Hearing And Seeing God
July 3, 2019
The Bible is a difficult book to deal with. That is because the Bible is spiritual in nature. Though it might be printed in plain language, it is God’s own Word, divinely and supernaturally communicated and documented through various men in human history. The contents of the Bible and its purpose is explained in the very first sentence of the book:
In the beginning God…
Without a doubt, God introduces the book as the revelation of Himself. The Bible is the book that God provided to explain who He is, what He’s all about, and why that is supremely valuable above all things. Though the Bible contains the testimonies of many men and women, the real essence of the Word is to describe the testimony of God through the lives of those people. Examining the lives of God’s people is the means by which we come to understand God Himself. This means that the testimonies documented in the holy scriptures are far more than historical and biographical accounts of men and women. They are a commentary on life from the all-knowing and all-powerful sovereign Creator of all things. Hence, the scriptures are written by men, but with an eternal and spiritual perspective; both of which are foreign to us as people, thereby making the true essence of this book hard to understand and fully digest.
This is why Jesus often said, “He who has an ear, let him hear.” Most people have ears. However, not all people have ears to discern spiritual truths. When the disciples questioned Jesus about why He spoke in parables, Jesus provided an unsettling answer. Jesus explained that He spoke in parables so as to keep people confused and unable to hear. It wasn’t that Jesus’ audiences couldn’t hear the audible voice that He spoke with. It was that the parables He spoke in were difficult to understand so that only those who cherished His Words and sought to know Him would pursue the meaning of His Words by faith. Part of Jesus’ ministry as the Messiah was to open blind eyes and unstop deaf ears. While Jesus indeed healed the physically blind and deaf, it was only to prove His purpose to do a greater work: provide spiritual ears to hear and eyes to see the things of God and eternal life.
Job had to learn this lesson the hard way. However, since there are so many issues exposed throughout Job’s testimony that seem to be common in all people, it seems that we all must through many troubles like Job’s enter into the kingdom of God. In Job 42:1-6, Job finally answers God in the manner that God had desired all along – in humble repentance. God had revealed His majesty and glory as the Creator and Controller of all things, and that revelation was sufficient to prick Job’s heart in the right manner. Job previously was convicted but only compelled to keep his mouth shut in shame. In Job 42:1-6, Job was finally ready to answer God the way that God demanded, and was ready to confess his sin and submit himself to the sovereign providence of the Almighty God.
First, it is interesting to note how the suffering of the flesh can cause spiritual blindness, even for God’s own people that live according to faith. Recall that Job was originally called a blameless and upright man. His faith was so well-known that even the devil spoke well of it to God. However, the suffering that Job experienced in his life had an effect on his mind. This shows that, issues that stem from the spirit realm of our reality can have a physical impact on our minds and our thinking. Our physical and emotional distress can cause our brains to forget simple and fundamental things of God, thereby causing more intense degrees of suffering as our flesh provokes self-righteousness, self-entitlement, presumptuousness, and pride. Since God resists the proud, the adverse effects of our mental strain during trying times can cause us to grow distant from God, when God actually intends to draw us closer to Himself.
This doesn’t mean that God’s purposes in suffering are weak or counter-productive to His endgame. It is the weakening of our minds by our flesh that exposes the true nature of our depravity, which then provokes the humility and repentance that God longs for to begin with. When Job came to this realization, he confessed that he knew about the things that God had revealed. Job answered God stating that he knew that God could do everything and that no purpose of God could be withheld. Job actually spoke well of these points throughout his discourses with his friends. These truths were foreign knowledge to Job. However, the manner in which God reminded Job of His omnipotence and omniscience caused Job to actually apply that which he had previously heard and known.
Job didn’t doubt the extent of God’s power. However, Job’s suffering made Job question the use of God’s power. Job’s suffering caused him to forget that God will use His power in any way He sees fit. He will use His power to create the clouds that water the earth to bring life; and He will also use that same power to create Leviathan to strike fear into the hearts of all people. The simple point that Job forgot is that, either way, no matter how God manifests His power, it is always with perfect wisdom, and it is always good. Since the distribution of the rains is good, as is the distribution of fear by Leviathan, then what does God do that is bad? If God always does good, then should Job had despised his suffering? Should Job had tried to justify himself in how he was not deserving of suffering as severe as he experienced? Job knew that God had the power to create the universe and the great creatures like Behemoth in the world, but the suffering of his flesh caused his mind to forget that God ALWAYS exercises His power for good. Thus, who would want to withhold the use of God’s power if He always produces righteousness and goodness from it?
