Then Job answered the Lord and said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)
God has just driven home a point to Job, which he will never forget, which is; Job’s thinking is horribly amiss. Here is essentially how God has made his point. Since I’m not 100% certain what a Leviathan is, I’ve borrowed from my own observations of salt water monsters – the barracuda. God asks Job,
“Can you catch a barracuda with a slip sinker and a crappie hook? Given that its teeth can snag another fish half its size and with its bite, snip it effortlessly in two, can you remove the hook with your fingers, if you were to catch it?”
God’s point to Job (and us) is; “No, you can’t, but your thoughts about me have been just as ludicrous. And, I would like you to now repent.” We might ask: “But how can I, filled with the Spirit, think errantly about God? His Spirit lives in me!” The truth is, I don’t know but we seem to do it effortlessly. I believe those who are called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light still have some residue of darkness tainting their thoughts. Normal Christianity entails a process of walking in the Spirit where we are purged of these lies. To us, Job’s life seems like a case of gross-divine injustice. If this is our thought, our hand may be in the barracuda’s mouth.
My good friend Gene Griffin wrote this brief essay after a season of meditating on the book of Job. Gene was once an overseer of young, very zealous hearts for Christ. Then, when some men his age were flirting with retirement, Gene flexed his brain muscle and followed God’s leading into the practice of law. It follows that I trust his heart and his mind. I share this with his permission. If you bump into an unfamiliar word, a few definitions are provided at the end of the essay.
Evil, Justice, Goodness And The End Game (Thank you Job)
God is self-defined as good and is therefore incapable of evil. Thus, if God orders or permits intentional harm or injury to another, it must be just, assuming He has the power to prevent it.
Is God bound by the laws of cause and effect? If all that God does and permits is an effect, what then is the cause? Is God permitted or capable of an original act that does not have an antecedent cause? And if the cause is with Him, can it arise from anything but His goodness? And if He is the only cause, then He is the cause of evil and cannot be just in His judgement of it.
Is man’s all-pervasive sin nature sufficient cause for all the divine effects of harm or injury that befall him from God’s intentional or permissive hand? And if man has a pervasive sin nature, what then can man ever do that will serve as a cause for God’s beneficence?
Surely then, God’s righteousness and man’s sinfulness places them in two different and incompatible orbits: God only capable of good and man only deserving evil.
Oh that there might be a bridge between them such that an injury to man would be an injury to God, and that a blessing of goodness to man would be a blessing to God; a bridge wherein man is stripped of his unrighteousness and God’s justice is swallowed in mercy.
And while God is the first cause, and the greatest cause, He is not the only cause in the universe; other sovereigns can initiate causation, even evil causation, and the toleration within limits of them by God serves the greater good – that man may come to know that not only is God good, He is the only Good. Had it not been for the fall of man this reality is one that man could never have apprehended for there he gained the knowledge of good and evil. In this, God has made evil to praise Him, and sin to become the servant of man.
So, what is the end of the matter? God is Good, and only good. And the only good, and all that man experiences whether from God as the cause, or from the hand of another sovereign, is intended to strip away every occluding sense-based reality in order that man may know in his heart that God is good and incapable of evil, and that His goodness is driven by His passion for love and communion, not a thirst for justice. He does not seek the sadness of the night (the cause) but rather the joy that comes in the morning (the effect).
Because we know that He is good, we pray. Because we believe, we endure. We begin our prayer with, “Thy will be done:” we end our prayer by “giving thanks in all things.”
Evil: Intentional, unjust injury or harm to another. Beneficence: