Is God Any Different?

There are certain things that we all want. Love, respect, comfort, security, the pursuit of happiness, hope for the future, to know that there is something or someone greater, to belong to something bigger than ourselves, to know that God is different to us. 

Here, Job seems to be asking the same kind of question,

Have you eyes of flesh?
Do you see as man sees?

Job 10.4

When things are crumbling around him, Job is asking ‘God, are you any different? Is there any point in me trusting you? Are you just like everyone and everything else? Are you any different?

He answers his own question in vv.8-13 but things around him lead him to ask the question. It’s so easy, and very human, to ask these big questions of God when things are going wrong. Given the current state of the pandemic-ridden world, we would be forgiven for asking the same questions, ‘Really God, why is this happening? I thought you loved everyone? Are you any different?

Ask those questions. Ask and then turn to the Word to find the answers in places like this,

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55.6-9

Yes, our great God is different.

He is real, He is near, He delights in compassion, forgiveness, and grace. He knows what is truly best for His creation (Job 10.12-13in ways that we simply cannot understand. He is different. 

Whilst it looks like the world is falling apart, could it be that things are falling into place in the eyes of Him who sees the bigger picture? I would encourage you today to trust in His unfailing love, grace, wisdom, and His ability to ensure that His will is always done, on earth as it is in heaven.

What Am I?

Today, Job asks why he is getting so much attention from God.

What is man, that you make so much of him,
and that you set your heart on him,
visit him every morning
and test him every moment?
How long will you not look away from me,
nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?

Job 7.17-19

Job is questioning why God is so intent on pursuing him, why God is constantly concerned over him, why God is even bothered that Job exists (vv.17-18). He wants to know why he hasn’t even a second to himself (v.19). 

There is comfort to be taken from knowing that God is intently and intensely interested in you, that there is nowhere you can go or no situation you can be in that escapes His sight and attention. Here, Job seems to be coming from a negative place (…nor leave me alone…), but the very presence which Job is lamenting here will later be seen for the wonderful, loving, enveloping, protecting, reassuring, providential presence it truly is (42.1-6).

Today, if you feel that you are forgotten, if you are wondering why God would be interested in you, think on the truths of God’s Word.

You are known, you are loved, you are intently and intensely pursued by a God who wants what is best for you, and who gave everything He could to prove this to you.

If you are asking yourself ‘what am I?“, you are the object of God’s tremendous love and there is nothing He won’t do to show you that. 


Why Is This Happening?

As we continue working through Job, we come to a question that everyone will have asked at some point in their life – why is this happening?

Perhaps the circumstances that led you to ask this question were simply the worst you could have faced, and if that is you I’m sorry you had to endure such a time. Maybe it was an accumulation of small things that got you down, maybe it was just something that happened that was so utterly confusing that you asked yourself why is this happening? In Job 2 we see this question being asked,

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 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

Job has received horrible news (1.13-19), responded in mourning and worship (1.20), expressed a wisdom and maturity that seems beyond most of us (1.21), and not blamed God for anything (1.22). From here, the Accuser is certain that if his health fails, Job will turn against the Lord (2.1-6). Job is afflicted with loathsome sores that are so bad he needs to scrape himself with broken pottery for relief (2.8). 

Then, the question. Job’s wife clearly doesn’t understand her husband’s resolute faith and dedication to the Lord (perhaps the hardest thing for Job to deal with), and tells him to curse God and die

When faced with life-changing circumstances, tragedies, heartache, loss, pain, distress, or tribulations, we would do well to answer the question of why is this happening with the words of Job here,

Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?

Job is not saying that God has afflicted him with evil, but that as the great and good things in our lives are gifts from God sent for our ultimate good, so too the circumstances that may seem to be for our ruin are actually contributing to this ultimate good (Romans 8.26-30). I like how this is phrased, 

[When] adversity comes to us…we are wise to see that even in adversity, there may be a “gift” that we should accept.

This is not easy, this is not pleasant, and nobody seeks these situations out. Friends, they will come. Some things we will never know this side of eternity, and that is so hard for us, isn’t it. When they come, and when we ask why is this happening, let us turn to the Lord in faith and trust that there is Omniscient wisdom behind what is happening, there is a greater good, and even if we don’t know why until we see Him face to face, that what is happening in your life right now is showing God’s great love for you. 

Revelation 9.1-12 – Why is this happening?

1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.

2 He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. 3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. 6 And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.

7 In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, 8 their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; 9 they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10 They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. 11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.

12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.

