November 5, 2018: Hide in Christ, and Look to the Cross
November 5, 2018
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 16, Job 5, John 8:21-30, 2 Peter 2:17-22 Job 5: Eliphaz continues giving advice to Job. Basically, while in chapter 4 he argued that because God is holy and none of us is perfect, Job must have done something wrong to deserve what he got, now in chapter 5 he takes a different tack. He builds upon what he has just argued to now encourage Job to ask God for help. He wants him to go to God in prayer and appeal to him and ask him to relent from his deserved sufferings. Surely God will listen to the repentant sinner, and therefore surely the right thing for Job to do is to ask God to intervene in Job’s situation and turn it all somehow around to be something better for his good. As Eliphaz puts it in verse 8, “But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him.” In other words, ask God to intervene: appeal to him, go to him, ask him for help. Surely he will listen! Now in many ways it seems hard to fault Eliphaz for this advice. Who could argue against appealing to God? But how insensitive is his advice, and how wide of the mark it is from the true situation that Job was facing. Eliphaz’s advice in this chapter assumes that Job has done something wrong. So to be told that therefore he should “appeal” to God underlines this assumption that Job has done something wrong. But what if (as is, in fact, the case) Job has done nothing wrong? It would be highly offensive to be told to “appeal” to God as if Job were a criminal in need of pardon. Today, too, this same mistake is quite often made when people look to others for help. They are in great distress. What to do? Well not only does the other person sometimes assume that they are in the wrong if they are in great distress, on top of that, at times the other person also then advises them to confess what it is that they have done wrong. Can you see how damaging that could be? How manipulative? All suffering is related to sin – we suffer because we live in a fallen world. But not all suffering is related to, or a consequence of, my own personal sin. To tell someone that they must confess what they have done wrong when they are suffering, assuming that they have done something wrong, is putting the burden of guilt on top of the burden of suffering. If you are counseling someone who is going through a difficult time, do not do what Eliphaz did! Do not lay guilt upon pain, shame upon suffering; instead, listen well, exercise the ministry of presence and caring, and when there is openness, point them to the loving ministration of the person of Christ. But do not judge them for suffering! And if you, today, are facing suffering, resist the temptation to feel guilt about your suffering. Perhaps there is something that you have done wrong. But it is more than likely the case that your suffering is not related to your individual sin. If you are driving too fast down a road and are pulled over for a speeding ticket, then you can be assured that the speeding ticket suffered is a result of your driving too fast! But very often the two – sin and suffering – are not directly related in an individual connection sense. What then do you do with suffering? The book of Job as a whole is written to answer that question. It causes us to bow before the sovereign God and admit that there is much about suffering that we do not understand. And it points us forward to the sacrifice of the Son of God who suffered for us. But this chapter reminds us that we should not judge those who suffer, and encourages those who are suffering to not give into the false shame that sometimes others put upon us. Instead, hide in Christ, and look to the cross!]]>
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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