Does the Lord Bring Trouble? (Job 42:11)

mh0742, Jan Steen, 'Soo voer gesongen, soo na gepepen'

A few readers have asked for my thoughts on this “troublesome” passage:

All (Job’s) brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. (Job 42:11, NIV)

Other translations say the Lord brought adversity or evil upon Job. This is clearly a reference to the great loss that Job suffered – he lost his health, wealth and children. And as everybody knows, God was behind Job’s suffering. It was the Lord who killed his kids.

Except he didn’t. God wasn’t remotely responsible for the suffering Job experienced.

As we have seen in our series on Job, God did not give the devil permission to have a crack at Job. And the notion that God robs us – that he gives and takes away – says more about Job’s distorted view of God than the true character of a good God who gives without revocation.

Who are you listening to?

There are some fascinating characters in the story of Job. There are three comfortless friends who burden Job with useless advice. There’s young Elihu, who is the lone voice of wisdom. And in the final chapter we get a cameo from Job’s brothers, sisters, and former friends.

If I could ask Job’s siblings one question, it would be this: Where were you turkeys? When your brother was going through hell, where were you? When he was burying his children – your nieces and nephews – where were you?

Job’s siblings are the invisible men and women of the story. There’s no mention of them until the very end. When Job becomes twice as prosperous as before, then they show up. They rock up at his mansion to sit at his table and eat his food.

The one thing you need to know about Job’s brothers is that they were deceitful. Job said they were as deceitful or unreliable as a desert stream (Job 6:15). They were fair-weather friends who ate Job’s food but disappeared at the first sign of trouble.

So why are we listening to them?

To think God kills children or sends evil because Job’s brothers said so is the height of foolishness. Why would you trust what an untrustworthy person says about God?

Shakespearian clowns

There is something comical about these jokers and their muddled theology. Picture the scene: Job’s brothers are sitting in a mansion surrounded by the blessings of God. They are literally feasting on the Lord’s provision, yet in between mouthfuls they bemoan the evil of God who takes and kills.

Do you see? It’s ludicrous. They are comedic characters at the end of a long drama.

Or if that’s too lighthearted for you, Job’s brothers are the personification of bad religion. They’re not around when Job’s hurting, they knock on his door as soon as he’s rich, and they paint evil pictures of a good God.

Either way, you shouldn’t heed them.

“Gee Paul, I don’t know. It’s in the Bible.”

So are slavery and polygamy. Taking scripture out of context is fatal and Jesus provides the best context when it comes to understanding the character of God. Can you imagine Jesus robbing Job, making him sick, and killing his kids? If it’s not in the Son it’s not in the Father.

God is all the time good

Listen to bad men talk about the Lord, and you will get bad picture. Contrary to what Job’s siblings said, and some still say, God did not bring evil or trouble upon Job. A God who does evil makes as much sense as a torch that shines dark.

If you are going through tough times, don’t listen to Job’s brothers. Listen to Isaiah who said this:

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator … “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. (Isa 43:1-2)

Or listen to Paul:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction (2 Cor 1:3-4)

Or listen to David:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me… Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psa 23:4,6)

If you are going through hard times, take care who you listen to. Don’t feed upon the evil report of evil or ignorant men, but feed upon Jesus:

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live (John 11:25)

The true story of Job is not how God does evil, but how a good God takes the messes of our broken lives and makes them beautiful.

It’s a story of grace and redemption, and by the grace of God it can be your story too.

___________

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102 Comments on Does the Lord Bring Trouble? (Job 42:11)

  1. Chris MacDonald // February 1, 2017 at 12:41 am // Reply

    Two minutes ago I had this conversation with someone at work! I live in a strongly Presbyterian area of the UK and this ‘God bringing trouble to teach us something’ is very very strong. I was beginning to doubt myself a little bit – purely because she’s better at arguing than I am! Then this dropped into my inbox. Thanks so much.
    Chris

  2. Paul, thank you for posting this! This was the final nail in the coffin for my bad interpretation of the book of Job 🙂

  3. David McDermott // February 1, 2017 at 12:52 am // Reply

    Very Good Paul. Dysfunctional families are nothing new. I enjoy reading your blog every week.

  4. Thank you! That does sound more like my God!

  5. This passage in Job is why people like me spent 30 years in church without grace. We and our leaders are linear-minded and accept the words at face value.

    Here’s another example from Titus:
    1. He saved us, not because of works done by us.
    2. So that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.

  6. Love to read more about Job from the good news perspective, God’s perspective.

  7. Rainbow Newland // February 1, 2017 at 1:49 am // Reply

    Thank you I’m blessed to have been told of you. I have been helped greatly through your posts and appreciate your time in teaching us the truth. 

  8. Just W O W !

  9. Thank you Paul for the article on the book of Job.
    There are many things this book can teach us, and the one thing that stands out for me is this and I quote “Through lack of knowledge my people are destroyed”. Job had no covenant relationship with Job as such and he was surrounded by people who to say the least were not very encouraging!! He wife declared to him “Curse God and die” and it looks like he was doing sacrifices for the sins of others namely his children !!! The moment satan shows up in heaven God asks him “Where have you come from” and satan replies “I have been patrolling the earth watching everything thats going on” you can bet your life he was !! saturn was watching Job looking for a way to get at him and God knew that, however what satan did not know is that there was never a wall of protection around Job but God was never going to let satan know that !!! and when God declared to him “behold he is in your hands ” He was stating the truth,he’d already been in his hands and he did not know it. However as Christians we have the Word of God and we stand in the victory that Christ has won for us . Many many scriptures are there for us to stand against satan in every circumstance we find ourselves in and remember “Jesus stripped satan of all power and authority and made a show of him openly”. The only power that satan has is the power to deceive . If he can get you to believe something that is not true thats his real aim . He will use your power to destroy you if you fall for his lies.

