Job 23-24 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He desires our trust even in His silence

Xenophobia. Now isn’t that a scary word.  Most often referring to the fear of strangers or foreigners, it is also a term for fear of the unknown.  It’s not a fear based on what is, but rather on what could be.  Fear of the unknown is a natural fear that everyone experiences at one time of another; but when it becomes life-controlling for individuals, they may be labeled as xenophobes. This would not look good on a resume to be sure.

In reading the book of Job over the past several weeks, we find an increasing determination in Job to find the reason for his trial. Chapter 13 was significant in his quest to discover the unknown, but in today’s reading we find him overcome with fear about what he does not know.  However, my heart doesn’t want to label him with a phobia.  No, my heart goes out to him. 

@ Job 23
After defending himself against the accusations of Eliphaz in Chapter 22, Job pleaded his innocence once again, “I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed His ways and not turned aside.  I have not departed from His commands, but have treasured His words more than daily food.” (11-12) But along with his defense came an even stronger need to know what he didn’t know .  Why did all this happen to him?  Then Job admitted his tremendous fear.

“Whatever He wants to do, He does. So He will do to me whatever he has planned.  He controls my destiny. No wonder I am so terrified in his presence. When I think of it, terror grips me. God has made me sick at heart; the Almighty has terrified me.” (13-16)  I must admit that I wonder, at this point, of what was Job afraid?  Having lost everything he possessed except a crabby wife and his own life which was, by his own admission, at death’s door, what impending loss was left to terrorize him?  What did God have left to do with Job?  What unknown was hanging in the balance?

Perhaps Job’s greatest fear was eternal divine silence.  God had been silent to Job throughout his trial, but what if God never revealed Himself to Job again, what if he was eternally separated from God?  I can understand the very thought of this bringing terror to a heart!  Once we have known the fellowship with God as Job described above, the fear of eternal separation is an unknown we never want to experience.

That thought alone should compel us to reach the lost, our friends and loved ones who do not know Him. “He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)  The world today groans with a terror they do not understand, and this is it!  It is separation from God. This terror, however, is not for those who know and love God.

Job declared, “But [God] knows where I am going.  And when He tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” (10)  Good preaching, Job!  Unfortunately the fear of the unknown hand of God robbed Job of its message.  We have this known promise to carry us through the trial even when it seems like we are facing divine silence: “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (I Peter 1:6-8) No fear.

Moving Forward: We can cling to His promises today, not focusing on those things that are unknown, but claiming the known promises of God.  When we come through the fire, we will be purer than gold.

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 62-66