Yesterday four trumpets were blown and God’s judgement on a fallen world began. Today, the fifth trumpet is blown and things start to get intense…well, more intense.

An angel is given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from it all hell breaks loose, literally. Could this be satan? Most likely not, he is hell’s victim, not ruler, despite what pop-culture would depict him to be. He is real, for sure, but he is is not in charge of hell, he is sent there.

From the bottomless pit, then, come demons, not actual locusts. We know they are not actual locust because there is lots of likelike…Why locusts then? Well, throughout the Bible locusts are used as a tool of God’s judgement, quite prolifically through the Old Testament.

The obvious question (for me at least), is why is this happening? Why does God allow such severe suffering on His earth, suffering that makes people want to die, suffering that lasts for months on end?

The answer, as always, is to turn hearts and minds back to the Lord, to have people repent of their wicked ways and turn back to God. Think about being at home and having to discipline your children; if they knock over a cup and spill a little water you don’t flip out and send them to bed with no dinner, do you? I hope you don’t, anyway. But, if they repeatedly disobey your instructions, continue behaviour that you have specifically asked them not to, culminating in breaking a priceless gift you gave them, then your reaction would be more firm than a little spilled water, wouldn’t it?

These verses then are a last chance for those on the earth who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour to repent, to turn away from wicked ways, to seek God through Jesus for their Salvation. Sadly, the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues (that the trumpets bring about), did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

If you are going through a tough time today, this week, this month, or this year then please know that God is not punishing you, your punishment was poured out at Calvary on the cross.

Please do not listen to the demonic deception that you should give in, give up, or just walk away.

Instead, take it to the Lord in prayer, seek out other believers who can come around you and offer guidance, who can cover you with spiritual protection through intercessory prayer, but don’t listen to the deception.

As hard as it is to read, passages like this should make us sure in our choice to live the Christian life. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. The troubles we face on earth are the worst it will ever get. Those who may live prosperously now are living their best life, now. Ours is hidden with Christ, and when He comes or calls us home, we will be justified in our choice.

Worldview 2/4 – Meaning

Last time we said that a worldview to has to answer four big, basic questions, and today, number two, Meaning; is there purpose to life?

Other worldviews would say no, there is no such thing as a ‘why’ question…we are but a brief spark in infinite blackness. That sounds kind of dreary and dull, no? One day, our spark will go out, as does a match, then, (insert noise of person blowing out match here as you so desire), its all gone. 

Philosopher Bertrand Russell said this…

“…only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

Macbeth seemed to agree, didn’t he…

… Out, Out, brief candle
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury signifying nothing. 

How sad. Nothing but despair, no meaning, no point…bleak.
Now I don’t know about you, but plodding through life with despair as your major outcome, the thing that your life is all about…no thanks.

Others would say that God gave the universe meaning and purpose, but we can never know that purpose…we must simply obey and do good.

But what does the God of the Bible say? Almighty God through His Word tells us that there is meaning to life…to glorify Him, to know Him…

Our very purpose is relationship, the meaning of our life is relationship…with God Himself…revealed in the person of Jesus (John 10.30, 14.9, Colossians 1.15-20).

Apologist Ravi Zacharias states

“The person of God revealed in Christ is the answer to life. And those who deny the existence of God and the Saviour provided by Him ultimately end up with no moral law, no hope, no meaning, and if they are wrong, no recovery.”

As believers, as followers of Jesus, we have a special place in bringing Glory to God. We are to begin glorifying Him by our life as we live it right now. Not when our earthly life ends…right…now. Being sure you’re going to heaven is great, if you’re dieing. If you’re living, what do we do?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

(1 Corinthians 10.31).

The Bible has specific instructions in many places on how to run our lives. It tells us how to run our marriage, our business affairs, our employed lives, and how to conduct ourselves in society and in the church…all in a way that brings glory to God through Jesus Christ. 

So what does this mean for us? 

This marvelous truth has important implications for all of life’s decisions. We cannot live as if we are independent and free to do whatever we might decide to do. If we are Christians, we don’t own ourselves (1 Peter 1.18-19).

When all of this is taken together, a balanced Christian life will emerge. We will not be either lazy or workaholics; we will have an ordered family with a loving atmosphere; we will serve God in every way as we week to know Him better. 

This is how life is to be lived — our life is not separated into our “private, religious life” and our “secular” life. The life of a Christian is to be one seamless tapestry, with all parts working together to glorify Him who made us, Him who saved us, and Him who changes us.