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March 29 Sunday Update and Devotional

 

A Video Update from Devon

Devotional on Job 38

Larry Malament

[open your Bible to Job 38]

The most important lesson we can learn about the bible is that it is not a story about us, but about God, his creative power, his holy character, his unfathomable love, and his enduring faithfulness to an unfaithful creation. God graciously and sacrificially displayed his love towards us by sending Jesus. It is what we learn about God that gives us hope in a world filled with sin, disease, and death. When we study God’s word, we discover the living God and all that is good about him.

Last week in our brief study of Psalm 77 we saw Asaph questioning of God in the midst of his troubled time. He questioned the Lord’s faithfulness, his presence, his graciousness, and his love. He wondered if God cared because he could not see him working in his time of trouble, but, later in the Psalm, he finally asks the right question about God that he himself answers: “What god is great like our God?” His view of God changed because he knew that the answer to that question is, ‘no one’. No one is great like our God.

Asaph’s response to times of trouble is not the only one we see in the Bible. Many men and women struggled with the feelings that God seems to not be in control, that he has abandoned them, and that he does not care about them.

Job was one such man. He suffered greatly under God’s mysterious providence, unaware that God’s was working out his grand purpose through him. At the very end of Job’s story, the author writes these stunning words: “Shall we accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10, NASB). Job knew that everything he faced and suffered through was from the hand of God

His trials were not just a few days in length or even a few months, but longer (Job 7:3), and Job never knew if and when they would end. This uncertainty tempted him to question God’s care, and power, and to make him wonder if God was even in control. In our current situation no one knows “how long” this virus will last, no one knows “how long” we will have to shelter in place, no one knows “how long” we will not be able to gather together; no one knows except God.

In his uncertainty Job needed a change of perspective, and in Job 38 the Lord brings one. “Job, the Lord says, let’s take your eyes off yourself and your circumstances that you might understand and see my power, holiness, glory, mercy, and grace. Consider my grand purposes beyond your current experience that you might know and glorify me.” The Lord does this by asking Job where he was when the world was created.

Job saw the good things in creation but did not have a category for the evil he was experiencing. How does evil fit into God’s plan? How could a “good” God allow evil?

Through to Job 38:21 God is explaining the place of evil in his good created order. It is in these verses that we can hear God speak to us about a deadly virus that exists in his creation.

Christopher Ash writes, “Job needs to think carefully about good and evil and where and how evil fits into the overall picture.” God explains to Job that he is not the author of evil but the creator of all that is good, and yet evil exists in the purposes of God and in his created order.

[Read Job 38:4-7]

“The universe is pictured as a great building project. It has a “foundation”. It has “measurements”, a surveyor’s line to ensure its precise. It has secure footings for its pillars to rest on, and God is the architect who designed it. It is a building meant to last filled with his beauty and enduring majesty.

God has created a world that is very good, and one where evil is allowed to exist. God is asking Job: “will you praise my goodness even in the midst of sorrow and loss? Even when you see evil in the world? An evil that has a “limited place” because I determine its boundaries.” In Job the sea is a metaphor for disorder, chaos, danger, and “evil”, but evil that is restrained by God.

[Read Job 38:8-11]

What a blessed comfort it is to know that, as Ash says, “There is a place for evil in this world, but it is a place with strict limits.”

As the chapter goes on God’s questions help Job see who He is: He is the creator of the universe. He created the world Job walks on. He created seas and holds them back. He created the light and the darkness, the night and day, the sun and moon. He is the Lord over all nature, the God who has storehouses of snow and hail, lightning, and thunder. He brings rain to satisfy the very wastelands he created. He brings the drops of dew in the morning, and the frost at winter time. He created the stars in the heavens, and the clouds in the sky.

[Read Job 38:12-38]

He didn’t just create the world, but all things living in it, and cares for the world.

[Read Job 38:39-41]

God’s main point in his speech to Job is this: As the creator of the world and all that lives in it, evil is no threat to Him. Evil has its limits because it is limited by God. The virus and all the trials we are experiencing because of it is no threat to God or God’s people, and it has its limits.

What we also learn in Job is that “evil” actually has a “place” or “role” in God’s created order. It’s what God used to bring about our redemption in Christ through his incarnation, his crucifixion, and his resurrection.

God assures Job in the rest of chapter 38 that evil will not last forever. Yes, it’s a part of creation now. It has a place in God’s purposes, although a limited one, but it will not be with us forever in the same way this virus will not be with us forever.

In Job 38:13-15 we see that the dawn brings light, it scatters the darkness, and one day the darkness will be dispelled. I love this quote from Christopher Ash: “Every time the sun rises, it is evidence that there is a judgment to come. Every time the light is switched on in creation, it reassures us that darkness will not last forever. Each new day is proof that evil has no enduring place in the created order…here is a universe in which the ugliness of evil is part of the creation of God and will ultimately serve the glory of God.”

We see in Job 38:16-38 that God speaks to Job of his control over death, light and darkness, clouds and rain, snow and hail, dew and frost, reminding him that all are under his authority. It is a reminder to us that this tiny, invisible virus that appears so powerful is subject to God’s control and rule. Like Satan in the beginning chapters of Job, it can only go where God allows it go. It can only do what God allows it to do.

Job’s trials proved that his faith in God was genuine. God used these trials to refine Job, and he used these trials to bring glory to his deserving name because evil was used to serve his purpose even in a mysterious way.

As we “shelter in place” we could spend our time asking God, “how long” Lord? How long will this last? Or, we can spend our time praying, and think about “how many” will come to faith in Christ during this crisis? “How many” could return to church when we can meet again? “How many” will be open to the gospel? Let’s hope there are many, and let us seek ways we can be a part of God’s purposes during this mysterious providence.

Listen or Sing to These Songs

A Prayer Guide

  • Thank God for his unchanging character and faithfulness and that he is the one whose sovereign hand is in control of every circumstance we face.

  • Ask God to stop the spread of COVID-19 throughout our nation and throughout the world

  • Ask God to protect both those who are in the medical fields, as well as those who are running crisis operations, that all are protected, walk in mercy, and have strength to persevere, not becoming callous toward others or God.

  • Ask God to protect the many members of our church who are considered "high-risk" if they contract the virus.

  • Ask God to faithfully provide for any in our church who are adversely affected financially through all that is going on in our economy

  • Ask God to help us to consistently reach out to one another, to encourage one another and to pray with one another, so that no member of Grace Church feels isolated in this season of "social distancing."

  • Ask God to give the elders (Larry and Devon) and deacons (Marcelo Del Castillo, Larry Earles, Joey Hutchinson, Chris Mays, and Paul Rohwer) wisdom and grace as we seek to navigate leading and caring for Grace Church during this unique season.

  • Ask God to help us love our neighbors and be bold about blessing and serving others, looking to take advantage of opportunities to share the hope of the gospel with those in our communities.

  • Ask God to bring this time to an end so that we can enjoy the benefits and blessing of gathering as the people of God in the presence of God.

  • Thank God that soon all the pain, sickness, loneliness, and tears will all be over when Jesus Christ returns for his bride. Ask the Lord to come quickly.

A Sermon to Listen To

Take some time today or this coming week to listen to the below sermon from Psalm 121 from Larry.

The Lord is Your Keeper -- https://www.gracechurchmd.org/sermons/sermon/2019-06-23/-the-lord-is-your-keeper-psalm-121-larry-malament