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Insight #4 October 22, 2016
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Fourth Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"God and Human Suffering"

October 22, 2016

Many a confrontation arises when couples have to name their expected child. One such account of spousal discord in naming is recorded where the dad actually lost his voice—for months—all because the name had to be ‘John the Baptist’ and he resisted.  Ever wonder what Job means?
 
Imagine Job’s dad and mom having to decide on a name and coming up with “Persecuted” or “Enemy”as their final choice. That is exactly what Job means.  As prospective parents we do our best to choose names that mean something profound and that will not be subject to the slightest alteration that will be harassing to our child in the form of a nickname—especially in the first years of school when kids cruelties are manifest in the most biting nicknames. Not so with the pa and ma of Job.
 
When did Job’s suffering or persecutions begin? Now to our Hellenistic polluted thought patterns many of us will say when the fire started to fall and he lost his material possession.  I submit that his very name was the source of his persecution. His name depicts human suffering—that of his parents, his own, his children, even extends to his animals. (By the way, should animals be able to talk they would plead not to be killed just for us to eat them.)
 
Job 12:7-10 “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; And the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: 8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: And the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. 9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind.
 
Job’s point here is that he takes to give; his life and all life is from God.  Nothing and no life came from itself—that would make matter eternal and therefore God.  Modern science’s preoccupation with materialism essentially is a form of pantheism.
 
Both Genesis and Job, written by Moses, deal with human suffering.  Genesis deals with the reason for human suffering—the Fall—while the book of Job deals with the reality of suffering in the life of a faithful servant.  The book of Job deals with how Job and his friends share differing views of God in suffering.  Elder Waggoner helps us with this keen observation:
 
"Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." Hebrews 12:6. He lets affliction come upon them, but it is only in love that He may teach them. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." James 5:11. The Lord allowed terrible afflictions to come upon Job, but it was not because He rejoiced in human suffering, but because He would instruct Job, and bring him into closer relation to Himself. "Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept Thy word." Psalms 119:67. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes." Verse 71. {November 4, 1897 EJW, PTUK 690.1}
 
If Job and David saw affliction as God’s curriculum to bring us close to Him then I should joy in my trials.  Elder Waggoner goes on to say:
 
The Lord calls all to Him, that they may learn of Him, but the only way He can teach us some things is by affliction. "We must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God." Acts 14:34. Even Christ, "though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." Hebrews 5:8. If we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified together with Him. Romans 8:17 Let affliction, then, of whatever sort it may be, everything that is crossing to our disposition, or seems to be contrary to us, even though it be the direct result of our own misconduct, be received as from the hand of the Lord, and we shall be sure to experience good from it. From our weakness, let us learn meekness; for "the meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way." Psalms 25:9. Then instead of being obliged to be taught as the horse or the mule, we shall know what it is to be instructed in the way that we should go, guided by the eye of the Lord. Psalms 32:8, 9. {November 4, 1897 EJW, PTUK 690.2}
 
Not only is affliction the needed schoolmaster, but Isaiah 63:9 teaches us that in their affliction He was afflicted.  What does this really mean?  This is the most encouraging aspect of our study of the book of Job.  Again Elder Waggoner powerfully teaches us.
 
"Century after century has the human race been piling sin and misery upon the Lord, by their deviation from the truth, the way of life, yet He bears it without a murmur. Here we catch a glimpse of the meaning of the phrase, "the long-suffering of God." We have ignored His life in us, and have not sought to learn its ways, so that we might yield to them, and so allow Him to bear the load in His own way, and to live His own life unhindered and unfettered, and He has borne it all uncomplainingly. It was not simply in the High Priest's palace, and in Pilate's court, and on Calvary, that Jesus bore insult and abuse and pain without murmuring; He has been doing that for the last six thousand years; and the very thing which is to His everlasting honour, has been set down to His reproach. Men have charged the Lord with indifference to human suffering, because He did not rise up in His might, and suddenly put an end to it all. How little they knew! They did not understand that He was literally suffering all these evils, allowing them to be heaped upon Him, and that His silence under the burden of sin and oppression and injustice was the only way of salvation from them, to the human race. {E. J. Waggoner "The Gospel of Isaiah. The Silent Sufferer. " The Present Truth 16, 13}.
 
An interesting thing happened earlier this week. My lovely wife showed me her finger where the leash had freshly filed a groove in at the joint of her index. This happened as she inadvertently grabbed it with her unprotected hand after the dog suddenly came upon a cat and took chase. When my eyes fell upon the cut I felt the pain going through my own body in sympathy with her. Our children were visibly impressed at the synergy. Oh for a heart that is moved in similar ways always. Moved in sympathy by the hurt around us and in us. 
 
Our God has born our griefs and carried our sorrow, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God. Isaiah 53:4.  The story of Job opens us to the reality that what touches earth touches Heaven. God is not the unmoved mover and Satan knows this perfectly well.
 
Here is what we will discover in the book of Job this week: God suffers with us.  When Satan strikes Job’s family and Job himself he strikes God.  The lesson title should have been “God IN Human Suffering”.  On this high day—the Sabbath of October 22, 2016, be certain that we have a God who is suffering with us mentally, socially, physically, and emotionally.  Let us by faith reach out to those around us with the firm assurance that He is Emmanuel—God with all of us and this suffering is soon to come to an end.  May we cooperate with Him in the final eradication of sin.
 
For this very reason when the Eternal Council took place in eternity past it was decided that should man sin there would be a child sent.  When the Name was discussed there was no quibbling or fussing.  His Name would be called Emmanuel, God with US. 
 
1 http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Job