Job then confessed his sin and answered the question that God began His discourse with. In Job 38:2, God asked Job, “Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?” In other words, God was telling Job to confess his pride, self-entitlement, and presumptuousness. Job had talked about God like he knew everything about God. He boasted of God and expressed some good truths, but his attitude suggested that he was speaking on behalf of God, knowing His mind and intents. While the scriptures are intended to provide revelation about God, this does not mean that we are suddenly able to know the mind of God by them. Consider how God addresses this very point in scripture:
“Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or [as] His counselor has taught Him?” – Isaiah 40:13
“For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, and has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard [it]?” – Jeremiah 23:18
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable [are] His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” – Romans 11:33-34
The essence of these verses explains this: It is impossible to know the mind of God. To know the mind of God is to be equal in His wisdom and providence. Though we are conformed into the image of God, and His wisdom is imparted to His children, no one is ever able to fully know and understand the eternal depths and riches of God’s mind and intents. Job spoke well of God before, but as if he knew God’s mind and intents. After receiving God’s revelation through the whirlwind, his mind was changed. Job confessed that he was indeed the foolish man that spoke presumptuously about things he didn’t really understand, even though some of those things might have been true. Job confessed that, even truths he had heard and known to some degree, were too much for his mind to fully digest and understand.
Thus, Job didn’t want to just leave his hand over his mouth anymore. Job wanted to confess his foolishness. Job wanted to admit his sin. Job plainly stated a truth that all of God’s people must be reminded of from time to time. Job confessed this profound truth:
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you.”
Notice that it is possible to hear the audible words of God’s scriptures, but not understand. God previously spoke to people that plainly heard the Word, but didn’t perceive God’s purposes and promises. They were spiritually blind to the spiritual purposes of God. They were spiritually deaf to the true essence of God’s intents and promises. So too was Job. Though he obviously knew great truths about God, he didn’t really understand who God was; that was, until God revealed Himself to speak directly! Here, it is important to notice how God unstops spiritually-deaf ears. He uses men and women to speak His Word to audibly hear the truth of His revelation, but then uses His Spirit through divine revelation concerning those very truths previously spoken, to provide understanding.
It is one thing to know about God based on what we hear. It is another thing to know God based on what He shows us concerning His Word. That revelation can only come by His supernatural revelation, which for Job, came in the form of a whirlwind. Today, that revelation comes by the understanding of the convictions that the Holy Spirit provides. God equips men and women to speak the word to be heard from a distance, and then provides understanding from within by His Spirit in His time. It is important to see that, while Job was blameless and upright for so much of his life, he was also spiritually deaf and without understanding for a long time too. If not for the suffering that God used the devil to inflict, Job would have remained in his ignorant and self-righteous condition unaware!
This is why the scriptures call for the people of God to endure trials, persevere through suffering, and rejoice in the midst of it all. If not for the hardships of life, we would not be humbled to the point where we actually receive the benefits of God’s revelation to hear AND see the eternal and spiritual blessings of God. It is critical to recognize that Job’s repentance and spiritual restoration came through the divine revelation of God based on His identity as the almighty, sovereign, wise, and providential Creator of all things. Job was not convinced and humbled by the eloquent points of his friends. He was not humbled by the truth that Elihu spoke. Job’s ears were unstopped and his eyes were opened by God and Him alone, according to the reminders of the foundational issues presented in Genesis Chapter 1.
Lastly, it is critical to consider Job’s response to God’s revelation as a blameless and upright man. He was indeed humbled, but his humility was expressed by more than mere words. The testimony of Job 42:1-6 explains that Job “abhorred” himself and outwardly expressed that intense emotion by covering himself in dust and ashes. While the children of Israel often covered themselves in dust and ashes, it was often to bring attention to themselves, having corrupted hearts. God loves the expression of outward humility when the inner person is actually humble. Job didn’t cover himself with dust and ashes to appear humble and holy in front of others. Job covered himself in dust and ashes because he abhorred himself. After seeing and understanding God’s revelation of Himself, His majesty, His glory, His power, His control, His wisdom, and His grace, Job despised himself. Standing in the light of God’s glory according to the truth of His revelation, Job loathed himself, and saw that dust and ashes were a fitting environment for him.
It was not Job’s pain that humbled Job to this degree. Thus, the notion that our suffering automatically produces humility is dispelled. Instead, Job’s suffering brought out hidden self-righteousness. That expression of self-righteousness justified God’s judgments and the manner in which He inflicted pain against Job. However, it was God’s mercy and grace that caused God to approach Job harshly, but unto restoration, not destruction. It was God’s explanation and revelation about Himself that caused Job to be humbled. It is the light’s ability to expose the hidden things in darkness that brings shame. Rather than run and hide in shame like Adam in the Garden, Job stood firm and confessed the truth of himself, despised himself, and humbled himself – before he knew that God would restore him physically. Though it can be disturbing to see how Job’s attitude was so wicked, even as a man of God, it is comforting to see how God deals with the sins of His people to produce good results.