No Nonchalant God
“Then Job answered and said, ‘Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me. There an upright man could argue with him, and I would be acquitted forever by my judge. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind. Therefore I am terrified at his presence; when I consider, I am in dread of him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face.’” – Job 23
The whole of Job 23 is an amazing Bible passage. That is why I have chosen the whole of it as our text for today. You need to read it all, rather than just a verse or two. It is the manner that Job approaches God which is so contrary to how many approach him in their dealings with him, if they deal with God at all. Job admits what we all know, we do not see God, we do not see him at work, we do not hear him speak to us; it as though he is not even there. We treat him too often as a nonchalant God because we neither see his form, nor hear him speak. Therefore, we conclude wrongly, he doesn’t care, he does not hold us to account, he does not concern himself with the way we take. Nothing could be further from the truth. God does not nonchalantly dismiss us from his sight and hearing just because he does not stand in our presence visibly as another human being would. We place ourselves outside his presence, from our perspective; but it is never so from his.
Job rightly sees this in his wrestling with the ever present, real God in the midst of his terrible circumstances, even though he does so while remaining in thick darkness between him and God. But not so in the “sight” of Job’s faith which always informs his understanding. He knows God hears him! At the end of the book of Job, he receives the approbation of God for his seeing him aright, and he is richly rewarded for his accurate understanding of God’s being and actions over against the advice of his counsellors; and Job is blessed again by God to his former position prior to his testing, only doubly so is he blessed by God in the end.
Most men and women live their lives as though God is a nonchalant God, if He indeed exists. If He is, He can either take or leave me, they think. The fact that God does not reveal himself to me according to my senses, makes little impact on me, absent durable faith. If God wants to remain a mystery to me, so be it, we think. He will not bother me, and I won’t bother him. He may be, He may not be. Does it really matter? As long as He is NOT making it clear that He is, that He is truly involved in my life in such a way that I know beyond all doubt that He is doing things in and to me and before me; it doesn’t really matter to me, one way or the other, simply because I am not really aware of It. If I am not, as far as it concerns me, He just isn’t. It is that simple. Or is it?
Is He my world’s Creator? Is the universe really explainable apart from Him? Many feel it is, but the blind, unscientific, unreasonable leaps of faith unbelieving scientists must take to explain an uncreated universe are far too great. Too many missing-links of reasonable explanation simply are not; which is preferred apparently to believing the alternative: that the universe has a Creator.
But if He is, and He has created, is he purposefully distant and nonchalant, even indiscoverable, unknown? Job reveals the true God in His wrestling with Him in the midst of his pain and suffering. He is anything but nonchalant. “He will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind.” We may not perceive him at work on us and in us, but the Sovereign God is never at rest.
You may not agree with how he is going about it, but “he knows the way that I take.” If you were Job, and experiencing what he experienced, what would you think? How would you see God in the midst of such pain? Yet, Job, as an example for us all, came out as gold. The very real perception of faith which characterized Job in his personal view of God, his wrestling with God, stands as a beacon for you. Job’s God is never nonchalant, because he isn’t. He is a God very intent on you and seeking your growth in faith. See to it that you don’t just hear about him from others, but that you yourself “see him with your own eyes.”
“Mighty God while angels bless thee, may a mortal sing thy Name? Lord of men, as well as angels thou art every creatures theme.”
“Lord of every land and nation, ancient of eternal days, Sounded thru the wide creation, be thy just and endless praise.”
(1st and 2nd verse of Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee,” 1774)
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