Chapter Two

Perhaps you feel like a modern-day Job—God is unjust, the tragedies of life are too harsh. Although the prophet Job lived nearly 3000 years ago, he echoed the cry of every generation since. Job was blessed with a loving family of seven sons and three daughters, possessed immense wealth and enjoyed a high rank. Job was considered "the greatest of all men in the East" (Job 1:2, 3).

Then a series of disasters struck. All his children were killed in a storm. His wealth was lost, his possessions destroyed, his devoted employees and servants killed. Physically he was afflicted with painful sores from head to toe. There is an indication that he was suffering from a form of leprosy. When his close friends saw him, they cried aloud at his pitiful condition and excruciating pain. With the heart piercing words, "curse God and die," his wife deserted him. What else could happen? Job cursed the day he was born (Job 3:1-3). Yet he maintained his faith and trust in God. Even under the onslaught of his supposed comforters, Job asserted:

Though He slay me,
Yet will I trust Him. Job 13:15

But time and continued opposition take its toll. Job's distress mounted with intensity as his comforters continued to distress him with wild incriminations. Now prostrated physically by total pain, mentally by opposition of friends and emotionally by total bereavement over his children, Job turned to God in passionate protest against God's unjust dealing with him.

I cry to you and you do not answer me;
I stand, and you merely look at me.
You have turned cruel to me;
with the might of your hand you persecute me.
You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it,
and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.
I know that you will bring me to death. Job 30:20-24 (NRSV)

He pleaded with God not to ignore his cry for help.

Surely one does not turn against the needy,
when in disaster they cry for help. Job 30:24(NRSV)

Then he reminded God that he (Job) did not ignore the needs of the poor and those in distress. He spent much of his life caring for the poor and distraught. Would God do less for him?

Did I not weep for those whose day was hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the poor? Verse 25

Although Job didn't ignore the needs of others, he implied that God forsook him to evil and darkness and then ignored his cries for help.

But when I looked for good, evil came;
and when I waited for light, darkness came.
My inward parts are in turmoil, and are never still;
days of affliction come to meet me.
I go about in sunless gloom;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. Verses 26-28

Yes, Job stood up as an innocent man pleading for justice in an assembly court, but his cries fell on deaf ears.

My skin turns black and falls from me,
and my bones burn with heat.
My lyre is turned to mourning,
and my pipe to the voice of those who weep. Verses 30, 31

Many feel the same anguish when tragedies devastate them. Seemingly, God does not heed their prayers for help. Like Job they cry—Oh God, where are you?

Job was not an atheist. He was not an agnostic. He was a man of faith. In essence his plea was, Why, oh why, God, do good people suffer? God didn't answer Job directly. Rather, God raised questions about the mysteries of His creation (Job 38-40). These questions were designed to remind Job that he really knew very little about God. Job had limited knowledge in all the diversified areas of God's works. He should not be surprised at failing to comprehend fully why he was permitted to suffer. God's questions revealed the wisdom, power and concern of God demonstrated in all of His creative works.

God asked Job if he was present when God laid the foundation of the earth, if he understood the laws by which the tides of the sea were controlled. God asked him about the instincts and habits of the various birds and animals, and even of the great monsters of the sea. Then Job was asked if he could explain the wisdom and power represented in these marvels of creation.

As the questioning proceeds, Job interrupted to say:

Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee?
I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
Once have I spoken; but I will not answer:
yea, twice; but I will proceed no further. Job 40:4, 5 (KJV)

In Job's expression, "Behold, I am vile," the meaning of the Hebrew word translated "vile" is, according to Prof. Strong,3 literally, "swift, small, sharp." Apparently Job acknowledged to the Lord that he had spoken too quickly; that his viewpoint was too limited and voiced too sharply.

The Lord replied to Job:
Gird your loins like a man;
I will ask, and you will inform Me.
Would you impugn My justice?
Would you condemn Me that you may be right?
Have you an arm like God's? Verses 7-9 (JPS)

Then the Lord continued to raise questions concerning the wonders of His creation. Three of these questions found in Job 38:31, 32 illustrate the dynamic logic conveyed in God's questions.

Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades,
or loose the bands of Orion?
Canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

"Canst thou...loose the bands of Orion?" Garrett P. Serviss, the noted astronomer, in his book CURIOSITIES OF THE SKY wrote about the bands of Orion:4

At the present time this band consists of an almost perfect straight line, a row of second-magnitude stars about equally spaced and of the most striking beauty. In the course of time, however, the two right-hand stars, Mintaka and Alnilam, will approach each other and form a naked-eye double; but the third, Alnitak, will drift away eastward so that the band will no longer exist.

In other words, one star is traveling in a certain direction at a certain speed; a second one is traveling in a different direction at a second speed; and the third one is going in a third direction and at a still different speed. Actually every star in Orion is traveling its own course, independent of all the others. Thus these stars that we see forming one of the bands of Orion are like three ships out on the high seas that happen to be in line at the present moment, but in the future will be separated by thousands of miles of ocean. In fact, all the stars constituting the constellation of Orion are bound for different ports, and all are journeying to different corners of the universe, so that the bands are being dissolved.

"Canst thou bind the sweet influence of the Pleiades...?" Notice the amazing astronomical contrast with the Pleiades. The seven stars of the Pleiades are in reality a grouping of 250 suns. Photographs now reveal that 250 blazing suns in this group are all traveling together in one common direction. Concerning this cluster, Isabel Lewis of the United States Naval Observatory tells us:5

Astronomers have identified 250 stars as actual members of this group, all sharing in a common motion and drifting through space in the same direction.

Elsewhere Lewis speaks of them as "journeying onward together through the immensity of space."

From Lick Observatory came this statement of Dr. Robert J. Trumpler:6

Over 25,000 individual measures of the Pleiades stars are now available, and their study led to the important discovery that the whole cluster is moving in a southeasterly direction. The Pleiades stars may thus be compared to a swarm of birds, flying together to a distant goal. This leaves no doubt that the Pleiades are not a temporary or accidental agglomeration of stars, but a system in which the stars are bound together by a close kinship.

Dr. Trumpler said that all this led to an important discovery. Without any reference whatsoever to the Book of Job, he announced to the world that these discoveries prove that the stars in the Pleiades are all bound together and are flying together like a flock of birds as they journey to their distant goal. That is exactly what God said. "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades?" In other words, Canst thou keep them bound together so that they remain as a family of suns?

INCREDIBLE! God's laws of cosmology are loosing or dissolving the constellation Orion. Sometime in the far distant future, Orion will be no more. Conversely, wonder of wonders, every last one of the 250 blazing suns in the Pleiades are ordained of God to orbit together in their symmetrical beauty throughout eternity.

"Canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?" Garrett P. Serviss wrote:7

Arcturus, one of the greatest suns in the universe, is a runaway whose speed of flight is 257 miles per second. Arcturus, we have every reason to believe, possesses thousands of times the mass of our sun. Think of it! Our sun is traveling only 12½ miles a second, but Arcturus is traveling 257 miles a second. Think then of the prodigious momentum this motion implies.

A further observation of Arcturus by Serviss:8

It could be turned into a new course by a close approach to a great sun, but it could only be stopped by collision head on with a body of enormous mass. Barring such accidents, it must, as far as we can see, keep on until it has traversed our stellar system, whence it may escape and pass out into space beyond to join perhaps one of those other island universes of which we have spoken.

Charles Burckhalter, of the Chabot Observatory, added an interesting note regarding this great sun:9

This high velocity places Arcturus in that very small class of stars that apparently are a law unto themselves. He is an outsider, a visitor, a stranger within the gates; to speak plainly, Arcturus is a runaway. Newton gives the velocity of a star under control as not more than 25 miles a second, and Arcturus is going 257 miles a second. Therefore, combined attraction of all the stars we know cannot stop him or even turn him in his path.

When Mr. Burckhalter had his attention called to this text in the book of Job, he studied it in the light of modern discovery and made a statement that has attracted worldwide attention:10

The study of the Book of Job and its comparison with the latest scientific discoveries has brought me to the matured conviction that the Bible is an inspired book and was written by the One who made the stars.

The wonders of God's universe never cease to amaze us. Arcturus and his sons are individual runaway suns that seem to be out of orbit in our galaxy. Traveling at such immense speeds, why don't they crash with other suns or planets? Where are they headed? Only God knows. Indeed they are not runaways. They will not crash. Why? God is guiding them.

