Being the youngest son of simple folk who had even less education than I, but who loved God as Jesus commanded, and who for the most part lived by God’s word spoken by Jesus during His time on this Earth, I had very good “basic training” as a child. I didn’t always agree with their instruction, but I learned to accept it out of love for them as my parents. I also learned what they expected besides my love: RESPECT. I can honestly say that I did respect them both, but occasionally, I allowed my youthful ignorance, or more likely, stupidity, to cause me to say things that were the opposite of respect. For example……
I called my mother “crazy” once when I was around 14 years old. Wow, what a terrible experience that was. I was a typical teenager and my teenaged friends and I used that expression as an ordinary means of addressing one another; for example, after bantering around about a subject, perhaps girls, or sports, one of us would say’ “Aw, you’re crazy” and no offense was intended or taken, but my mother did not find my words questioning her intelligence amusing. Was she offended? Oh, yes indeed, and being a fiery, red-head of Scottish descent, she let me know it in no uncertain terms. I felt terrible for showing disrespect and tried to make it up to her. Eventually, she forgave me and the incident was forgotten. Out of respect for her, I never once after that even considered letting my tongue control my actions in her presence. My stupid remark had hurt my mother’s feelings immensely.
Now, had I said those same words to my Dad, I might not be alive today to write this article. Why did I not do that? Because I knew of my Dad’s penchant for “instant retribution” and I avoided that potential thrashing by holding my tongue, even though there had been numerous incidents when my youth, ignorance and stupidity might have dictated saying the same words to him. But I respected my Dad and his authority over me and, as I said, I tried my best to avoid his retribution (he was a big, strong man).
As bad as calling my mother “crazy” truly was, it would have paled in comparison to calling her a liar. She would have been completely mortified at my arrogance, thinking I had the right to call into question her honesty, and would likely have slapped the living snot out of me, instantly, and rightly so since I never knew my mother to tell a lie, to me or to anyone else.
Does God have feelings? I know that may sound like a ridiculous question, but, humor me. As humans, we are sometimes run by, or controlled by, our feelings. I’m sure I have been involved in many situations where my feelings determined my actions, and likely every Christian has done so as well. Feelings are very “human” and they do have their place in our lives, but we must try to control them rather than allowing them to control us.
Out of curiosity, I searched for the definition of “feelings” and in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, I found this:
Feelings (noun) plural of feeling: an emotional state or reaction; capacity to respond emotionally especially with the higher emotions
Emotions (noun) plural of emotion: Emotions are mental states brought on by neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioral responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure
Now, according to the writer of Genesis, we were created by God when He said, “Let us make man in Our image and after Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). It appears certain that, God does have feelings, just as all humans do. The big difference is that God can perfectly control His feelings, in any situation and doesn’t allow them to control Him. And, as I will explain in this article, that is a very good thing for mankind.
God Demands……God Deserves
In the commandments given to Moses by God, we are told exactly what God expects of us. Each of the Ten Commandments is quite clear and concise but they stop short of the commandment we were given by Jesus and recorded by the Apostle Luke: “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:25-28).
Being only a simple man from North Carolina with no letters after my name and little education beyond high school, I try to draw the most usable information possible from the fewest words. Here Jesus is telling an unbeliever what is needed to gain eternal life. Wrapped up in His words is all we need to know of God’s expectation of us. But taken as a whole, we can see that respect for God, Who He is, What He is, and How He acts could sum up what is really expected. I will try to explain further.
The Story of Job
In the Book of Job, we read about a righteous man, declared by God to be upright and perfect. Being the oldest book of the Bible, many believe it was written by Moses, but the actual authorship is uncertain. It is likely, because the entire book is about the tragedies that befell him, that Job wrote part of it.
I’m sure that most people who have ever attended Sunday School or read the Bible to any extent are aware of the story of Job. He was regarded as one of the wealthiest men in the East. He had seven sons and three daughters and possessed large herds of cattle, camels and oxen, plus flocks of sheep and other livestock.
Satan made an appearance before God one day and when asked by God where he had come from, Satan told the Lord he had been going to and fro in the Earth and walking up and down in it. God asked him if he had considered His servant Job, saying that there was not another man like him in the Earth, calling him a “perfect and upright man, one that feared God and refrained from evil” (Job 1:8).
Satan complained to God that Job had no reason to fear because He (God) had placed a hedge of protection around him, and he then challenged God to “put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he (Job) will curse Thee to Thy face” (Job 1:11). Please note that God did not say that He would pull back the protective hedge, He only told Satan, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand”.
Satan then moved to attack Job, destroying or stealing his herds and flocks and then causing a house to fall wherein all his children had been feasting, killing all ten of them. In the midst of all these calamities, while he was grieving, Job was visited by three friends who sat with Job for seven days, commiserating with him in his grief and loss.
Again, after some time had passed. Satan again appeared before God and God again asked him where he had been and again, Satan stated he had been “going to and fro in the Earth and walking back and forth in it” (Job 2:2). This time, after having stolen or destroyed all that Job owned, Satan challenged God to “put forth Thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 2:5). The Lord responded, “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6).
