If the story of Job is a microcosm of The Great Controversy anticipated, we, the church, are in serious trouble.
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
We anticipate a time of trouble in accordance with the prophecies of the book of Daniel.
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." Daniel 12:1
Understanding the outline of future events is not our biggest challenge. Being like Job is.
The reasons Job is described as "blameless, upright, fearing God and shunning evil" are eye-opening. His level of righteous living is contrary to the virtues modeled by society and often the church. Let's look at just a few of the reasons God could select Job as His representative.
"I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread" Job 23:12
If we believe that Job spoke without hyperbole, he is saying that God's word was literally more important than the food he had to eat. We need food to exist. If Job had to choose between food to eat and taking in God's word, he would choose the latter.
Using Job as our example we must ask ourselves individually and as a church what part the Word of God plays in our lives? In our private lives how often do we turn to its pages for sustenance and guidance? If we can take it or leave it we have reason for alarm.
As a church, has the Word of God been diminished in its role in what we do as a body? Have we accepted the notion that old-fashioned Bible study as a church is outdated and needs to be replaced by trendy new ways of reaching today's prospects? The attendance at the hour of corporate Bible study gives a good indication of the answer.
"As long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit" Job 27:3-4
Our words are windows to our souls. In this day of social media we have witnessed an explosion of commentary on any and everything. Sadly, much of it is negative, inflammatory and insensitive. Guarding our tongues, which are expressed though our keyboards, is a battle that has bested many. So crucial are our words that James showed it as an avenue of self-deception.
"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" James 1:26
Then there were Job's priorities in life. Although a wealthy man who could live a life of self-absorbance and isolation, Job was the complete opposite. When he examined his life he could only relate what he knew to be true.
“Have I ignored the needs of the poor, turned my back on the indigent, taken care of my own needs and fed my own face while they languished? Wasn’t my home always open to them? Weren’t they always welcome at my table?
“Have I ever left a poor family shivering in the cold when they had no warm clothes? Didn’t the poor bless me when they saw me coming, knowing I’d brought coats from my closet? If I’ve ever used my strength and influence to take advantage of the unfortunate, go ahead, break both my arms, cut off all my fingers! The fear of God has kept me from these things—how else could I ever face him? Job 31:16-23 The Message
That's just some of what made Job the one God could give as an example of being blameless and upright. That's what heaven should be able to say for all who bear the name "Christian." Thanks be to God that it is His desire and purpose to get us to that place in our experience.
Let's close with some words from my favorite Christian author. They are encouraging for all who want a change in their experience. I know I do.
God wishes us to have the mastery over ourselves. But He cannot help us without our consent and co-operation. The divine Spirit works through the powers and faculties given to man. Of ourselves, we are not able to bring the purposes and desires and inclinations into harmony with the will of God; but if we are “willing to be made willing,” the Saviour will accomplish this for us, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, p 482
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does being blameless mean to you?
- Is it realistic to expect believers to be blameless? Explain your answer.
- What does it mean when the Bible says that Job feared God?
- What role, if any, should the fear of punishment play in our obedience to God?
- What does it mean to shun evil and is this optional?
- If it's true that the great controversy will be over allegiance to God, how does one show their faithfulness to God?
- Is it possible to keep the Ten Commandments and not be a servant to humanity? Why yes or no?
- Is it true that the more faithful we are, the more we will be shielded from adversity and calamities? Explain your answer.
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The greatest evidence that we are faithful to God is in our keeping of the Sabbath day? Explain your answer.
We close this week's lesson with an encouraging promise from the Word of God. Let's claim it today.
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" Philippians 1:6
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!