Job 27: Obeying the Fearsome God
December 4, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Job now concludes his words to the beginning group of his comforters. And he concludes with a note of defiance:
“I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live” (27:5-6).
Such an attitude would be criticized in many Christian subculture circles today. It sounds not just defiant but defensive, even belligerent. But there is a place for the unwavering “no.” There may well come a time in your life when you are being accused of doing something you did not do. It can seem easier then to give in and just “confess” (or ‘fess up). The “thought crimes” of George Orwell’s 1984. The vicious investigators of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia’s Killing Fields. Even worse, it can be your friends who turn against you. This can happen, I am afraid. At such times, remember that it is to God that you will have to give an account, not to man. Count the cost now before this moment arrives: are you willing to trust God when your salary is on the line, when your home is up for grabs, when your reputation is being smeared? Are you willing then, to say—with Martin Luther—“here I stand, I can do no other.” You need to allow your conscience to be captive to the Word of God.
Sometimes, of course, we have blind spots, and we need to be corrected by others. There is an important place for such humility. But there are other times when what is at stake is something more fundamental, more principled, and more basically important. Are you willing then to follow Jesus even if you are thrown in jail for doing so? If you cannot say yes to that question, the question ad extremis (at its most extreme), what makes you think that you would follow Jesus in a less testing moment? Hudson Taylor, before he went to China, tested his faith in trusting God in various situations (particularly related to his salary), to train himself to be able to trust God when the going really got tough on the field. How he needed such training, and how richly rewarded it was in the Kingdom of God. Can you say “let God be true and man a liar” (Romans 3:4)?
The rest of this chapter Job gives witness to the foundation that gave him such confidence to stand firm: the very power of God. Verse after verse, he exalts God’s awesome majesty, extraordinary might, and fearsome power. This is the God that Job worshiped. No wonder he did what he believed God wanted, if it was not what the people around him wanted. Perhaps this is the reason why so many of us are relatively weak-willed compared to the testimony of our Christian forebears. They worshiped a God who would make the strongest man tremble. We too often have a one-sided God, that is only compassionate and loving and (dare I say it) merely “nice.” If we wish to produce greatness in ourselves, we will need to read books, think thoughts, and reflect deeply upon the majesty of God.
Step outside this evening. Look at the sky. Consider its vastness, the sheer scale of the universe. And consider that it is all held in God’s hands and upheld by the power of his Word. In that light, think of your accuser, your enemy, the one who wants you to compromise your faith. Would you really obey that person rather than obey the fearsome God?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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