So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly. – Job 1:5 (NKJV)
In the previous blog, I mentioned that the word ‘barak’ was translated as ‘curse’ in four verses in the Book of Job. The first instances is in Job 1:5, when Job said that probably his sons had sinned and cursed God in their hearts. The literal translation must read as: “Perhaps my sons have sinned, yet blessed God in their hearts” (YLT). So how do we understand that?
First let us see why the translators changed the meaning of ‘barak’ from blessing to curse, based on the context. Since Job was worried about his sons committing sins while being drunk, we won’t imagine that the sin would involve blessing God. Most of the drunkards curse God, or take the Lord’s Name in vain. So, changing the meaning of ‘barak’ from blessing to curse fits into our simple understanding of sin.
Simple understanding of sin is quite ‘simple, it is white and black in nature. This is sin, this is not. So, we group curse with sin, because both are dark in nature. We won’t group blessing with sin, because they are polar opposites. But, true Christians, who have battled with sin, like Apostle Paul writes about in Romans chapter 7, would know that sin is not that easy to define. It is not a simple – “they were drunk, they had sinned, therefore they would have surely cursed God”.
Sin makes people stupid. It blinds their eyes. Now, let us read the Young’s Literal Translation again.
“Perhaps my sons have sinned, yet blessed God in their hearts.”
Can we bless God while sinning? Can we give thanks to God, while doing something unholy? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. In my Christian life, I have seen three types of people thanking God while sinning.
1. The flippant ones: I have seen some rich kids, who are Church-goers, brought up in good Christian family, getting wasted on one of those days, spending so much money on sin, and say, “Thank God, my old man is loaded.” Did they really thank God? No. But deep in sin, in a flippant manner, they thank God for giving their parents so much money.
2. The guilty ones: This is the majority crowd. I have seen young believers thanking God so profusely, if we don’t know why they were thanking God, we would be easily deceived. I have spoken with some of them, and have found that they were leading a double life. They have committed sin knowingly and all the time, they have been praying, “Lord, please let no one know about this sin. Please. If You have to punish, You punish me. But, let no one else find out.” And when they are not caught red-handed in their sins, they actually thanked God for the ‘mercy’ He has shown them. I mean, they sincerely pray to God while sinning, and thank God for His mercies. It took me a while to make them understand that sin is an abomination to God and instead of asking Him to cover your sins, next time pray that you do not sin.
3. The ones with no chance: Many years back, I had this Christian friend who used to visit me during weekends and we would go to the Church together. One weekend, he was a no-show. But when I came back from the church, there he was, with a guilt-ridden face. I found out that he had a sexual encounter with a woman he did not even know, and hence did not feel like coming to the church. When I heard this, I just asked, “What were you thinking?” And he blurted out his answer and it sort of stunned me. His answer was, “I guess, I was really thanking God for this.” He was sincere in his response and when I probed further, he explained. He was from a strict Christian family, where even looking at a TV ad was considered a deadly sin. Because of his upbringing, he had trouble talking with girls, and hence had no friends from the opposite sex. Boys also had avoided him, because he was considered “a walking woman repellent”. So, he was very sure that he was never going to marry and that he would be die as a virgin. So, when he got a chance, though he knew it was a sin, he was grateful that God had given him a chance after all. He was genuine in his thanksgiving.
Now, I know it is stupid. Blessing God for a chance given to sin. But, sin makes us stupid. It makes us to do stupid things. I had seen people doing stupid things because of sin, was astonished how could they be that stupid, and then went and did those very stupid things because I had fallen in sin. Is it hypocritical? Yes, it definitely is. Is it inappropriate? Without any question. Yet, people keep doing that, because sin makes us hypocritical and stupid.
Now stop and think about Job’s sons. They had everything to live a luxurious life; yet, the Bible tells that on his appointed day (Job 1:4), each would arrange a feast in their houses. The appointed day refers to their birthdays. These were rich kids. Their day to day life could have been a feast. But once a year, on their birthdays, they had feasts. Even then, the next morning, they had to wake up early, so that they could be sanctified by their righteous father. In such an austere life, Job had every reason to believe that they might have blessed the Lord while sinning. And it is worse than sin itself – thanking God for giving a chance to sin, implies that God is the reason for sin. It is against the nature of God Most Holy. It is blasphemy and scandalous. It is also hypocritical. In every way, blessing while sinning is worse than sinning and cursing. That was why Job called his sons early in the morning to sanctify them.
Job had understood human nature better than us, and knowing how sin would make us do stupid things, like blessing God for a chance to sin, he said: “Perhaps my sons have sinned, yet blessed God in their hearts.” It is our limited understanding which changed the meaning of the word ‘barak’ so that we understand the verse as we wanted to. Sin makes us stupid. Let us accept and praise the Holy Spirit for opening our eyes so that we can see the price of our stupidity, the Savior Who was crucified for our iniquities.
