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Posted By Nan

‘Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfil the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
“He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn – and I would heal them.”
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believe in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.’
John 12:37-43 NIV
Today I am writing about John 12:37-43. In the next blog I will commence a study on Proverbs.
I read these verses some weeks ago and was struck by verse 43:
‘For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.’
I was struck by the truth of this. The truth of the pervasiveness of the need for human approval that has existed since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden.
Why is human approval so important?
For some it is about approval never received from parents. For others it is the need to fit in with the group. Yet others doubt their own abilities to survive and feel it is too dangerous to step out from the crowd by believing something different.
In churches there are those who fear being cast out of the church because what they hear being taught or spoken or see being practised is contrary to what God is teaching them.
Here is a question you need to consider. If God instructs you about something to do or believe and obeying Him means going against what your church is saying and the price of obeying God means being thrown out of your church, would you obey God? Would you really be prepared to be cast out of the community you know so well and love being a part of?
Think it can’t happen? Look at John 12:37-43. What went on them still goes on now. There are still Pharisees in churches and there always will be. God must always come first. Do you love praise from God more than praise from your fellow man?

Posted By Nan

After speaking to Job, God then spoke to Eliphaz and the other two friends. He told them He was angry with them because they had not spoken of Him as Job had.
This may seem surprising after God had challenged Job’s words and attitude. But Job always sought to be honest before God, even if he spoke hastily and expected God to fix everything. His friends, in contrast, were full of lovely words based on ignorance of God. Whereas Job spent his days with God and reading God’s word, they did not. Job spoke to God as he was used to doing. The friends spoke about God. They claimed knowledge of God they did not have and judged Job, which they had no right to do.
How easily we fall into the trap of Job’s friends. The temptation to be arrogant. To think we are superior to others. We know more. We are more virtuous. Job was humble, his friends were not. We must aim to be like Job. Humble. Quick to sit in God’s presence. Slow to speak of what we do not know or understand. Loathe to judge others.
It is interesting that God instructs the friends to sacrifice burnt offerings for their sin in Job’s presence. Maybe only in the presence of a man of faith would their sacrifices be acceptable and signify true remorse. I am imagining it was quite humbling for them to sacrifice in the presence of a man they had been so ready to condemn and look down on. Maybe these sacrifices were supposed to signify to Job their remorse at the way he was treated. God had instructed Job to pray for them after the sacrifices. He could have refused and cited the hurt they had inflicted. But his faith in God was greater. He obeyed God and willingly handed his hurt over to God. He willingly forgave and prayed for the friends. When he had shown himself righteous and prepared to forgive, God restored his prosperity.
We all encounter hard times in life and frequently there is no explanation of why we suffer. Often when we go through hard times we feel God is not near. God does not explain why that is and there are many theories about this which may or may not be true. One thing we can all know is that God’s thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than ours. Our role as a follower of Jesus along the narrow path of faith is to trust God and let go of the need to be in control, including the need to know why. It is never an easy path to follow Jesus but one thing we need to remember is that God loves us always and He is in control, no matter what happens. And when life leaves you fearing God only gives good things to other people, not you, know that God has given you many blessings. It is just that sometimes life crowds out our acknowledgement and therefore memory of them.

Posted By Nan

God and His purposes are supreme. For all Job’s faith, he had not understood that. Now he has learned that there is always more to learn about God.
He has stopped asking questions and demanding answers. In ‘Every Day With Jesus’, Selwyn Hughes wrote that “sometimes questions tell us more than answers every can”. Reading the preceding chapters taught me a lot about God and Job admits he has learned things he did not know. Through God’s questions, Job realised he would never understand everything Job did. But he also realised God is in control and He knows what He is doing.
Selwyn also wrote about St Augustine’s question asking which we prefer, to know why things happen and be cut off from God, or to be in His presence without knowing. I would rather be in God’s presence. What would you prefer?
Job chooses God’s presence. What is more, he speaks of how his ears had heard of God but now he has seen God. His faith and spiritual understanding have deepened and he can accept God’s plan for his life, including the good and the bad.
Having seen God, he repents of his demands to God. He realises he has failed to hand his life to God. He has learned about God and about himself.
He could not have learned those things without the suffering he endured.
We will never know why we suffer. But one thing we do know, sometimes it is only in suffering that we can learn about God and ourselves. A major part of following Jesus is to let go of our need to control our lives and know why things happen and let God control our lives.
In short, we are to ‘let go and let God’.

Posted By Nan

God now reminds Job of His control over creation. He first asks Job to consider the great beast, the behemoth, the largest and strongest of all the land creatures.
There is one simple but power phrase in v15: “Which I made along with you”.
God made this mighty creature, just as He made you and me. How easily we forget that. How often do we take the truth of all God has created into our hearts?
God points out to Job that He created this behemoth, just as He creates us, but we cannot capture it or control it. Only God can do that.
Then God describes the leviathan, a marine creature more terrifying than the behemoth. We also are unable to capture or control this beast. But God can control it.
Then God makes a simple statement: “Who then is able to stand against me?” (v10).
In his anguish, Job forgot that God is all powerful. He forgot to give God glory. He became so caught up in the blessings he had received he forgot God is there in the trials of life as well. In his anguish at not being able to hear or feel God he became demanding of God and forgot about God’s power. His friend’s lack of support didn’t help. But he is still responsible for his attitude.
We do not need to know why things happen. Why God allows things to happen. We want to know, because we want to control, but God does not always reveal that to us and we must learn to accept that.

Posted By Nan

As God speaks to Job He asks him a series of rhetorical questions. The aim of these questions is to remind Job who God is so that he can come to complete faith in God’s goodness without needing his questions to be answered. God does not address Job’s suffering or the issue Job has with God’s justice.
Notice in all these verses God does not humiliate or condemn Job. It is important that we, in interacting with our fellow man do not humiliate or harshly condemn him. Shaming is so ingrained in our society, yet all it achieves is to hurt, humiliate and attack others. It is more likely to make the shamed person defensive, whereas God’s approach of love and acceptance brings people to a place of penitent honesty and willingness to submit to God. So before you seek to humiliate or shame another person, or utter words of condemnation against them, think of how God was with Job, and how Jesus was with the people He met. Certainly He was direct in His condemnation of the Pharisees, but they were harsher in their condemnation of others. He did not humiliate them and spoke with love. Remember in dealing with others, humiliation and harsh condemnation is not of God. Its aim is to demean people not build them up and it is not an act of God.
As God speaks to Job we can see His rhetorical questions are aimed at expressing His greatness as Creator and reminding Job of this. If you read Proverbs 30:4 you will see another lovely example of the use of rhetorical questions to emphasise God’s greatness. Verses 4 to 38 detail how ‘inanimate’ creation testifies to God’s sovereignty and power. Then from 38:39 to 39:30 we read how the testimony of living things in creation speaks of God’s power, sovereignty and love. After such a loving discourse from God I wonder if Job even cared whether his questions were answered. So often, immersing myself in God’s majesty and power removes all desire to know why something has happened. In His light, what is happening here on earth loses its urgency. This is the greatest peace of God, that resting in Him. He knows our greatest need lies in trusting Him and resting in His peace, not in knowing why things happen. I used to think that I would know the answers to these things when I got to heaven, but I wonder if when I get there I will want to know. Or whether just being in God’s presence will be more than enough.



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