    Roy

    • Excellent point Roy about the wall of protection, implying some interesting limitations on the abilities of the devil’s spiritual discernment. If you compare a reasonable estimate of the length of Job’s life with the account of Genesis, you can figure he was a contemporary of Abraham and Terah, and all of Abraham’s covenant descendants through Isaac to Joseph are all accounted for. Thus, Job was not a member of the covenant people. A Hebrew/Israelite/Jew reading Job would doubtless thank God for the covenant of Abraham.

  10. Good point. I agree.

  11. Brandon Petrowski // February 1, 2017 at 2:47 am // Reply

    For clarification, or to make sure I am understanding what you’re saying… The verse as stated is not offering God’s mindset, and the author is not attempting to state that God brought trouble on Job. The author is merely relaying the perspective of the people being referenced that he is writing about? That makes sense to me and seems the best way to explain to people that God’s Word is not confirming that God brings trouble or evil on us.

  12. Even Job claimed, at the end, that God’s purpose could not be thwarted…
    “”I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job‬ ‭42:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬
    …and in James 5 we see that the purpose of the Lord was accomplished, with the commentary that He is merciful and full of compassion, not evil and malicious.
    “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” James‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    If we read the end of the story, and are willing to open our eyes to the truth, then it isn’t so mysterious…

  13. mike fitzpatick // February 1, 2017 at 3:51 am // Reply

    another encouraging thought: Lucifer has NO ACCESS TO GOD by going in front of HIM to accuse any longer (ie:, ‘…wentt back and forth….’to acccuse….’ Since the finished work of the cross he has been cast down for the long while until the very few ‘not yets’ have been- ‘been done’ All the BEEN DONES far out number the ‘not yets’…mike

    • richard elson // April 11, 2017 at 10:34 am // Reply

      Are you sure the accuser is denied access to the judge? I thought that only happened in corrupt societies where the relatives of the judge were protected from justice.

      God the judge listens to all accusations.

      Our Father has provided a way to stand in court and be unprocecutable.
      He provides an advocate and councilor.
      If we know our new relationship to Satan, listen to the councillor, and say what Jesus says, it’s “case dismissed”.
      God the Judge finds us “Justified”

      This process will continue until everything is made a foot stool for Jesus.
      We make these foot stools. . . By Faith.

  14. Robins Gausi // February 1, 2017 at 4:41 am // Reply

    beautiful!!!……..pure new wine, paul your my brother indeed….continue the good work

  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you…and most importantly thank God for the good in the story of Job. Yes, “bad religion” is a terrible thing.

  16. Richard Burrows // February 1, 2017 at 5:20 am // Reply

    Well, well, well! This is our first disagreement! First let me say I know the beautiful love of my Heavenly Daddy – most precious, powerful, life transforming knowing that there is, and have no conflict over the fact that HE brings problems into my life. First, God absolutely did initiate satan’s torment of Job and therefore is responsible. Second, everyone quotes 2 Chron.7:14 but nobody knows how God accomplishes getting us on our faces before Him (vs.13), “when I…). And how bout “I will use Syria as a whip against My people”. And Paul’s thorn in the flesh was given him to keep him humble. It certainly wasn’t the messenger of satan that wanted Paul humble.

    • Brandon Petrowski // February 1, 2017 at 5:55 am // Reply

      God didn’t tell Satan to go torment Job. God was putting Job forward as an example of someone who was righteous. Satan retorted that Job wouldn’t be so great if he wasn’t blessed by God. All God did was allow that to be tested. God didn’t tell Satan to test Job. Satan wanted to prove God wrong. I realize you may think that is splitting hairs or semantics, that it amounts to the same thing because God didn’t “protect” Job from Satan’s torment. Remember, man is responsible for sin and suffering in the world when Adam and Eve chose to deviate from God’s plan. Satan wouldn’t have had that opportunity if it wasn’t for the fall of man. God’s hand at work in the world is hinged to man’s cooperation. C.S. Lewis said, “Without God, we cannot. Without us, He will not.”

      • Marjorie // March 9, 2017 at 4:15 pm //

        Hi Brandon, I did a search on the word “considered” in Hebrew, where God asks Satan if he has considered His servant Job. The word actually means, “Do you have it on your heart?” It is Satan that wants to test Job, not God. God tells Satan that Job is already in Satan’s hand (because of events in the garden of Eden). The word “is” is written in italics which means it is an existing state. God didn’t turn Job over to Satan. Adam and Eve did by forfeiting the authourity that God had given them. I fervently sought the Holy Spirit on this Job issue and this is what He said to me: “There is no mystery hidden in the story of Job. That event was an all out war between Satan and Me. Satan wanted me to destroy Job so that he could put a stop to our relationship. This story revealed MY TRUE CHARACTER. I am merciful and loving toward my children. I have never desired to put disease on them, to kill them or to harm them in any way at all.. Satan was trying to manipulate Me into doing something evil so people would believe I do those things. My nature is to Bless; Satan’s is to curse. I did not initiate that attack, nor did I allow it to happen. That is who Satan is and how he operates. That is why I had to send Jesus! ( John 3:16 )

    • Brandon Petrowski // February 1, 2017 at 5:59 am // Reply

      The thorn in the flesh argument also doesn’t fit very well. For starters, we don’t know what it was. It also does not mean that God told the messenger of Satan to afflict Paul. What Satan meant for harm, God used for good. Romans 8:28 comes to mind.

      • To piggyback off of what Brandon mentioned, when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he told Jesus, “I will give You all this domain (the world’s kingdoms) and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” Luke 4:6

        Who handed it to Satan? It wasn’t God, it was Adam. Jesus, after He rose from the dead then said, “All authority in heaven and Earth has been give to Me” Matt 28:18

        God never lost authority. Jesus, the last Adam, got back what the first Adam lost. Job happened to be in the first Adam and therefore, did not have the authority that we in Christ now have.

      • Brandon Petrowski // February 1, 2017 at 7:49 am //

        Well said John.