The Lord our God created us. There is nothing in us that would surprise the Omniscient God. In His infinite wisdom, the Lord knows everything about us. We cannot hide anything from our Creator. Everything is naked before His eyes. Even from far off, He understands our thoughts. Even before we speak a word, even as it is formed in our tongue, the Lord knows. That’s why David says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6, NKJV).
In His mercies, our Father in Heaven also understands depression. Whether it was Moses, the great prophet or David, the man after God’s own heart, they had suffered depression. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, declares Solomon (Proverbs 13:12, NKJV). Even the great heroes of faith suffered from depression, as things did not turn out as they expected. As time ran out, they had to endure their hearts losing their confidence.
In his utter depression, a broken-hearted Elijah pleaded with God to take his life as he was not better than his ancestors (1 Kings 19:4). And there is something we need to notice here. Though Elijah said that prayer in depression, the Lord never reprimanded him for that. More importantly, He did answer Elijah’s prayer: the Lord did take away Elijah, except not in the way the prophet wanted. This is our God. This is our Father in Heaven.
The Lord understands depression. When we utter certain things because we are depressed, He knows the broken heart behind those utterances. When we say few things that we would not normally say, our Father in Heaven knows that we are saying such things because we are downcast. What the Lord does not like, what He hates is murmuring against Him. But a broken-heart, the Lord does not despise. In face, the Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Our Great Physician binds those who are heart-broken, and heals them.
Of course, the greatest depression we see is in the Garden of Gethsemane. Our Savior Jesus Christ came for one purpose – to die on the Cross, so that we are saved. Yet the night before, He suffered so much in his anguish, he sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Our Teacher’s soul was so deeply grieved to the point of death, in His depression, He asked the Father “to remove that cup from Him.” But regaining His composure, He added, “Yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36). Again God our Father did not reproach His Son for that prayer. Since we know that our Lord Jesus is without sin, His utterance “to remove that cup from Him” was not a sin.
It is in this light, we need to look at the utterance of Job’s wife. By the Spirit of God, hopefully, before we finish this series, we will be able to see that her ‘irate’ directive to Job was actually very similar to the prayer of Elijah, and to an extent, and I am saying this with utmost humility and trepidation, is similar to our Lord’s prayer asking that the cup be removed from Him.
But to reach that point, we need to understand one of the well-known words in the Bible; a word we all know well for nearly a decade now, thanks to the American politics.
… and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land. – Acts 27:44 (NKJV)
As the ship faced the wrath of tempestuous head wind, Euroclydon, everyone in the ship lost their hope. It had been nearly two weeks since they saw sun or even a star, and they had no idea where they were. Amidst all those who had lost hope, Paul stood like a light shining in the dark, and declared that they all would be saved; not one man would lose his life. And he proclaimed, “I believe in God, and it shall be even as it was told me.” (Acts 27:25)
The Word came from God and it was believed by the man of God, and soon it came to fruition. Except not in the way we would describe as the majestic manner in which God delivers those who trust Him. The Bible says that some of them held on to boards and others to broken pieces from the ship and escaped.
How often in our life we have faced such circumstances? We were in a very tiring situation and the Lord gives His Word to us. That He would deliver us from evil. That He would not let us be ashamed because we put our trust in Him. That before the eyes of our enemies, He would exalt us, and show to them that He is with us and He loves us. And we are jubilant, waiting for that moment of great glory to come, where the Lord in His majesty, comes down from the Heavens, lifts us from our troubles and anoints us before our enemies.
But nothing of that sort happens. As we are waiting for the mighty arm of the Lord to appear, we see some wooden boards, some broken pieces passing by. Of course, we could take hold of them and reach land safely. But did not the Lord promise great things? Nah, these broken pieces and boards are for mere mortals. Not for the righteous who lives by faith. I will not use such mundane means to escape; no, no, I have suffered so much to escape in such a whimpering fashion. Let those broken pieces and boards pass. See the salvation of God. I wait. I wait. I am waiting. I am still waiting. I am wondering why God has not delivered me yet. Now, I am waiting, but confused. I am waiting, but my faith is shaken. A little. Okay, a lot. Now, there are doubts in my heart. Did I misunderstand what the Lord told me? Or did God lie to me? No, no, He does not lie. Have I lost something in the translation? I am wondering.
But as I wait with tired eyes, all I see are more boards and broken pieces. And a still voice telling my heart, “This is the way out. Grab it.” But I refuse. It cannot be the voice of the Almighty. It has to be the devil, trying to deceive me. I know that the Lord will deliver me in a spectacular fashion. That will shut the mouths of all my enemies. That will vindicate all my silent suffering.
