“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” and the idea that God brings us things like sickness and tragedy to teach us a lesson have pretty much gone hand in hand for many years, skipping down the street like a pair of hyper-destructive, bizarro wonder twins that blissfully sprinkle rose petals reeking of hypocrisy for people to pick up and blame God for.
Start blog with ridiculous, but nevertheless reader-intriguing imagery: check.
“But seriously, folks” (in my best vaudeville voice). Now, these things have been said by really well-meaning people. And you may be wondering, Sam, why open up this can, dude? If you want to be a Christian artist, just talk about people’s life situations and tell them you’ve been through them too in some lyrical way. Tell them there’s an answer for it, but that you don’t know what it is, because that’d be presumptuous. Pick a 3rd world country and tell your fans you’re going to send water or something. But really, this theological stuff? How’s that supposed to work for PR? And you want to affect and work in the secular market? How you going to get in there with blog posts about God? Oh, so I suppose I should just decide to campaign about meat being murder in my vegatable-fueled tour bus or write for the political hatred of disgruntled fifteen year olds, because that’s so much less “edgy” or “risky” or “niche market”? Seriously? Why is it that some people see talking about Christianity as so much riskier than wearing a meat dress? I’m not trying to insult anyone who does any of these things, I celebrate their right to free speech, I’m just challenging the “understood” double standard surrounding Christianity.
At any rate, as I said before, people have meant well when they said these things. But I want to be real, and brave, and substantial enough to look at the harder questions. And, I should be comfortable enough in my relationship with God to ASK those “harder” questions. For many, I think they just believe it’d be insubordination to ask the Lord honest questions, and then they teach from that perspective, but if you ask me, that’s not much of a relationship. Some tend to want to argue that God doesn’t care about our personal little quandries because he’s “got bigger things to worry about”, but here’s one thing you’ll hear me say over and over; I want judge things based on the Bible. So the aforementioned statement above doesn’t compute. How could God NOT care about our questions and even the small details of our lives when Matthew ch. 10 says, “ 29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin[k]? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
So in this time when we’ve had school shootings and a hundred other terrible things people want to debate about on the internet, we’ve had people throwing about these religious statements, which has really just miffed others more where God is concerned. And the obvious question becomes, “Well, why would I ever serve a God like THAT?” You know something? THAT is a great question. Because I probably wouldn’t want to either.
The best way to learn about the personality of God is to look at the Bible. First off, yes, it’s true that we view the Bible as penned by the Holy Spirit through the hands of many inspired authors, but one thing I was always told is that when you read it, you have to consider who is saying what, and toward whom it is directed. So here, let’s focus on that whole statement, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” for this blog. Uh yeah, that’s in the Bible, but GOD DIDN’T SAY IT.
Yerp. How about that? Actually, it was said by Job right after a ton of terrible things happened to him. In Job 1, “20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
Well hey Sam, look! It says Job didn’t sin by charging God with wrongdoing! That means he was right!
Not quite. Now, don’t you think that if I was scared, I’d have just left that verse out? But no, it’s there, so let’s address it. To really find the answer to this, we have to look at the whole Bible, and not just one or two verses of scripture. We have to look at what God says about Himself, and we have to know the context that this scripture is talking about in terms of sin. And we have to remember that this stuff is translated from Hebrew.
First of all, how did all this crazy stuff happen to Job? Why? Well, it had nothing to do with God wanting it to happen. Job chapter 3 tells how “the thing Job greatly feared had come upon him”. He was living in the Old Covenant, an imperfect system that even God was working to change (which was what Jesus was all about, FYI). Job was continually offering the same sacrifice over and over out of fear for sins his family might commit. This was a breach in his faith, it was based in an attitude of fear, and according to how sacrifices worked, this was wrong altogether.