      • Richard Burrows // February 1, 2017 at 11:22 am //

        “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
        So, the messenger of satan was concerned with Paul becoming conceited?
        “10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
        Paul rejoices in what God is doing because he really, really believes that God’s strength is made in his weakness, and he’s choosing God’s strength over his own.

      • Richard Burrows // February 1, 2017 at 11:29 am //

        “have you seen my servant Job?”
        So God was ignorant of satan’s intentions when He brought Job to satan’s attention.
        Right here God initiated the who thing for HIS perfect purposes.
        “I had known of You with the hearing of my ear, but I know You with the seeing of my eyes.”
        Job knew about God but now he knows God.

      • Lisa Jane // February 2, 2017 at 9:00 am //

        John Long, didn’t Jesus tell us the devil is a LIAR? You can’t take anything a liar says at face value. He was trying to trick Jesus into agreeing with him, because as a man thinks in his heart so he is, so he was trying to deceive Jesus into thinking Satan had the authority, and that he, Jesus was in subservience. Jesus could have rebuked him with scriptures such as Daniel 2:20-21 and Psalm 24:1 but he didn’t because that would have bound S. and God needed him temporarily loose so the cross could happen, or they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

      • Lisa, yes the devil is a liar. The topic at hand does not concern God’s ownership of the Earth, but man’s stewardship. Psalm 115:16 says the heavens are the Lord’s but the earth He has given to men. When He created man, He gave them dominion.

        This is what man gave over to Satan temporarily through their allegiance to him. That is what Jesus meant by “all authority on Earth has been given to me.” He got dominion back as a man for man.

        In Colossians 2, it mentions how Jesus disarmed the evil spirits that had been taking advantage of man’s slavery to sin. That is what I’m referencing.

        Hope that clears things up.

      • Richard Burrows // September 16, 2017 at 11:56 am //

        …to keep me from becoming conceited! Please keep the whole passage together!
        There’s not 1 chance in a million that Satan wanted to keep Paul from becoming conceited!
        Only God is God!
        Satan IS NOT God’s equal only on the dark side! God is in control of the lives of HIS kids!
        We may not know exactly what this messenger did to Paul but it was something that made him weak and that wasn’t pleasant because he asked God 3 times to take it away.
        We also know that God approved of the weakness resulting from the “thorn” because God would rather have HIS power manifest in and through us than our own!
        Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 and tell me what that means.

      • God does not allow Satan to do anythingWhen Adam and Eve ate of the Tree, they gave their authority over to Satan. The Bible calls him the prince of this earth. Jesus gave us back our authourity when He was resurrected. In His name we have power and authourity over Satan! What Satan means for evil, God turns into good. He said no weapon formed against us will prosper. He said lo I give you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing will by any means hurt us. Paul made it clear it was a messanger of Satan sent to buffet him. It was not God! God does not tempt or test us, Satan does. If we don’t use the tools that God has given us, Satan will try to walk all over us. Jesus rebuked the spirits and quoted the word of God to them. We need to do the same! Please don’t blame God for the evil work of Satan. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to give us abundant life!

      • Richard Burrows // September 16, 2017 at 11:59 pm //

        But not YOUR definition of abundant!
        Jesus said “the flesh counts for nothing”.
        I don’t think Jesus even uttered a casual/meaningless word.
        So if you filter your definitions through the flesh counting for nothing that changes a lot – right.
        And your wrong about God not using Satan.
        There are at least 2 examples right off the top of my head:
        If you read the account of the last plague on Egypt you will see that God AND the destroyer passed over Egypt but it was the destroyer who carried out God’s curse on the first born.
        In the passage you quoted about no weapon formed against us; that means that we won’t be defeated – it doesn’t mean we won’t be broken. It says that “God created the destroyer to reap havoc”! Look it up. How is that not God using the enemy?!
        Also, don’t have time to look up the reference right now but, “God sent a lying spirit into the mouths of the prophets of Israel” – look it up.
        SATAN IS ONLY AN ANGEL!!!
        God is God over him too!
        You’re giving him a million times more credit and power than he deserves!
        You’re saying GOD = GOOD / SATAN = BAD
        They are not comparable in any way, even as opposites.
        My God is in control! Remember we’re talking about the born again, Spirit filled Apostle Paul.
        Satan is only allowed to do what GOD allows!

      • Richard I don’t even know what to say to you. My God has never broken me and never set Satan on me. He has rescued me from depression and suicide, healed my body of every kind of illness, including a brain tumor. He has held me in His arms when I was hurting and scared. He has provided my every need. He has been so good to me, never humiliated me or laid condemnation on me when I did something wrong. He instead healed deep emotional pain and helped me get to the root of my problem. He has been so good to me that I wrote a book about His goodness !

        Holy Spirit has taught me so many rrwonderful truths that are hidden by poor translation in the Bible. These truths have strengthened me and increased my faith tremendously. Richard –Ya Gotta Know My Jesus !

  17. What are your thoughts on proverbs 8:13 “the fear of the lord is to hate evil?” Thanks for your great posts

  18. Gordon Schnee // February 1, 2017 at 7:15 am // Reply

    Just a word of thanks Paul, for being one of the few online who so skillfully presents the truly good news.

  19. I consider that old testament people were under law and not grace, so I don’t know that we can sweep away all the many references in the old testament to God ‘bringing’ or ‘causing’ calamity, hardship or judgement on the basis of ‘incorrect perspective on behalf of the quoted person’. Everyone was not only under the curse of the law, but God was righteous when he punished any failure to comply to the fullness of the law, because that’s what the law required. Given everyone was born in sin and therefore under the curse, even without having committed a single sin, including ‘Righteous Job’, then God would have been just even if he killed everyone, because the wages of sin is death. Mercy triumphs over judgment however, and it was always God’s intention in Christ to reveal his great mercy and Love in Christ by taking all judgement and punishment on our behalf, but we can’t carry the completed work of Christ back in time through the cross and apply it to those who had not yet partaken in it other than by faith. Surely we should really be looking at the many times God showed mercy in the old Testament because of his goodness and love rather than trying to show God operating under the fullness of a grace that had not yet been established in the earth.

