Job 22:21 (AV) Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.
My dear friends in Christ,
“Let me tell you a story.” I love stories! Hopefully there are some pictures, or maybe the storyteller is so good that I can see the pictures in my head. I love a good story! Have you ever noticed all the pictures that cover our altar, the wall, the lectern and the pulpit? Each of them were hand carved from walnut. The craftsmanship is beautiful, but that’s not the most important part. Each carved symbol helps to tell a special story— God’s story of salvation. For the next 8 weeks we will look at each of these symbols and the part they play in this incredible story!
Most good stories have some sort of introduction. This story is no different. For the introduction, the designers of our altar chose Job 22:21 “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” Before we can get into the story itself, we need to acquaint ourselves with someone. We need to get to know the author and main character. To figure out who he is, we need know a little more about Job. His friends encouraged him with these words. Do you remember everything that had happened to Job? In the span of one day he lost all his flocks and herds, many of his workers and servants. Shortly after losing all his possessions, he lost his health. He was covered with painful sores from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He was in misery!
Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar tried to comfort him. They saw how miserable he was and they sat quietly with him for 7 days without saying a word. Then Job began to speak, and his friends attempted to comfort him. Chapters 3-21 are the record of their conversations. Eliphaz spoke for the third time here in chapter 22. He told Job that he must have done something terrible to make God so angry with him. Right in the middle of the chapter he told Job to get to know God better. If Job acquainted himself with God and worked harder at that relationship, perhaps God would stop punishing him and he could find peace.
Get to know God better? That is scary! The carving on the altar doesn’t portray God as a happy grampa waiting to give us a hug. He’s the sun, flaming in all his glory. He is the Alpha and the Omega—the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He is the beginning and end of all things, yet without beginning and end. He is eternal. Why would anyone try to be better acquainted with him?
I’m not sure I want to know him better. So, I treat my time with him and his Word as an option that I choose if I have time for him. Then something happens. Something unexpected. Something awful. Something painful. I don’t want to know him better. I want to blame him. After all, I have dedicated so much of myself to trusting him, to serving him, doing what he tells me to do. How could he let this happen? How could he do this to me? I blame him based on my emotions, not on the facts.
We do the same thing with our other relationships. I get angry about something and let my emotions drive my words. “Our marriage isn’t strong because you don’t work hard enough at it. My children aren’t happy because the coach, or the referee, or the teacher, or the daycare provider aren’t doing and saying what makes them happy. My boss isn’t happy with me because he’s too demanding.” We quickly allow our feelings to replace facts. What happens if we act that way with God? “God, I feel like you’re being so unfair. In fact, I if you really were the God I think you were, you’d never let this happen. I am so angry. I don’t need you. I don’t want you!” Ignoring facts because of powerful emotions, we easily separate ourselves from God. Then we face something far worse than Job’s loss of property and health. We face the loss of our eternal hope!
Job needed the facts about God in order to know him better and find peace. What were the facts? Job already knew some of them. Listen to his beautiful statement of faith way back in chapters 1 & 2: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21 NIV). Job knew the facts. Everything he had owned was the Lord’s. If the Lord decided to take it away, he could take it away and Job would still praise him.
Job was well-acquainted with God’s compassion and forgiveness. That didn’t stop him from struggling with his circumstances. More than once he cried out, “Why me?” He was teetering on the edge of depression and trying to keep his emotions from burying the truth of God’s love and mercy. Finally, God answered Job’s questions with a few questions of his own: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand” (Job 38:4 NIV). “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?” (Job 38:12 NIV). “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (Job 38:31–32 NIV). “Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?” (Job 40:9 NIV). That’s why the symbol for God on our altar is the blazing sun with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega. The eternal creator was there in the beginning. He always was, always is, always will be. He never changes!
“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” Job realized that he had overstepped his bounds. God had revealed more facts about who he is, the wisdom he possesses, and his incredible power. Job was better acquainted with God, and all he could say was, “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:4–6 NIV).
Now, Job could be at peace. Peace? Peace when he has finally admitted he was wrong and God was right? Yes, peace! The only way to have peace with God is first to know our place in that relationship—that we are weak, sinful human beings and he is the almighty God. Then, and only then, can we find peace because the same God who could destroy us in an instant became one of us to rescue us from ourselves. That’s what makes the name Lord so special. Lord is God’s saving name. It literally means “I AM.” Do you recall how often Jesus referred to himself with that special saving name? Here’s one of my favorites: “I AM the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25 NIV). Jesus is the Son of God. He came to shine on us with his peace, peace that gives us the facts of forgiveness and eternal life.
We know all this, but we need to know it better and we can never hear it enough. On Thursday morning I sat down with two gentlemen from the Congo. They run a humanitarian mission for Congolese immigrants here in the Twin Cities. Each one is also the son of a pastor, and they know and trust in Jesus. I am working through our introduction to Christianity class so that hopefully we can work with them to share the good news of Jesus both here and in the Congo.
I asked both of them this question, “If you stood before God tonight and he asked you, ‘Why should I let you in to my heaven?’ how would you answer?” Both of them said, “I have tried to be faithful and do the things God asks me to do.” I followed up with this: “How sure are you that God would let you in?” They both said, “99%.” When I asked why not 100%, both of them said, “Because we know we’re sinners. We can’t do everything God asks, so maybe he won’t let us in.” For the next hour we followed Bildad’s advice, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” We saw that God expects perfection and holiness from us, but he sees only imperfection and sin. We deserve death. At that point both of them looked at me and said, “That’s hopeless! We’ll never get in!” I wish you could have seen the delight in their eyes when we came to the best news of all. I told them how Jesus, the Lord, took their sins on himself when he died on the cross and gave them his perfect life. So when I asked again, “How sure are you that God would let you in?” they both said, “100%!”
These two men took the time to acquaint themselves with God and found the peace they needed. We need it too! Keep on getting to know this God who loves you, who died for you, who takes your sins and gives you his righteousness. Spend time with him in his Word and learn more about his characteristics. Come to worship on the weekends here at Salem and lift your voices with me in praise and thanks as we interact with our heavenly Father. Challenge yourself to join a Bible study here at church in this new year and learn even more. You will find that as you get to know the Lord better and better, you will find peace not only in that relationship with him, but with everyone around you! “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” Amen!