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Friday, June 17, 2011

Infinite Forgiveness and God's Injustice

Can we forgive God his injustice? That's right, God is not always just, and He admits it in the Old Testament book of Job. It's really quite incredible, this book. It says that Satan made a bet with God that he could make Job curse God to his face. The Lord bets Satan that he can't. Here it is, verbatim, from 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.”
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
   “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds 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.”
   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.”
Satan destroys Job's family, possessions, and wealth. But what's worse, Jobs friends tell him that God is always just, so he must deserve it. They don't offer comfort, only condemnation, and they tell Job to keep his mouth shut and be passive. Job's wife says,"Curse God and die!" Then she leaves.

Job does not accept this fate passively. He challenges God, and demands answers for his sufferings, knowing that they are unjust and undeserved. Essentially, he puts the Lord on trial, but the Lord, too, is not passive, and turns the tables on Job. God says,"Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man;
   I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
   Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
   Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
   or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
   and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
 Or who shut in the sea with doors
   when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
   and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
   and set bars and doors,
and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
   and here shall your proud waves be stayed'?
 Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
   and caused the dawn to know its place..."
The word Israel means "wrestling with God". Job did indeed wrestle with God, and God rewarded him. But first, the Lord dealt very harshly with Job's 'friends' who did not offer him comfort during his affliction. The text continues:

"And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is kindled against you, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has.
  Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job. [Note: Job's prayers for his friends are key].
 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
 Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.
 So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.

God is infinitely just because He can give us recompense that will more than justify any suffering we have to endure. In fact, if we knew just how good our reward is, we would gladly suffer any hardship or pain.

God will forgive you all things except your denial of Him. Can you forgive God?