Although my friends already know this, I am a “numbers” guy. File that away for later.
When I was eleven years old, my parents took me to small town revival. I went to the altar and accepted Christ. I know at that moment I became a true Christian, but a baby one. And although attending youth groups and multiple church services, I remained a baby Christian until mid-way in my college years.
Then I became a Christian adolescent. And what do adolescents do … rebel. I started testing the snippets of the Bible I had read and sermons I had heard against a growing theology inside me and found those things weren’t satisfying. As I left college and began working in my career, I convinced myself Christianity was wrong and the Bible was unreliable.
So, I decided to create a new church denomination which would use my newly developed theology (of course I later found my “new” theology was a couple of thousand years old and riddled with falsehoods). In order for me to convince adherents, I was sure I would have to discredit the Bible. And what better book to start with than the Book of Job; the oldest book in the Canon.
In case you haven’t read the Book of Job recently, let me give you the idea of what is in it.
1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed[a] God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
The story relates how one day the angels came to present themselves to God, including Satan. God asked Satan what he had been doing; who answered he had been roaming around the earth. God asked him if he had observed Job, who God said was more righteous than any other person on earth.
Of course, Satan didn’t like a human getting all of God’s credit, so he challenged Him;
9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Given the power to hurt Job, Satan used circumstances to kill all of Job’s sons and daughters, sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys.
My mental trap for the first “discredit” had been set.
The Book of Job continues with him standing firm and continually praising and worshipping God even though losing all his possessions. It goes on to describe a further attack on his body and a lengthy dialogue with “friends”. Job pleaded to present his defense to God, gets the chance, and is humbled by their conversation.
Now my trap; God restored Job’s fortunes:
10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.
12 And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.
But my trap was crushed by the next verse.
13 He had also seven sons and three daughters.
You see God only gave Job the same number of sons and daughters as before … not twice the number as I expected. Had He given Job twice the number, the original ones would have not only died, but ceased to exist. If that were true, what Jesus said to the Sadducees would be counter to what God did for Job. God said He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who at that time their bodies were dead). (Ex 3:15). And Jesus said God is the God of the living; not of the dead. (Matt 22:32).
Actually, God did give Job twice as many sons and daughters by only giving the same number as the original. Job had twice the number; half of them no longer lived on the earth while the other half did. But there would come a time when they would all be together.
It was like God flipped a switch in my brain. Instead of wanting to read the Bible to smear it, I wanted to see what else was in it that would be so profound. I read it through (front to back) in a month. I reread it in the next two months. There were so many things I didn’t understand I starting buying commentaries on different segments of the Bible and studying them. Today, I have over three hundred books of interpretations in my library all of which I have read once and many I have read multiple times.
Then an odd thing began to happen. When people would bring up a difficult concept in the Bible, I could most often provide a reasonable explanation by tying together different parts of Scripture. That led to becoming sought after as a teacher, which in turn made me study more in order to prepare to teach.
What God said in the Book of Job turned me from a person who wanted to totally falsify the Bible to one who wrote the book Armageddon Now which is an explanation of the Book of Revelation, arguably the most difficult one to understand in the entire Scriptures.
God … Go figure!