Script for the June 25th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the June 25th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is Job 3-4. But since there is no New Testament reading today, I’d like to simply pray for you.

If you have questions about anything in the Old Testament reading assignment, please email me at mattellis1997@gmail.com. I may answer it on the next podcast.

Q&A

A member of our “Enjoying the Bible” podcast family, Calah Ford, verbalized the questions so many of us might have as we read the book of Job. Let me read some of what she wrote.

“… I’ve always struggled with Job. It feels like Satan and God were taking bets and Job had to pay the price for it. I understand God has the right to do whatever. I understand that … (Yet) I still just struggle with the book. It feels out of character for God to me and like a sharp turn from previous books where faithfulness was rewarded with blessings…”

Excellent question, Calah. Let me give it my best understanding of how we should think about God as the book of Job presents Him.

First, we have the “problem” of God and Satan conversing in Heaven. We need to understand that God and Satan are not equals in figuring out who would do what to Job. God has no equal. Satan is a defeated foe, and his doom is certain. Satan was present in Heaven only because he was allowed by the Lord to come into His presence. While we realize that Satan was forcibly removed from his exalted position in Heaven around the time of Creation, we are also told in Scripture that He still has access to the Lord in Heaven. He will not finally and ultimately be removed from Heaven until Revelations 12:7-12.

Second, God is sovereign, and so He does everything He pleases. Ephesians 1:11 tells us that God is so infinitely powerful and sovereign that He “works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will.”

But the question becomes, “How does God sovereignly accomplish His will?” One means that Scripture tells us is by allowing evil-doers to accomplish His purposes. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? God consciously allows someone or something evil to cause bad things to happen, even to someone innocent, so He can accomplish His divine purposes. This is what we see happening to Job. God, who is wholly righteous, allowed Satan to attack Job. God used evil means to accomplish His purpose.

That doesn’t sound right until we reflect on the fact that this is how Jesus was able to die as our substitute on the cross. God had ordained that Jesus die on the cross, but He allowed wicked people to accomplish the task.

Acts 2:23 (CSB): “Though he was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail him to a cross and kill him.”

Let’s be very clear. God cannot sin. God cannot decree sin. He is completely holy. And yet God often allows people or demons to sin to accomplish His will.

Just so that we understand that Scripture clearly teaches this, consider the vision that the prophet Micaiah had when talking about how God would bring about King Ahab’s death.

1 Kings 22:19-22 (CSB): “Then Micaiah said, ‘Therefore, hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and the whole heavenly army was standing by him at his right hand and at his left hand. And the LORD said, “Who will entice Ahab to march up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?” So one was saying this and another was saying that. Then a spirit came forward, stood in the LORD’s presence, and said, “I will entice him.” The LORD asked him, “How?” He said, “I will go and become a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” Then he said, “You will certainly entice him and prevail. Go and do that.’”

In Micaiah’s vision, he saw God deliberating on how to bring about King Ahab’s death. A demon volunteered to be a lying spirit in the false prophets to get Ahab to go to battle where he would be killed. God allowed this demon to do what was wrong so that God’s will might be accomplished.

Even though this sounds troubling, realize that if God didn’t allow those who are sinful to work toward accomplishing His divine purposes, then neither you nor I could ever participate in what God is doing. Sure, we are forgiven, but we still sin. We continue to find reasons to fall on our knees and ask the Lord for forgiveness of our disobedience to Him. Yet, because God is free to use sinful beings to accomplish His purposes, He can use us, too.

But finally, we come to the part of Job 1-2 where we simply say, “It just wasn’t fair. Job didn’t do anything to merit his suffering, yet God allowed it, even willed it to happen.”

So is God still good even when he allows bad things to happen to us? Is God still good even when He actively wills something we deem horribly painful to happen to us?

We don’t always know why God allows, even wills, bad things to happen to us. Job certainly didn’t know. But God often allows bad things to test us, get rid of some sinful habit, or even demonstrate how good of a God He is.

John 9:1-3 (CSB): “As he was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered. ‘This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him.’”

Another reason God allows or wills bad things to happen to us is that He can comfort us so that we, in turn, can comfort others who go through the same thing.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (CSB): “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

So, in conclusion, Satan still has access to Heaven. He and God may converse but not as equals. God often allows evil-doers to accomplish His divine will, even if it is demons. And finally, even though God wills or allows bad things to happen to us, we can be assured that He has a good reason. While it might be horrible, or even horrific, we should trust Him and cling to Him all the tighter until we reach our Heaven home and our clutched fingers loosen up for an embrace.

Thanks, Calah, for the great question. I hope my answer has helped.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, as we listen to Job’s words, our hearts go out to him. We understand why he was mourning the day of his birth when we enter into the story and try to feel the agony he must have been experiencing in the face of so much calamity and death.

Lord, help us be sensitive to those around us who may be going through some challenging times. Those folks may need someone to listen to them. They may even need a shoulder to cry on. They certainly need people praying for them. So help us to be those kinds of people, Lord. Help us to comfort others with the comfort You have given us in our own trials.

And help us always be ready to tell hurting folks of a Savior who loves them and died so that they might enjoy Him and be with Him one day.

We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Closing

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you next time!