    • Amen brother! Also I believe it was Job’s self righteousness that gave the devil the opportunity to accuse him before God as he was trusting in his own righteousness. thus God allowed Job to be tested.

      • That’s funny my Bible says that God called Job a righteous man! God did not allow Job to be attacked by Satan. Job was already in Satan’s hand because of the fall in the Garden of Eden. Satan tried to get God to lift a hand against Job but God said NO!

    • Grace did exist before! God’s grace was on the Isrealites in the wilderness. When they complained and murmured, God met evey one of their needs. He did not base this on whether or not they deserved it, He based it on His covenant promises to Abraham. When the children of Israel decided they wanted to be judged according to their own obedience and goodness, the law was established. God always wanted us to be under His grace, but they opted for law. God did this to show them they couldn’t do it without him! When Jesus died and rose again, He once again established Grace on the earth. Man has freewill and God honours that. After all He gave man freewill !

      God gave His life for us because He loved us. He laid all of our sin and sickness on Jesus. Jesus paid our debt, past present and future. God knew every sin we would ever commit and He chose to take it on His own body and cast it into the deepest ocean, never to be brought up again. He said, “IT IS FINISHED”. Grace was re-established and we are no longer judged on our performance. We are Righteous because He is Righteous and we are Holy because He is Holy! Knowing His Grace and Love, automatically makes me want to live the best life I can, but if I fail, He is there to pick me up and set me on the right path again. No condemnation, no guilt, no shame. Now that is unconditional love!

  20. Thank you. This is the message that heals and helps our hearts to truly trust God

  21. Great, great, great. May religion day and never resurrect. Thanks for this GRACE infested and saturated interpretation of the book of Job

  22. Seems like a literal example of “the wealth of the wicked being laid up for the just” in action, everyone gave Job some silver and gold rings. Maybe as Job became more humble by the end of the story and stopped trusting in his own righteousness, the magnetic power of the Righteousness of God to attract blessings in Job was turned up to full volume and sucked the silver and gold right out of his relatives hands and into his pockets!!! KA-CHING

    • I like that, Euan. I wondered about the rings. There must be some ancient symbolism to them. I was at first struck by how trivial the gifts were in comparison with the Lord’s magnificent bounty. They seem like tokens, like giving Bill Gates a Benjamin Franklin. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more to it than that. The fact that they all gave rings and a piece of silver is intriguing.

      • Yes, I think you’re right! There seems to be more going on here than the family members simply greasing Job’s palms so he won’t be angry with them. It doesn’t say specifically how many people were there to offer him these gifts, but what if there were 30 people who gave him 30 PIECES of silver… (could be hinting at the betrayal of Jesus that was to come? Looks like Job was betrayed by his family here to a certain extent too as they all bailed out on him in his hour of need… Maybe also hinting that Jesus would be betrayed by someone close to Him in His hour of need; someone as close as a family member ie. Judas).

        As for the rings, what if they were hinting at the kind of ring the Father gave to his son in the parable of the prodigal son and means “Son”. Maybe silver + gold rings = an allegory showing the future event of “Betrayal (silver) of the Son (gold ring) in His hour of need”?

        Thinking a lot I know but it’s fun to go digging in God’s Word and look for more of Jesus!

  23. Timothy Thomas // February 2, 2017 at 5:59 am // Reply

    “A God who does evil makes as much sense as a torch that shines dark.” That is freaking brilliant! One of my favorite I’ve heard you say Paul. Thanks so much for stepping out and doing what God called you to do.

    • Richard Burrows // September 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm // Reply

      So YOU get to define brokenness as evil?
      But God doesn’t.
      Paul was broken and crushed to pieces 2 Corinthians 11.
      By your definition God was out of control and satan was in control of Paul’s life.
      Brokenness is one of the greatest gifts God gives us.
      It gives us the Blessing of “more of YOU, less of me”.
      2 Cor. 4:10-11 the same Paul says “We who are alive are always being given over to death (in the original language that means “always being given over to death”) (but it’s for a reason – God’s purpose is perfect) for Jesus sake, SO THAT Jesus life may be revealed in us”
      So this verse has an objective and a means to accomplish that objective!
      Objective: Jesus life manifest in and through me.
      Method: always being given over to death.
      What a Blessing!
      And how do you explain Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
      Certainly “scourging” based on your definition is EVIL with a capital E, V, I, L.

  24. I can’t be bothered to try figure out what Job did wrong etc. anymore. Jesus said Satan is always about the things of man. On the day of His resurrection Jesus taught on the Emmaus Road to look at Scripture as things concerning Himself, not man. Job is typology. Job (name means “Hated”) represents Jesus and his body (believers). God declares Jesus and the church righteous. God has allowed Satan to tested/afflict us for the past 2 “days” (2000 years) and religious folk (Job’s friends) keep telling us “just confess you are unjustified sinners and repent etc.” but grace believers, in the face of this, keep maintaining that we are the righteousness of God, just like Job did. I wish we could stop nitpicking through the human man Job’s life and leave him in peace. If we start looking for the ‘things of man’ in this story we’re in danger of missing Christ hidden in the typology. There is some magnificent imagery about Jesus and (we-in-Him) here in this story and looking for Him changes the whole interpretation from Job bashing to Jesus glorifying.

    • A third option: It is possible to see Jesus in the story of Job without dismissing Job as a metaphor.

    • As I was reading these comments, this Scripture jumped out at me. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither He tempteth any man.” (James 1:13) KJV I looked up the word tempted in my Strong’s Concordance and discovered that it means tested, tried or scrutinized. In other words let no man say when he is tempted, tested or tried, that He is tempted, tested or tried of God!

