s friends are saying

Next look at Job’s response (not much better)

Job 9 (Job starts like a rock at first… but then starts falling apart)

  • And this is pretty common when it comes to dealing with grief
    • Not always… but a lot of time those grieving start super strong
    • At the funeral – Trusting in God – Believing in his comfort
  • But over time… everyone else goes back to normal life
    • And a week/month/year later that person’s life isn’t normal
    • They are still in an empty house… apartment
    • That person is still right in the thick of pain and loss
  • And the frustration/doubt/anger grows towards God
    • That’s just being human… its life… it’s what Job is dealing with
      • So at first: Chapter 1 – Lord be praised
      • By the end – Just railing against God

Job 9:21-24 (Example – As things begin to fall apart)

Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life. (crazy depressed) It is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’ (Is that true – Not really) When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent. When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?

Job starts listing all these tragedies… Remember: 2 Job all of this is God

  • The Lord gives and the Lord has taken away (Name be praised!)
    • But when Job takes that to its logical conclusion
    • Job has to view God as either: A-Moral or Immoral
    • If God is a judge: He is either blind/unjust/corrupt

Job 10:16

If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me.

  • Notice the lie that Job is believing at this point b/c of his belief
    • He is saying God is like a lion that plays with its prey
    • Right before he eats it alive – Is that true about God?

Is this what we are supposed to believe about God? NO

  • In fact if u know your Bible – Who’s called roaring lion (Satan)
    • Job thinks that God is like Satan
    • He is mistaking the character of God for the character of Satan
  • Some theology is so off – God looks more like Satan than Jesus
    • There is a great story of 2 famous preachers from 200 years ago
      • John Wesley (Arminian) said to George Whitfield (Calvinist)
      • Had this back & forth – sorta twitter war – but newspaper
      • At one point Wesley told his friend: Your God is my Devil
    • What he meant by that… what u think about God is so off base
      • When you say God… that’s what I believe the Devil is like
      • (If ur a Calvinist… don’t mean that against you…)
  • My Point: To the degree that people don’t take Satan seriously
    • They attribute his evil to God’s hand
    • And this is what is going on – God ur like a lion toying w/ prey
    • You’ll having fun destroying my life

But he’s very back and forth… because he has these moments of clarity

  • Point: At first Job doesn’t charge God with any wrong doing
    • But by the end… he charges God with a lot of wrong doing
      • All b/c he believed a wrong assumption of what happened
      • He says: “God gives and God takes away”
      • He concluded – God killed my kids… servants… life
      • And he ends up in a VERY DARK PLACE

To spare u the details – Job and friends go at it

By the end – Job demands that God explain himself & his actions

  • And finally God does show up and has a lot to say

Job 38:1

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm…

  • God shows up not as therapist, sweet lady from the shack
    • He shows up as a hurricane
    • And as reader… we hope God is gonna answer our questions
    • What do bad things happen – Or at least tell Job the backstory
  • But instead all God does is ask his own questions

Job 38:2-7

Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man, I will question you and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earths foundation. Tell me if you understand, who marked off its dimensions, surely you know (yes this is God being sarcastic). Who stretched a measuring line across it, on what were its footings set and who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

  • And from here God just goes off with question after question
    • 1st about creation… to mythological creatures rep evil/chaos
    • But here God helps Job to see how complexed the universe is
      • And there are forces of evil we don’t see or understand
      • And most of it we will never know

But now look at Job’s response…

Job 42:1-6

Then Job replied to the Lord, “I know that you can do all things”. No purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this who obscures your plans without knowledge”? Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Notice Job doesn’t want to fight/argue/debate anymore) You said, “Listen now and I will speak. I will question you and you will answer me. (But Job said I’m done) My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

  • Job never see’s behind the curtain that we do…
    • He never actually finds out what happened
    • He doesn’t see – But He does see God… and that’s enough

Therefore I despise myself (translate – I despise what I had believed) and I repent with dust and ashes.

And then God actually praises Job for the way he handles everything

  • And what God is saying – Job did everything in prayer to God
    • Wasn’t a Facebook rant/passive aggressive tweet/vengeful blog
    • No… Job brought everything to God in prayer
      • The good… bad… ugly
  • Job doubted God… angry at God… Frustration toward God
    • Job is 100% honest with how he is feeling towards God
    • God loves the honesty – even if venting bordered on heresy
      • It was brutally honest and God could handle it
      • B/C God isn’t afraid of honesty the way you and I are
      • And prayer not a place 2 be good… its a place to be honest
  • And this is exactly how God wants to interact with you and me
    • And in the end things conclude on an up note

Job 42:10, 12, 16-17

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part… After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.

