Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 13 2019 - Job 38:1-15; 40:1-14 – God's response

Job concludes his words in chapter 31 before Elihu steps in to try to put Job straight (chapters 32-37). Amongst the final words of Job are these in 31:35:

Oh, that I had someone to hear me!
    I sign now my defence – let the Almighty answer me;
    let my accuser put his indictment in writing.

Job longs to be able to come before God and present his case in the courts of heaven. He will answer all the charges of his accuser, and will prove himself innocent. He will stand proud and justified before God and will seek an explanation from God as to why he has suffered in this way.

Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever said in your heart, if not out loud, if only I could stand before God I would set him right? Well, in chapter 38 God turns up and tells Job to stand before him (38:3), but it is not that Job may question God and justify himself; God appears to question Job.

First of all, God describes his work of creation and asks Job where he was when the earth was formed (38:15). The suggestion is almost ironical; how could God have managed to do all this without Job's help and advice?

In chapter 40 verse 2, the Lord says to Job:

Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
    Let him who accuses God answer him!

So here is Job's opportunity to seek an answer from God. But he can only reply (v. 4):

I am unworthy – how can I reply to you?
    I put my hand over my mouth.

Job claps his hand over his mouth. He is silenced before God and knows that he has no right to question the Almighty. God again tells Job to stand before him like a man (40:7), and asks if he could really make a better job of the moral government the world? Would Job be able to crush those who are proud while bestowing unmixed blessing on those who lived upright lives? (40:8-13). God is telling Job that his feeling that God has not treated him fairly is rooted in too small a view of the world and too small a view of God's justice. God's concern is larger than Job.

The Apostle Paul presents us with a similar challenge saying, "Who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" (Romans 9:20). In our folly we might imagine that if we ruled the world we could make a better job of it than God; but that is indeed folly. God is not answerable to us and if we were brought into his presence our mouths also would be stopped and we would be humbled before him.

Thank God that he does not treat us as we deserve. We have all fallen short of his glory and are deserving of his judgment, but, in grace, he sent his Son into the world to be our Saviour. And if he has given his Son for us, will he not with him freely give us all things? We may not understand the things that have happened to us in life or why they have happened, but we know that we can trust our Heavenly Father. He calls us to walk by faith and not demand that we see and understand.

Father God, these are hard lessons for us to learn, even as they were hard for dear Job. Help us to have a right view of ourselves and a right view of you as our God our creator, sustainer and redeemer. Thank you that in the Lord Jesus you have shown us that you do not treat us as we deserve but always look upon us in compassion, grace and mercy. Strengthen us by your Spirit that we might know your presence and your love in every situation we face and that we may always trust you and rejoice that we know you.

Jun 13 2013 - Acts 9:1-25 – A life turned around

Saul the Pharisee had been present at Stephen’s stoning and had approved of his death. But the message Stephen had preached was going from strength to strength. Saul was intent on putting a stop to it. In his view, to suggest that Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified by the Romans, was the Jewish Messiah was not only ridiculous, it brought shame on Judaism. This madness needed to be stamped out, and Saul was just the man to do it.

But he had reckoned without one small matter; Jesus had been raised from the dead and that made all the difference. God himself had owned Jesus as Messiah and had raised him to a place of power and authority. His resurrection from the dead meant that the age to come had broken into the middle of human history – the age of the Messiah, the age of the Spirit, the age when the Gentiles would come to share in all the blessings that God had promised to Abraham had now arrived. All of Saul’s thinking is turned on its head by his encounter with the risen Jesus.

And it’s not just his thinking that’s turned upside down; his life is turned around. The one who was intent on destroying the church of Jesus Christ becomes a disciple and an apostle, one sent by Jesus to proclaim his name among Jews and Gentiles. The one who came to destroy the Christian community in Damascus and root them out of the synagogues becomes their chief advocate, preaching in the synagogues and proving that Jesus is the Christ. Saul will now become the focus of Jewish opposition and persecution. How have the tables turned!

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead changes everything. It did then and it does now. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

The book of Acts will soon focus on the developing and expanding ministry of the apostle Paul; he will occupy centre stage. But we should not miss the key role played by others in this drama.

First there is Ananias. He had heard that Saul the Pharisee was on his way to destroy the church in Damascus. Then, one day, the Lord appeared to Ananias in a dream, telling him that Saul had arrived and that Ananias was to go and meet him. Ananias’ initial response is, in effect, ‘Lord, you must be joking!’ Nevertheless he is obedient to the Lord’s command and goes. More than that, on finding Saul, he greets him as ‘Brother Saul’ and lays his hands on him. Through the ministry of Ananias, Saul regains his sight, is baptised and becomes part of the fellowship of Christians in Damascus. We know nothing else of Ananias, but he plays a key role in the life of Saul/Paul and of the developing spread of the gospel.

We may not feel that we could ever be a Paul, but we can be an Ananias. We can make it our aim to welcome those who have come to know Christ, no matter their previous history or reputation. We can own them as our brothers and sisters and seek to encourage them in going on with the Lord Jesus.

Risen Lord, continue that work of transformation you have begun in me. May my every thought be made captive to you and every part of my life be an act of service of you and your kingdom. You gave yourself for our redemption; keep me from half-hearted devotion to you. Keep me also from passing quick judgments upon others. Help me to accept all whom you have welcomed into your family and to encourage them in serving you.

Peter Misselbrook