  25. I’ve sincerely tried that, Paul, but the subliminal pressure to filter everything through the lens of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means I’ve repeatedly ended up like the poor befuddled disciples asking, “Who sinned that this man was born blind, him or his parents?” “Neither.” Period. “But so that the works of God may be manifested in him; it behoves me to be working the works of Him who sent me.” In other words, get your eyes of the cause, guys, look at what My Father and I have done to fix it before the foundation of the world, that we are continually outworking, the tree of Life.
    Y’all go ahead and root through Job’s life to see how he/his family sinned, but for my soul it’s playing with fire! At this point, I’ve got to see nothing else in scripture but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    • You don’t think the blind man was metaphorical? 😉

      I think your approach is a good one, and I commend it. But have grace for us if we take a different and more literal route. I don’t think anyone here is interesting in Job bashing, as you claim. We are all here to see Jesus in the story.

  26. I don’t know where the idea comes from that the blind man story wasn’t both a real historical event and a metaphor for the idea that all of mankind is born blind to the tree of Life, due to making the tree of the knowledge of good and evil his focus instead, and that Jesus was going to open our eyes though the grace released via the cross. What I don’t understand is why a richly grace saturated website is veering off to behaviour-based theology as to what Job et al did or didn’t do wrong. This is a compliment to the site, which usually dependably focuses on NT truths instead of OT former realities. It’s not so much whether metaphors are in there or not but what spin the metaphor has – man’s behaviour or Christ’s behaviour. I wish I could properly explain but I can tell by your responses that what I’m trying to say isn’t what you are reading into it, sorry! Clumsy word-smithing from me today it seems! I shall give up and quit pestering!

    • Looking back I think I got the wrong impression that you were dismissing Job as a fictional character, but you weren’t. You were reading the story at a meta-level, much as I did when I said Job’s friends represent religion above.

  27. I think the issue here is that it isn’t one of Jon’s siblings saying that God brought the trouble, it’s the narrator. We usually assume that the narrator speaks for God.

  28. Twice you have mentioned once as ‘the true character of a good God’ and another time ‘they paint evil pictures of a good God’. We know that God is good. When we say ‘good God’ will it not suggest that God can be a ‘bad God’ as well which is an impossibility?

  29. There are many text in the OT that tell us God is the orchestrator of bad stuff. Like the killing of the first born in Egypt and all the other plagues. Where is the goodness in that or even the mercy/grace? I have a view on this, but would love to know yours Paul. Maybe you already wrote about it before?

  30. There is an interesting take on the interpretation of scriptures written in Hebrew in the 1800’s Young Analytical Concordance – Hints & Helps for Biblical Interpretations – section 70 (b) – “Active verbs frequently express permission – not in a causative sense.”

    So, this indicates that some scriptures that say God caused something, or did something. – It could have been used in a “permissive sense” and not in a “causative sense”. In other words – God let it happen without His hand being in it to directly cause it to happen.

    Makes one think about the translations of some things. Then again there is much we don’t know but Jesus is perfect theology. He came to show us the exact representation of the nature of the Father. W need to see Jesus doing it while on this earth as He showed us the Father.

    Whatever “perception” we get of God in the OT – if it doesn’t line up with Christ – it will not be accurate.

  31. Paul, your statement, “Listen to bad men talk about the Lord, and you will get a bad picture,” is right on. Has happened to me, unfortunately, but now I am so grateful for your refreshing message of grace. Now I know God’s true character, and I don’t let other people convince me that He is displeased with me, doesn’t love me, or will reject me.

  32. Keith Murray // February 6, 2017 at 9:43 am // Reply

    God does what He wills to turn our hearts back to Him. If we lead wicked lives His Love will cause us to go into ‘Captivity’ until we turn from our wicked ways. Read the history of Gods people taken into captivity because they turned against Him. He clearly states that He led them into captivity to turn their hearts back to Him. Their are consequences for sin and it is Gods grace that moves our hearts back to Him.
    1 Kings 46-49
    Keith

    • Richard Burrows // February 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm // Reply

      Amen Keith – but not just if we’re living ‘evil’ lives. If we’re praying to go deeper with the Lord or be more like Jesus or to be for HIS glory, HE accomplishes this, more often than not, through brokenness. Virtually every story that you can name throughout the old testament God took the person HE planned to use for HIS glory from a place of relative, let’s say ‘ease’, to a much lower place before they are usable. Abraham and Sarah, God waited 25 years until they were ‘as good as dead’ before fulfilling HIS promise of a son; Moses from the palace to the back side of the desert; Joseph from favored son to slavery to jail; David from hero of Israel to running for his life and living in caves; Samson from the top to the bottom until “he killed more in his death than he did in his life”; Gideon – my absolute favorite – “you have too many, you might think you won the battle. God sends 99% of the army home, then takes away their weapons and gives them torches and pots – awesome! Then how bout Peter: “maybe all the rest of these losers will turn from you BUT NOT ME!” “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat, but when you’ve been brought down a bunch of notches, minister to the brethren”.

  33. Bill Robinson // February 7, 2017 at 9:18 am // Reply

    Paul, I am thankful for your work. I first stumbled across your site when a friend on facebook referenced your response to the “Hypergrace” accusations that many of us began to hear a few years ago. I have primarily heard the grace message through many, many messages by Joseph Prince, but I have enjoyed finding other teachers who expand on the nuances of God’s grace toward us in the new covenant.

