Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Just after last week’s reading, in 2:11, we read: When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. NIV They sat with him for seven days without speaking—often the best thing friends can do.
The first verse of chapter 3 is: After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. NIV That cursing takes up all of chapter 3, yet, he does not curse God.
The next few chapters include efforts by his friends to get him to admit to his sins so he can once again walk with God. Their advice is sound, but only if Job sinned.
Job is upset precisely because he had not sinned. If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. NIV
We see Job in the same state that all humans are in, at least from time to time. Sadly, some people live their lives apart from God. It is not easy to stay tuned to God. We live in a world of sophisticated radio transmitters and receivers, but the receiver we use to hear God is more like the very first crystal radio which required constant tuning. By constant, I mean a person had to wiggle the tuning nob all the time to stay with the changing signal.
Unlike those first wireless transmissions, God is constant. His Word to us does not change. But our receivers are defective. Our sin overpowers the message. That is especially true when we do not keep our hand on the tuner.
Many preachers tell us we must read the Bible and pray to know His Word. That is not bad advice, but it falls short of helping us all the time. Like Job, we want to sit down with God face-to-face and get clear-cut answers.
In the 1920’s, G. Campbell Morgan wrote a book called The Answer of Jesus to Job. I have lost my old copy from the sixties, but his theme was, no surprise, Job wanted to talk with God, he can do it by looking at Jesus.
Morgan stated Job’s plight this way. Bluntly Eliphaz had said, get to know God, and all will be peace. Job replied in effect, that is the difficulty. How am I going to do it? And in these actual words, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him!” It is one thing to tell a man to acquaint himself with God, but quite another to show him how he is to do it.
Jesus’ answer is that we can only find God where he lives. Man cannot make contact with God by any action which is earth-bound. Morgan goes on. We find ourselves in an upper room with a group of men of our own humanity, men who have also known this desire of the spiritual life for God. In the midst of them there was One, a Man of their humanity, looking with human eyes at them, as they are looking at Him.
By looking at Jesus, we can see God. In John 14:9, Jesus told Philip, The man who has seen me has seen the Father. Phillips In this passage, Jesus had already responded to Thomas by saying, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. NIV
Notice how Jesus stressed action: I am the way. Following Jesus is not about sitting in a pew. Attending the Ecclesia—the church—renews us for the real work of following in the Jesus way.
Too many people today identify with Job, and Thomas, and Philip, but there is no need. We can see Jesus in the reading of the Bible, and we can see him at work in the lives of people around us.
After the death of Mother Teresa in 1997, her private letters were published, revealing her inner Job-like struggles. In one letter she wrote, Where is my Faith—even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness—My God—how painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith—I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart—& make me suffer untold agony.
But she worked on. She walked in the way of Jesus, even as she struggled to see him. Too many super wealthy TV preachers make it sound so easy, and perhaps it is with $200 million in the bank. But for those of us who grind our way through each day, trying to see through the mist to find the goal, it is not so easy.
Don’t feel too bad, Thomas and Philip stood next to the living Jesus and asked to see God.
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.