Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. When facing severe trials, we ask why.
We may never know the answer. But for a suffering Job, the answer was dramatic, a voice from out of a whirlwind. We serve a God whose purposes are often hidden.
We have to trust His heart even when we can't understand His actions. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, all of Job's friends have weighed in. Now it's God's turn, and it seems appropriate that God speaks through the terrible force of a windstorm. Dave, not only that, not only does God speak through a windstorm, but he begins by asking, who is it that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? And all those who were in God's presence, they listened. They had nothing to say. God begins to ask Job up to 50 or 60 questions.
If you try to count them, it's a little bit difficult because sometimes the questions seem to run into one another, but questions that scientists today have still not answered. Every mouth is closed, except that Job is brought to repentance. I've written a short accessible book entitled God, Why Me? Of course, it's based on the book of Job, and it can be yours for a gift of any amount.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book God, Why Me? And now let us listen to the Almighty as he speaks to Job. Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct me, Where were you when I created the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know. And who set its measurements and stretched a line on it, since you know? And on what where its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Have you entered into the storehouses of the snow? Have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the day of distress, for the day of war and battle? Can you by wisdom count the number of the clouds, or can you tip the water jars of the heavens? Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars stretching his wings toward the south?
Or is it according to your command that the eagle mounts up and builds its nest on high? Will the fault finder contend with the Almighty? And Job answered and said, Behold, I am insignificant. I will lay my hand upon my mouth once I have spoken, and I will speak no more.
Then the Lord answered Job again and said, Gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you answer me. Will you really annul my judgment? Will you condemn me so that you might be justified? Do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder like the Most High? Tell me now, adorn yourself with dignity and majesty, and look upon everyone who is proud and bring him low. Do those things, and then I will confess to you that your own right hand can save you.
Job answered and said, Oh, now I know that you can do everything, and that I spoke words to wonderful words that I did not understand. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, and I repent in dust and ashes. Let's bow together in prayer. Father, we pray that in these moments we might see you, and we ask for your wisdom, for the enlightenment of the Spirit, and that you might be to us in these moments the living and the true God.
We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Have you ever been in a conversation that is wearisome? The repetition is nauseating. Some old ideas are given again and again and again until there comes a time when you want to simply be silent and stop listening.
Our ears are a wonderful gift of God, but there are times when we would like to be able to shut them down. I heard a woman, of a woman who was 100 years old, and she wasn't able to hear, and someone said, Why don't you get a hearing aid? And she said, I'm 100 years old, and I've heard enough.
I also was told the other day about Winston Churchill. There was someone in the House of Commons in England who wasn't able to hear well, an old man who wanted to get every word but couldn't, and he always kept saying, What? What?
What? Churchill looked over at him and said, Who is that old fool over there who refuses to accept the benefit of his infirmity? There are times when not being able to hear is a blessing. When you read the speeches in the book of Job, you become wearisome. His friends say the same thing over and over again, and Job begins to repeat himself. Elihu is a breath of fresh air, as we noticed last time, but today we talk about when God comes on the scene in chapter 38 of the book of Job. Job chapter 38, the Lord speaks. This is the same Lord who spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This is the same God who spoke to Moses at the burning bush and then spoke to him again on Mount Sinai.
This is the voice of God. I realize I have no intention of introducing God before he speaks, but there are a few things in this speech that I do want us to notice before we get into the text itself. First of all, that God waited perhaps two years before he spoke. He waited until all of the men had literally exhausted themselves.
We don't know how long a time it is, but some have estimated perhaps two years. You may say, well, why didn't God speak sooner? Well, the answer is it's a surprise to us that he spoke at all, because sometimes centuries have gone by and God has not spoken. But now he speaks. Another thing that we should notice is that it's shocking to us almost, but he disregards everything else that it was said. There's not one reference in God's speech to anything that any of the three friends said, to anything that Elihu said, to anything that Job said. He does not come to take sides.
He comes to take over, and he disregards all of what has transpired prior. Something else that we should ask is, what does God look like? Well, it says in chapter 38, the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind. We don't know what God looks like.
We do know that here he came, as it were, from the whirlwind. Art Linkletter tells the story of how a little boy was drawing a picture and someone said, what are you drawing? And he said, I'm drawing God.
Linkletter said, nobody knows what God is like. And the little boy says, well, they will when I get finished. So God is speaking here out of the whirlwind, and he gives Job a series of rhetorical questions.