    But one idea of the grace movement that has troubled me for a while is the idea that “God does not take away.” Yes, I’m aware of John 10:10, and Jesus has assured us that it is the “thief” who has come to kill, steal, and destroy — not Him. But since Jesus is our greatest revelation of the heart of God, and the letters to the seven churches in Revelation are the words of the Glorified Jesus, how do you receive the warnings of Jesus found there? He warns Ephesus that He will remove or “take away” their lampstand (I assume their “church” as understood in Rev 1:20.) He warns Pergamum that He will “make war against them” (false teachers?) with the sword of His mouth. He warns Thyatira that He will “kill” the children of the false prophet Jezebel with “pestilence” so THAT THE CHURCHES will know that “I am He who searches the minds and hearts.” He warns Sardis that unless they wake up He will “come like a thief” and also seems to imply the possible horror that He could possibly “erase” the names of certain people from the Book of Life. All of these warnings seem to imply the Lord will “take away” — at least from some — and not just at His final judgment. If He is “not holding their sins against them” from now until His final return, then why would Jesus “remove” and “war against” and “kill” and “erase” names? I ask with humility — and my questions also likely reveal that I have struggled in recent years with a “fear that the Lord” that doesn’t match the many grace messages I have heard, agreed with, and truly submitted to over recent years. I desperately want to be “perfected in love” and have such fears fade away – but I struggle with the reality that I lived a licentious lifestyle in my youth that “insulted the Spirit of Grace.” Thanks for your thoughts…

  34. Hi Paul,
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blogposts. Thank you for your series on Job, it’s refreshing to read it through the lens of Grace! I was just wondering if Job lived before the law, what made him so sin conscious? Thank you!

  35. Like many others, , I have wondered about Job. In my Q’s,
    I discovered that the word GOD used with Job initially was “behold”…I discovered that when that word is used in the Bible,it is followed by information the hearer didn’t know….thus the very quick exit of Satan from GOD’S presence to have a go at Job….check this out !
    In other words , Satan has to learn things just like we do…when GOD created the universe, HE buried many principles in the natural realm( like gravity,etc ), and in the spiritual realm ( ask, and it will be answered)….so here’s Satan asking GOD some Q’s…and GOD answering them, as HE is no respecter of persons…evil has to be available in order to be available to be chosen.And so “GOD CREATES EVIL”. How can we choose if it’s not available to be chosen..it must be available, and Satan can’t create, only deceive
    (As an aside Paul, it would be helpful if you could build into the response box a character counter to help us stay under the 250 max)

    • Thanks, Neil. Over the years I have asked WordPress engineers several times if it is possible to include a word- or character counter in the comment box. Apparently, it’s not. However, I think most people will get an idea of the suitable length by looking at the published comments.

  36. Satan was at one time called Lucifer–he was a beautiful angel created by God. He was full of music and he was very much present in the throne room of God. Satan is very aware of the power of God. He knows the power in praise and worship, in prayer and he is very aware of the goodness of God. He is also the “Father of Lies”. He spends his time deceiving people and trying to turn them against God with his lies and misinterpretations of God’s will for mankind. He downplays the power of God in our lives to heal the sick, to cast out demons and to spread the gospel to all nations. I often wonder if he is driven with great jealousy at the things he gave up to exalt himself against God and especially when he sees what we have gained in knowing Jesus. The Name of Jesus has put him under our feet and he doesn’t want us to know that. Satan is responsible for evil–not God. God did not create evil. Evil is a result of the fall in the garden of Eden. Satan and the evil heart of man cause bad things to happen to people and God doesn’t have to lift a hand against anyone. Instead He is there to help when bad things happen!

    • Richard Burrows // March 9, 2017 at 10:51 am // Reply

      This is the same issue as “who was responsible for the brokenness of Job”? I LOVE my Heavenly Daddy with all my heart and the most precious thing in my life is cuddling up the HIM and letting HIM pour HIS perfect unconditional love into me!
      But… GOD INITIATES BROKENNESS! God said to satan “have you seen my servant Job”? Now if that wasn’t God initiating what followed then God’s not God at all and was tricked by satan.
      Every person in the Bible that God used, HE broke them first, putting them in a place of absolute, desperate dependence on HIM – anything else in sin (everything that is not of faith (total dependence on God) is sin).
      Every Christian knows what 2 Chronicles 7:14 says but nobody seems to acknowledge how GOD accomplishes getting us on our faces before HIM
      vs. 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people…”
      “WHEN I..” do these things! 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 explains God’s objective and HIS method as clear as clear can be: “We who are alive (Paul talking to Christians) are ALWAYS BEING GIVEN OVER TO DEATH for Jesus sake, SO THAT JESUS LIFE CAN BE REVELED IN US.” That’s the life we find from Luke 9 “He who loses his life for MY sake will find it”.
      You can look at every story in the old testament and you’ll see the key person being brought low and then used for the Glory of God, but let’s look at Peter.
      “Maybe the rest of these loser will abandon you but not me Lord; I’ll go to prison for You, I’ll even die for You.”
      Really Peter?! Well, satan has asked to sift you as wheat, but WHEN YOU RETURN (from being crushed to powder) MINISTER TO THE BRETHREN (because after you’re broken then I can use you for MY Glory).

      • I disagree with the notion that God was responsible for Job’s suffering or that God gives and takes away. As to the Lord’s conversation with Satan, you might be interested in this article.

      • Marjorie // March 9, 2017 at 4:56 pm //

        “Is Satan God’s Sheep Dog?” I love it!!! Totally agree with you Paul. Thanks for the confirmation!

      • Richard Burrows // March 10, 2017 at 1:19 am //

        Have to go to work but have to ask what you think God’s motivation for pointing out Job to satan? Does your God not know what’s going to happen as a response to “have you seen my servant Job”? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more.
        My God knew exactly what would follow and would take full responsibility for HIS actions.
        He had a plan, a purpose and a strategy and accomplished it.
        And what about all that rest my comments? Everything God is and does fits together perfectly!

      • Job 1:8-12 is one of the most poorly translated scriptures in the English Bible for two reasons: (1) It is just plain not what the Bible says (as any literal translation shows), and (2) it gives the horrendous impression that God did the nudge, nudge thing you suggested. Rule of thumb: Jesus gives us a better understanding of God’s character than misguided translators. If you can’t see the Son doing it, the Father wouldn’t do it either. I have written at length on this passage here.

