I started the ‘reading the bible chronologically plan’ on Jan1 and have have worked my way through the first 20 chapters of Job (you begin reading Job after Gen 11 according to the plan I’m using). I love this book and it has prompted me to ask a few questions, which of course I’ll turn into some blogs.
Tuesday was Jacob’s fifth birthday. It was so much fun to see how excited he was (Jake – “I can’t believe I’m not four anymore. Five feels a lot different than four”). Anyway, I was relishing thoughts of my son as I drove to work in the morning and Job invaded my thoughts with a warning – don’t allow the good gifts of God to eclipse your love and enjoyment of Him. It wasn’t at all a rebuke, as if I was glorying in my son when I shouldn’t have been. He is a great gift from God and I do right to enjoy him. But as I think about Job it seems clear to me that while he loved his children and all the other good gifts he had been given (and then lost), he did not allow them to eclipse his love for and desire to glorify God above them.
This is what we read of Job immediately after he received news of the loss of his fortune and the death of his children:
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20-21. ESV).
I am amazed at this man. He is obviously filled with grief, yet he worships. I don’t know if I’d be in that place at that moment. I think I’d be pissed, bitter, confused, more… But Job wasn’t. He worshiped. It seems that, at this point at least, he understood that these things he enjoyed he enjoyed by the sheer grace of God. They were given by God undeservedly and God can take them back and still he remains worthy of love and worship.
Job has resisted a huge temptation – the temptation to elevate the gifts over the giver. The greater the gifts, the more tempting it is to put them ahead of God. I’m not the least bit tempted to put the gift of a beautiful sunset above God – though they are wonderful here in the Midwest. Nor am I tempted to put food above God – though I do really enjoy a good burger and shake. My kids though. My wife. The best things I have in life – that’s a more difficult question. (Isn’t it deeply ironic that the more gracious God is to us in the giving of good gifts the more prone we are to love the gifts more than the giver)
I have a quote by Piper taped on my desk just above my monitor screen. He says, “if you can’t look at your kids at night and say, ‘to never see you again would be gain’ you can’t preach”. To be honest, I’m not always there. Sometimes my loves are not in the right priority – and by God’s grace sometimes they are. But to be able to say with consistency that God is the best gift – that family, friends, children, etc. are great, but God is greater – that seems to be the key to unlocking Job’s ability to worship despite the loss. Blessed be his name.