This is the Socratic method. He asks Job questions that he knows Job has no chance of being able to answer. And one question comes after another, after another, after another, and Job is on the spot, and God begins to ask Job these questions. What are some of the lessons that God obviously wants Job to pick up? Well, number one, it is that God rules over the natural realm.
He is the ruler over the natural realm. 38, verse 4, where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding. Where were you, Job, when I spoke the worlds into existence? Can you explain to me how I hung the world on nothing and how it spins in the middle of space? Explain it to me if you have knowledge about those things. And God goes on in the same chapter, and he even talks about the stars.
Verse 32, he talks about the constellations of Orion and all of the satellites and the, verse 33, the ordinances and the rules the way in which the heaven is ruled. Scientists today know a lot more than Job did, and we've investigated through the telescope and through the microscope, and we know some of the intricacies of the snow which God asked Job whether or not he had investigated. But science today, to quote the words of Socrates, is nothing more than a knowledge of our own ignorance. Take, for example, the law of gravity. Nobody has any idea what the law of gravity is.
None, whatever, no scientist can probe it. Oh, I know it means that objects are attracted to one another. It means that objects fall at 32 feet per second, per second. But nobody knows why that law was created in this sense or how it was created. And if you are an evolutionist, nobody knows how it ever could have evolved with such a sense of precision that they are able to set clocks by the stars, and the stars become the measure of time. No one can understand that.
The idea that this world came together in an evolutionary way, just out of nothing, it all happened by chance, is the same as believing that there was an explosion in a print factory and the result was the Webster's Dictionary because the thing that you have to realize is that evolutionists believe that nothing times nobody equals everything. And I don't have enough faith to believe that. God says, Jove, I have authority over inanimate matter because I am the creator. He also says, I've got authority over animate nature, the living plants and animals.
We can't take out time, but you'll notice that he talks in verse 1 of chapter 39 about the goats. He speaks later about the ostriches, the hawks, the eagles, the birds. I saw a movie one time, or if you prefer, a film, that showed that there are birds that fly from Alaska all the way to some very remote islands in the middle of the ocean. And if those birds would be off by so much as 1% or 1 degree, they would miss those islands. And even if the birds are blown away by the storm, they always come back, their trajectory is correct to come to a pinpoint landing. Nobody has ever figured out how they do that.
How do they do it? What does the Bible say? Is it by your command God asked Jove that the eagles soar on high and build their nests in trees?
It is that God commands them. Now I want you to notice that God is making a case here. What he's saying is, Jove, if you don't understand the physical realm, if you don't understand the realm in which there are birds and animals and plants, if you don't understand creation, how in the world do you expect to understand the meta-physical realm?
That is to say, the realm beyond the physical, which is much more complicated, much more mysterious. Why is it that you are probing into things that are known by God alone? And so God gets to the end of this section in chapter 40 and in effect he says to Jove, Jove, I've got to deal with you.
Would you like to take my place? Will the fault finder contend with the Almighty? He says in chapter 40 verse 1, let him who reproves God answer it. And Jove, of course, replies and says, I have nothing to say. I lay my hand upon my mouth.
I rest my case. Remember, this is the Jove who earlier said, oh, that I might knew where I might find God. I would come into his seat. I would like to take him into court. I would fill my mouth with arguments.
I'd let him know exactly what is on my heart. Say it, Jove, this is your chance. In the presence of God, I have nothing to say.
I have spoken too much already. God says, Jove, I've got authority over nature, over the physical realm. I also have authority over the moral realm. And we pick this up now in chapter 40 where the Lord says, now gird up your loins like a man and I will ask you and you instruct me, will you really annul my judgment? Will you condemn me that you might be justified? Is this really what's going on here in the text, Jove? Do you really think to yourself that you can straighten me out? Now, Jove, we've got a problem, God says. Because you are critical of the way I am running my universe and particularly critical of the way in which I am handling you, we've got a difficulty that needs to be resolved. Either I am right and you are wrong or else you are wrong and I am right. Jove, which do you think it is? Speak. Gird up your loins like a man.
Tell me what you think. Find some fault in me to justify yourself. And what God is saying is, Jove, don't you understand that I am the one who created the physical universe and it runs according to my laws and I am also the creator of the moral and spiritual universe and it runs according to my laws. And, Jove, if you don't understand the lesser, how on earth are you going to understand the greater? Now, I want us to look at the text and to find out where did Jove go wrong?