      • Marjorie // March 10, 2017 at 7:13 am //

        Paul I am so thankful the Holy Spirit led me to this site. I have been so blessed to get confirmation of many things I have known in my heart to be true but couldn’t prove them because of the wording in some Scriptures. The following Scripture has become revelation to me over my entire 35 years as a Christian..1John2:27- But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. I praise God that Holy Spirit led me to the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, when everyone around me said it was wrong.

      • I have found that my spirit responds to the gospel of grace far faster than my brain. When I got these revelations, my spirit would leap for joy while my mind would raise an eyebrow asking, “Where is that in the Bible.” The Holy Spirit would show me where it was and my brain would catch up. Truly our spirits, being one with the Lord, are the locomotive, and our minds, handicapped by limited understanding, are the cabooses. You will find a lot of people here resonate like tuning forks, while others query with their skeptical minds. The challenge for all of us is to be patient, give grace, and encourage one another as we walk together on this exciting journey.

      • Thanks Paul. I can’t agree more!

      • Marjorie // March 9, 2017 at 8:30 pm //

        I climb up on my Daddy’s lap too but I know He will never hurt me. HHe doesn’t have to knock me on my face. Life and Satan take care of that. People in Scripture were not brought low by God, they were down because of their circumstances and God raised them up so that they could accomplish their destiny and purpose. My interpretation of that Scripture about Peter is that God was warning Peter that Satan was out to get him and Jesus said not to worry, I am praying for you that your faith will not fail you. He is ever interceding for us. When Satan brings trials, Jesus is cheering us on. We don’t have to die for Jesus. He already died for us that we may live. The devil comes to kill, steal and destroy and Jesus comes to give us abundant life. Paul is referring to our old nature, not physical death. How can we glorify Christ if we are dead?

      • Richard Burrows // March 10, 2017 at 6:51 am //

        SO… it’s just a coincidence that everyone that God used in all those Bible stories went from a high place to a low place and then God used them – good timing!
        God didn’t use Moses when he was Pharaoh’s grandson living in the palace.
        God didn’t use Joseph when he was the favorite, pampered son with everything going for him.
        God didn’t use Abraham/Sarah when they were of child bearing are.
        God didn’t use Samson when he was the strongest young man anywhere.
        God didn’t use Gideon when he had 32,000 men – send 99% home along with their swords and shields and go to war outnumbered 450 to 1.
        God didn’t use David when he was the most popular, powerful young man in Israel but running for his life, hiding in caves.
        God didn’t use Peter when he was full of himself. HE allowed satan to sift him as wheat.
        “…but WHEN YOU RETURN MINISTER TO THE BRETHREN”
        God/Jesus knew exactly what HE was doing and what was going to happen and what the fruit would be in Peter’s life.

      • Colleen G // March 10, 2017 at 7:22 am //

        The myth of brokenness comes not from God but the other guy. God does not need to hurt people to bring them into utter dependence upon him. There is enough hell on earth in this life to do that. 2 Chron 7:14 says that the people are to humble themselves. Not that God is going to abuse them until they can no longer stand up. Humility is choosing to bow down to what is greater than yourself.
        Maybe you can worship a God who is no better than an abusive parent who tortures their children and then calls their broken, battered souls love and submission. But many of us have been around the real thing with either our earthly parents or someone close to us and we see through the load of lies that paints God as a child abuser. If God is as you say then he is reality is no different than any other god in history.

      • Marjorie // March 10, 2017 at 7:43 am //

        Thanks for your reply. I feel the same way. Thank God my parents didn’t have to beat me into submission. They showed me love and respect and I returned it to them. I have had two encounters with Jesus visiting me and in each He showed love and compassion beyond human comprehension. He assured me in His words, “There is no condemnation in Me no guilty, no shame.” He looked into my eyes and told me that He wasn’t leaving umtil I got it. He didn’t and I got it!

      • It’s no coincidence that sun comes from a low place to a high place every day, but it’s not because the rooster crows. We need to understand the true nature of the relationship before we can discern correlation and causation.
        Men who are self-reliant, self-sufficient, and self-made are proud in a competitive and comparative way. They have faith in themselves. These men give Satan legal access into their lives.
        The disciples determined to know amongst themselves, “who will be greatest in the kingdom”. Healing the sick, blind, and casting out demons they had all done, but only 3 were present when Jesus was transfigured, and to only 1 of them had Jesus said “well spoken, these words came from my Father, and on these words will the kingdom be built”. Peter probably triumphed in the chest beating competition. Jesus rebukes them all, ministers to them, then turns to Peter and informs him that Satan has made a request to sift him as wheat. The request(petition) cannot be refused.
        The end of this trial happens on the beach one morning, “go ahead Peter, remind me how much more you love me than everyone else”. Peter confesses, “I don’t truly know what love is”. Those words of weakness were the final testimony that saw the accuser disqualified.
        God had not initiated the trial, the sifting, but when Peter acknowledged his weakness he received Jesus Love and Satan got kicked into the next postcode . . . like lightning

  37. When it comes to the issue of God’s perspective/involvement in our trials, I have found two scriptures which bring clarity.

    Romans 8:28 says God causes all things to work together for good… It does not say He causes all things or that all things are good, but that He causes all things to work for our good. This depicts not the mystery of His sovereignty (as if he caused the trials), but the power and wisdom of His redemption.

    Another one like it is John 16:33 where Jesus says, “In this world” we will have tribulation but to be of good cheer and find peace “In Him” because He overcame the world. Here, it is the fallen world we live in, not our Heavenly Father, bringing tribulation. Again, God is about redeeming the fallen world and uses us as His body to release His presence into brokenness.

    • Amen John!

    • That’s exactly it, John, God is a Redeemer who comes into our messes, picks up the broken pieces, and restores us. But he never causes the mess. We hardly need help for that.

