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Insight #11 December 10, 2016
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FOURTH QUARTER 2016 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
"OUT OF THE WHIRLWIND"

DECEMBER 10, 2016
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.  Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell Me, if you have understanding.’”  Job 38:1-4.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read this passage and thought, “Uh oh, Job and his friends are in for it now!  They’ve been saying bad things about God for 35 chapters and now He’s pretty upset and He’s going to give them a piece of His mind.”  The basic theology that Job and his friends shared was that God does things to people based primarily on their good or bad behavior.  If you do bad things, God imposes penalties and punishments on you but if you do good things, God will send blessings to you.

Their theology was fairly similar; the primary difference was in their assessment of Job himself.  Job looked at his life and felt there was nothing in his life that would have caused him to deserve these imposed penalties from God, while his three friends felt that Job must be hiding some sin from them or from himself, that if he would only recognize and acknowledge it, then he would understand why God was imposing punishment on him.

While there are multiple misperceptions about God in Job and his three friends understanding, let’s address the most fundamental one.  The fundamental premise that they were all working from is the idea that God is a micromanager who controls all the things that happen in our lives by imposed penalties and punishments for bad deeds, and sending “imposed” blessings for good behavior.  “God is in control” is understood to mean that every detail that we experience every day is part of God’s scripted plan for our lives.  If good things happen – it’s all part of God’s plan.  If bad things happen – it’s all part of God’s plan.  Some have called this “determinism” or “blue print theology”.

Cause-effect understandings, and design laws that have inherent consequences - rather than imposed blessings/punishments - are poorly discerned and not appreciated.  Job and his three friends, and most religious and secular thinking today, is governed by this same type of thinking.  In religion there is some variation of a micro-managing controlling deity, in secular thinking there is “fate” or “luck”.  But these are all ways of missing the reality of how God has designed the universe to operate.

Job wasn’t the object of a punishment from God for misbehavior.  Behind the scenes, there was the free-will exercise of Satan’s choices, to bring suffering on Job, and for God to allow it.  Now, “why” God allowed Job to experience suffering, and “why” Satan acted as he did, is a separate question, but God was not controlling all the details and outcomes and circumstances as Job and his three friends assumed – based on their faulty “God is a micro-manager” theology.

In the end of Job, we don’t have God getting “fed up” and responding to Job and his friends in an angry, “how dare you puny humans question Me” attitude.  Don’t impose the tone of voice that we so often have when someone questions us on to God’s voice.  Too often we read the words of God in the Bible, and impose a tone of voice on Him that is foreign to His nature and character.

God wants Job to understand the great issues in the great controversy.  And so God patiently and carefully asks Job a series of questions, which are wisely constructed to lead Job to an understanding of the origin and motives for creation and the source of suffering in the universe.  God identifies “leviathan” as “king over all the children of pride”.  God is not angrily telling Job, “don’t question me; you’re a puny human with no power and I’m the powerful Creator of the whole universe from quark to galaxy!!”  No, what God was doing, was patiently and tenderly, asking Job a series of questions to help Job learn and understand “how things are” in this universe.

How do I know what God’s tone of voice was?  Because in Job 42, Job says he repented of his former misperceptions of God – and the ONLY thing that causes repentance – is the goodness of God (Rom.2:4).  The goodness of God leads to repentance.  So in Job 38-41, God is revealing His goodness to Job.  God is revealing that He is a God of freedom and choice, a God of well-designed cause-effect laws, a God who isn’t a micro-manager.

This is the God that the 1888 message is communicating.  A God of much more abounding grace and love, Who gives freedom and abides by understandable laws is the God of the 1888 message.  A God Whose goodness is what leads us to repentance – not a fear of punishment or hope of reward.

Notice the words that E.J. Waggoner used to clarify the passage for our study today and see if it is not truly a precious message!
 
“When God "answered Job out of the whirlwind," He began at the beginning, saying: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding." Job 38:1. The same question could be asked of every man who lives, or who has ever lived, and not one of them could say a word.

Everything else in the whole creation was made before man was. Man was the last of all. When he came into being, he found everything complete; and every man that has ever been born has found everything waiting for him when he arrived.

Why this arrangement? Evidently so that no man could have any chance to lay claim to share with God the honor of creation. It is a fact that no man can create. This needs no argument. Men work, and effect changes in form and appearance of many things; but no man ever yet added the slightest particle of matter to the substance of the earth or to anything that exists; and no man ever can do it. Yet such is the conceit and self-assertion of the human mind that if God had performed any new act of creation after man came into being, man would surely claim that he himself had done it.  

Even as it is, men are very prone to exalt themselves above God. The only thing that will keep them-us-from doing this in some form or degree is to remember "who is the beginning." We are wont to pride ourselves not a little upon the fact that man was made last-"the crown of creation;" it may serve to abate that pride if we think that God made man last because there was no use for him before; there was nothing that he could do, he would have been hopelessly in the way of the progress of creation, and what is more, he would not have been able to maintain himself. God had to provide all things first, so that man, the most helpless of grated things, might be able to live.

If all men had but kept in mind this simple truth, and had remembered that in Christ, Who is the Beginning, "were all things created," and "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together," there would never have been a pope, great or small. "Seekest thou great things for thyself; seek them not," says the Lord. Let us rather be content to remain children, keeping close to the Beginning. "In all thy ways acknowledge Him," as the Beginning, "and He shall direct my paths." What He begins He will carry too successful completion.” {June 30, 1898 EJW, PTUK}
 
“In the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth chapters of the Book of Job the Creator Himself recounts the wonders of created nature, which He has made and demands of Job a definite answer as to his knowledge of them.

It is a long and searching examination-a half a hundred questions at least-and Job fails utterly, he cannot answer one. But Job understood his failure, and said, "What shall I answer Thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer; yes, twice; but I will proceed no further."

But, again, from out the whirlwind, the Lord speaks to Job, and questions him further, until at length, overcome with the grandeur of the view of Almighty power and omnipotent wisdom presented to him, Job breaks forth:

"I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now Mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repentant in dust and ashes."

Job acknowledges that his previous knowledge of God had been by hearsay, but now he saw and knew Him and the wonder of His works. In his previous ignorance, knowing God only by hearsay,-by criticism and commentary, as it were,-he had uttered many things that he understood not, and had attempted things too wonderful for him, which he knew not.

Now, however, he had determined to accept the word of hearsay no longer, but to go to God direct for knowledge and wisdom: "Hear I beseech Thee, and I will speak: I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me." Then the Lord heard Job, accepted him fully, and blessed him.” {April 29, 1897 EJW, PTUK}

~Robert Hunsaker

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