God Centered Perspective: Position

God Centered Perspective:  Position.  One of the best places to start our discussion of position is in the book of Job; Job is a difficult, yet encouraging book that is theologically rich.  We see the opening portion of the book describing Job as “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil,”1 who even offered sacrifices on behalf of his children, just in case his “children [had] sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.”2  Surely, if there was a man that deserved God’s favor and protection, then it was Job!  The story, however, takes a jarring turn when God recommends Job (two times) for the job of suffering.3  Catastrophe strikes!  Job’s wealth is taken, his children are killed, he is robbed of his health4 and yet the bible tells us that “in all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”5  He even attributes his situation to God by saying “naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”6  The only thing that Job had left was a nagging wife that encouraged him to curse God.7  The bulk of the chapters that follow are comprised of Job wrestling through his feelings and emotions regarding God and his current situation, and this is accentuated by some of the worst friends in history who are “counseling” Job!  As the book progresses, Job is pressing for an audience with God because he is convinced that he could argue his case that his treatment was unjust at the hands of the Almighty.  This opportunity is finally afforded to Job in chapter 38 and God begins what ends up being a monologue on his eternal power, perspective and Job’s woefully limited understanding of things.  Job begins to understand that he is limited in his understanding and tries to stop the conversation8, but God is not done “talking” with Job.  God spends four chapters asking Job questions like, “where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,“ “have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,” “can you send forth lightnings,” “do you give the horse his might,” and “is it by your understanding that the hawk soars.”9  God informs Job that “whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”10  Job understands that he was presumptuous in thinking that he could bring his case before God.  Job’s response is a good pattern for us:  “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”11  There is no indication that Job ever knew the entire drama that was played out in chapters 1 & 2.  Job realized that he was limited in his understanding and that God was infinite and eternal; that their perspectives were worlds apart.

Adam & Eve were placed in the garden of Eden with a job to do and nothing was outside of their dominion12 – nothing, except God.  God had placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden, not to tempt the couple, but to serve as a constant visual reminder that they were still under the authority of the sovereign Creator.  The tree forced them to answer the question, “who is sovereign, who is ultimate, who is supreme, whose earth is this?”  When the couple took the fruit and ate it, they answered this question – they reckoned themselves to be ultimate, unlimited, sovereign and supreme.  And this has been the struggle of humanity ever since.  Our perspective, like theirs, is very limited and clouded – God sees from the beginning of time to the end in one glance, he understands all things while we are woefully limited in our understanding.  There is a battle that rages in the soul of all humanity for personal sovereignty; who (in our own mind) is ultimate and sovereign – us or God?  The reality is that we often times don’t really like the way God has decided to govern His universe, we have authority problems.  We aren’t God, and the truth is that we would make a sorry god, though we delude ourselves in to thinking that we are privy to how all of creation works.  We must acknowledge that “our God is in the Heavens and He does all he pleases.”13  There is a grounding effect that happens in our lives as we understand our place in the universe before the holy God.  God is not only our sovereign Authority, but also our greatest Treasure.  If He is only our sovereign Authority then our faith will be oppressive and marked by duty & obligation.  If we see Him as both, our faith will be marked by delight and joy; the latter is the picture the bible paints of authentic faith.  A deep heart level understanding of our position in the universe begins to produce authenticity instead of pretense; it produces an understanding that we don’t have to have it all figured out – it gives us the freedom to not be ok and the motivation to not stay that way.  It moves us to worship as we proclaim, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”14

Prayer:  Lord, please help us to remember our place in the universe – that you are Creator and that we are created; that you are sovereign and that we are not; that your perspective and understanding is eternal, infinite, and unlimited and ours is limited, finite and tiny.

Notes:
1“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1 ESV)
2““It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.”” (Job 1:5 ESV)
3“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “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?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:6–12 ESV); “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “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? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”” (Job 2:1–6 ESV)
4See Job 1:13-20, 2:7-8
5Job 1:22, 2:10
6Job 1:21, see also Job 12
7“Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:9–10 ESV)
8 ““Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:4–9 ESV)
9Job 38:4, 38:12, 38:35, 39:19, 39:26
10Job 41:11 ESV
11Job 42:2–6
12“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.” (Genesis 1:28–30 ESV)
13Psalm 115:3 ESV
14Psalms 8:4 ESV

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