Who Do You Listen To?
(1) Then Job answered and said:
(2) "How you have helped him who has no power! How you have saved the arm that has no strength!
(3) How you have counseled him who has no wisdom, and plentifully declared sound knowledge!
(4) With whose help have you uttered words, and whose breath has come out from you?
Ancient Scottish legends spoke of a giant sea monster that lived in the waters of Loch Ness. In 1934, Colonel Robert Wilson, a highly respectable British surgeon, said that he noticed something moving in the water and took a picture of it. The resulting image showed the slender neck of a serpent rising out of the Loch. The photo came to be known simply as "The Surgeon's Photo" and for decades it was the best evidence of the monster. It was not until 1994 that we learned that the photo was a fake.
On April 22, 1983 the German magazine Der Stern announced that it had made the greatest Nazi memorabilia find of all time: a diary kept by Adolf Hitler himself, and this was not just one thin journal. The magazine paid 10 million German marks ($6 million at that time) for the sixty small books as well as two "special issues" about Rudolf Hess' flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. However, within two weeks, the Hitler Diaries were shown to be fakes--written on modern paper using modern ink and full of historical inaccuracies, the most obvious inaccuracy was the monogram on the title page which read “FH” instead of “AH” (for Adolf Hitler). The diaries were actually written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger of Hitler's works, who was sentenced to 42 months in prison.
But what about the Alien Autopsy? Did you see that on TV? On 5 May 1995, Ray Santilli, a London-based film producer, presented his "Alien Autopsy" footage to media representatives and UFO researchers. He claimed the body that was cut open in the film belonged to an alien picked from the supposed Roswell New Mexico crash site in 1947. The footage became world-known immediately, but most people questioned whether this was a real alien. Ironically, the best evidence against the film comes from one of the background details. On one wall of the autopsy room, there is a type of warning sign that was not produced until 1967, two decades after supposed autopsy.
But did you hear the rumor that Bill Gates is buying of the Catholic Church? In 1994 a press release began circulating around the Internet claiming that Microsoft had bought the Catholic church. The release quoted Bill Gates saying that he considered religion a growth market and that, "The combined resources of Microsoft and the Catholic Church will allow us to make religion easier and more fun for a broader range of people." Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft would acquire exclusive electronic rights to the Bible and would make the sacraments available online. Microsoft issued a formal denial of this rumor on December 16, 1994. This has been called the first great Internet hoax.
But that is not nearly as good as the Martian invasion. The War of the Worlds, is a classic novel by H. G. Wells'. It was adapted for radio by Orson Welles and broadcast as a Halloween special on October 30, 1938. The live broadcast frightened many listeners into believing that an actual Martian invasion was in progress, that the Martians had landed in the US. It has been called the "single greatest media hoax of all time", although it was not intended to be one. Some people thought they could smell the poison gas or could see the flashes of the fighting in the distance. Panic seized others and they fled the area. Several people rushed to the "scene" in New Jersey where the spaceships had supposedly landed, including a few astronomers from Princeton University who went looking for the "meteorite" that had supposedly fallen near their school.
These are all real hoaxes that people, sometimes a lot of people, believed at the time; they apparently never thought it might be faked--which raises an interesting question. How do we decide when something is real and when it is not? Now if you are on the scene when something happens, you can evaluate what you saw and make a decision. If you come on the scene a little later you act like a crime scene investigator, gather information, and eventually make a decision.
But it most often happens that we are not on the scene and we are not in a position to collect evidence. All we know about this thing that happened, whatever it might be, is what people say. You read about it in the newspaper, saw it on TV, heard it on the radio, that is just what people say. You read it on the Internet. There are tons of information on the Internet, but all of that information is still just what people say, so who do you believe?
Well it depends, If I say to you that I saw on NBC TV news a story about that California neighborhood that was devastated by the gas pipeline explosion, you probably believe that. You may have heard about the explosion. You know that network news is a pretty good source of information. So, yes that is believable. But if I say that I saw it on the Internet, you might be a lot more skeptical. Anyone can create a web page for free, post it in a matter of minutes, and make it look credible,
Take an example:
Arthur R. Butz is an associate professor at Northwestern University. In 1976, Butz published The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry. This book says that there was no mass extermination of Jews during WWII. More than five million Jews were not systematically killed by the Nazis. The whole idea of a Jewish Holocaust was a hoax contrived to justify the creation of the state of Israel. That is what Dr. Butz says. Do you believe him? Should you listen to him? If not, why not? Because we have a wealth of testimony from eyewitnesses: People who were in concentration camps are still alive to talk about what happened. Soldiers who liberated concentration camps are still alive to talk about it. The camps themselves are still there today. You can go see them. Not only that we have captured Nazi records of what happened. We have records of the meeting at which the Nazis decided on the “final solution” for the Jews. So who do you believe? I certainly do not believe Dr. Butz. The evidence for the holocaust is so overwhelming that I am not interested in listening to him.