So lets put all this together see what we can learn

1 – There are no easy answers

The starting place around the problem of evil – No answer is easy

  • There is mystery around how the universe and evil operate
    • And to say it’s a simple/obvious solution is arrogance
    • Theodicy is one of the most complex/tricky subjects of Bible
  • And for thousands of years there have been tons of views on it
    • How in control is God or not
    • How much freedom do we have or not
    • What about Satan and his role
  • Next week we will lay out the options (stray one week off for this)
    • I’ll give you my theory and what I think the Bible says
      • But just a heads up… every theory has holes
      • I think mine has the least – but there are holes

But this is not easy: 3 of best words for Xian to learn… I DON’T KNOW

  • Why does a heroine addict give birth to 10 children – all foster care
    • And a loving Xian husband and wife can’t have a single child
    • I don’t know
  • Why does a good loving father accidentally back SUV over his son
    • I don’t know
  • Why did my Godly loving high school soccer coach get Lou Gehrig’s
    • Kids had to watch him died slowly and body deteriorated
    • I don’t know

Greg Boyd on Job

We are ignorant human beings living in a very mysterious unfathomably complexed creation that is torn apart in war. We have very little understanding about anything and if we forget all that we don’t know, we’ll start judging God for evil or start judging other people. The whole point of the book of Job is this; if we remember our ignorance we won’t judge God as Job did, or people as Job’s friends did.

So in times of suffering… there is just a lot we don’t know

  • And when u don’t know a lot… you cling to what you do know
    • There is a God in heaven… he is king over the earth
    • God is God and I am not
    • He is a good/loving father – with me – for me
    • Jesus defeated death through his resurrected life
    • One day I will live in a brand new world free of sin and suffering
  • But we have to live in the ambiguity of not having all the answers
    • To be okay with it… at peace with it…
    • To say: There’s a lot I don’t know – So I cling to what I do know

2 – Need to learn how to grieve – God is ok with that

In the west… we don’t really know how to do this

  • One reason: Catholic belief of earning salvation thru suffering
    • Also Hedonism… Secularism… Greek Stoicism
    • But we have stopped ourselves from being ok with grieving
  • Even in church – Think of diff b/w Psalms & Modern Worship
    • 2/3rds of = Psalms are lament (doubt/confusion/anger/stress)
      • Was thinking thru worship songs… couldn’t think of one
      • That’s not on David or Berenice – Its just not out there
      • And if there is one… we don’t like it (but its modelled)
    • No lyrics: God I’m miserable… so mad at u… don’t even believe
      • We just don’t roll like that at Jesus Church
      • We have lost the art of mourning and grieving

On top of that – We just don’t know how to wrestle w/ God anymore

Scholar on Job

A truly religious attitude is not passive resignation to misfortune. But includes the courage to enter into dispute with God.

  • There’s a place for dispute w/ God… a place to protest… intercede
    • Where you say God I think you should do this – Not that
    • There is a place to argue – even fight with God
      • Now most of the time you will lose
  • But not always… Job lost – have you heard about Moses/Amos
    • God listened to both of them and changed his plans
    • There is a place – Which is why we believe in power of prayer
    • And it takes council… wisdom… discernment of Holy Spirit
      • There are times to surrender/submit… just trust God
      • But other times you get on your face and protest b4 Him
  • But there is a place… even if you are wrong or off
    • There is a place – And God can handle it
    • God wants far more for you to be honest than perfect
    • B/C perfection is just an act… so just be honest

And we see the cycle in Job’s life… just like in ours

  • Job goes tragedy > strength > anger > rebuke > humility > comfort
    • And I see this cycle in my life as well
    • Usually I wanna just go from tragedy > comfort
    • Skip all that other stuff… but it doesn’t work that way
      • We have to work all the way through our emotions
      • Good… bad… logical… illogical
      • Process it all and aim it all towards God in prayer

3 – The invitation is to trust

God doesn’t answer the question of “WHY”

  • God doesn’t unlock the puzzle of theodicy
    • In fact instead of answering questions… instead he asks them
    • All to make the point: HE IS GOD AND WE ARE NOT
  • We need to trust his wisdom… he knows what he is doing
    • And saying that – Not saying he is the cause of evil in the world
    • Everything happens for a reason (part of God’s plan)
  • What I mean is he is God… knows how to run the universe
    • And he is involved in your life

And trust his character – He is a good loving Father (ur a son/daughter)

  • And trust is hard… actually 1 of few things we get worse at w/ age
    • Know who knows how to trust really well – Little kids (3,4,5)
    • They trust what mom and dad say
    • Then it all falls apart around 5
  • If we all believe a child should trust a loving parent
    • How much more should we trust God
    • The hard part on trust isn’t to believe nothing bad will happen
      • Or even believe anything bad is part of God’s will
  • No it’s not that… to trust is to believe no matter what: God is God
    • He is with u / Loves u / Not alone in suffering – he understands
    • And even if you taste suffering… this life isn’t the end
    • In the end – Jesus will lead you into a live 100% of evil forever
      • So trust him

Trust is Faith + Hope – I believe and know it will work out in the end

So… wherever you are at

  • Some of you in a rough spot… Job or not… disappointment in life
    • I want to create space for you in that reality
    • Worship/Prayer teams will be here for a little longer
    • And speak to God… lament b4 God if u need to… but trust him

 

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