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Were you there?

Notes & Transcripts

I speak to you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Amen

Every night when Kelly and I put the kids to bed we say prayers with them.

In fact if they have been up late or we are in a hurry and might have thought that this night we won’t say prayers, you can bet the kids will remind us that…

 ‘We haven’t said prayers yet’

It is part of our night routine and important to our whole family – even times when we are in a hurry

Some nights we say specific prayers, made up on the spot

many times we have a regular bed-time prayer, and it goes like this:

Now I lay you down to sleep, I pray the Lord your soul to keep - may love surround you through the night, and keep you safe till morning light - May God Bless you and Keep you and make His face to Shine upon you - In Jesus’ name we pray – Amen

Now in that prayer, that we say many nights (probably most nights), we pray for something that will probably never literally happen – at least in the classic, historical biblical way

            Did you catch what it was? ….

                        Well, we pray that God’s face will shine upon our children

                                    This comes from the Aaronic blessing

                                                Aaron, the priest, and brother of Moses

Moses, who when he spent time with God up the mountain or in ‘the tent of meeting’, when God spoke to Moses from the cloud, Moses would return to the people and his face shone brightly being in the presence of God

So, when Kelly and I pray that God’s face will shine upon them, we are likely praying something that will never literally happen

And yet it is our desire that God will be as close to our kids as possible – that God will be so close that His very radiance will rub off onto them

And in a figurative way – our desire is that they may know God so personally that they themselves will radiant God’s goodness in their very appearance and in their witness as Christians

But God’s appearance, God being right there, is something that will likely elude each one of us our whole life

That doesn’t change anything though – many of us so want or need the presence of God – many of us mere mortals Christians and atheists alike need to hear it right from God before we can believe or before we can understand

It is a common enough desire

If only God were here, then I would believe

If only God were here, then I would understand

If only God were here, then I would know what it is that I am to do

                                    Oh Lord, show me your will, - Oh Lord, show me your way for me

                                                Ever find your self praying this prayer?

                                                            I certainly do!

And this is precisely the context in which lead up to our passage from Job today

Job has suffered; Job has been tested and questioned both in his suffering and by his so called friends and family

First he is afflicted with sores from head to toe and his wife tells him to ‘curse God and die already’

Job’s answer is classic –

“Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?”

It is the answer of long-suffering faithfulness and perseverance which has made his very character a cliché – having the patience of Job

Then Job suffers more – to the point that all of his family around him die, all his wealth – measured in livestock and possessions is lost

Then his friends come along and one by one they blame Job himself for his suffering – they each basically state a version of the following

Blessing come to those that are righteous – suffering from those that have sinned against God

They each basically say to Job that he must have sinned greatly because of he is suffering greatly

Despite the fact that all around him are suggesting that it is Job’s fault – Job’s does crack – Job doesn’t shake from his resolve that he is righteous and has done nothing sinful to deserve this

We as the reader know this to be true

That Job is in fact, righteous, and a very important fact of the story is to reveal that suffering happens to the just and to the unjust – and what is important is faithfulness in the face of suffering

Right? …. Job is about suffering?

Well, might I suggest, that suffering is in fact not the main point of Job

The book of Job is a helpful pastoral story of faith in the midst of suffering – but that is side benefit of the story – I would suggest the main message begins to get revealed in our passage today

                        Where we meet our passage from Job today is the gold of the story

                                    It is the treasure of the story

In our reading last week – we heard Job’s plea to an apparent absent God – we heard Job’s deep desire to see God – to have God explain why he was suffering so much

Job confident in his righteousness calls out to God, wanting an answer to why he was suffering so greatly – Job wants and audience with God, Job knows he is righteous and Job wants to know why

                        And today we have the beginning of God’s answer

                                    It is recorded that “out of the whirlwind the Lord answers Job”

                                                God comes, like He did with Moses - out of the cloud – out of the whirlwind

Here Job gets a very rare audience with God

Job – like so many of us want an audience with God, so that God can answer questions that he… and we, simply can not

Job is not unique – ‘Job the faithful’ – ‘Job the patient’ is like many of us at one point in our life – Job has questions – and Job wants them answered by God

God’s presence – ‘to shine upon us’ is a deep desire of many of us

For some it is because we doubt – we doubt the very existence of God, unless we see it for ourselves

For others it is to answer questions we are struggling with

For others still it is for relief – relief from suffering

Relief from the pain – and deep down if we are brave enough to admit it – we might want to know why me? – like Job – why me Lord?

And the treasure of the whole book of Job, is that we get an answer

However God provides the answer in a surprise

The surprise to Job, is first that God answers - that the apparent absent God answers

And second that God does not answer Job’s request as he was expecting

But in fact God’s answer is much more than Job or us could imagine –

God’s answer is much better, much more comprehensive than Job’s small question of why lil’ old Job is suffering

It is, as some commentators have said: one of the most beautiful parts in the entire bible

In God response, God warns Job to get ready – gird up your loins – literally hike up your diaper and take this like a man

            God says - Stand up like a man; answer the questions I put to you

                        God takes Job question of ‘why me Lord?’ and turns the tables on Job

Job asks ‘why me?’ and God responds with ‘were you there?”

           

Our reading is only a small part of God’s speech. But the essence is the same through-out

In God’s response

Instead of directly answering - God asks five main questions:

·  Were you present at creation?

·  Do you know your way around the cosmos?

·  Would you know how to operate it?

·  Would creation and creatures obey your commands?        and

·  Are you capable of providing for animals and birds?

           

Job wants to know why – and God tells him who and by whom

            God speaks of the utter majesty which is the dominion of God

Of creation – the heavens above – who is in control – of creation and creatures - and of divine provision

                                    God paints a picture of the His infinite, transcendent scope of power

                                   

The treasure here is not an answer to suffering

            But that God is in control of it all and God purposes are beyond what we could imagine

                        When God asks the rhetorical question “were you there?”

                                    The answer is of course ‘you were not’

                                                But God was! - God was there for it all

From the beginning of time - to the present time – to provide for each and every creatures’ need

And so, just as God is there to provide for the animals and the birds – God is there to provide for us

                                                God is in control of it all – we suffer not alone

The book of Job is so important to our Christian understanding of God, because it tells of God’s transcendence and God’s immanence

Meaning God’s infinite grasp beyond all we could understand and God’s immediate presence with us

            The book of Job reveals for us – a foretaste of Jesus of Nazareth – Jesus the Christ

As our passage from Hebrews declares - we have just such a High Priest in heaven for us – one that is the ruler over all and yet an advocate for us

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death

One that has lived as we live – and yet one that died for each and every one of us, sinners

            God is both Transcendent and immanent

The gift we get from God’s answer to Job is a beautiful picture that God is involved in it all

We are given a clear message outlining the first Commandment

            That God is God and we are not – and we are to love God for that fact

                        And from Job today we get the essence of the gospel – the good news

                                    That God cares for us so greatly – in good times and in bad…

                                                That God is there through it all

When God asks the question: ‘were you there’?

            It is to reveal that God was and is

                        Transcendence and immanence

This knowledge won’t stop you from suffering – won’t prevent you from suffering or from enjoying God’s blessings – even and always - ‘when you don’t deserve it’

Job didn’t get the response he asked for – he was basically told it is beyond our understanding – but not beyond God’s

So, rest assured that God’s knows - and cares - …And God is with you always – even to the end of the age

Job got so much more from his question and God’s response

He got God’s face to shine upon him

Therefore in faith as we know and pray – May the Lord bless you, and keep you and may the Lord make his face to shine upon you – and may you so shine before others that they may see God’s good works in you - Amen

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