Weekly Insights about the Quarterly Lessons from the 1888 Message Study Committee.
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #6 November 5, 2016
FOURTH QUARTER 2016 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS "THE CURSE CAUSELESS?" NOVEMBER 5, 2016
"As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come" Proverbs 26:2. We may not understand why, but this text tells us bad things don't just happen without a reason. In this week's lesson, Job's friend Eliphaz struggles to make sense of Job's experience based on what he knows.
Job suffered incredible losses, not only of his possessions and his children, but of his health. He didn't understand what was happening nor why, and neither did his friends.
Have you ever experienced significant loss? Have you ever felt forsaken by God? Have you ever wished you had never been born? Have your friends ever suggested that perhaps it was because of some sin or poor choice on your part that bad things happened? Job experienced all these things. He didn't have the benefit of reading the book that now bears his name. He, "the greatest of all the men of the East," (Job 1:3) was reduced to almost nothing.
If you were Job's comforter, what would you have said? What do you say to people who experience profound loss? What have people said to you in times of trial and crisis?
Eliphaz came to comfort Job, but he himself struggled to reconcile what he knew to be true: "Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same," Job 4:8, 9, with what he assumed, that: "by the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of His anger they are consumed."
He also struggled with who he knew Job to be: "Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees" Job 4:4, in seeming contrast to what was happening to him: "But now it comes upon you, and you are weary; It touches you, and you are troubled" Job 4:5.
What neither of them knew was that this unfolding drama was "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men" 1 Corinthians 4:9.
Momentous were the issues at stake. As Satan dared to challenge Job's motivation of faithfulness before God and the assembled representatives of distant worlds, his questions might well have caused others to wonder, too. Why did Job serve God? Was it because God had favored him? The assertion, once raised, could not be answered by a mere verbal explanation. For the security of His government and the universe, God must permit Job to be tested.
Have you ever wondered why so much of the book of Job contains the thoughts and questions of Job's friends? I think part of the reason for this may be because these friends, Eliphaz included, put into words the thoughts and questions held in abeyance by the onlooking universe. The great controversy was still in relative infancy. Following closely behind the entrance of sin into our world was the painful experience of suffering -- physical, emotional, relational, spiritual. The same angels who "sang together" when "all the sons of God shouted for joy" at the creation of our world were now filled with grief as they witnessed sin's degradation of the human race, the animals, and the earth. There was much still to understand.
Written by Moses during his 40-year sojourn in the Arabian desert of Midian, the book of Job is more than the story of human loss and suffering. It opens a window into the heart of God and "the suffering that sin has caused our Creator."
"Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ's agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God" Education, 263.
Jesus loves us each individually, as though we were His only child. There is no heartache we experience, no tear that is shed, but that Jesus feels the pain. He knows us better than anyone, and when we hurt, He hurts. Job wasn't the only one suffering through all those losses. "In all their affliction, he was afflicted" (Is. 63:9). As the second Adam and Father of the human race, Jesus fully experienced the sufferings of Job as his own. And these were but the foreshadowing of the cross. Watch closely for the parallels:
Eliphaz: "Call out now; Is there anyone who will answer you? And to which of the holy ones will you turn?" Job 5:1.
The chief priests: "He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God' " Matt. 27:43.
Eliphaz: "For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble spring from the ground" Job 5:6.
Isaiah: "In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old" Isaiah 63:9.
Eliphaz: "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but he binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole" Job 5:17, 18.
Isaiah: "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed" Isaiah 53:4, 5.
Job's confidence in God proved unshakable under the severest stress, even though he couldn't explain why he had been struck with tragedy: "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong" Job 1:21, 22.
When an unlooked for crisis challenges our faith and human friends fail us, there is One who is faithful. He understands, and we can trust that He will see us through. For "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.
Not until the judgment will the purposes of God be made plain. Our unanswered questions in this life will be resolved. Someday in heaven we will have the opportunity to sit down with Job and talk to him personally. Perhaps Eliphaz will be there, too. We can ask them more about their experience and how this tragedy deepened their confidence in God.
More than that, as the years of eternity roll, we will more fully come to understand just how closely Jesus has identified with us -- not only in our sufferings in this life -- but in His humanity. Forever joined to the human race, He will ever bear the marks of His suffering in His hands and forehead, mute reminders of the price He paid to save us -- at any cost to Himself and to the Father.