Where Were You?

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As a friend recently pointed out to me, Job is not only about suffering but it is also about the very nature of God. If you are still reading along with us in the 2015 Bible Challenge, we are just about at the end of Job. The book is filled with men giving their eloquent (and dare I say long-winded?) interpretation of why Job is suffering and their personal descriptions of God and life.

But finally God speaks. In Chapter 38, we hear God’s response to Job.

I am always put to shame with the words of God. It is such a lesson in submitting to God’s Sovereignty.

Where was I when the foundations of the earth were laid?

Have I commanded the mornings since time began?

Can I loosen the belt of Orion?

When we read God’s response to Job, we can respond two ways: Submission or Rebellion. There is no neutral.

So let’s move ahead many thousands of years. What does this have to do with life today?

As you read Job 38, can you understand why it was so critical to Satan that people stop believing in a 6-day literal biblical creation?

For when the world system undermines our belief in God as Creator and Designer, then it undermines our complete and total understanding of God, as presented in the rest of the scripture. This naturally leads to rebellion towards God, rather than submission.

Many Christians say it doesn’t matter if we believe in a literal creation or not. But it does. Job 38 is one of the reasons. If we don’t believe in creation, then Job becomes a poem to us– something that we can learn from and that sounds beautiful in a literary, symbolic sort of way instead of being the true, inspired Word of God. And when that happens, God’s Word loses its power in our lives.

This is a big deal. As believers, we need to understand the critical nature of believing in a literal 6-day creation. It is the foundation of the rest of the Word of God. And we know what happens when a foundation is destroyed– it isn’t long before the rest of the house comes tumbling down. I think we can already see this playing out in the modern-day church.

But let’s make this even more personal. How we deal with the unanswered questions we have as we read is very important. I have no doubt that you have many, after having read Job. There are just some really puzzling verses within this book of the Bible.

We can get frustrated as we read and start focusing on our questions, rather than on the words themselves.

When I asked my brother, Pastor Dean, a particularly burning question that several people have asked me about this book, he encouraged me to let my readers know that they should not worry too much about the unanswered questions, but instead focus on what we can know.

Last year while I was doing my first read-through of the Bible, I became aware of two things–

1. If I focused on the questions, I would stop reading. There are so many unanswered questions– particularly in the Old Testament. I had to allow God to give me insight into what He chose and stop thinking I needed to understand it all.

2. I also realized –and this is really important–that if I understood it all, I would be God. Do you get what I’m saying here? We live in this culture where we think we have to understand everything. The age of reason has affected us in more ways than we even know. And, while I don’t recommend living a life of ignorance, we do have to come to God’s Holy Word with an attitude of submission and humility, recognizing that we aren’t going to understand everything because He is God. And we are not.

And so let’s move on from Job assured that God is God. He is sovereign and does what is best, even when we don’t understand why. And while God does give us more and more insight, the deeper we dig into His Word, let’s remember that we are never required to understand it all, but only to submit and obey. For therein lies the key to the joy of the Lord and the peace that passeth understanding.

 

4 thoughts on “Where Were You?”

  1. Atheist here. I just want to say how refreshing it is to find a Christian who isn’t interested in pretending that the entire bible is understandable. Since the bible is the keystone of everything you believe, serving as both a historical document and a moral compass, conveying the message of an infinite creator, it must take a firm resolve to ignore the parts that don’t make sense. After all, it takes a certain level of fortitude to just walk away from something you cannot comprehend, particularly when life shows us that the best way to solve problems is to pursue understanding rather than commit intellectual suicide.

    But let’s forget what we know from life experience—after all, you’re not part of the world, right? What’s really courageous about your position is that it contradicts what the bible has asked you to do in regard to your salvation. Philippians 2:12 (ASV) says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” And let’s not forget the banner verse for Christian apologetics everywhere: “…but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15, ASV). As a non-believer, I always appreciate when Christians approach the bible in a way that is unsupported by the bible itself, and your particular position is special because it endorses an admitted lack of understanding as its response to questions that non-believers could pose regarding the character of your god.

    In fact, if we take your position to its logical conclusion, we find that it sabotages many claims you could make about your god’s nature. For example, if you were to make the claim that your god is a loving, omnibenevolent deity, I could point out a passage from the OT that ostensibly contradicts this notion. And your defense? You could throw up the white flag and say that your god has led you to stop thinking that you need to understand it all. So much for standing behind absolute truth. This is exciting to me because this anti-apologetic approach stands in stark contrast to those whom you would want (presumably) in your corner (i.e., MacDowell, Zacharias, et. al), and it leaves you with little ground to stand on.

    Furthermore, while I’m glad that you’re willing to admit there are verses you cannot understand, I think it’s also reasonable to think that perhaps there are verses you think you understand at this very moment, yet you are mistaken. I’m certain that you’ve experienced a new understanding of biblical doctrine along your journey as a Christian, and you will no doubt experience further ‘enlightenment’ as you continue reading your bible. While these changes in your understanding may not shake the crucial tenets of your faith, I think it’s worth pointing out that any understanding of a given bible passage could always benefit from additional scrutiny.

    The final point I’ll make in regard to your willful ignorance and self-confessed confusion is that it stands in blatant contradiction to other Christians who have sweated out the difficult passages of the bible and have found a way to make it work (e.g., William Lane Craig). As an atheist, I’m always thankful to be able to point out that there are folks like you who refuse to acknowledge there is a way to intellectually harmonize the more difficult portions of the bible.

    Thanks for reading!
    josh

    1. I am not sure it is even worthwhile answering you in the face of such hostility. Your harsh, sarcastic comments lead me to believe that there is much more going on here in your life than simply that you are an atheist. Most atheists don’t hop on Christian blogs to attack the writers. After all, why in the world would you even care what I believe if you don’t believe there is a God, anyway? But I will answer, mostly for my readers. Let it never be said that I don’t at least try to answer the criticisms that come my way.

      First, I would challenge you on your assumptions. Not once did I suggest that believers willfully remain ignorant or confused. And it might surprise you to know that I believe I am neither of those things. You quite obviously missed my whole point–I am not God. And neither are you. There are just some things in life that can’t be understood.

      Do you think you understand everything there is to know? Do you understand how something came from nothing, as evolution claims? That goes against every scientific law that exists and yet you believe it. Do you understand it? If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that it is not possible to understand it. You simply choose to believe it in the face of not understanding it.

      As for the verses you used (which lead me to believe you must, most likely, have a legalistic Christian background), you used them totally out of context. They don’t even go with your argument. I can easily give a reason for the hope within me and work out my salvation without understanding every single verse in the Bible. The use of those verses didn’t even make sense to me.

      Josh, I feel very sorry for you. I think something happened to you that really made you hate God. You aren’t just an atheist, you have a deep, abiding hatred towards God and anyone who professes to believe in God. I want you to know that I am going to be praying for you.

      Because I know that one minute after you die, you will no longer be an atheist.

      In closing, I am going to ask you to e-mail me at leslie{at}growing4life.net if you’d like to continue this conversation. I would prefer to continue this conversation in that way, if you would so choose.

  2. Thank you for this article.. I really enjoyed it, and it has engaged me to think about “Who do we think we are”? Pride is so deadly.

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