We have categorized about 12,500 Old Testament Scripture verses, inspired by the prayer of Jesus in John 17 for all Christians to “become perfectly one, so that the world may know” (17:23, ESV) that God sent Jesus and loves all people of the world every bit as much as he loves us as believers in Jesus Christ.
We have found that the Old Testament story is a repeating cycle of humanity’s relationship with God: unity with God (“in the beginning”), commands, temptation, disobedience, disunity, warnings, judgement, never-ending love of God, repentance, and restoration.
In the Book of Job, we have learned elements of God’s personality that elevate our search to a new personal level in our personal relationship with God. And last week, we uncovered the ultimate definition of how God perceives disunity on a personal level – having the audacity to approach God as an equal and to challenge his dispensation of justice. This was captured as God thundered at Job and his friends, saying “Where were you?” when he created the heavens and the earth.
God asks “Have you?” and “Can you?” do what I can do and have done?
We sow the seeds of disunity in our garden of human arrogance.
In the final chapter of Job, we achieve the mirror image – a definition of perfect unity with God so powerful that it could literally change the Christian church and the world around us!
Job realizes at last that he has acted like a fool in challenging God to a legal wrestling match. He is broken and humbled by the words of God and responds:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…I uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know…therefore…I repent…” (42:2, 3, 6).
The instant Job expresses sincere repentance, God turns on Job’s “friends” in burning anger, saying:
“…you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7).
In less time than it takes for me to click my mouse, God has forgiven Job! And since his friends have not expressed repentance, God places Job in a priest-like position, as if Job had never offended God! And he commands Job’s friends to offer a major guilt offering to God through Job:
“And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:8b).
In other words, just as God demanded Job to explain where he was when God created the earth, God now demands the same from his friends – and there is no response from them. Job has achieved astonishing restoration through the never-ending love of God triggered by sincere repentance! But not his friends!
Look again at the sequence of the Cycle in the third paragraph of this blog. Job has uncovered a flaw in my ordering of the last four steps of the Cycle! While the never-ending love of God permeates the entire cycle, the proper response to judgment is repentance, which triggers the father’s heart of never-ending love to grant full and unconditional restoration!
Not only is this a wonderful discovery about the Cycle, but we have just uncovered the greatest dispute resolution tool in world history:
Mutual humility in the presence of God.
Next time you encounter a disagreement of any kind, ask your opponent, “Where was I when God created the world? Where were you? Come; let us work together in perfect unity to find a solution that pleases God, not us!”