Few have suffered the multiple tragedies of Job. How could God reach through the enormity of Job's self-pity? (Job thought God just didn't care.) In these three questions (Job 38:31, 32) God is in reality saying:

Job, you think I am not concerned about your suffering. Well, let Me ask you these questions. Can you loose the bands of Orion? No, you cannot. But My Divine power will—some day Orion will no longer exist. Job, can you bind the 250 stars of the Pleiades together in their symmetry of beauty and not have a single one drift off? Only I have this power and wisdom. Can you prevent the runaways—Arcturus and his sons—from colliding as they go dashing out of the Milky Way? No, only My Divine power and wisdom can.

Job, if I am caring for the details of the universe, do you doubt that I not only care for the details of your life but I have the ability to solve your problems? Trust that there is a good reason I am permitting these tragedies. Remember, Job, I work from the perspective of your eternal welfare.

What an awesome way God chose to tell Job that He was in full control of human affairs, including Job's life! When God finished His series of questions, Job exclaimed:

I know that thou canst do everything,
and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge?
Therefore have I uttered that I understood not;
things too wonderful for me, which I knew not...
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear:
but now mine eye seeth thee. Job 42:2-5

Job finally learned the meaning of his severe trial. He learned that its loving purpose was to give him a clearer understanding of God, that he might serve him more faithfully and with greater appreciation. He speaks of this clearer understanding as "seeing" the Lord, instead of merely having heard about him. Since he had gained such deep insights of God, Job's brief period of suffering was a most valuable experience.

Besides restoring Job's health, "the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:12-15).

Perhaps like Job in utter misery, you have cried out to God—even questioning his justice. Some write off the history of Job as Old Testament folklore. Whoever heard of God talking to a man! These are hand-me-down tales! However, the account of Job cannot be gainsaid. Whatever the method of communication used by God, the astonishing facts cannot be refuted. These scientific facts recorded in the book of Job concerning the Pleiades, Orion and Arcturus anticipated scientific discovery by nearly 3000 years. Scientists only discovered these startling facts in our 20th Century, yet they were recorded in the book of Job nearly 3000 years ago. What an awesome confirmation of the Bible! Who can doubt the Bible is the inspired word of God? Yes, the book of Job has a powerful, exclusive lesson for 20th Century man. Twentieth Century science proves God's Word, the Bible, is true. The Bible does contain the answer to why God permits evil.

Job 2:10 states: "In all of this Job sinned not with his lips." How does this harmonize with chapter 42 where Job accused God of being unjust? Where there are facts, there can be no doubts. But our relationship with God is by faith, not facts—"according to your faith be it unto you" (Matt. 9:29). Where there is faith, there is room for doubt. Through trials and adversities (1 Peter 1:7) the man of God must develop a mature faith, "a full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:22). We watched the drama of Job's struggles to a mature faith. An immature faith has doubts. Job had doubts, but they were not sins because he didn't try to inflict his doubts upon others. While doubting he lacked trust but still had belief in God. So he took his doubts where a man of God must take his doubts—to his God. And God dramatically answered Job's doubts and developed in him a full assurance of faith.

We will have doubts in our journey to maturity. At such times we must copy the example of Job, Jeremiah, David and John the Baptist, and take our doubts to the Lord in prayer. If our heart is sincere, God will answer our doubts. He will speak to us. And He speaks to 20th Century man through His Word, the Bible. In God's providence the book of Job was especially written for 20th Century man. Much of the scientific probing of chapters 38 through 41 can only be fully understood in the light of modern scientific discovery. God in his foreknowledge knew the cunning deceptions of human philosophy and sophistry would reach their zenith as a challenge to faith in the "last days" of the Christian Age (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). In arrogance, modern man dares challenge the very existence of God. As will be seen in the following chapter, this debate between modern man and God is a part of the many vital lessons humankind is learning during God's permission of evil.

How do we know there is a God? Where do we find the answer to—Why does God permit evil and suffering? In the book of Job God is telling us:

Just as I answered Job's questions and doubts, I can answer your questions and doubts. My answer is found in My Word, the Bible. How do you know the Bible is My inspired Word? Many of the startling scientific facts I caused to be recorded in the book of Job nearly 3000 years ago were only discovered in the 20th Century. This is My assurance to you that the Bible is inspired. Thus it provides a logical faith and hope-inspiring answer to modern man's question—Why does God permit evil?

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