Sunday, June 13, 2010

Enter the Arena

“Then Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for no reason?  Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?  You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’  And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand.  Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’  So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord,” Job 1:9-12.  With no regard for human life and certainly no concern for God’s character, Satan takes on the role of deciding the fate of all that Job has.  He is asking permission to play “the god” in Job’s life.  He wants to be Job’s temporary deity and prove to the Creator that Job’s faithful friendship to the True God is based solely upon physical comfort.  And to our human discomfort, God says, “Yes” to Satan’s request. The contest has begun.  The Adversary lashes out against Job’s children, servants, livestock and all that Job has, in one day.  Satan has suggested to God that Job’s faithfulness is conditional and he has suggested to Job, through circumstances, that perhaps God is against Job’s welfare.  

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”  The Creator is proud.  He is boasting.  The humans of planet Earth roam to and fro in the same style as their Adversary, committing to nothing and no one.  But not Job.  Job is God’s friend.  The Lord continues, “He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason,” Job 2:3.   My theology is challenged with this one statement!  It is thrown for a loop!  God was incited. …provoked to turn against Job!  My humanity is deeply concerned to discover that my Creator could turn against me at the mere question from an Adversary, “Does Job fear God for no reason?” Job 1:9.  There are games afoot.  “And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.  And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled.  And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.  And David was angry because the Lord had burst for against Uzzah…” 2 Samuel 6:5-8.   Yes, we are in a different story.  The presence, the beauty, the private and intimate part of Deity is being carried around in a box. …and someone touched it.  God protected His beautiful parts against untrustworthy man.  His heart was provoked to protect Himself.  God can be provoked.  “They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel,” Psalm 78:41.  In the story of Job, we see Him provoked, incited to distrust the heart of Job.   Job’s integrity and faithfulness are called into question and the Creator is curious.  

The Creator was curious.  Who is Job on the inside?  Is he the man of integrity that I truly believe him to be? Will Job actually be faithful to his friendship with Divinity no matter what!?  With permission again to strike out against Job’s physical body, the Adversary willfully does so.  His intention?  To provoke Job to disown his integrity and devotion to the Creator.  And to provoke the Creator to destroy Job, whom the Adversary knows may be Divinities only genuine human friend.  The outcome?  Possibly broken hearts and possibly the consummation of a Divine and Dusty romance.

To be continued….

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