Who do you listen to? In the book of Job, Job was not interested in listening to Bildad.
You probably know something of Job's story. He was an extremely pious man. He was prosperous, and had seven sons and three daughters. But there came a day when Satan happened to wander by the courts of heaven and God asked Satan his opinion on Job. God said, “Look how pious Job is.” Satan answered that Job was pious only because of the stuff he got from God. Satan said, “Job does not really love you, he loves what you give him. If you take away all that he has, he will curse you to your face.” So God says, “OK, we will see. Go ahead and take his possessions.”
Everything Job had was destroyed, and all his children were killed, but Job did not curse God. He shaved his head, tore his clothes and said "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21).
But Satan was not done. Satan said to God, “If you take his health, then he will turn against you,” and God said, “Have at him and we will see.” Satan, therefore, smote Job with dreadful boils.
So we now find Job, seated on a garbage heap, scraping his skin with broken pottery to try to get some relief. In the midst of this catastrophe, three friends show up: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They had known Job when he was rich and famous and they have supposedly come to console him. They weep aloud and tear their clothes and throw dust in the air, and they sit with Job for seven days, without saying anything. Job at last breaks his silence and "curses the day he was born". Then the speeches begin. Most of the book of Job is made up of speeches by Job and his friends. They are wrestling with an important question. How can bad things happen to good people? Or to put it another way, If very bad things have happened to Job, does that mean Job is a very bad person? The theology of that time and place said, yes it does. They believed that if you do good, God will be with you and you will be wealthy and famous and healthy.
Thus, Eliphaz says, "Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:7-8 ESV). Eliphaz means that Job must be a horrendous sinner because he has been punished so horrendously by God. So the thing for him to do is to confess his awful sins and hope for God's forgiveness. This is called Retribution Theology. You do good; God does good to you; You do bad; God does bad to you. Or you could call it Cash-Register Theology. That is you get out exactly what you put in. But Job does not believe that he deserves what he is getting. For Job, cash-register theology is just wrong. Job sees that this is a world in which bad things do happen to good people and bad people sometimes get good things, and the whole thing is topsy-turvy.
Job knows that he has committed no great sin; therefore, his suffering is unjustified. However, he does not curse God's name or accuse God of injustice but rather he seeks an explanation. Job does not curse God. Job does question God. There is something wonderfully honest about Job. There is something refreshing about him, because he will not quit asking for justice. He demands that someone, preferably God, show him what he has done that is so wrong. Job thinks he has played by the rules, he has done what God required, and nothing has worked out.
So the speeches go on.
Bildad speaks up. Bildad is offended by Job's refusal to confess sins he has not committed. He says in chapter 8, "How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind? Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right?” (Job 8:2-3 ESV). Bidad says, God is just, therefore what happened to your children was justified, what has happened to you is justified, therefore you have done something really bad and you should confess. But again Job does not accept what Bildad is saying at all. His children did not deserve to be killed. He does not deserved what has happened to him.
So it goes back and forth. In chapter 10, Job says, "I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me.” (Job 10:1-2 ESV)
Zophar then speaks up and accuses Job of babbling and mocking God. Job replies in chapter 12, saying, "No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you” (Job 12:2 ESV). That is harsh sarcasm. You think you are smarter than anyone else in the world, but I am the one who is sitting here suffering.
But his friends never let up. They insist he is a monster of iniquity, and God is right to be so cruel to him.
They insist that God is powerful, and if we step out of line for a second, God will step on us. Bildad launches into another speech in chapter 25, he says, "Dominion and fear are with God” then he adds “Behold, even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure in his eyes; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!" I said earlier that Bildad's theology is sometimes called Retribution Theology. It ought to be called Worm Theology. God is powerful and dreadful, and we are worms. God rages around with a frown on His face, looking for opportunities to punish us. In fact nothing gives God more pleasure than stepping on us.
But Job is not going to listen to this kind of talk any more. He interrupts Bildad, saying in chapter 26, What a comfort and consolation you are. (This is sarcasm.) He says, How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the weak! What wonderful advice you give. Of course he means just the opposite. Bildad is no help at all. In v4, Job says, “ With whose help have you uttered words, and whose breath has come out from you?” Good question. Whose spirit speaks through Bildad? It obviously is not God’s Spirit.
Now we need to ask our question. Who do we listen to? We certainly do not want to listen to any Worm Theology. I talked about hoaxes and fakes earlier. In the field of religion, how do you know who to listen to? First of all, you do not listen to anyone who compares you to a worm or maggot.
The NT sets a far higher value on people than that. For example, 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Moreover the NT assures me that God loves me unconditionally. John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
So when it comes to religious things, who do you listen to? Listen to people that tell you that God is love, that God loves you and wants to embrace you in his everlasting arms. God calls us to live in his way, the way of love. That is who you listen to.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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