Retributive Punishment

We often don’t know what we are talking about because our opinions are built around incomplete knowledge of the facts. This week’s lesson on Retributive Punishment serves as a prime example.

Although they expressed themselves with care and genuine concern, the friends of Job did not know what they were talking about. Their summation of the cause of Job’s suffering was wrong. They were convinced Job’s sin(s) was the cause of the calamities that had befallen him.

“If you would earnestly seek God and make your supplication to the Almighty, if you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you, and prosper your rightful dwelling place. Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.” Job 8:5-7

This sort of reasoning is ingrained into our thinking. Although we may not verbalize it, all of us have at times concluded that someone afflicted in some tragic way was simply reaping what they had sowed. And  who of us have not wondered the same for ourselves when we faced a personal crisis? Continue reading

The Curse Causeless?

Words matter. That’s the takeaway I received for this week’s lesson on The Curse Causeless.

This week our attention is on the words of Job’s friend Eliphaz. He was one of the three, who in their concern and respect for Job, came to see him after his life was turned upside down. I imagine it was the talk of many. Job was rightfully viewed as a righteous man and it must have been confusing to see him in a position that would normally be equated with punishment from God.

Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Job 4:7

I don’t fault Eliphaz for his misguided words. They seem quite reasonable for a friend to say. Job was in a terrible condition. As a friend, if I truly believed that God was punishing him for some infraction, I would want him to acknowledge whatever it was, repent of it and enjoin the mercy of God for restoration. That makes sense to me. Continue reading

Curse the Day

“42,773”

That’s the number of people who commit suicide each year in the United States where suicide is the 10th leading cause of death [1]. Depression, which has many causes, may not lead to suicide but it wears down the life forces of many. It is the leading cause of disability in the US among people ages 15-44 [2]. Lives that once had promise are reduced to hopelessness and despair.

This week as we study Curse the Day, we look at Job as he struggled with his new painful reality. What Job expressed then is repeated by many today.

“Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, there is a man child conceived.” Job 3:3

From week to week we examine the particulars of Job life. From afar we try to imagine what it must have been like to experience the calamities that befell him. The pain, darkness and despair, the unexplained causes he searched for, paint a picture of humanity experiencing the worse that life has to offer. How is possible for anyone to survive such circumstances? Continue reading

The Great Controversy

If the story of Job is a microcosm of The Great Controversy anticipated, we, the church, are in serious trouble.

Please allow my generalities for the sake of discussion. May it be true that you are an exception to the following.

As a church we talk often about the Great Controversy scenario of the end-time – that time in the not-too-distant future when the test of allegiance to God will become unavoidable. Our allegiance to the Sabbath gives us an advantage (so we think) over those who will one day have to choose between a “thus saith the Lord” and a “thus saith the government.” We enjoy a measure of satisfaction in knowing that we’ve accepted the validity of the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath truth.

The great controversy of Job’s story unveils the forces of evil that would seek to cause us to turn our backs on God. It’s really a simple formula. What will a man do when he loses the blessings and protections of God?

“Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” Job 1:9-11

Continue reading

The Bait & Switch Church?

It is called the bait and switch. That’s when one thing is advertised, usually at a great price, with the intention of substituting either something more costly or of less value. This tactic has been used for everything from automobiles to grocery store bargains. The goal is to get people in the door who otherwise would not be interested.

No one likes to be the subject of a bait and switch ruse. You may be asking what bait and switch has to do with the church. Plenty. Continue reading