Christianity 201

October 19, 2011

The Lord Giveth, The Lord Taketh Away, Right?

The book of Job is complicated.

Several years ago a manufacturer of Christian giftware created an entire themed line (or range as the British say) for men based on Job 1:10–

“Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.

There were work gloves, and a measuring tape, and other items all inscribed with

You have blessed the work of his hands

And everything was going fine until my wife pointed out that the speaker in this passage wasn’t God, wasn’t Job, wasn’t Job’s friends; it was the devil.  They were selling merchandise with a quote from the devil.  I mean, it’s possible for Satan to speak the truth in a situation, but it is rather unsettling.

I mention that because on the weekend, we had a discussion about the popular worship song, Blessed Be The Name (of the Lord).  The line that came up was,

You give and take away

and the individual pointed out that God allows things to happen, but doesn’t specifically cause things to happen.

The song lyric is based on Job, but this time we can’t blame the devil.  Chapter one, verse 20 and 21 reads:

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (NIV)

The statement reflects Job’s understanding of how things work, but it’s a limited understanding; this being chapter one and all.

We do however see similar themes; such as I Samuel 2: 7,8

The LORD makes poor and rich;
He brings low, He also exalts. (NASB)

and Psalm 75: 6,7

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. (KJV)

But the causality appears slightly different in the NLT

For no one on earth—from east or west,
      or even from the wilderness—
      should raise a defiant fist.
 7 It is God alone who judges;
      he decides who will rise and who will fall

and is closer to the idea of God allowing but not actually doing.  And certainly, to believe in the sovereignty of God is to believe that nothing that takes place happens without his rubber stamp on it.

So what do you think?  Can you stand and sing that line of Blessed Be The Name with confidence?  Or do you shy away from it?

I think it’s important that our overarching belief is that God working to bring all things toward the good.  As Romans 8:28 reminds us:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who arecalled according to His purpose. (NASB)

He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.  (w/ vs. 27; The Message)

And furthermore, we can adopt an unconditional allegiance to God regardless of the circumstances or even regardless of their source.  Job reaches this point twelve chapters later, in 13:15:

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…(KJV)

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