    • Richard Burrows // March 11, 2017 at 10:05 am // Reply

      ABSOLUTELY! ABSOLUTELY! GOD IS REDEEMER!!! Our attitude and reaction to troubles can keep God from redeeming but HIS goal is to always redeem! Paul’s thorn in the flesh – look sincerely at what it says: “to keep me from becoming conceited…” Someone caused something to keep Paul humble – who wanted Paul to remain humble? “I was given a thorn in the flesh” so it didn’t just happen naturally – he was given. “a messenger of satan” so whoever wanted Paul to remain humble used a messenger of satan to somehow “torment” Paul. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” it sounds to me like Paul thinks that the Lord is responsible for this and therefore asks HIM to take it away but that’s not important…

      Someone has done something to put Paul into a weaker state for a reason; the reason is that someone wants “God’s power to be made perfect in” Paul. Paul gets it and completely changes his tactics “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Why does Paul now rejoice in what’s making him weak? Now Paul SO receives the revelation of God’s power being perfected in his weakness that he makes what’s pretty much the craziest statement in the whole Bible: “That is why, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, I DELIGHT in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” If you still don’t believe God actually causes the troubles read 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 where HE causes to accomplish HIS perfect purposes.

      • Paul Goodwin // September 16, 2017 at 3:12 am //

        Hi Richard, A lot of people think of Paul’s thorn in the flesh as an illness or some physical impairment. Some think it was a problem with his eyes but we’re told that the scales fell away from his eyes when he was prayed for. One Christian friend who has a quirky sense of humour, in a tongue in cheek way, has suggested that he was married to a lady called Grace. 😉 However, when we carefully examine Paul’s ministry, what is the most salient thing that constantly plagued him? Ultra-legalistic Jews who violently through words and actions relentlessly pushed their agenda. No situation he ever faced would have been ideal to preach the gospel. He would have often been operating on the back foot. He writes of what he had to suffer for the gospel and none of those situations would have been easy. In each case he was very much in a place of weakness, but where he ran out of strength he discovered massive reserves in God.

    • I love how you explained that John. It really gives me a peaceful feeling about God’s love and grace. I am a child of the Most High. The King’s Daughter.

      • Thank you for the feedback. Our Father is the good shepherd who is with us when we pass through the valleys.

        As for Paul’s thorn, if we are not careful, we can interpret this in a way that overrides the clear declaration of Scripture. We know that every good and perfect gift is from our Father (Jas 1:17). We know the thorn was a messenger of Satan. So we know where the thorn came from (there are no thornbushes in heaven and Satan is not God’s business contractor).

        Paul asks God to remove it because He, not Satan, is the deliverer. I believe God’s response to Paul implies that he needed to learn to connect with the grace of God in a way that he had not known before. It’s like Jesus was saying, “Paul, my grace is sufficient here, but you’ve been looking behind door A whereas this type of grace is behind door B.”

        Bottom line is we should not use specific incidents in the bible to form doctrines which override clear doctrines (such as Satan comes to destroy, Jesus comes to give life). If we do, then we can start to expect thorns and tribulations from God to follow us, rather than goodness and mercy.

  38. Hi All,
    I have read the comments, Its great to be here.

  39. Richard Burrows // April 12, 2017 at 3:36 am // Reply

    “satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” Asked who? Who gave permission? For what purpose? Peter was full of himself and unusable for God’s glory – maybe for his own glory.

    Paul’s doctrine must have been really screwed up for him to “DELIGHT in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” The phrase before this statement tell us what his ‘delighting’ is there for: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake…

    What prevents us from truly knowing the truth is that we think that WE define words like ‘Blessing’ and ‘Good’. God defines what is for our ‘blessing’ and for our ‘good’ and Paul understood that. Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

    Do you know that Jesus said that “the flesh counts for nothing”? Pretty sure Jesus didn’t just throw out meaningless statements. John 6:63 “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.””

    If we’re going to define things, maybe we should use the message Jesus gives us in this verse. Maybe God isn’t as focused on blessing our flesh as we think? On top of that, if God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness why would God go out of HIS way to keep our flesh from being weak?

  40. I agree as you stated in this post, “…God did not bring evil or trouble upon Job.” However, Jonah’s story comes to mind. Wasn’t God responsible for the big fish swallowing up Jonah thus causing great trouble and trials for him three days and nights?

  41. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with the book of job because they start from the perspective of self preservation. Self preservation is the sure fire way to loose your life, but those that willingly lay it down gain more life than they could ever imagine.
    The book of Job rests dead center on the tension between human free will and the sovereignty of God, this makes us pretty uncomfortable, we don’t like the idea of not being in control of our future.
    The book of Job is a prophetic shadow of things to come on multiple levels, it exposes the utter futility of reasoning from the tree of good and evil and the worthlessness of knowledge and advice that is derived from it. It reveals the unchanging nature of God and the supremacy of His ways over the ways of the world. Job gained that revelation from God himself despite his fleshly suffering, Jobs friends didn’t play a part in his liberation, God actually later sent Jobs friends to him so that Job could pray for them and liberate them from their foolishness!!
    If the book of Job still bothers you, consider this, Job was described as the most righteous man on earth, when you become the most righteous person on earth, maybe you will have something to be worried about 😉

  42. I think that people put too much emphasis on the Apostle Paul. Paul was just a human being like all the other apostles. They all made mistakes from time to time and they were all learning just like you and I.
    Who’s to say that Paul didn’t still have a bit of a religious spirit. After all he was a Pharisee. Yes he had a powerful revelation of Grace, but that doesn’t mean he had the corner on every aspect of God, anymore than you ir I do. When he asked God to take away his suffering and God told him His Grace was sufficient, I believe God was telling him to use his authority in the name of Jesus, to thwart some of it. God was not causing Paul to suffer, unbelievers were causing persecution.
    I totally believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, but I also know that a lot has been misconstrued and lost in translation. I have studied many words that were completely misinterpreted and ruined the whole context of the Scripture. If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father. This alone tells me that something is terribly wrong as this is not consistent with how God has been portrayed by many!

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