Yet, all I see is more and more boards and broken pieces of wood, and that voice still telling me, “Grab it. Don’t ignore the little things that God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided you.” Now slowly, I realize that it is the Spirit of God talking to me. But, then, what about all the promises? Yes, they are still there, safe in Christ Jesus. They are “Yes” and “Amen” in my Savior and Redeemer. Then how come I have to be delivered in such a prosaic manner?
Then the Lord teaches me that lesson I must have learned long back. My faith must never feed my ego. My faith must make me humble. My faith must not fill me with pride. All those spectacular escapes I was dreaming about, those were to satisfy my ego, not for the glory of my Father. I was waiting for them, because my pride wanted such a great show for me, not for the Son of God Who loved and gave His life for me.
Oh, somewhere along being filled with faith, I have fallen prey to the oldest sin – pride. The broken pieces of ship represent what I have to be. The ship, though majestic and grand, could not take me to the land safely. But when it is broken into pieces, one of the smallest pieces is all God needs to fulfil His promise for me, and it will take me home safely.
When I am full of myself, like that ship, I may falter in reaching the destination. But when I am broken, tossed around by the wind and the waves, I know that I will reach the shore safely; and I will also help someone else to reach safely, by just hanging on to me.
Oh Lord, break me into broken pieces, so that my pride sinks in this sea. Break me, so that I can learn humility. Break me, so that You can fulfil Your promise and Your Name alone be glorified. In Jesus’s Name, I ask, Amen.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. – John 11:5-6 (NKJV)
As the narration shifts to the sufferings that the family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and the ordeal they had to suffer, the Bible tells that Jesus loved them. Yes, dear friend, all these pain, sufferings and afflictions that you are undergoing, is not because the Lord has ceased loving you, but because Jesus loves you.
At the very heart of all Lord’s dealing with you, is His loving heart; the very foundation of our Lord leading you through this valley of death is His loving hand. Eternal God is your Refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
The situations may be as dark as they can be; the reasons for the delay in the Lord’s deliverance may be mysterious to you; but dare to believe in the unmerited, infinite, immutable love that God has for you, that He showered on you on the Cross when His only Son was crucified for your sake.
Human love tries its best to avoid pain, especially to those who we love the most. That’s why the sisters informed Jesus that “he, whom You love, is sick” (John 11:3). From their understanding of how love works, they were very sure that Jesus would do everything to heal Lazarus and prevent them from any pain. Yet the Bible tells us, “Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus. So… He stayed two more days.”
So… how much import is there in this one little word. So… Jesus delayed not because He did not love them, but because He loved them. So, He delayed. It is His divine love that kept Him from sending His Word and heal Lazarus at once. It is His immutable love for them that kept Him from rushing to their home, take hold of Lazarus and healing him. Dear friend, as the Lord delays His deliverance, when everyone is telling you that the Lord has forsaken you, that He does not love you anymore… remember this. “Jesus loves you. So, He delays.”
Why does He delay? Because He knows that this situation will not lead to your death; this will not be the end of your life; but this path is allowed in your life for the glory of God; that the Son of God will be glorified through you (John 11:4). You will become a living testimony to the love of God. Many will see what great things that the Lord has done for you, and they will accept Him as their Savior – because of you. Yes, the Lord loves you. So….
“Thou art my King, O God: Command deliverance (victories, margin) for Jacob”
(Psalm 44:4 RV).
Here is no foe to your growth in grace, no enemy in your Christian work, which was not included in your Savior’s conquests.
You need not be afraid of them. When you touch them, they will flee before you. God has promised to deliver them up before you. Only be strong and very courageous! Fear not, nor be dismayed! The Lord is with you, O mighty men of valor– mighty because one with the Mightiest. Claim victory!
Whenever your enemies close in upon you, claim victory! Whenever heart and flesh fail, look up and claim VICTORY!
Be sure that you have a share in that triumph which Jesus won, not for Himself alone, but for us all; remember that you were in Him when He won it, and claim victory!
Reckon that it is yours, and gather spoil. Neither the Anakim nor fenced cities need daunt or abash you. You are one of the conquering legion. Claim your share in the Savior’s victory.
– Joshua, by Meyer
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “ – Luke 2:10-11
Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Are you sinner? Is your guilty conscience haunting you? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Friend of sinners.
Are you afraid that your sins are so dark, and you are scared that you are lost forever? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, Who came to save the sinners – even the worst of them.
Are you afraid that you are like a lost sheep, gone astray from the paths of righteousness? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Great Shepherd Who seeks those sheep that are lost.
Are you afraid that your sins are so blatant that everyone knows and are condemning to the eternal fire that is the hell? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Compassionate Judge Who says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on, sin no more.”
Are you afraid that you are unclean and unworthy of God’s kingdom? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Loving Lord, Who stretches His hand and touches you, saying, “I will; be clean.”