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Lesson 12: The Cosmic Conflict Over God's Character *

Introduction: We all know that God is good, right? In fact, in my old church we added the phrase "all the time, and all the time, God is good." So, what is there to study this week? You may know that God is good, but a lot of people are uncertain, at best. The worst part of that problem is that you may be the basis on which they form their opinion about God. Let's explore what the Bible says about this issue and what we should do about it!

  1. The Cosmic Problem

    1. Read Job 1:1-3. What do we learn about Job's character? (He was "blameless and upright." He was a great guy.)

      1. What do we learn about his finances? (He was rich.)

      2. What do we learn about his reputation? (He was "the greatest.")

      3. What do we learn about the size of his family? (It was large!)

    2. Read Job 1:4-5. What was Job's attitude toward the spiritual lives of his children? (He was actively involved. He would burn offerings for them and apparently confess their sins.)

      1. Can parents confess sins for their children? (Read 1 John 5:16-17. Job's practice and this text have long interested me. I don't think I fully understand what is going on - but it appears that some sins are susceptible to forgiveness through the prayers of others.)

    3. Read Job 1:6-7. Why is Satan part of this committee meeting?

      1. What does God's question mean? Is God in doubt about where Satan is living? Is God challenging Satan's presence?

    4. Read Ezekiel 28:13-14. Where is this glorious being living? (In heaven. "On the holy mount of God.")

    5. Read Ezekiel 28:15-16. What happened to this glorious being? (Because of wickedness, he was expelled from heaven.)

    6. Read Ezekiel 28:17. What was the source of the wickedness of this being? (Pride arising from beauty. It corrupted this person's thinking.)

    7. Read Revelation 12:7-9. What does this suggest is the real identity of the glorious being? (Satan.)

    8. Let's re-read Job 1:6-7 and factor in what we have learned about his background from Ezekiel and Revelation. Why is Satan on earth? (He was expelled from heaven to earth.)

      1. Did God know this? (Of course! There was a big battle between God and Satan.)

        1. What, then, do you think God was really asking? (I don't think God is asking anything. The meeting appears to be in heaven. God is insulting Satan by reminding him that he is no longer a resident of the most desirable place in heaven, but rather is an earth-dweller.)

    9. Re-read Satan's answer in the last part of Job 1:7. Satan doesn't exactly answer. "Earth" would have been the appropriate answer. What does the nature of the way Satan answered suggest? (Satan is boasting that even though he was banished to earth, He is now the ruler of the earth.)

    10. Read Job 1:8. Does God want to know if Satan has met Job? (No. God is challenging Satan's claim to be the ruler of the earth. God reminds Satan that the greatest man in the East is a follower of God, not Satan. Indeed, Job respects God, but "shuns" Satan.)

    11. Read Job 1:9-11. Satan could have answered, "I'm working on that problem." Why did he answer as he did? (Satan insults God. He says that Job is like a prostitute - he serves God for money, not because of affection for God or because of a love of doing what is right.)

      1. Why did Satan say this? Is his goal simply to insult God, or do you think Satan believes this?

    12. Read Genesis 3:1-5. How did Satan win his position on earth? (He promised Eve something that he claimed God would not give her. He bribed her.)

    13. Skim over Deuteronomy 28 and read Malachi 3:10-11. Are Satan's charges true? (Mixed truth is Satan's method of operation. Yes, it is true that following God generally brings blessings. The question for Job and for each one of us is this: do you follow God because of His blessings?)

    14. Read Job 1:12. Who is being tested here? Is this a challenge to God's character or is it a challenge to Job's character? (It is at least a test of Job. Is he like a prostitute? Or, does he serve God out of affection and loyalty to God's cause? On the other hand, God challenged Satan's authority over the earth by pointing out Job.)

      1. Whose character is not at issue? (Satan's! We know bad things are going to happen when Job is in Satan's "hands.")

    15. If you read the rest of the book of Job (or even the rest of the first chapter of the book), you will see that terrible things happen to Job. If you were Job, what would you say if you knew the real reason why terrible things were happening in your life?

      1. Is this a "chest bump" between God and Satan - and Job suffers?

      2. Or, is this the most fundamental challenge to God's character?

      3. Do you think this is a "one time" thing? Or, do you think that Job's situation keeps being replayed on earth?

        1. Assume you answered, "Yes, I think it is being replayed countless times, and it may be happening in my life right now!" If the matter at issue is Job's character (as opposed to God's character), how is this consistent with grace? How is this consistent with righteousness by faith?

  2. The Cosmic Answer

    1. Read Matthew 20:17-19. What does this reveal about whether Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf was voluntary? (He predicted it. Jesus could have avoided going to Jerusalem.)

      1. Look at verse 19 and consider the three things that Jesus said the Gentiles would do to Him. How do you like it when people are laughing at you - not as the result of a joke, but because they think you are not worthy of respect?

        1. How do you like it when people inflict serious physical pain on you, and they do it just because they can?

        2. How would you like to be killed in a painful way?

    2. Read 1 John 4:10. Why did Jesus voluntarily go through ridicule, torture and death? (He loved us. He atoned for our sins.)

    3. Read Romans 3:21-25. Does our righteousness depend on obeying the law? (No! This is a "righteousness from God, apart from the law.")

      1. On what does our righteousness depend? (We have all sinned, but Jesus died on our behalf. This is reflected in the sanctuary service that we have been studying this quarter.)

      2. What is required of us? (Faith in His blood. This would be as opposed to faith in our own good works.)

    4. Read Romans 3:26. How is Jesus' death on our behalf justice? (Do you remember when we studied 2 Samuel 14:4-9? This story reflects the "rule of law." If a king declared that the law would not be followed, then he was personally responsible for the breach. When Jesus, in love, decided to release us from the death penalty - what the law requires for sin - He took the penalty upon Himself. This is how Romans 3:26 can refer to what seems to be grossly unjust as "justice.")

  3. Glory to God

    1. Let's get back to Job. Remember we considered the two questions: "Whose character is at issue, God's or Job's? And, "If Job's character is at issue, how is this consistent with righteousness by faith?" Read Matt 5:16. How would a focus on Job answer the question about God's character? (Our actions reflect on God. Whether Job was faithful reflected on God.)

    2. Read 1 John 4:11-12. How could Job show that Satan's prostitute argument was false? (Satan's followers follow him for what they think they will get. God's followers follow Him because of love.)

    3. Do our actions matter? Does our observance of God's law matter? (They do nothing to earn our salvation. But, they are central to reflecting God's glory. If we obey, if we show love to others, then we reveal the character of our Creator and Redeemer.)

    4. Friend, will you today ask the Holy Spirit to help you give glory to God by your actions? By your love?

  4. Next week: Exhortations From the Sanctuary.
* Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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