Ask The Chaplain

Ask The Chaplain

Friday, November 23, 2007

Why Do The Righteous Suffer?

The Righteous DO suffer

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

Job was not your average believer; He had qualities we all should possess. The qualities Job possessed had a great deal to do with the things that transpired in his life. The word perfect in verse one doesn’t mean he was without sin (we aren’t either), it means he was spiritually mature. Upright speaks of his personal integrity and honor. It also said he hated evil. The fact that he was blessed had a great deal to do with his integrity. (Proverbs 12:27 and Psalm 1:3) Job was a blessed man. I read a famous faith preacher’s book some years ago, and he said Job suffered because of his fear for his son’s sins. This is not likely for a few reasons. First we should only be so blessed to have a father like Job. I don’t think people realize that Job was written before the law was written. Job was quite possibly the oldest book in the Bible. Job’s dedication to offer sacrifice came from the knowledge of God’s need for atoning blood to cover man’s sin. Job had no Law to guide him, yet he was in touch enough with his creator to know there was a need for a blood sacrifice. Job might have heard the story of Abel and Cain, but regardless he knew he needed atonement for himself and his family. I dare say the father is to be a spiritual covering for his home. Job was a classic example of this. Now if you keep reading you will find that Job had his faults, but you will also find that God did allow his calamity no matter how you slice it.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

These are probably the most disturbing seven verses in the Bible. Why? Because the devil and The Lord are playing cosmic chess, with a piece called Job. The positive note is often overlooked. God is omniscient and the devil is not. God knew that the integrity of Job could withstand the enemy’s onslaught.

Now Job has no idea there is a devil trying to destroy him. And he assumes it is the Lord, Job is partially right. Why? Because the Lord allowed the devil to attack him! Look at verse eight: “Hast thou considered MY servant Job…” He called Job SERVANT! He said there was NONE like him in the entire earth! He was hand picked for Satan’s onslaught. Job was not out of fellowship with Yahweh! Many of today’s faith teachers tear into Job looking for a flaw in his character, THERE WAS NONE! He commends Job to the enemy by calling him a God fearing man that hates evil. Truthfully only a man like this could withstand the enemy’s attack. (Please read Isaiah 54: 16, 17) When people tell you bad happens to you because you sinned (in some cases it is sin) you are hurting them and insulting God.

In God’s wisdom he allowed Abel to die, Leah to be hurt, Joseph to be enslaved, Israel to suffer 400 years in Egypt, David to be pursued by Saul, Josiah to be killed in battle. (Josiah was Israel’s most sanctified king), and Jeremiah to be abused. All of these people had one thing in common, they all suffered and they were not evil people, in fact most were very righteous. The “Hall of Faith” in the Book of Hebrews list people that were believers that served God yet suffered greatly. Many say a good God won’t allow the righteous to suffer; they obviously never read Habakkuk. The prophet sought God’s face about this very subject. God’s reply was this: “The just shall live by their faith.”

20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
21 and said, naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Many faith movement teachers say Job was in error when he said the Lord “hath taken away” because they teach God is not a taker but a giver. If this were true then Job DID charge God foolishly, and the Word clearly states that he did not. Job was right! Ultimately EVERYTHING is in God’s control. God did not directly cause Job’s suffering, but he allowed it. God is STILL a good God because in His infinite wisdom He knows the outcome of every event and what we ultimately need. Job needed something and we will later address what it was.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: (Isaiah 55:9,10)

Part of our problem is we think “goodness” means never losing anything at all. Think in terms of a natural parent. When I was a teen-ager my mother made me avoid certain friends. I thought she was cold and mean…until those friends ended up in jail or dead. My mother had insight and wisdom where I was lacking. Even though we are spirit-filled, Bible reading, and sometimes theologically trained saints, we STILL are not as smart as God almighty and we will never be. Sometimes we are like Job’s friends. We presume to know God better than anyone else. Theology isn’t an exact science (preachers!). We can study and meditate on the things of God 24/7 and still unless God chooses to enlighten us on a particular matter; we are in the dark. False prophecies are not helping this cause either. We are sometimes so starved for spiritual insight we will believe anything. You want a personal Word from the Lord? Then get personal with Him! Get to know Him in prayer, study, and meditation.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven. (Matt. 16:17)

The spirit can only understand spiritual things. We must seek God’s direction in every area of our lives. (Proverbs 3: 1-6) We often assume God is saying something. I am always wary of people that say, “God told me something to tell you.” This same person often can’t remember the last time they were in prayer about their own lives. Now this may shock you, but God doesn’t tell us everything. Sometimes God withholds information for our good. Job and his “friends” didn’t know why God allowed Job to suffer. (They thought they did)

Chaplain Mark H. Stevens, M.Min
NJ Inststituet of Theological Studies

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