Shepherds’ Conference 2020: Session 2 — Austin Duncan

Shepherds’ Conference 2020

General Session 2

Austin Duncan

Job 25-26

Theological Balance

We want to be careful with the word balance.

It can be quite selfish.

Jesus is radical and extreme.

This section of Job represents the book of Job faithfully.

We know the context of the story.

The opening chapters are preached often.

WE often neglect the middle of the book.

Theological balance means we let the whole Bible speak and say what it wants to say.

Theology can be close, and still quite far off.

This is true especially when we work with souls.

Job 25-26 includes the final speeches from Job’s friends.

4 rounds of speeches.

Job’s friends are telling him that he is being punished.

The counselors can sometimes be right, even as they misapply the truth that they may know.

Chapter 25

Dismantling Theological Imbalance

The chapter has the ring of theological credibility.

It looks like big-God theology.

What Bildad says about God shows us that we can be right but imprecise about how we communicate about God.

Verse 2 exposes a problem.

This use of dominion is very rare.

The word is common.

This form is different.

Bildad sees God as a particular kind of ruler.

See Psalm 8:7.

Sheep and critters are under his dominion.

Bildad seems to see God as ruling man as livestock.

To Bildad, God is tyrannical, despotic.

Daniel 11:39 also uses dominion in this way.

The word terror Bildad uses is ominous.

Again, we see that God is a despot and terrifying.

Bildad does not really understand what God is like.

His deity grinds people down, with little benevolence, all power and terror.

Bildad’s deity is likely more like the deity of Islam, not the God of the Bible.

We are not saying God is not the ruler.

But if you preach a God who is mighty and ruling but who is not good, you do not preach to them the truth.

Bildad calls man a maggot and worm.

There is worm language in other passages.

But maggot is really low language.

Psalm 8 says that man is a little lower than the angels, or than God himself.

Bildad misses truth about the value of man.

Bildad sees Job like a maggot.

HE is missing biblical balance.

Human beings matter as we carry the image of God.

Bildad is skewed in his look at mankind.

He sees man as only despicable and low.

Verse 4 is the very center of Bildad’s speech.

There is a chiasm.

IT almost looks right.

IT almost looks Calvinistic.

How can a man be just with God?

How can he be clean, pure, who is born of a woman?

This exposes what Bildad thinks of his deity.

He thinks God is so big and so mighty and so other and so holy and so sovereign that he could never forgive.

Forgiveness was necessary.

Forgiveness is clearly necessary in the book of Job.

Job offered sacrifices, so we know that he needed forgiveness.

Job is not calling himself perfect.

The book does not call Job perfect.

But the book shows that Job had sought and found forgiveness in God.

Bildad misses the point, as he cannot see how God could be compassionate and able and willing to save.

Bildad’s view of man could use some work.

He could use a little C.S. Lewis doctrine of man.

Chapter 26

Discovering Theological Balance

Job handles this differently than we might have tried to do so.

Verses 1-4 are sarcastic.

This is rich.

Job gives Bildad a very sharp response.

Job tells Bildad, “This is not helpful.”

This is for the other bad counselors too.

They have applied no real wisdom.

Verses 5-13 build from low to high.

Verse 5, the departed spirits tremble.

Maybe dead souls, maybe demons

Lowest of the low tremble.

Verse 6, sheol

God hangs the earth on nothing.

General revelation.

Job is telling Bildad that God is making mysterious spirits tremble.

God is authoritative over all things, seen and unseen, high and low.

Verse 8

God wraps up waters in the clouds.

None of us know how God makes all these things work.

Job is building a conception of God from natural revelation.

Job is looking at the world and seeing the glory of God.

Mountains look like the pillars of heaven, looking like they hold up the sky.

The word Rahab points to all sorts of evil deities and monsters.

Job does not try to balance God and man by bringing God down or exalting man.

HE explores God and man better.

Job tells Bildad that Bildad’s view of God is still too small.

A huge part of theological balance shows us that we do not have a big enough view of God.

WE are not strong enough on the glory of God.

IF you want to prepare your people to suffer, you must present to them a God who is far greater than the God they could ever imagine.

Only that God can accomplish redemption.

Even when Job overextends his own righteousness on occasion, he knows that God knows more than he does.

Job knows what verse 14 says so powerfully.

These are only the edges of God’s ways.

Job has based his case on the God who has revealed himself to Job.

This is the doctrine of the knowability of God.

God is both knowable and incomprehensible.

We must think about God rightly.

He is immense and ungraspable.

He has revealed himself and made himself known in creation and in his word.

Job shows us that the way through suffering is to see the glory of God.

Job never gets the answer that he wants and demands, at least not in this book.

Calvin reminds us that the heavens and the earth are not as great as the power and the wisdom and power of God.

To understand God is to try to hold the ocean in a single hand.

Job’s grasping of the greatness of God is what we must see for balance.

God’s blessing of Job in the end is not the glorious conclusion.

New kids do not make up for dead kids.

At the end of the book, Job died.

Job longed to have a face-to-face with God.

HE wanted answers.

He wanted to know god.

In that final line, all of Job’s questions were answered.

Job wanted a mediator.

He meets Jesus.

He wanted an intercessor.

HE meets Jesus.

Job finds one who would not accept our sacrifices, but who became a sacrifice for us.

God is mysterious.

Nothing is mysterious to God.