BLOG
Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12   Entries 1-5 of 59
August 12, 2019, 10:00 AM

Why Do You Hate Me? part 4


The third type of discipline is revelatory and causes us to reflect on how great God is. This type of discipline is similar to what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul begins by telling of the greatness of things God had allowed him to witness but quickly turns the topic to the thorn in his flesh. The “thorn” was given to Paul by God in order to keep him humble. Even though Paul asked the Lord three times to remove it, He would not. Paul goes on to say that it is only in his weakness that the perfect power of God is displayed. It is only when God reminded Paul of his weakness through circumstances and situations that he was able to better understand God’s power and praise Him all the more. God loves us too much to allow us to be supremely satisfied with anything less than Himself. Thus, He allows us to go through things that point us back to Him and show us all the more of His attributes.

There are two amazing examples of this type of discipline found in the Old Testament scriptures. The first one comes by way of a young lady named Hannah whose story can be found in 1 Samuel 1-2:11. Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah but she was unable to bear him any children because according to 1 Samuel 1:6, God had closed her womb. In Old Testament times, if a woman was unable to bare children then it was common practice for the man to take another wife so that he would have an heir. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, was able to provide children for her husband and Scripture tells us she didn’t let Hannah forget it. Peninnah, we are told, would provoke and grievously irritate Hannah whom she viewed as a rival over the fact that she was able to have children and Hannah was not. The Bible says that this went on for years. Stop for just a second and think about that. Hannah had to endure being treated terribly, weeping bitter tears over the period of years. Some of us need to remember that our current struggles could be worse and perhaps others should remember that there is always hope when God is involved.

Then one year as Elkanah and his family went up to the temple to worship, Hannah, in her bitterness of spirit, cried out to God desperately for a child. She was so passionate in her prayers that Eli, the priest, mistakenly rebuked her for being full of strong drink. Hannah made a vow to the Lord to that she would give her son to the service of God all the days of his life. As the story goes, Hannah later conceives and gives birth to a son of Elkanah who she names Samuel, because she, asked for him from the Lord.” (1Sam 1:20) Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-11 is the heart’s cry of a woman who endured unknown depths of suffering and persecution, but faithfully continued to go up every year and offer sacrifices at the Temple. She gives praise to God for she now better understands His might, power, provision, salvation, faithfulness, and righteousness. Far better than she would have been able to had she not had to go through the circumstances she endured for the years leading up to the birth of Samuel. And to top it off, her son would become great in the eyes of God and anoint the first two kings in Israelite history. I’m not sure what became of Peninnah’s kids, but Samuel’s legacy is well known.

The second example may be a little more well known among the general population outside the church. However, the best part of the story is often left out because doesn’t fit into the desires of those telling it. The account of Job is famous for the fact that he suffered amazing loss, excruciating physical pain, and dark spiritual, mental, and emotional days. His own wife and friends turned their back on him and as he sat on the trash heap in sackcloth and ashes. Fast-forward to the end of the story and we see all of Job’s loss restored to him. This in of itself is a wonderful story of God’s redeeming power. But if that is all you come away with from the story of Job, then you have gotten up and left the table before desert was served. You have missed what I consider to be the best part. There are two main points to being able to understand the revealing discipline God puts Job through.

Thefirst point is found at the very beginning of the story, even before Job loses everything. You must understand that Job lost everything and endured the trials he did because God allowed it. In fact, God mentioned Job by name when conversing with the devil. Lord says in Job 1:8, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Talk about getting thrown under the bus. God gave the devil permission to do anything to Job except take his life. Remember, Job was a blameless and upright man, not a person caught up in a sinful life and simply getting what he deserved. Regardless of what his friends and others may have thought, Job’s circumstance was not a result of a terrible life of sin. God was using the attack of the enemy, the detractions of his friends, and unbelievable loss to train Job up in preparation for what God was going to reveal to him about Himself.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Job 38:3. God puts Job on notice that He is about to be questioned like he has never been questioned before. I don’t know what was going through Job’s mind as God began to speak to him from the storm, but I would imagine it was something similar to how my kids feel when I call there name in “that” tone of voice and have them sit down in front of me and look me in the eye. Before I ever say the first word to them, they know it’s going to get serious. Usually, my sweet little Laura is already in tears before I even say a word. Job was a God follower and knew well many of the attributes of Yahweh, you can tell by the things he said to his friends. It’s one thing to know about someone, and completely different for that person to roll up and start telling you who they really are and who they really are far surpasses anything you could have ever dreamed. Something to keep in mind about Job 38:3 is not only does God tell Job he’s about to be questioned, but also that Job will answer Him. 

As a seminary student, I tried to stay out of sight and out of mind in the classroom. This was completely different than how I was in high school or other colleges. I was intimidated not only by the professors, but the other students as well. I would try desperately to avoid making eye contact with the teachers and when a class discussion broke out, I would refrain from offering any opinion at all. When inevitably I did have to give an answer, I was usually in such shock I would ask the professor to please repeat the question. While the question was being given again, I would try to somehow formulate in my mind an answer that didn’t sound as stupid as I felt and would be short and concise. This never seemed to happen. I would wind up babbling on and on and feeling like an idiot. I thought that even if I didn’t know the answer, I could simply keep talking in circles enough that I might say something that made sense or make the professor call on someone else. I quickly learned the Job strategy when facing a question I had no good answer for. Job’s humility and a sense of overwhelming reverence are obvious in his response in 40:4-5:

4“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?

I lay my hand on my mouth.

5“Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;

Even twice, and I will add nothing more.”

 

What a beautiful and appropriate response to God. God Himself had reminded Job of His power, majesty, glory, and wisdom. Job had received a theological lesson from the God of the universe. I can say without a doubt, that was more intense than any exam I took in seminary. But there was still more that needed to be done on Job’s part. Still more he needed to learn and have God reveal to him. This was not the end of the reward for the discipline Job had endured, so the Lord continued to expound to Job. He once again tells Job to prepare himself to be examined and give a response.

I know some may ask the question, “Isn’t God being a little belligerent? I mean, Job said he had nothing more to say.” I equate this to my kids responding with a simple, “Yes sir” when I’m correcting them for something they should not have done. Sometimes, a simple “yes sir” will do and they go about the business. But sometimes the issue is deeper and it requires a different response and therefore a continued explanation. God’s continued explanation to Job of who He is brings forth the more appropriate response from Job. In 42:2-6, Job declares his feeble estate in comparison to the greatness of a mighty God. Verses 5-6 warm my heart and I encourage anyone who has been brought through a reflective type of discipline to cling to them. Job has a knowledge of God that he would have never known had he not endured the discipline he did. He can boldly say that what he had only heard of has now been made known to him by the God of the universe. In addition, he admits that he is not worthy and repents in dust an ashes, which is a sign of tremendous humility. To simply say “yes sir” and carry on was not what God desired from Job. He wanted Job to have a full understanding of who He is and the natural response of sinful man in the presence of a holy God is repentance and worship.

I think it would be safe to say that Job’s life was never the same after this time of discipline and revelation. I would imagine Job reflected the glory of God in his life much more than he did prior to this experience. Make no mistake about it, the greatest part of this story isn’t that God redeemed Job’s losses with a double portion, but that Job walked away from this experience with a greater understanding of who God is and a deeper relationship with Him. Reflective discipline allows us to reflect the glory of God all the more because we have gone through circumstances that allow us to see Him more intimately.


Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12   Entries 1-5 of 59