Where did he go wrong? Let's look now at what he says in chapter 42. Jove answered the Lord and said, mind you, you understand that Jove did not have one answer to all of these questions and, for the most part, modern science cannot answer any of these questions. I've been told that there are 42.
I did not count them, but however many there are, modern science is helpless in understanding the questions that God asks. So what does Jove say in verse 2? I know that thou canst do all things and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?
Oh God, it is me. I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know. Stake number one, Jove underestimated God. He underestimated God. You see, Jove underestimated first of all because God was bigger than Jove realized. God was bigger than he realized. Oh yes, he was able to look into the heavens and he was able to see the stars and he could see creation, but it had never really dawned on him what the implications of that really are.
Now in the heat of this questioning session, suddenly reality broke upon him and he began to realize that he was in the presence of a creator who spans the universe who is, if we may use a modern day overused word, absolutely awesome. And by the way, there is no one to whom that word really does apply except God, awesome, worthy of awe. The bulls are not awesome. Michael Jordan is not awesome.
Shall I say it? Even the cubs are not awesome? God is awesome. God is awesome. Behold, the nations are as a drop in the bucket and are counted as the small dust of the balance.
Behold, he picks up the islands as a very little thing. God is God and he calls the hosts of heavens all by their names because they are great in power, not one fails. God is awesome. Job said he was bigger than I realized. Job also underestimated God because God was not only bigger than Job realized, God was better than Job realized. He was better than Job realized. You see as God was going through all of these questions about the animals and the questions that had to do with the universe and the place of nature and the animals within it, Job began to realize, you know, there is a plan.
There is a plan. There is a purpose in everything. I had charged God with treating me arbitrarily. I had said that God had no right to speak to me as he did because after all, I was human and I was receiving something that was unjust. But now I'm beginning to realize that God is running his world and even to the very minute detail of where eagles build their nests, that all must be ascribed to God and he's better than I realize. My friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. I really do believe that in the presence of God, we have very little to say. Now, of course, if you read the book of Job and his response to God, you'll discover that Job says, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee. I repent in dust and ashes. I've said too much. I've written a short accessible book entitled God Why Me? For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.
Of course, it's based on the book of Job. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Now perhaps I said that too quickly. Hope that you have an opportunity to get a pencil. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Thanks in advance for helping us. Our desire is to get the gospel to the ends of the earth. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The purpose of temptation has Michelle in a quandary. She writes to us from Washington and says, I've heard you say that God leads us to the point of temptation or testing, not that he makes us sin.
My question is, what is the difference between these points? The gospels say that the Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted. It also says Satan left Jesus until a more opportune time. You've also talked about thanking God for the temptation and how it can strengthen our walk with God. Now how can we thank God for temptations? I'm being sorely tempted with strong desires. How can we overcome these desires so that we don't fall into temptation? Michelle, thank you so very much for your question and for your honesty in terms of your own struggles.
A couple of comments. Maybe I have been confusing regarding that word temptation. Bottom line, I regard temptation as a test.
In fact, that's the way in which James uses it in James chapter 1. You know, he talks about various tests and various temptations. So it is true that God leads us to the place of temptation. He tests us. But the word temptation sometimes also is used as a solicitation to evil.
And that's, I think, very important to distinguish. I don't believe that God causes us to sin as such. When we sin, it really becomes our responsibility. So the bottom line is that temptation is very, very powerful. God does test us to see whether or not we are loyal to him.
And what we need to do is to pass those tests. Now, I think it is perfectly proper, therefore, for us to pray, lead us not into temptation. That is, don't lead us, Lord, to the point of temptation where we cannot bear it and where we are going to give in and where we are going to sin.
I hope that that's clarifying for you. But one other thing, Michelle, I'm concerned about what you wrote here. You said that you were being sorely tempted. There are times when we actually have to leave and flee temptation. If you're working in an office or you have a relationship with someone that is inappropriate or sinful, the best thing that you can do is to put physical distance between you and that person. And also, Michelle, call on others to help you and to pray with you.
That will strengthen you so that you don't give in to the tests that lie around you. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for the clarity you gave to the issue of temptation. Thank you, Michelle, for asking the question. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. When God speaks, all other voices must cease. Next time on Running to Win, the thundering answer from the whirlwind continues, and Job is silenced. If you're going through great pain right now, learn to listen with us to that voice and hear what God is saying. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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