So yeah, enter Satan (oh dear Sam, did you just say Satan on the internet?), well, yeah, Satan, da debbil, appears at the beginning of Job, complaining to God about how PROTECTED AND BLESSED Job was. But Job’s act of fear was Satan’s foot in the door. It was the crack in his protection. Satan was telling God “if I do this stuff to him, he’ll curse you!” And Job never cursed God. His wife did though,
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
Now, despite the fact that Job continues to see these things as coming from God, God himself says otherwise IN THE BOOK OF JOB.
6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
So, the Lord said that Job was in the hands of the devil (at least, to some extent) , not God, because Job had taken himself out of the full protection of God through his act of fear. NOT because God wanted bad things to happen to Job, but God was bound by spiritual law in the matter. However, Job was still God’s dedicated guy and wouldn’t curse him, which was why he couldn’t be killed altogether.
Now, instead of taking it from Job’s mouth, why don’t we look at what GOD actually SAYS ABOUT HIMSELF and Satan. This is Jesus speaking in John 10:10
“10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Well, that on it’s own seems pretty definitive, right?
So what does Job 1:22 mean when it says that Job didn’t sin?
Well, again, the whole preface of the book of Job was that Satan was telling God, “If I do terrible things to that guy, he’ll curse you to your face!” This scripture is saying that Job never did that, he never proved the devil right. He never cursed God, even when he believed God was the source of his calamity (when in reality, He wasn’t).
I've also heard it taught that there is no place that it evidences that Job even knew the devil existed. So, in his mind, these things could have only come from God (which wasn't true, but it was all he knew!)
Want more proof? Ok. How about this? God only has plans to bless us, right? (Jeremiah 29:11, another striking example of God speaking on His own behalf about His will to do good things for us).
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Ok, so even if Job was WRONG in his statement about the Lord, would that be a sin, or just a mistake? Just a MISCONCEPTION? Because again, whose word is more weighty, God’s word about himself, or a man’s word about God?
So in the end of the book of Job, Job makes this statement after talking with God and his somewhat midguided friends, right after God speaks in correction to set things straight. Job says;
“You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.”
So Job repents. Dude, Sam, I hear Christianese people saying ‘repent’ all the time. Yeah, but do you know what it means? It means to change your thinking, to turn around and go the other way. To “get back to the top” (re=go back, pent (as in penthouse)=top).
But somehow, in this haze of school shootings and all that, we’ve still had a lot of misrepresentation of God and His will. Here’s some scriptures that refute a lot of what we hear.
1 Peter 2:24
He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor,
So, from all scriptural accounts, God has no interest in punishing us, that’s why Jesus came, so that we wouldn’t even get the punishment we deserved. And part of Jesus’ sacrifice was making healing available, separating sickness and tragedy as works of the devil, not God.
So why all the scriptures? We ain’t in a church building, Sam. That may be true, but aren’t you tired of Christians giving you religious stuff without backing it up with the actual Bible?
And these days, we have so much more and better things than Job did. We now have the sacrifice of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to give 8 billion different sacrifices anymore because it’s been taken care of, we just have to receive the sacrifice that’s been made for us.
I’ll top this off by saying this: lots of really nice, but religious people still believe this “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh” thing. They’re still great, committed people, and I’m not saying they don’t have a relationship with God. But I’ll say this; people that I know of who have REAL results in their lives and show a lot of EVIDENCE that they have a relationship with God/are led by the Holy Spirit in a real and practical way, and not some weird spooky way, also believe that this was Job talking in his limited understanding and not some doctrine-building cornerstone. These are people that spend a lot of time allowing themselves to be corrected and led by God in their personal lives, and Job 1:21-22 doesn’t give them grievance.
So at the end of the day, you can believe what you want, but I have found more than enough proof to say that we’re propitiating a lie when we tell people God took their unborn child, or killed their loved one. Because, again,
“10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
So, in the next blog, we’re gonna pair this up with it’s sister statement, “Oh, The Lord did that terrible thing to teach us a lesson.” Yeah. We’ve got to talk about that next.