Confused by the Book of Job? Well, each time I read it I come away with fresh confusion! Some of what Job says seems true in the course of conversation with his “friends.” Some of what his friends say seems true to me as well! Some of what Job and his friends say makes me cringe and is plain nonsense. Some of what they say makes me want to stop reading, close the book, and worship with my face to the ground.
Well, whatever, at the end of the book, God throws a question into all the conversations: “Who is it that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?” That gives Job the opportunity to look back on his ramblings and say, “It is I – and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”
The twists continue! God now says to Job’s friends that He is angry with them because they “have not spoken accurately about me as my servant Job has.”
How do we square these odd twists, the apparent contradiction between Job speaking with jaw-dropping and cringe factor ignorance (so much so that he wanted to take back everything he had said) and him now being described by God as speaking with accuracy about Him and being His servant, a prophetic appellation, with which James agrees in the letter that bears his name in the New Testament?
I think the answer to the riddle is this: Job did say one accurate thing. It is perhaps the shortest prophetic ministry in the Old Testament. It lasted for one sentence to use our terminology. Newly humbled, at last he gets it! He says this: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.” Another version puts it like this: “Now I know that no plan of yours can be thwarted.”
I have been thinking of prophetic ministry that has impacted me the most over the years. I think that often we mistakenly almost submerge “Prophecy” under the gift of ” Words of Knowledge” in Charismatic circles. Of course they are both revelatory gifts, but I think that we have reserved our “wow” response for accurate words of knowledge, so much so that when true prophecy is happening without words of knowledge being present we scarcely notice it.
To be honest I have reached the stage in life, where words of knowledge addressed to me about me in the course of being ministered to, elicit no “wow” factor response from me. I know that God knows me! What does make me feel awe is the reminder of the “Godness” of God. I thrive on people telling me about God, not on people telling me about me! The Godness of God is what prophet Job spoke of with fear and reverence with his hand over his mouth. The psalmist agrees with the content of his short prophetic ministry. Our God is in the heavens! He sits above the sphere of the earth and does whatsoever pleases Him. He cannot be packaged into lazy second hand non alive orthodoxy, and refuses to fit neatly into any system or programme that demands He be a performing circus animal and do tricks for our delight, for which we reward Him with our spectating chattering approval and applause. He is God. As a hymn from my childhood puts it:
“Before Jehovah’s awesome throne
Ye nations bow with sacred joy
Know that the Lord is God alone
He can create and He destroy
His sovereign power without our aid
made us of clay and formed us men
And when like wandering sheep we strayed
He drew us to His fold again.
You reach a place of astounding victory when you realise with Prophet Job, “Now I know that no plan of yours can be thwarted.” The God and Father who made us out of nothing and redeemed us by nothing but His own grace, knows every resistance His plans will meet even in the hearts of His children, individually and collectively as the church of His Son; He knows every obstacle that will be put in the paths of His purposes being fulfilled in you and I, in the church and in the world, by Satan Himself. However, despite all of that, the idea that His purposes can be thwarted, is either in its utmost seriousness blasphemous, or side-splittingly-laughable when faith triumphs and dismisses such a notion out of hand.
Perhaps tonight you can choose which response to make to any creeping doubts you can have at the triumph of God’s will and plan for your yielded life. Put your hand over your mouth and repent in silence because you have spoken in bitterness of spirit and experience about things you know nothing about…or holy laughter. Which? See how the Spirit leads…