It could be asked why God did not restore the hedge of protection around Job, especially since Satan had already done his worst to Job and yet, God still considered him “perfect and upright” (Job 2:3). Keep reading…
I wondered for a long time why God initially decided to remove the hedge of protection from Job, thus allowing Satan free reign to attack God’s righteous servant, but the reason for this is explained when Job, after several long discourses with his friends stated, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me”.
Even though God considered His servant Job to be righteous and perfect, his (Job’s) fear had not yet been dealt with and that fear not only destroyed the hedge, it prevented God from renewing it.
Job had long been living in fear of the very events that claimed his possessions and destroyed the lives of his children. He had often made offerings to God for the protection of his children, but the fear that gripped him far outweighed any faith he may have had in God’s ability, or His desire, to actually protect Job. The fear that he expressed had negated his faith in God for whom nothing is impossible; one important point here is that Satan was unaware that Job was unprotected or he would not have challenged God to remove His protection. Unless the reader of the story of Job understands this, it could be easy to blame God for the disasters that came on Job.
Unfortunately for Job, with the words of his friends as support, He did exactly that and began to whine about his misery and place blame on anyone but himself, including God. He said to his friends, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In effect, Job stated his belief that God was responsible for all the grief that had befallen him, and that was his biggest mistake.
Job and his friends spoke at length about his trials, trying to reach a decision about who was at fault and his “friends” seemed to state that, for whatever reason, Job was an unrighteous man and therefore to blame for his misery. However, during their conversations, they all made remarks that were not pleasing to God.
At some point, God, after hearing the words of Job and his three long-winded friends, spoke to Job out of the whirlwind and He demanded of Job an answer to the questions He would ask him.Those questions illustrated the wisdom, the knowledge, the majesty and power of God and delineated the differences between God and man.
It is quite easy to understand from God’s words to Job that He was not entirely pleased with Job’s speech as he sat complaining, wishing that God would just go ahead and kill him; God’s demands to Job and His questioning of him and his friends fully illustrated this.
However, after a long back and forth conversation between God and Job, Job was made to realize his errors and repented of his whining and misplaced blame, and in those final chapters of Job, God gave him a serious dressing down for his wrong thinking. I strongly suggest you read the entire book of Job and let its message penetrate your mind and reside in your heart.
The end of the story indicates that Job was then restored to his original position in his relationship with God. God then blessed Job with seven new sons and three new daughters, plus double the possessions he had originally.
My point with the story of Job and his failure to accept the blame for the losses of his possessions and his children, based on the constant fear that dominated his life and his time, is this: No matter what our circumstances are, we should never blame God for our problems. Does He allow us to go through trial and trying situations? Yes, the Bible explains in James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing”.
What does it mean to have your faith “tried”? Life is a constant battle between good and evil; the evil that now exists will work to undo any blessings God has bestowed on those who love Him. When those attacks manifest in our lives, our faith in God is beingtested or tried. It is critical that we learn how to place all our faith in what God has said because faith is the spiritual force by which we have access to God and all His blessings. However, when fear in a person’s life overpowers his faith, the fear will win out and separate the person from God and all that He provides for us. The presence of fear accepted will destroy our hedge of protection.
Job stated that the thing he “most feared”, the loss of his possessions and his children, had “come upon him”. Even though God had told Satan that Job was righteous and perfect, when Satan challenged God to “remove the hedge of protection” He had provided around Job, God only said, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power” (Job 1:12). God was fully aware that Job, in his great fear of loss, had placed himself in a vulnerable position, but Satan had no idea that Job’s fear had caused the protection of God’s hedge to disappear. God, in His honesty only told the truth about the situation to Satan. Job’s fear had destroyed the hedge of protection that God had provided and Satan was able to enter in and rob Job of all he had.
My personal opinion is that Job had gotten accustomed to having such great blessings that he began to take them for granted and when they were lost, He needed to place the blame on someone other than himself and his great fear.
Whether or not Job realized that, by putting the blame for his disastrous circumstances on God, instead of admitting that his own “great fear” had been the cause of them, He committed the act of insulting God, calling into question His honesty, His perfection, and His love for Job.
I have no doubt that every Christian has experienced the same thing, only on a much smaller scale than Job. But we, the believers in our current time, have so much more knowledge of God and His righteous attributes than Job had, that we should not ever question God’s honesty or His word. When we face what we believe to be a loss of our possessions, we MUST remember who the thief is, that fallen angel whose only purpose is to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).
When we find ourselves in such a position of calamity as did Job, the first thing we must do is thoroughly examine every aspect of our own lives to determine if we are living and acting in faith or in fear. Have we damaged or removed the hedge of protection God has placed around us by our own sinful, fearful actions and words? If so, repentance is the first order of business.
The last thing we should do is to insult God by placing any blame for our circumstances on him.
Blessings and Maranatha!
©2023. Bud Hancock. All rights reserved.